John Carpenter – Assault On Precinct 13 (OST)

Assault On Precinct 13To say John Carpenter’s career has gone off the boil a bit, would be an understatement. After the poor Ghosts Of Mars, he limited himself to just two episodes of the Masters Of Horror series. But back in the mid-1970’s to the early 1980’s, the man was on fire! From Dark Star, The Fog and Halloween to later films like The Thing, Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China. Even his average titles like Prince Of Darkness have fans (me!). But Assault On Precinct 13 is one of his best. Essentially a remodelled Western in the vein of Walter Hills’ The Warriors, it tells the story of a group of people trapped in an isolated police station whilst an army of gang members lay siege. It’s a gritty film and really enjoyable, despite an average remake a few years ago. But what really stands out for me is the score, composed by John Carpenter himself.

He does score most of his own films, usually using a minimalist synth score to underline a lot of the tension in his films. The music was recorded on just four tracks in three days, which adds to the sparse feel of the sounds. There’s repetition of some motifs that help build familiarity and a sense of pace. The skittering drums beats are a nice contrast to the strong bass and simple synth chords that accompany it. It’s striking how modern and up to date it sounds, especially with a lot of current group’s fondness for older analogue synths and drum machines. Considering that the score was recorded in 1976, when Kraftwerk were hitting their stride, it’s amazing that Assault On Precinct 13 isn’t citied more as being an influential record.

The main Assault on Precinct 13 theme is a brilliant piece of music that’s really moody and great for playing games to (I’ve got a great version of it on Optimo’s How To Kill The DJ Vol 2). Halloween has a much more recognisable theme, maybe second only to the Exorcist, but Assault On Precinct 13 is a master class in evoking atmosphere from very little. Although sitting down and listening to the CD, it’s not hard to see the limits of a film score as there is a fair bit of repetition. But in this case, it’s good to sit back and let the soundtrack take you away.

Assault On Precinct 13 trailer:


  1. John

    I love that movie so much and I havent been able to get the main theme out of my head for the past week. Its from playing Mass Effect, the music that comes on when you die reminds me so much of it I had to rewatch the movie 🙂

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