If I Were a Carpenter

It Follows is a very creepy horror movie:

Built on suspense instead of gore, it owes a lot to John Carpenter’s classic films, as its director, David Robert Mitchell freely admits. And that extends to the film’s soundtrack.

Rich Vreeland, AKA Disasterpeace, details his brief for the score:

“David and his editors created a thorough temp score that became my bible for the film. John Carpenter, Penderecki, and John Cage were all present. Some of my tracks from FEZ were also part of the temp score. For scary scenes, I tried to make the music as dissonant and weird as possible. I pulled out as many stops as I could to one-up the temp cues in every way. For tracks like ‘Detroit,’ I was channeling the ominous arpeggios of bands like Goblin.”

The music works very well within the film, but it also works on its own:

Horror films have long employed electronic music, going back at least as far as 1973 when Mike Oldfield‘s “Tubular Bells” was heard in The Exorcist:

After failing to hire Pink Floyd when composer Girogio Gaslini walked off his set in 1975, Dario Argento gave the band Goblin a ridiculous deadline to write a new score for Profondo Rosso (Deep Red). They rose to the occasion . . .

. . . beginning a long collaboration between Argento and the band.

Running out of time and money, John Carpenter allegedly composed his own soundtrack for the original 1975 Assault on Precinct 13 in just three days:

Its theme became wildly successful and has often been sampled, even by the legendary Afrika Bambaataa, who looped it into his own theme:

Of course, Vreeland is far from the only composer to be influenced by Carpenter’s soundtracks. RetroPromenade, which embraces ’80s and ’90s nostalgia, particularly its synth sounds and graphics, has compiled an entire album’s worth of Carpenter-inspired tracks, along with a very nice poster:

John Carpenter himself recently came out of his semi-retirement to compose Lost Themes, . . .

. . . which he describes as a lark:

“Lost Themes was all about having fun. It can be both great and bad to score over images, which is what I’m used to. Here there were no pressures. No actors asking me what they’re supposed to do. No crew waiting. No cutting room to go to. No release pending. It’s just fun. . . .”

It is a soundtrack for a movie that does not exist . . . at least not yet. The album is actually a challenge:

“They’re little moments of score from movies made in our imaginations.Now I hope it inspires people to create films that could be scored with this music.”

So who will be the next John Carpenter, or David Robert Mitchell?


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