Tag Archives: John Carpenter

John Carpenter: The night HE played Halloween

Guest blogger Alex Norman hitched a ride on The Pork Chop Express to the Troxy in London on Halloween night, which was not dark and stormy and had no rain coming down in sheets thick as lead. He did however get to see the horror master, John Carpenter, play live. Like old Jack Burton he stood in the crowd and looked Carpenter square in the eye and says, “Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.”

Check out his review…

When horror icon John Carpenter announced a European tour in support of his two Lost Themes albums, original music created with his son and godson, it was a dream come true to finally see one of my idols in person performing his iconic synth music.

30617424621_10dd694cfb_kThings got even better when it was announced he was doing a meet and greet before the event. I didn’t even question the £135 cost; it was more a case of where’s my credit card! Opportunities like this – meeting JC on Halloween in London – won’t come along too often.

With the Art Deco Troxy filling up, anticipation was building and it was bizarre surveying the mosh pit which consisted of Michael Myers, ghosts, They Live zombies, Gracie Law, Jack Burton, even the axe wielding crazy dude from In the Mouth of Madness (“do you read Sutter Cane?”). You get the picture – Carpenter even announced the winner of the best costume.

MacReady – “Why don’t we just wait here for a little while, see what happens?” The Thing

When the lights finally went out, the crowd roared in anticipation and out came the ‘bats’ – Carpenter was pointing out faces in the crowd, doing the sign of the horns, reverently chewing gum and even doing grandad shimmies.

30705801585_1fc90fec21_kThen it began… Carpenter’s boney finger pressed down on the keys to signal the opening of the main theme to Escape From New York. Yes! Here we go.  There’s was a real lack of Snake Plissskens in attendance tonight which was a shame.

With the backing of his full band of men half his age, Carpenter’s music is injected with some rock power and his music explodes out of the amps. His iconic music still sounds as good as it ever has but it’s more ferocious, louder and, just, in your face.

As the exultant crowd scream their appreciation of the opener, Carpenter yells: “Hello London!”. Judging by the look on his face, his choice to go down this rock rabbit hole odyssey as he approaches his 69th birthday, you can’t help but think he is ticking off a dream he never really believed would happen. Next up is the driving and moody Assault on Precinct 13 theme.

30073808054_96eec03315_kA couple of tracks from Lost Themes follow, Vortex and Mystery, before the mood shifts… in between songs, Carpenter acts as a story teller, bordering on melodramatic, as he introduces The Fog.  It felt almost as if you could be in Antonio Bay as the stage is layered with thick fog and clips from the film are played on a giant projection at the back of the stage.  All of his film scores are accompanied by clips from the films and it really does enhance the performance.  After all, Carpenter is stationed behind a keyboard chewing gum and kicking ass musically, so it provides something else to enhance the performance.

30073834074_76764e4817_kNext, as Carpenter and the band donned sunglasses, the crowd knew what was coming and the projection screen was filled with bold statements such as ‘obey’ and ‘money is your god’. Enter the main theme from They Live. As images of the late ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Keith David are beamed up on the screen, the crowd whoops and hollers.

Carpenter then introduces the next song in honor of one of the greatest film composer of all time, Ennio Morricone. The studio drafted Morricone in to score The Thing and reports of tension surfaced.  John even telling the great composer to play ‘less’ notes.  But Carpenter is a much more relaxed man these days and the past is blood under the bridge.  The Thing’s main theme literally shudders the rib cage as the thunderous bass pounds out of the giant speaker stacks.

Next up is Distant Dream from Lost Themes II – a driving, rocking track that sounds like a lost track from Big Trouble in Little China, and lo (pan) and behold, the next track is from that very movie – seeing Lo Pan emit his blue mouth beam on the big screen and various action packed clips from the film as the band are rocking out is very cool indeed.

30405769400_c19171fc03_kNext up are a couple more tracks from Lost Themes – Wraith and Night. The former is a slow burner that sounds enriched and far more sonically powerful than the album cut. It’s at this point that Carpenter confesses tonight’s show has been uncharacteristically upbeat and that it was time to dour things down. This is where Night comes in – a dark slice of bass synth that broods along relentlessly.  This sets the mood and tone of the venue perfectly as Carpenter wishes everyone ‘Happy Halloween’ before keying the iconic opening notes to Halloween to the delight of everyone.

The main set is wrapped up with the hard rock main theme from In the Mouth of Madness which starts off sounding like Metallica’s Enter Sandman before it transforms into a balls-out rocker Carpenter-style, leaving those bad Metallica’s thoughts far behind.

Tonight’s encore kicks off with Darkness Begins from the Prince of Darkness score, followed by Virtual Survivor from Lost Themes II, one of the best tracks of the night that trudges along to a big finish.  Purgatory slows things down and provides the most emotive point before the second half of the track kicks in with marching rhythmic intensity.

Before the final song of the evening, our ringmaster and storyteller for the evening offers us some final words of caution: ‘travel home safely tonight, because Christine is out there somewhere’. Carpenter of course is talking about the sentient and violent Plymouth Fury that wins the heart of Keith Gordon before destroying everything that threatens their romance. There’s clearly a lot of love for this film and score.

