November 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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RECOMMENDED November 2002

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John CARPENTER/Ennio MORRICONE/ Jack NITZSCHE/Alan HOWARTH/Dave DAVIES/George THOROGOOD
The Essential John Carpenter Film Music Collection 
  SILVA SCREEN RECORDS FILMCD 363   [72:15]
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john carpenter compilation

  • Escape From New York - Main Title (Mix 1)
  • Halloween - Theme (Mix 1)
  • Halloween - Haunted House
  • Starman - End Titles
  • Big Trouble in Little China - Pork Chop Express
  • The Fog
  • Assault on Precinct 13 - Main Title
  • Assault on Precinct 13 - Julie's Theme
  • Christine - Bad to the Bone
  • Halloween II - Main Theme
  • The Thing
  • Dark Star
  • They Live
  • Prince of Darkness
  • Escape From New York - Main Title (Mix 2)
  • Halloween - Theme (Mix 2)
  • Village of the Damned
  • Bonus Track: Starman - End Titles (Symphonic Version)

My admiration for the music of John Carpenter goes back to my very early days as a soundtrack enthusiast. From the moment I heard the main theme from Halloween (1978) I was hooked. While Carpenter utilises synthesisers rather than orchestra, there is no doubting the atmospheric power he is able to achieve and the very best of his work elevates his visuals as a director to a higher level of artistic quality than could ever be attained bereft of the music. The saddest thing of all is the terrible decline he has suffered over the past decade or so. Until then Carpenter was one of the most reliable and consistent directors around. Movies such as the aforementioned Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), the classic The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and Prince of Darkness (1987) all stand as testaments to his undoubted talent, but pretty much as the 1980s departed so it seemed did John Carpenter's ability to make a worthwhile film. The pedestrian remake of Village of the Damned (1995) and the lacklustre Escape From L.A. (1997) signified a tragic downturn in Carpenter's work, finally sent spiralling out of control by the dismally disappointing Vampires (1999). And perhaps unsurprisingly his music has taken a steady dip in quality along with all other aspects of his film making, although admittedly the theme included here from Village of the Damned, while only properly heard on the end credits in the movie itself, is Carpenter right back to his very best form.

A nice collection of well mounted interpretations of John Carpenter related themes (not all are composed by man himself, most notably Morricone's The Thing and Jack Nitzsche's Starman) with an awful lot to relish and a number of outstanding highlights. Now let's just hope that Mr. Carpenter can reclaim his former glory and once again produce not only films of style and imagination, but also music to match.

Mark Hockley

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