For the 39th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks as it’s Halloween season. We go into the subject of horror film themes/scores as music is a key proponent of horror. It helps build up the suspense and terror that occurs throughout the film. Here are my three picks as they’re all score pieces in films from John Carpenter with music by John Carpenter:
1. The Fog
The theme to Carpenter’s 1980 film is definitely eerie in terms of its mixture of synthesizers, pianos, drum machines, and organs. It has this eerie tone that is perfect for a film that is set in a small seaside town where a lot of bad shit is going to happen. There’s a richness to the music as the theme does set the mood while it also has a tone that is intoxicating to listen to.
2. Big Trouble in Little China
Made in collaboration with regular collaborator Alan Howarth, the theme to his 1986 horror-comedy-action romp is definitely one of his most fun films. Notably as it’s about a trucker and his friend who try to retrieve the girlfriend of the latter from some mysterious Chinese sorcerer who has 3 bad dudes who are willing to help him. There’s a lot of crazy shit that goes on with Kurt Russell just being a hilarious badass. The theme itself entitled Pork Chop Express is just this great mix of 80s rock and synth-funk with a bit of synth-pop as it just feels right for the film’s insanely chaotic tone.
3. In the Mouth of Madness
Carpenter’s extremely-underrated 1994 film that was sadly overlooked is truly his most metaphysical to date in terms of how he blurs reality and fiction as it was inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Notably as it involves an insurance investigator trying to find a reclusive horror writer who had gone insane to explore the phenomenon of his own work believing his new manuscript will cause chaos. The theme Carpenter created with Howarth is this eerie mix of metal and soothing electronic music that play into the sense of terror and suspense that looms throughout the film as it is Carpenter’s most overlooked film.
© thevoid99 2022
I love your theme within a theme!
It's easy to forget that Carpenter does his own soundtracks. He's a much better filmmaker than a lot of people realize, and his talent goes a lot deeper than he is regularly given credit for.
I have not seen any of your picks but would like to see the Kurt Russell one because it's fun and from the 80s. I never heard of the last film. It s intriguing. I like your theme within a theme. I did something similar but I chose Bernard Hermann.
In the Mouth of Madness is such an underrated film
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