John’s Car­pen­ter’s most iconic hor­ror themes re­vis­ited

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that sin­is­ter pi­ano tin­kling. that re­lent­less, fast­paced beat. those ham­mer­ing synth lines. Per­haps the most in­stantly recog­nis­able theme in the his­tory of hor­ror, Hal­loween changed the way com­posers used mu­sic as a force to ex­pand upon the mythos of their films. Forty years on, it’s still the daddy, and it still sends a shiver down the spine – much like Michael

Myers him­self.



Sound­ing like a down­tuned, warped sis­ter theme to Hal­loween, John added in a slow, men­ac­ing, bassy un­der­tow that dragged the track into oth­er­worldly realms. a clas­sic slice of syn­the­sised 80s gui­tar at the song’s cli­max only height­ens the sense of im­pend­ing, ghoul­ish doom, mak­ing it the per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to the clas­sic, mar­itime ghost story for which it was writ­ten.



a chill­ing, ag­o­nis­ingly tense sci-fi hor­ror packed with some of cin­ema’s great­est (and most grue­some) spe­cial ef­fects, The Thing needed a sound­track whose tone matched the me­thod­i­cal grim­ness of its chief an­tag­o­nist. this plod­ding num­ber is in many ways one of John’s most un­der­stated tracks, but it creeps un­der the skin like an un­wel­come alien host on the run.



Part of what John la­bels his ‘apoc­a­lypse tril­ogy’, the theme to this su­per­nat­u­ral night­mare comes in swing­ing with blasts of hel­la­cious synths and de­monic choir af­fects. a boom­ing drum drip­ping in fren­zied bursts of key­board ramp up the ten­sion as the song reaches its ur­gent, eardrum­burst­ing zenith.



What ini­tially sounds like the pound­ing drum in­tro to Iron Man sud­denly de­scends into some­thing out of a whiskysoak­ed Western on Mars. light flicks of gui­tar, whole­hearted flashes of har­mon­ica and a gor­geous, bluesy pi­ano line make this one of John’s less spooky, but equally im­pact­ful hymns. the high-con­cept sci-fi that spawned it is one of his most un­der­rated clas­sics, too.

John Car­pen­ter with stars from The Fog in 1980

roddy Piper andMeg Foster in They Live

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