The Fog


Silva Screen Records, 1984

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


A few months ago, I found myself listening to the soundtrack to Escape From New York, a score composed and performed by the film's director, John Carpenter. I think I wondered at the time why Carpenter had chosen to compose such a minimalistic score to balance out the action in the film.

Now, from the same stable comes the soundtrack for The Fog, another Carpenter film (and the film that preceeded Escape From New York). And after listening to this soundtrack, I seem to understand both discs more, though I still think the minimalistic style fits The Fog better than it did Escape From New York.

First, the usual admission: I have not seen the film, nor do I plan to see it. Sorry, gang, but horror just isn't my cup of tea. But what makes this particular score so interesting is that you don't need to have seen the film in order to appreciate the suspenseful undertones throughout both the soundtrack and film. This is the kind of disc I wish I had a few weeks prior; I would have mounted speakers outside of my house and blared this disc to scare the little trick-or-treaters into wetting their Pokemon suits. That's how infectious this disc can get at times.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In a sense, Carpenter was taking a major risk at that time. He was just coming off the success of Halloween; to do a second horror film right in a row left the possibility open that he would be classified merely as a horror film director/writer. (Likewise, as she discusses in a radio interview tacked on to the end of this soundtrack, Jamie Lee Curtis knew she risked being typecast as a horror film actress by accepting a role in The Fog after performing in Halloween.) Even more challenging, though, would be for Carpenter to rise above the haunting score that Halloween had - and making his audience forget about it as well.

It wasn't easy - and the movie almost imploded upon itself, as Carpenter discusses in the liner notes. But musically, The Fog has some very suspenseful moments, even if some of them seem to stretch on a little too long.

The two appearances of "Theme From 'The Fog'" (including the reprise, never before released) help to set the mood perfectly. Although this theme isn't as catchy as other horror films from the same area, it works in that it is more ominous-sounding from the outset, making sure that at least portions would remain with the listener throughout the course of the movie (or, in this case, the soundtrack). Carpenter also does well by sticking to shorter, two- and three-minute pieces for the most part, allowing each selection to take its own shape while working into the big picture.

When Carpenter stretches things out a bit, though, it gets a little tedious. "Reel 9," the original closing piece of this soundtrack, runs for just under 11 minutes - far longer than it needed to in order to get its point across. Similarly, "Blake In The Sanctuary" tends to musically overstay its welcome by about two or three minutes - not the worst crime that could be committed, but one that takes away from the overall power of the selection.

Carpenter's performance of this soundtrack leans heavily on synthesizers and keyboards - and these fit the mood perfectly. It's almost as if you can see the fog creeping up on you as you sit in your easy chair, and it begins to envelop you in an area where you thought you were safe. I thought this was happening to me as I listened to this through headphones - only I looked up and discovered that my wife had just exited the bathroom after taking a hot shower. (Hmm... no wonder there's never any hot water left!)

The Fog might not be Carpenter's best-remembered movie, but the soundtrack for this film proves that it is still well worth the listener's time and investment to check it out. Even if some of the pieces stretch a little too long, overall it remains a disc with some of Carpenter's most riveting musical moments.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Silva Screen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.