Music from the Motion Picture Assault on Precinct 13

Musical Score By: John Carpenter

Performed By Alan Howarth

Distributed by: BuySoundtrax Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                John Carpenter is best known for his horror films...films like Halloween, Prom Night, The Thing, The Fog and more.  One of the reasons these films were so scary was the musical score and Carpenter was a master at creating a spooky musical score.  But what about Carpenter's other films?  What kind of scores would he create for an action thriller or a comedic science fiction film?  Well, BuySoundtrax Records decided to let us know in Music from the Motion Picture Assault on Precinct 13, an album that pays homage to the brilliant director/composer featuring music from two of his earliest films.

                Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) features Austin Stoker as Police Officer Ethan Bishop assigned to command a police precinct in Los Angeles during its final days prior to being closed.  Unfortunately, he takes over on the night that a local street gang decides to exact revenge for an LAPD ambush that caused the death of six of their members.  Staffed with a skeleton crew, Bishop must rely on the help of a captain, two secretaries and a bus full of prisoners to survive the night.

                Dark Star is a space comedy that began as a student film and evolved into a low budget motion picture released in 1974.  Set during the 22nd Century, the film stars Brian Narelle as Lt. Doolittle, default commander of a colonization scout ship with artificial intelligence.  Proving that the mission is doomed from the start, their original commander is in cryogenic storage after being killed by a faulty seat panel.  The crew of the Dark Star find themselves in some serious trouble after an accident while navigating an asteroid storm causes the A.I. to malfunction.

                Music from the Motion Picture Assault on Precinct 13 features music from that film with bonus tracks from the movie Dark Star.  Both scores were originally composed by John Carpenter and produced, arranged and performed by Alan Howarth for this album.  John Carpenter's horror film scores are so successful because they are so simplistic in nature.  Utilizing a short string of notes performed in repetition and adding in bursts of stretched out synthetic bursts, John Carpenter perfected the style of music that can send chills up and down your spine. 

                For Assault on Precinct 13, Carpenter uses this style to put the viewer on the edge of their seat as they wait for the gang to attack the precinct.  A nice touch was the percussion beat that sounds just like the beat of a heart.  One particularly chilling track, Lawson's Revenge, features a minute and thirty second high pitched screech with a waning heart beat in the background.  For Dark Star, this same style is used, but digital components are applied, giving the score a science fiction feel.  The keyboards have a different tone altogether making the track less spooky and more sci-fi in feel.

                Music from the Motion Picture Assault on Precinct 13 is a perfect album for any fan of John Carpenter music, offering up a glimpse into the two earliest works of the artist.  The album perfectly captures the early style of Carpenter's music that would eventually aide him so well in his foray into horror.  This is an album that any fan of Carpenter or 70s/80s horror will be bound to find quite intriguing.


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