For decades, the name John Carpenter has been synonymous with his inimitable film work, involving the movies that have rightly earned him the title as “master of horror” (The Thing, Christine, The Fog), bold ventures into sci-fi (Starman, Escape From New York, Dark Star), more direct social commentaries (They Live), and even the odd comedic action flick (Big Trouble In Little China). Of course, most of these motion pictures were more-so composites drawing elements from various genres, which is something that has allowed them all to stand out and endure. Much like their creator, they were never one-dimensional. Another major aspect that ties his catalog together is the incredibly integral film scores, the majority of which Carpenter scored himself, with the exception of The Thing, which was handled by the legendary, Ennio Morricone. The impact of the director’s compositions for projects like Halloween has been tremendous and can be traced to endless other eerie, synth-heavy soundtracks that have followed in their wake. In fact, it could be argued that the influence of his work as a composer may actually rival what he’s accomplished behind the camera, with him defining his own genre on the sonic front, in much the same way that he’s managed with his trademark visuals and brilliant his storytelling ability. The reason that his music has been greatly under-acknowledged by so many is actually because it’s so effective at what it was created to accomplish, and that is to support the overall project, first and foremost. That’s why it’s so great to see it finally garnering the recognition that it deserves on a wider scale in recent years.
More or less in retirement mode, Carpenter had been spending a good portion of his downtime with his son, Cody, taking the random break from their rigorous videogame playing sessions to jam out together. After recently getting a new music lawyer who had asked him if he had anything new in the way of material, he simply handed over some of that largely improvised music he’d been creating with his son, with no real intention of distributing it, and was surprised to be contacted later with the revelation that he was offered a record deal through Sacred Bones to release it. Along with his godson, Daniel Davies (son of Kinks guitarist/songwriter/vocalist, Dave Davies) who also performed and worked on the compositions with them, they released Lost Themes, Carpenter‘s first collection of non-film music, in 2015. Last year, they followed it up with the sequel, Lost Themes II, and embarked on an international tour, rounding out the lineup with Tenacious D‘s backing band. We caught the Seattle stop and were blown away by the live retrospective which saw the group sprinkling some of the newer cuts into a nice selection of musical offerings that spanned his entire film career. Available on the tour were two different special edition 12-inch vinyl pressings, each consisting a pair of classic Carpenter movie themes — Assault On Precinct 13 b/w The Fog and Halloween b/w Escape From New York — re-recorded by John, Cody, and Davies, specifically for their release. Now Carpenter is set to release Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998, “a collection of 13 of his classic movie themes” from his film career, newly recorded alongside his 2 Lost Theme collaborators, followed by a new string of live dates to support it.
In celebration of its impending release, a pair of high profile fans have offered up their own interpretation of one of the auteurs most seminal tracks. Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor, and his longtime collaborator/bandmate, Atticus Ross, are no strangers to scoring for film — the duo took home the Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Social Network in 2010, and, in 2013, earned a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for their soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — so reworking an old Carpenter joint is definitely within their wheelhouse, but that doesn’t mean that attempting to tackle something as iconic as the Halloween theme isn’t still incredibly daunting.
Regarding John Carpenter‘s impact on him as an artist, Trent Reznor recalls:
“I clearly remember my friends and I at 13 years old conning our parents into letting us see Halloween when it came out in 1978. We left the theater forever changed. We were damaged and scarred, with the shit genuinely scared out of us and that theme stuck firmly in our heads. John Carpenter, it’s your fault that I turned out the way I did.”
It’s this complete reverence for the work and the pioneer behind it that compels Reznor and Ross to pay tribute to the music by adding their own spin, without trying to stomp too hard on the original. This level of respect is clearly not lost on Carpenter, who speaks of the new version by stating, “Moody and dark, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ version of HALLOWEEN does amazing justice to the original. I’m impressed.” This is a far cry from the feelings that he’s expressed about Rob Zombie — someone who showed much less respect through his botched remake of the film version of Halloween, and statements about how he was “fixing” the original — whom John has flat out referred to as, “a piece of shit.”
Check out the Reznor/Ross version of the Halloween theme below now (on Friday the 13th, no less! spoooooky!) followed by additional details about the new Anthology release and a full list of current tour dates.
‘Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998’ track list:
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
8. Porkchop Express (Big Trouble in Little China)
9. They Live
10. The Thing
12. Dark Star
In addition to CD, black LP and digital version, ‘Anthology…‘ will be available on the following limited edition color vinyl formats:
– DELUXE LP w/ 7” – “THE FOG OVER ANTONIO BAY” – 2000 units (exclusively available in US stores)
– COLOUR LP – “ANTI-GOD GREEN” – 500 units (exclusively available through Sacred Bones mail-order) **SOLD OUT**
– DELUXE LP w/ 7” – “HALLOWEEN ORANGE” – 500 units (exclusively available via Sacred Bones mail-order) **SOLD OUT**
– DELUXE LP w/ 7″ – “DARK STAR DEEP SPACE” – 500 units (exclusively available on tour)
JOHN CARPENTER US TOUR DATES