John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies

Halloween: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Sacred Bones

Oct 25, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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It's difficult to guess which achievement will stand tallest within John Carpenter's impressive legacy. With 1978's Halloween, the director not only laid the foundation for the slasher film, likely the most prevalent subgenre in American horror, but served as an inspiration to low-budget independent filmmakers for generations to come. With a filmography that also includes classics such as The Thing, They Live, Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Fogwe could keep goinghe boasts arguably the most diverse and consistent catalog of any genre filmmaker. His work as a composer has been massively influential on modern synthwave artists, and a sound-a-like score has become the de facto sound for any '80s-set horror movie or television show. You also can't overlook his late-career resurgence as a rock star, where he's played to sold out audiences around the country and all three of his rapid-fire record releases have received overwhelming positive acclaim.

For all he's done, it's almost funny to think that one of his most enduring legacies might be a little piano ditty he composed to save some cash when he needed a score for one of his first movies. His Halloween theme, compromised of a short, repeating 5/4 piano melody overtop of swelling chords, is now synonymous with the holiday upon which its film is set. When October rolls around each year, if you're not hearing it as you watch Michael Myers stalk his victims, you'll hear it playing from a tape deck hidden on a porch while trick-or-treating, used to advertise a haunted hay ride on your hometown classic rock station, or ringing in knock-off-form from innumerable cheap, battery-operated Halloween decorations sold at your local pharmacy. It's arguably the holiday's unofficial song: Carpenter's "Halloween" theme is ubiquitous with Halloween in the same way that something like "White Christmas" is inescapable from Thanksgiving through New Year's. It puts the Master of Horror in the unexpected company of a pop icon like Bing Crosby.

The Halloween franchise's latest installment marks Carpenter's long-awaited return to the series since walking away from it in 1982; not as director, at least, but as a producer and composer. Billed as an "homage to the classic Halloween score," it's not a remake but a reimagining of his most iconic work in the vein of his 2017 record, Anthology. With talented collaborators in son Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, the familiar "Halloween" theme is reinvigorated with far more robust production value; since the beginning of this recent rockstar period, Carpenter's never hidden his excitement over the new tools and technology at his disposal. It's the theme and its reappearance throughout this new score that make it unmistakably Halloweenmid-album track "Michael Kills Again" repurposes it as an eerie, melancholy lullabyand the record as a whole is consistently atmospheric, often mixing evocative, industrial-sounding percussion with Carpenter's pulsing synthesizer. This is a legend being granted the ability to go back and take another crack at one of his most enduring works, and it's clear he's relished the opportunity. You'll not find a scarier record to celebrate the season. (www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com

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