Classic Movie Themes: Assault on Precinct 13
Assault on Precinct 13 was John Carpenter's second feature film. The movies score was composed and recorded by Carpenter himself on a synthesizer over a period of three days. It features a minimalist style comprising of just four distinct music cues, which are used sparingly throughout the movie. The pulsating beats and elongated eerie notes combine with a mournful main melody. This lean, pared back approach suits the narrative perfectly and reflects the tonal trend of cinema at the time. There are hints of Morricone (who Carpenter later worked with on The Thing) and Lalo Schifrin in the soundtrack.
It's interesting that Carpenter's subtle and understated compositions were perhaps more influential on minimalist electronic music, rather than on contemporary movie scores. Certainly Carpenter's style became grander and musically more complex as he continued to score his later movies such as Prince of Darkness and later In the Mouth of Madness. Although he may well best known for the Halloween theme, the Assault on Precinct 13 soundtrack provided the original musical blueprint and is in many ways its equal. Film composers working today could learn valuable lessons from its simple eloquence.