Film Music Review
The Sammy awards







The Fog (Original Soundtrack)



The Fog (1981)


Disc One: 14 Tracks (Playing Time = 56:02)

Disc Two: 20 Tracks (Playing Time = 54:01)


Music composed by John Carpenter. Performed by John Carpenter and the Bowling Green-Warren County Chamber Orchestra. Synthesizer programming and orchestrations by Dan Wyman. Recording engineered by Jim Cypherd. Recorded at Sound Arts Studio, Los Angeles, CA. Expanded CD re-issue produced by Ford A. Thaxton. Stereo remix by Alan Howarth at Dimension Audio, North Hollywood, CA. Masterd by James Nelson at Digital Outland, Tacoma, WA. Art direction by Stuart Ford.


Silva Screen 1301


Rating: ****


The fact that even a used CD of the original soundtrack to THE FOG (1980) can still net you a chunk of change is but one indication as to the interest in John Carpenter’s 1980s film music and this particularly moody soundtrack. The present Silva release is a two-disc set that comprises their 2000 re-issue of the score complete with the added Houseman prologue and the Jamie Lee Curtis radio interview.

The theme from THE FOG captures a sense of Gothic horror movie music with the little piano arpeggio-melody that is a Carpenter staple and reminiscent of HALLOWEEN. This is all surrounded by design and electronic elements. The opening “Prologue,” with its deliciously creepy narration by John Houseman, helps to set this tone quite well from the start. The continuous reiteration of this thematic material though can wear thin after a while however. The thematic thread unifies the score while the creepier harmonic ideas shift amorphously around it with the requisite stingers along the way. The score actually wears better than one might think, though the music itself tends to remain fairly repetitive. Perhaps the biggest difference between the design techniques in Carpenter’s music here and the way it is used today is that Carpenter draws out important thematic elements more often than nought. It is still a sample of a director/composer creating a unified work where the music needs to be attached to its imagery for greatest impact.

Disc two will be of more interest to fans as it uses music from the original mono ¼-inch tapes found by Alan Howarth. For the new release, Howarth was able to subsequently “re-create” these tracks that often include simply ambient textures and are less “musical” in one sense that their form is more open-ended. He has imaged the cues in stereo and allowed for some film effects to be incorporated as well into the final mix allowing a more interesting listening experience. The sound is certainly more ambient and richer than what appears on disc one. The musical backdrop created is certainly more faithful to the film in the presentation here than in the earlier discs and while still filled with the typical Carpenter style of repetition, it feels a bit more dramatic in this new presentation.

Silva’s new release will be a must for Carpenter fans and those who appreciate the development of electronic-based film music. The accompanying booklet sheds important light both on the development of the score and Howarth’s recent work on this release.

-- Reviewed by Steven A. Kennedy, 10 October 2012

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