I realize there’s been a lot of talk about horror soundtracks around here lately, but that’s just where I’m at right now. You dig? But listen, everything I’ve talked about up to this point is nothing compared to what I’m about to discuss. Yesterday I received in the mail what is easily the greatest horror soundtrack to have ever been made. Forget Popol Vuh’s Nosferatu, Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho, or Marshall Crutcher’s Monsturd. John Carpenter’s The Fog S/T hit the front porch yesterday and I couldn’t be happier.
Like I said, I talk about horror scores a lot, but in my opinion The Fog is the Holy Grail of scores. It’s also still one of my favorite horror films ever. A lot of you that grew up with “57 channels and nothin on” may not understand what I’m about to explain, but just bare with me, okay? So when I was a little kid, we didn’t have cable. No, what we had at our house was a 40 foot antenna tower that allowed us three network stations and one PBS station out of South Bend, IN and Fort Wayne, IN. Throw in a local religious network and one “we play what we feel like” local station and that was the extent of my television viewing. So when the fall preview edition of TV Guide came out I was always excited to see what actual films the networks were going to play that season. The Fog was one I was always excited to see. Before we had a VCR, TV was my only access to movies(besides the occasional trip to the cinema.) Since they were edited for tv, my parents would let me watch them and The Fog, even in edited form, still scared the crap of out me. He built such tension through nothing more than a steadi-cam shot and his synth-heavy scores. I can remember lying on the couch in our living room freezing with fever and my mom bundling me under three blankets and watching The Fog in the dark. Maybe it was the fever, but that viewing was a particulary visceral one. The scene with Adrienne Barbeau climbing onto the top of the fog-covered lighthouse as the ghost pirates crept their way to her stuck with me. In one fail swoop I was horrified and I also wanted to own my own lighthouse radio station(again, the fever might’ve been a factor.)
The movie made its impact.
A couple of years ago when I began collecting these scores from all the classic horror films I loved in my youth The Fog was at the top of the list of ones I wanted. At the time there had been no reissues, so prices were what I’d call fucking ridiculous for original pressings. $145?? Really?? So that record was put on the back burner. Death Waltz Recording Company reissued it in a couple of forms, a clear vinyl version and a “Blake’s Gold Edition”. I wasn’t quick enough to snag the clear version and it sold out. I ended up just waiting on buying that gold edition, and I’m glad I did. Silva Screen Records out of London recently reissued Carpenter’s masterful score on double LP with white and green vinyl. The original mono tapes were located by Alan Howarth and he remastered them into stereo versions. The results are stunning. I’m spinning it now. For the fourth time since yesterday afternoon. It sounds even better than I remember.
Say what you will, but Carpenter is the master of suspense and tension. He’s never had to resort to cheap thrills or over-the-top gore to entertain(though The Thing was pretty damn gory.) His use of camera work and synth scores pushes his films to a new level, even if the writing sometimes wasn’t as up to par.
An underrated filmmaker and an underrated composer. Time to spin it again, with a cup of coffee.