02.02.15

The 10 best film soundtracks, according to John Carpenter

John Carpenter is known to most as the legendary director behind films such as HalloweenEscape From New YorkAssault On Precinct 13The Thing, and They Live. But in a lot of circles, he's just as well known for composing the soundtracks to these films. His creeping, minimalistic scores have inspired a generation of synthesizer musicians over the years. Alongside the likes of Goblin and Fabio Frizzi, there is practically an entire subgenre of electronic music devoted to loving pastiches of his music.

Yet despite the impact that his music has had, Carpenter has only ever set his music to the images he shot – until now. New album 'Lost Themes' contains nine fantasy film scores, inviting listeners to create movies in their own minds for the music to accompany. Freed from the practicalities of writing for film – the need for his sounds to serve a functional purpose – 'Lost Themes' is one of Carpenter's most exploratory works, seeing him expand his signature style to experiment with more genres and travel down more avenues than ever before. And although 'Lost Themes' is a dark, dread-inspiring listen, it's also a family affair: it was created alongside his son, Cody Carpenter (member of prog outfit Ludrium), and godson Daniel Davies (a film composer in his own right).

Carpenter's soundtracks have doubtlessly been influential, but what were the soundtracks that inspired him in the first place? To celebrate the release of 'Lost Themes', the "master of horror" selects his 10 favourite film scores – longtime fans won't be surprised to see Carpenter acknowledge the enduring impact that Bernard Herrmann's music has had on him over the years, nor Forbidden Planet's early use of an electronic soundtrack.

01. Bernard Herrmann Vertigo (1958)

John Carpenter: "A dark, haunting score. Music for a love story, conceived in a nightmare."

02. Bernard Herrmann North By Northwest (1959)

John Carpenter: "Funny and suspenseful. One of Hermann’s best."

03. Dimitri Tiomkin Rio Bravo (1959)

John Carpenter: "Dimitri Tiomkin at his best. The tension themes are great."

04. James Bernard The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

John Carpenter: "James Bernard at his creeping, crawling, spine-tingling best."

05. Louis & Bebe Barron Forbidden Planet (1956)

John Carpenter: "The first electronic score for a movie. Weird and haunting."

06. Tangerine Dream Sorcerer (1977)

John Carpenter: "Tangerine Dream score the literal heart of darkness."

07. Jerry Fielding Straw Dogs (1971)

John Carpenter: "The music expresses the character’s inner turmoil and conflicts."

08. Bernard Herrmann Journey To The Center Of The Earth (1959)

John Carpenter: "Hermann’s opening theme goes as low and as dark as possible."

09. James Bernard Horror of Dracula (1958)

John Carpenter: "James Bernard used to sing the title of the movie he was scoring. In the British release, it was Drac – u – la…"

10. Elmer Bernstein The Magnificent Seven (1960)

John Carpenter: "This became standard fare for scoring Westerns. The music channelled Aaron Copeland."

Sacred Bones release 'Lost Themes' on February 3rd 2015 (buy).