The legendary filmmaker recalls the equally legendary composer.

By Clark Collis
July 06, 2020 at 04:44 PM EDT
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Gabriel Grams/FilmMagic; Giambalvo & Napolitano/Redferns

The late Ennio Morricone is best known for scoring Sergio Leone's Westerns and, later, for his work on such prestigious dramatic ventures as The Mission, The Untouchables, and Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. But the composer, who died Monday at the age of 92, also worked on the movie which many regard as the greatest horror film of all time: director John Carpenter's 1982 alien invasion chiller The Thing.

"Ennio had a full life," Carpenter tells EW, after news of Morricone's passing had broken. "He leaves behind a legacy of music that’s unsurpassed. The man was an inestimable genius. He started in experimental music, then he went to the Spaghetti Westerns, the Sergei Leone westerns, and on from there. I mean, his work is unbelievable. I can’t say enough about him."

Given that Carpenter often writes the soundtracks for his own movies, how did Morricone wind up working on the score for the Kurt Russell-starring terror tale?

"They didn’t want me to score it," Carpenter says with a laugh. "Stuart Cohen (The Thing co-producer), suggested him. 'So, why not work with the Maestro?' So, we did. He was just wonderful to work with. He was the kindest, he was the kindest man, and very very collaborative. Did not show him the film. We weren't done yet, so I just talked to him about it. Discussed it with him. And the film came later."

Carpenter has particularly pleasant recollections of working with the "Maestro" on the movie's ominous main theme.

"My fondest memory was working on the main title," the director says. "He had come up with something that was much more complex than I wanted. So I said, 'Use fewer notes!' And he did."

If only everything in life was as easy as telling Ennio Morricone to use fewer notes.

"That’s right!"

The soundtrack for The Thing was recently reissued by Sacred Bones.

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