30588852102_b870ba77c3_kWith the final beat of the drum and as Carpenter’s last note fades out, he thanks the crowd, the band take a bow and leave to rapturous applause. Sure, it was a short gig clocking in at just 80 minutes but what a great 80 minutes they were. Whether this will ever happen again in London, who knows, but tonight, the Master of Horror channeled the youth and vitality so desired by Lo Pan and lived the rock star dream and added a whole new chapter and level of cool for his fans to cherish forever.

30071736283_2e300b71e7_kAs Sheriff Leigh Brackett says in Halloween: “It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.” Everyone who attended the Troxy certainly had one good evening. After all you can’t kill the boogie man!

 

Pictures: Stephen Watts

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Kids in horror: far from child’s play

children-of-the-dammed[1]Kids are an intergral part to horror, so here’s my list of children you’d need a little bit more than the naughty step for…

Cole from The Sixth Sense

He’s behind you!

We all want our children to make friends, er just not perhaps the dead kind. At least birthday parties wouldn’t be expensive although pass the parcel might become a little tiresome. You might also have a few issues if you have Nene’s 99 red balloons playing at any parties as well; read being the harbinger of death throughout the film.

Charlie from Firestarter

She’s a Firestarter , a twisted Firestarter. No she’s not she’s Drew Barrymore. This little moppet might get you hot under the collar as a parent down to the fact that when provoked she can quite literally have a fiery temper – I blame all those E numbers. Think Carrie on heat, so to speak!

Carol Ann from Poltergeist

To be fair she’s a sweet kid and it’s not really her fault that she is most haunted, not by Derek Acorah or anything, now that would be bad.

They say that children watching TV can have a bad affect on them and never has this been truer than with Carol Ann Freeling who speaks through the dead through the static on your TV (at least it’s better than The Zone: QVC and signed repeats of Country File I suppose).Having a graveyard in your back garden might be good for the plants but to be honest it doesn’t really help the situation. Soon to be featured on an episode of DIY SOS…probably.

Michael Myers from Halloween

Knife to see you, to see you knife. Young Michael sure did like his dressing up but clearly this was ‘masking’ other problems. Talking of which if they did the remake today would they use a Chris Pine mask?

He, that’s Myers, grew into a strapping young man and that superhuman strength would come in handy for removals and those trips to the shops. I can see him now in those overalls with his bags for life.

Esther from Orphan

There’s something wrong with Esther, so screamed the posters for Orphan, well there must have been something about her stare as it used to send our Jack Russell potty when she saw the posters. Essentially a reworking of sorts of The Omen where a well to do family adopt a child only to find out everything is not as it seems. As the body count rises so do the doubts. Comes with an interesting twist that helps stop it being a run of the mill shocker.

Malachi from Children of the Corn

If the whole Dexy’s Midnight Runners look of dungarees does it for you then Malachi might be right up your street…or strip of field.

Leader of the Children of the Corn, the original based on a novel by Stephen King short story but now a never ending stream of uneven direct to video sequels, Malachi is probably not likely to be the apple of your eye for long as he and his minions want all adults dead. Clearly they haven’t thought this through as they won’t get pocket money and end up living of all the wrong kinds of food.

The children from The Children                        

Bugs can be nasty, especially when they turn innocent children into rampaging killers. This is a nasty piece of British horror that has massively effective moments and manages to conjure up some wonderful look away now if you don’t want to see the results death scenes.

Two families spend the Christmas holidays at a remote (of course) house and after a seemingly horrific accident where one of the adults dies in a tragic sledge accident (more you’ve been maimed) it isn’t long before other adults start dropping like flys and end up being outnumbered by their butter wouldn’t melt sons and daughters…well worth a look.

Regan from The Exorcist

Shut it! No, not John Thaw in The Sweeney but shut it you potty mouthed pea-green splutter! We all hope for beautiful children that turn people’s heads but rarely one that turns its own 360 degrees.

Steer clear of pastel colours as vomit may well be a serious problem although to give her credit she does have a strong grasp of languages, mostly the dead or disgusting kind. She is undoubtedly a fast learner but could perhaps do with some sex education lessons as well, try explaining those splinters!

Village of the Damned

Most people might be rather pleased for kids for kids with blonde hair and blue eyes…but less so if it is the whole bloomin village of the little tykes. Remade to a lesser effect in 1994 by John Carpenter even Superman, Luke Skywalker and Mikey’s mum from Look Who’s Talking couldn’t even stop them! Gives a whole new meaning to ‘Are you smarter than a (collective) ten year old?’

Damian from The Omen

The original devil child, Damian comes complete with his own devil dog accessory and 666 birthmark in his hairline – at least you won’t get him mixed up with the other kids! Keep out of reach of three-wheeled trike, goldfish and he’s none too keen on churches either.

Damian shows promise and ingenuity with the way he despatches of those who come in his way, the real reason Cameron kept the toddlers milk running. Specialities include Reverend skewered by spire and decapitation by sheets of glass, oh and the Christening and visits to the zoo may also cause something of a problem.