The Thing

Composed by: Ennio Morricone

Distributed by: BuySoundtrax Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The Thing, also known as John Carpenter’s The Thing, was a science fiction/horror film released in 1982.  It starred Kurt Russell as a helicopter pilot with an American Antarctic team at a science outpost who come across a  parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates with other organisms, thus providing it with the capability of replicating them.  As the parasite moves form being to being, it systematically destroys the scientific team.  To celebrate the release of the prequel film bearing the same name, BuySoundtrax Records has released the soundtrack of the original film, composed by Ennio Morricone and restored by Alan Howarth.

            Ennio Morricone is an Italian composer who began his musical career at six years old when he wrote his first composition.  His father Mario Morricone was a successful jazz trumpeter and Ennio followed in his footsteps, taking up the trumpet at age nine.  By 1946, Morricone began a more serious foray into composing and by the early 1950s, he was composing background music for radio dramas.  In 1955, he began composing music for films and has amassed quite a résumé in the film score category composing the soundtracks of such blockbuster films as A Fist Full of Dollars, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso, Bugsy, In the Line of Fire, Mission to Mars and more.

            The Thing marks the first time John Carpenter hired an outside composer to create the musical score for one of his films.  A talented composer himself, up until then, Carpenter had always scored his own movies.  Perhaps Carpenter should have kept to that strategy.  I had never seen The Thing and therefore was not familiar with its soundtrack until I was offered the opportunity to review the BuySoundtrax release.  I can honestly say that I wasn’t missing anything.

            Carpenter’s movies had always been known for its scary soundtracks made even more spooky by repetitive notes.  The Thing starts off that way with an ominous repetition of a dark note on the piano, then transforms into a synthesized mishmosh that actually sounds like a mad scientist performing his very own masterpiece at an out of tune organ .  This soundtrack is actually painful to listen to and I can’t imagine what was going through Carpenter’s mind when he accepted this poorly composed soundtrack for his film. 

            Ennio Morricone is generally known as a composer who knows just how to fit his music to any particular movie.  This time though, he fails miserably.  Why anyone would want a copy of The Thing Soundtrack is quite beyond me.


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