John Carpenter's The Fog
Musical Score By: John Carpenter
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I was a kid, it seemed like every other year, another freaky John Carpenter film with an equally spooky musical score would hit the theaters. I remember watching The Fog and being completely spooked not by the story, but by the musical score. So, when I was invited to review Silva Screen Records release of an expanded edition of the soundtrack of John Carpenter’s The Fog, I couldn’t wait to listen to it. But first I had to set the mood – I decided to listen to it during the darkest hours of one of the foggiest days of the month – yeah, I’m that wacky!
The Fog is a horror film that takes place in a small fishing town known as Antonio Bay, located on the coast of California. The town is about to have its centennial celebration, but on this night, April 21st, some folks remember the tragedy that took place on the rocks off the shores of the town. It seems that, on this night in 1880, during one of the worst fogs in history, six of the town’s founding fathers deliberately sank a clipper ship known as the Elizabeth Dane, killing all of its crew members. Now, one hundred years later, the ghosts of the Elizabeth Dane’s crew come back to the town via a supernatural fog to avenge their murder by taking the lives of six members of the town. The movie starred Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman, Janet Leigh and Hal Holbrook.
Silva Screen Records’ new release of The Fog Soundtrack features two CDs worth of music from the movie. The first CD features the music from the original out of print soundtrack of the film. The first track features the story of the sinking of the Elizabeth Dane and the fishermen’s tale about the date the dead crew would come back to exact revenge. The track is completely silent but for the narrator’s voice, speaking in a tone perfect for a spooky campfire ghost story. Right after that, we get the Theme from The Fog and the rest of the original soundtrack follows from there. The final track of the first CD features an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis conducted shortly after the original release of the film in 1980. The second CD features twenty minutes of music created for the film, but never before released.
There is something about John Carpenter’s musical scores for horror/science fiction films that can really freak you out. He doesn’t go overboard in his creations, using a repetitive keyboard track, but somehow that repetitive higher registry piano or synthesizer sound will perfectly add a spook factor to his films. Just listening to the Theme from The Fog was enough to send chills up my spine. As the soundtrack moves forward, ambient electronic sounds meant to represent the actions of the supernatural fog, start to appear. These sounds seem to come at you from nowhere and will often cause you to jump. In addition to that spooky piano score and the ambient sounds, there is a rumbling undercurrent – not sure if this is percussion or orchestral-based, but it definitely gives you an uneasy feeling.
While any completist will love the extra twenty minutes of music, I felt it unnecessary. I liked some of the tracks, but to be honest, the re-release of the original soundtrack would have been enough for me. I found the interview with Jamie Lee Curtis to be quite interesting. I’ve always liked her and felt her to be quite intelligent and this aspect of her personality really shows in this early interview. I loved the fact that she made it a point to get roles on her own merit rather than getting help from her actor parents. I also found it commendable that, even at that early age, Jamie Lee Curtis understood what it would be like to be typecast and realized she would have to move away from horror for a while and make other movie choices to allow her to continue her career long into the future. I agreed with her regarding theater classes that were available in school at the time never preparing actors for what it is like to work in front of the camera. She exhibited keen insight into her field and I enjoyed this track thoroughly.
As for the dark, foggy listening atmosphere – it definitely heightened the listening experience. I loved this release of the soundtrack of John Carpenter’s The Fog. The movie may not have been one of Carpenter’s best, but that soundtrack is one that I will always remember as one of the spookiest alongside those of The Exorcist, Halloween, Psycho, etc. Fans of classic horror will love getting their hands on this soundtrack and completists will appreciate the extra twenty minutes of never released musical score.