John’s Carpenter’s most iconic horror themes revisited
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
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.
PRINCE OF DARKNESS
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