It appears John Carpenter has a legion of fans. Over the last two years (perhaps a few more), genre film scoring has been admiring Carpenter’s iconic way in an effort to resuscitate the long dead practice of creepy synth manipulation to fatten genre investments. It’s been a kick to hear the beats of old, with a younger generation of filmmakers doing their best to keep Carpenter’s signature touch alive.
Neil Marshall’s “Doomsday” certainly pulled a few muscles reaching for the rusted Carpenter crown, but Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” was the film that actually achieved a precise aural mood. Teaming with Carl Thiel and Graeme Revell, Rodriguez walked carefully in familiar footsteps, rolling out an aggressive synth/rock score to backdrop a horror film that also reeked heavily of big, wet Carpenter smooches. Normally, such worship would be worth a few grimaces and a flat-out dismissal, but Rodriguez and his team nailed to nuance of a Carpenter score, while heightening the musical tension for modern audiences.
The score for “Planet Terror” is all over the map musically (befitting the grandiose “Grindhouse” experiment), but the synth tracks steal the show. The music lends a film a rare shot of cool energy not enjoyed since the 1980s, tempering the showboat visuals with some delectable electronic style.
If only John Carpenter himself still held the same enthusiasm for his movie music. Perhaps it’s best a nation of fanboy filmmakers want to continue to play in his sandbox.
Here’s “Zero to Fifty in Four.”
Here’s “His Prescription…Pain.”
Here’s “Police Station Assault.”
And the film’s trailer.