Nov 04, 2022
By Michael James Hall
Between 1974 and 1988, John Carpenter created a body of work unequalled by any other genre director. The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Escape From New York, and They Live were among these classics, yet Carpenter will always be remembered for one film above all others—1978’s seminal slasher, Halloween.
Its arpeggiated theme was as chilling as it was iconic and, through the ’80s, composer Carpenter teamed with Alan Howarth, a former synth player for Weather Report, to create a string of soundtracks that proved to be as beloved and influential as the films they accompanied. Their brooding brand of electronica/synthwave would provide the blueprint for a thousand soundtracks, and indeed artists, to come.
Decades later and Carpenter’s movie making has very much trailed off, his last effort being 2010’s generic The Ward. His work as a musician, though, has flourished, seeing him release a series of acclaimed albums, undertake world tours and, more recently, return to film scoring.
Providing music for the preceding two parts of David Gordon Green’s successful iteration of Carpenter’s own Halloween series, he’s teamed with multi-instrumentalist son Cody and guitarist Daniel (son of The Kinks’ Dave) Davies once more here for the third and final part of Green’s trilogy.
Resurrecting classic motifs and adding surprising, effective new twists, Carpenter has created another somber, foreboding sonic landscape. Replete with doom-laden guitar strikes and heartbeat rhythms, these compositions form a remarkably cogent and atmospheric whole.
In keeping with Green’s efforts to imbue the series with a more tender emotional core, Carpenter delivers moments of rare beauty, as on soft lament “Cherry Blossoms” and eerie opener “Where Is Jeremy?”
Returns to the key motifs of his original score on “Halloween Ends (Main Title)” and “Laurie’s Theme Ends” are apt reminders of what made Carpenter’s name as a composer. Yet he doesn’t tend to rest on his laurels, and on the brief, twinkling “Cool Kid” and malevolent “Evil Eyes” he brings something strangely soulful to the funereal proceedings.
Carpenter may stick broadly to the synth-horror formula he created, but that’s no bad thing, imbuing the album with an uncanny, apt sense of nostalgia. While artists like Burial, Caretaker, and William Basinski continue to mine similarly rich themes of hauntology, Carpenter, who predates the entire genre, continues to add to it with ghoulish aplomb. (www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
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