Spooky Soundtracks: Prince of Darkness

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It’s finally October, a month best known for bloodshed, candy stuffed with razor blades, and scaring all of the little kids on the block shitless. As we inch ever closer to All Hallows’ Evening your resident mustache bear thought it would be fun to go through some of his favorite horror movie scores. Wear a costume, pass out treats, don’t blow out any jack-o-lanterns, check your candy, and hold on to your butts: It’s Spooky Soundtrack time. 

I was initially having some trouble deciding on what soundtrack to use for this post. There is an absolute ton of amazing music that serves as the backdrop to scenes of fright and carnage, not to mention quite a variety. Synthy thrillers, eerie prog rock suites, jazzy odes to cannibalism…all have served in some form or fashion. It wasn’t until last night that it dawned on me that there is really only one score that I can use to kick this off properly, and that is the score to John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

Prince of Darkness is something of a forgotten gem in Carpenter’s catalog, though it’s easy to see why in a career that boasts The Thing, Halloween and Escape From New York. Perhaps the story, a tale of scientists analyzing a cylinder of green liquid in a church basement that turns out to be Lucifer, was just a bit too batshit insane for people to comprehend or enjoy. Typing out a one sentence descriptor like that just now I can’t say I necessarily blame them. Uninhibited by such silly things as goo Satan, I popped my new copy into the player and prepared myself for a strange journey. Little did I know that such a fantastic soundtrack would accompany a movie where Alice Cooper kills a man with a bicycle.

John Carpenter is a little different from other horror directors in regards to his use of music. Where other directors are sparse with their soundtracks, opting only to use it to heighten tense moments and leaving the rest to wallow in silence, Carpenter marries his music to every aspect of his films. His score acts as the blood of the movie, constantly pulsing and giving life to scenes that might otherwise drag or feel dull. Even when characters are talking there are faint hints of music in the background that help to set the scene or further the sense of unease. Perhaps the best example of this symbiosis between score and film is the opening credits sequence. We’re very quickly introduced to a variety of characters who proceed to set up the story sans dialogue. Instead we are given thumping stop/start synth bass backed by otherworldly keys and pretty piano line. The whole thing is a perfectly paced slow burn that manages to hypnotize while driving through you like a bottom heavy freight train.

Realizing how golden that opening track is, Carpenter keeps with the same general theme throughout the movie. The piano line works its way into numerous other number in some variation, be it slowed down or warped. Though it may sometimes ease up in order to breathe or to perhaps offer the cast space to do their thing, the synth is at it’s absolute best when its in constant motion, acting as a conveyor belt to move everything forward. When it is absolutely rolling you get the feeling that there are greater forces at work, that something sinister is just below the surface biding its time. It’s really quite stunning.

Prince of Darkness, while suddenly becoming one of my favorite flicks, has given me a new found appreciation of Carpenter’s musical work. The film itself certainly isn’t for everyone. Its first half is fairly slow, the merger of religion and science may be a bit much for some, and it’s pretty much just flat out weird. The soundtrack, however, is worth every minute of your time. It obviously doesn’t have quite the same impact as it does within the context of the film but that shouldn’t stop you from listening if you’re turned off by the movie. I, for one, plan on revisiting his other films (Well, not all of them) to enjoy his musical integration and hope he can satisfy me with even more fat, synthy bass.

What’s your favorite horror movie soundtrack? Sound off in the comments…unless you’re gonna say something lame like Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows.

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  • This article is a vortex ov grim excellence. Hail John Carpenter!

    http://i.giphy.com/aTx092kCmvDA4.gif

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    River’s Edge soundtrack is pretty rad…..

  • Vote for Jeb

    This is a great soundtrack. Pretty sure I skipped this movie because of the silly-sounding plot, but now that i know it is Carpenter’s handiwork, I’ll try again.

    • It is pretty silly, but it’s a fun movie nevertheless.

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      Reading this actually made me remember I watched this a few years ago. It was that bad.

  • Damn apparently the former GOATLORD Guitarist Murdered Mother & Child Before Committing Suicide.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Yes, this be true.

      • Damn I saw this headlined this morning but had no clue it was the dude from Goatlord. Fucked!

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Yeah, pretty grim.

    • Stockhausen

      Geez. That’s…uh…pretty messed up.

  • Vote for Jeb

    I think I’m probably going to listen to the soundtrack for The Thing after this!

    • Leif Bearikson

      Strangely one of the only soundtracks Carpenter didn’t do himself, but it sounds just like him. Fitting given the movie.

      • Vote for Jeb

        Aye. IMO, Morricone is probably just as good.

        • Leif Bearikson

          I think a lot of his horror stuff is severely underrated.

  • JWEG

    While most of its “soundtrack” is mediocre late-90s metal, my first pick would be the score to Ginger Snaps. Especially the title theme.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjh2IZ4Yvwg

  • more beer

    So Metal Injection has taken to stealing ideas from the Toilet. They just posted their very first installment of Tech Death Tuesday. Fuckin thieving bastards!

