John Carpenter Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998) Music Review

John Carpenter treats fans to 13 tracks of newly recorded versions of his career spanning movie themes!

Although it has been 7 years since John Carpenter directed his last feature horror film (“The Ward”, 2010), he has far from faded into the mists of legend. Instead, the 69 year old Master of Horror has tapped into his lifelong music background as writer/composer of most of his own film scores and released two bestselling albums, “John Carpenter’s Lost Themes” and “Lost Themes II,” through Sacred Bones Records, and consequently gone on tour performing some of his most popular themes for sold out live audiences across the world.

This Halloween, Carpenter is on the eve of a new North American tour just as fans absorb the news that he is also executive producing the new “Halloween” film starring his original Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, due to be unleashed in theaters for Halloween 2018. Just this week he also confirmed he would be writing and recording the score to Michael Myers’ latest silver screen assault as well. If this weren’t enough, Carpenter is also releasing a new “Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1988)” on CD and vinyl on Friday, Oct. 20 through Sacred Bones Records.

Like his “Lost Themes” releases, “Anthology” was recorded with his son, Cody, and his godson, Daniel Davies, who is the actual progeny of The Kinks’ Ray Davies. The younger Carpenter and Davies bring the spirit of Rock n Roll to 13 of the director’s best movie themes, all newly recorded with a vitality and vibrancy worthy of their cinematic origins.

These are the soundscapes of All Hallow’ Eve writ large.

The album kicks off with a heavy metal infused interpretation of “In the Mouth of Madness” that brings chugging guitars alongside Carpenter’s synthesizer-driven base in what only can be described as Metallica meets the Master of Horror. The following theme from “Assault on Precinct 13” has a bass guitar riff and pulsing drumbeat that you can feel in your chest.

The Fog” brings things back to a more classical, keyboard-centered horror vibe, but the themes to “Prince of Darkness,” “Escape from New York” and “Porkchop Express (“Big Trouble in Little China”)” all lend themselves naturally to the spirit of Classic Rock from which they were likely forged. It’s hard to call Carpenter’s newly recorded theme to “Halloween” anything but definitive.

There is a sense of joy in revisiting some of Carpenter’s lesser known themes like the thoroughly Spielberg/Amblin, 80’s-retro majesty of “Starman,” the bluesy cues of “They Live,” the low budget, spaced-out vibes of “Dark Star” and the driving synth rhythms of “Christine.”

The only disappointment here to my ears is Carpenter’s re-scoring of Ennio Morricone’s theme to “The Thing,” which due to its relevance within Carpenter’s film canon probably felt like it was owed a place in any musical journey through his “greatest hits,” but here feels a bit uninspired and perfunctory.

Nonetheless, “John Carpenter: Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998)” is a must own collection of amazing tracks reborn with a new, October urgency that deserves playtime in your car, your head and your horror loving soul.


1) In the Mouth of Madness

2) Assault on Precinct 13

3) The Fog

4) Prince of Darkness

5) Santiago (Vampires)

6) Escape from New York

7) Halloween

8) Porkchop Express (Big Trouble in Little China)

9) They Live

10) The Thing

11) Starman

12) Dark Star

13) Christine

The Phantom of The Ville

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