John Carpenter is the rare talent that is not only revered for his work as a filmmaker, but also as a scorer and composer. His legend status is assured. While he has not directed a feature film since The Ward in 2010, his influence as a filmmaker is felt heavily in just about every horror film that hits theaters. In many of those same films, you are likely going to hear a score that reminds you of John Carpenter as well.
Carpenter has been keeping busy however. He has released two albums of music the last couple years. Lost Themes 1 and 2 were music Carpenter wanted to get out of his head for us to hear. They certainly were great listens. There was an edge to the music. They felt familiar and sinister. His band and collaborators, son Cody and godson Daniel Davies helped everything come together.
Now, we have Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998. Available now from Sacred Bones records, every song on the album should be recognized by film fans. Consisting of 13 of John Carpenter’s themes from his career, every major theme you could want one right after the other is here. But the fun part is that they all work well together as a stand-alone, hauntingly atmospheric album of music.
Right from the start, the bombastic stomp of the theme from In The Mouth Of Madness welcomes us to the album with gusto. From there and through the first couple tracks, you can tell quite a bit of care was put into this recording. Everything sounds incredible but not overproduced, and the synths make you want to pump your fists as Madness gives way to Assault on Precinct 13. For my money though, the one-two punch of The Fog and Prince of Darkness is the highlight of the album. The Fog theme has a gentleness to it that turns on a dime about halfway through and still to this day creeps me out. Couple that with the gothic wave of sound coming from Darkness and these two back to back are a perfect representation of what this artist is capable of.
I found it interesting that the album is arranged not chronologically but to compliment each other. Six tracks on either side of the granddaddy of them all, and Halloween after all these years still sends chills down my spine. They Live, The Thing (originally recorded by Ennio Morricone), and Starman build off of each other and form a trilogy of more groovy and funky tunes. We end on Christine, one of my personal favorites. It takes everything we have heard on the previous tracks and combines them into one mean-ass driving song. Carpenter even directed a new video for the song.
Anthology is an album that John Carpenter fans and film fans alike should be proud to place onto their shelves. A true celebration of his accomplishments as an artist, especially when paired with the Lost Themes trilogy. Give them all a listen with the lights out and let the music sweep you away.