"Ghosts of Mars" (Varese Sarabande; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It can be argued that the best part of any John Carpenter movie is its score, written and usually performed by the famed "Halloween" director himself. Carpenter's extraordinary use of synthesizers to create atmosphere, attitude and a sense of action has served him well through the years on such films as "Escape from New York," "Vampires," "Christine," "Assault on Precinct 13" and so on.

But Carpenter's brilliant score-writing and use of synthesizers aren't enough to get him featured on the hallowed pages of Rough Edge. What makes the soundtrack for "Ghosts of Mars" different from Carpenter's previous efforts is his guest musicians. Joining Carpenter on the soundtrack for "Ghosts of Mars" are Steve Vai, Buckethead, members of Anthrax and more.

Not surprisingly, given Carpenter's gift for movie music, the synthesizer sounds and the guitar sounds here blend very well. It works fantastically for the film, giving it the required elements of atmosphere and beefing up the action, but it plays well on CD as well. You're not going to bang your head to it, but it's a great listen when you're in the mood for something different. Keep in mind it's all instrumental (and not all guitars) and it's probably a little slower than you're used to hearing from the likes of Vai and Anthrax, but it still kicks ass - within the movie or without.

By the way, there's a great documentary on the DVD of the film about the making of the score. Check it out if you haven't seen it.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Dec 2018 12:03:11 -0500 .