Monday, April 27, 2015

Top 5 Main Themes from John Carpenter Movies

It's no secret here that I'm a fan of John Carpenter.  He could be my favorite director, though I can never fully determine whether I would put him atop my list over Walter Hill and QT.  Regardless, I treasure his work and I've frequently raved about Carpenter's scores, most of which he composed himself.  I decided to take a look at his filmography and rank my Top 5 Main Themes from his pictures.  I'm not calling it my Top 5 John Carpenter Main Themes because one of my favorites is from The Thing, and that particularly nightmarish bit of music was composed by the impeccable Ennio Morricone and not Carpenter himself.  Of course, that is the only piece of music on this list that Carpenter isn't responsible for.

Top 5 Main Themes from John Carpenter Movies

 5) Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Like many Carpenter efforts, this theme seems a bit simple in that it is only comprised of a few layers, but the way these elements are layered together and the effect that they combine to create are anything but simple.  Bonus points: Carpenter claims that budgetary concerns dictated that this theme (and in fact, the entire score for Assault on Precinct 13) be composed in a single day.
Assault on Precinct 13 theme on YouTube

 4) Big Trouble in Little China (1986)Much like the movie itself, this theme is cheeky and full of energy.  If there's one theme on my list that others may swap out for another Carpenter gem, this is probably it, but I love it.  I offer up my sincerest apologies to the Escape from New York theme.
Big Trouble in Little China theme on YouTube

 3) The Fog (1980)
Eerie and intense, this is the epitome of a horror movie theme.  I'm inclined to think that it may in fact be Carpenter's creepiest composition.  It's so haunting, so melodic, . . . so damn awesome.
The Fog theme on YouTube

 2) The Thing (1982)
An ominous masterpiece that reeks of doubt and doom, the theme for The Thing builds the perfect mood for the movie.  In truth, this sounds more like Carpenter's work than Morricone, but Ennio was at the wheel and contrary to some reports, Carpenter didn't tell him what to do.  They didn't even speak the same language.
The Thing theme on YouTube

1) Halloween (1978)
Intense, iconic, and still imitated, the main theme for Halloween has to be viewed as one of the best themes of all time.  Sure, there are richer pieces of music to be found throughout the motion picture landscape, deft and nuanced works of art with a higher pedigree.  Yet this riveting theme is right up there with the very best of them in terms of impact and popularity for a reason.  It's pitch-perfect. 
Halloween theme on YouTube

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