    • the Toilet inspires all!

    • HOW YOU SEEN HOW HIGH THE TURLET HAS RISEN????? I am not sure they can ignore great ideas.

      http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/toiletovhell.com

      GL

      • Vote for Jeb

        I think we need to start waging guerrilla campaigns against the bigger, lolbuttzier sites like Buzzfeed and the Chive.

        • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

          Seriously, you guys might want to say something to them.

          Or it could be time for an old fashioned coal rolling

        • I will have to ponder such a campaign… I will report back.

        • I think @blackbeard_s_ghost:disqus has the right idea. Having group of semi-dedication coal rollers on various disqus websites could provide a decent representation of the community here. Each roller would have the “join us at: toiletovhell.com”. The idea would not to be openly flagrant or abrasive, by rather more jovial. Maybe call it positive coal rolling?

          • Vote for Jeb

            I’m not really huge on the idea of trolling for self-promotion.

          • The metal trenches dude does that and I cringe every time I see it.
            Edit: He doesn’t troll, but he always interjects on stuff saying “hey, we did a review of this album, and we have other daily reviews, check us out!” It just seems to bother me.

          • RFI

          • Vote for Jeb

            Honestly, I think it would probably have the opposite effect.

          • more beer

            He does it on every post he leaves. It certainly pretty tasteless to say the least. But he does write better reviews than a lot of the blogs.

          • The idea would be to show the interaction between all of us that are from the toilet in hopes that other readers would come to the site to have the same interactions. That is how I was envisioning it.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            First and last time that sentence has ever been uttered

        • Give me the Wsignal!

          • Vote for Jeb

            lol, I’m just joking. Except kinda not cuz Buzzfeed and Chive suck.

      • more beer

        They can still try and be at least somewhat original about it.

  • Mon*Star

    Be sure to enjoy the Alice Cooper track “Prince of Darkness” along with the movie!
    https://youtu.be/mlZGZPWgmoc

  • Vote for Jeb

    So I put my Soundtrack/orchestral playlist on shuffle after this post, and the Wolves in the Throne Room ambient album came up. Reminds me a lot of a film score.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Cool article. Been a few years since I last saw Prince of Darkness but the score brings it back. Carpenter has a wonderful way with using music as an essential part of his world building. Hope its on the box some time this month so I can watch it again. Didn’t think much of it first couple of times but it clicked on a third. Messy, derivative climax, but when its on form it’s freakishly chilling greatness.

    I’m a bit shit with scores, my brain generally tends to be focused on visual/thematic elements so I get tunes if they come through strongly, especially openings, but not so much what comes after. Five favourite horror themes off the top of my head are Nekromantik (the sex music is really good too), Cannibal Holocaust, Candyman, Phantasm and City of the Living Dead. One overall score that springs to mind that I really like is for Jean Rollin’s trippy minor gem Shiver of the Vampires, by Acanthus. But in isolation it doesn’t have the same effect alas.

  • Waynecro

    Back when I spent my weekends drinking heavily and watching horror movies, Prince of Darkness was a film I’d end up renting a few times a year. Weird and awesome.

  • I watched this a few months back. Soundtrack was great but the movie wasn’t amazing. Not one of Carpenter’s best. I don’t know how it is viewed by most horror fans but I loved In the Mouths of Madness. Great cast, plot, and it had plenty of Lovecraft references.

    • Waynecro

      In the Mouth of Madness kicks ass!

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      I’ve come across some people who think it’s cheesy and one who thinks it’s objectionable (for portraying horror literature/art as an evil force) but I’ve come across more, including myself, who love it for much the same reasons as you.

      • Vote for Jeb

        I love it!

  • Fester B. Gone

    Halloween III soundtrack is my favourite John Carpenter Score.

    • Halloween III is my favorite Halloween movie.

      • Fester B. Gone

        Mine as well it’s very original and the cinematography is amazing. Dean Cundey rules.

  • Fester B. Gone

    Behold The Dark Lord of Anti-Matter has cloven clawed 4 pronged appendages for hands.

    • Leif Bearikson

      His hand looked so much bigger on the other side of the mirror.

  • Xinen

    Nice rec thanks. I love Carpenter! Shame I never knew about this film. One of my absolute faves of all time would have to be the Creepshow soundtrack. The Crate is my favorite, the piano, story, and schadenfreude just make it for me.

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/yAHTZfXQ10M?rel=0

    Another which has jumped to a top position for myself would be Phantasm. I feel like a fool for not looking in to it sooner, but maybe it was for the better. I always knew Entombed’s Left Hand Path had a sample in it, and is my fave song by the band. But both the film and its soundtrack are awesome stuff. I definitely prefer the older horror stuff.