The Thing (1982)

Ennio Morricone

" The Thing might not be your Thing "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the limited release

BuySoundtrax Records is proud to announce the release of The Thing - Music from the Motion Picture, a recreation of the Ennio Morricone penned score as heard on the original out-of-print soundtrack album. Alan Howarth, John Carpenter's longtime collaborator, provides a faithful restoration of the music as it was originally heard on the out-of-print soundtrack.

Morricone actually wrote a great deal of music for The Thing, but only a portion of it was used in the film. Much of the music was ultimately unused, only the throbbing Thing motif and the sustained string pattern of isolation throughout the film as primary motives were used of Morricone's material.

And in a way it is this which makes the album. Because The Thing has always been about mood. No matter if Ennio Morricone composed this music or Carpenter himself, the first part sounds exactly like if Carpenter would have done it. So does "Main Title" open with a solemn threatening mood, so do we receive the pulse pounding theme that stands for The Thing in "Desolation", so do we receive emphasized organ suspense in "Humanity 2", so do we receive the lonesome dramatic undertone of "Humanity", so do we receive the unearthly darkness and sfx in "Burn It" or the cold eerie tones of "Solitude" (a cue that exactly sounds like Morricone). Meaning it is this that makes the film better.

There are tracks however that don't exactly click with the rest of the material. And all those examples are discovered in the second part of the album. One such cue is "Sterilization" (showing a more playful piece for organ and flute that doesn't exactly mesh with the overall tone), another is the high pitched pulse theme and unfaithful organ use in "Eternity" (reminding me of some bad organ music from Mission to Mars) and another one is the pizzicato guitar pluckiness in "Contamination" that has a more comical than scary effect. In fact it's startling to discover that the second part of the album completely destroys the simple yet perfect sound design of the first part. If Carpenter was a genius at one thing, it was setting down the tone and mood of the film on album. Here in the first part Morricone succeeded, but in the second he failed.

The Thing may not be standard quality music, it was and still is music that has one amazing quality. In the first part of the CD, it is absolutely music that makes a movie more effective, and thereby making the CD experience actually worth it. The theme may be utterly simplistic, but it makes itself memorable inside the film and as an actual theme. It shows that Morricone was asked to specifically recreate the tone of Escape from New York, right after Morricone delivered the director his first orchestral ideas. That's how Morricone came up with this electronic pulse theme that ultimately became the sound of The Thing, because he made him sound like Carpenter in that theme. Yet The Thing ultimately sinks because it fails to keep the amazing sound design of the first part. In that first part The Thing was everything I remembered it to be. In the second part it became a Morricone effort that suddenly lost its biggest strength, namely it stopped blending in. Something The Thing ultimately stands for, as film, as experience, as creature. Sadly Morricone stopped mimicking Carpenter, making the absence of his music completely understandable inside the film.


1. Main Title * (1.46)
2. Desolation (4.29)
3. Humanity 2 (2.42)
4 .Despair (4.47)
5. Humanity (6.52)
6. Shape (3.18)
7. Burn It * (2.23)
8. Solitude (5.33)
9. Fuchs * (2.27)
10. To Mac's Shack * (2.54)
11. Wait (6.21)
12. Sterilization (3.43)
13. Eternity (5.26)
14. Contamination (1.01)
15. Bestiality (2.55)
16. End Credits (4.35)

* Music composed by John Carpenter in association with Alan Howarth

Total Length: 60.45
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 9 votes - average 3.72/5)

Released by

BSX Records 8895 (limited release 2011)

Produced & Arranged by

Alan Howarth & Larry Hopkins