John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter & Daniel Davies
Halloween: Expanded Edition (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
John Carpenter’s original score for the original Halloween movie is what saved it – the low-budget movie which is legendary now for its kickstarting of a new strain of horror films and for its pioneering indie film spirit was laughed at when it was shown without a score. In three days Carpenter wrote the soundtrack for that film – allegedly he pulled the main theme out of a hat in less than an hour. His name hangs heavy over the franchise even though he’s hardly ever actually there. He scored the next couple of volumes, drew a producer’s credit and said ‘okay’ to several reboots.
But in 2018 there was a reboot – now the setting up for an all-new trilogy of films – that ignores all previous sequels, seeking to play out as a direct sequel to the original film. Tantalisingly, Carpenter returned to the scorer’s chair with his son and godson to make an ominous, dark, moody set of cues that drew heavily on his original work but showed some of the spirit from his foray into touring and making new music as a rock-band musical director (Lost Themes, Lost Themes II). Carpenter’s creeping music has been at the heart of many of his other movies, as much a reason to admire the man as his actual behind the camera work. And of all his iconic themes it’s Halloween that still haunts deepest.
That 2018 score is now available, updated, expanded – sprawling across double vinyl in a new package with lenticular cover and 45 cues in total.
Some of it is getting towards heavy metal, some of it hints at techno, much of it moves in an industrial shape. These are all genres that have felt Carpenter’s influence. There’s even a sequence in the cue Michael Kills Again where it actually feels like we’re hearing the exact moment when Nine Inch Nails’ darkness gave way for Trent Reznor to explore move soundtracks himself.
There are other cues here (Prison Montage) that build on all that’s been heard throughout this franchise and there are shorter pieces that simply riff on a well-known earlier motif (Laurie Breaks Down taking just the piano notes from Laurie’s Theme and placing them in and around a synth drone).
The original theme makes many appearances in variations, its distinct 5/4 timing always making for a nice edge (The Shape Burns), it’s as if we feel the music stabbing its point home, perfect signifier of the way Michael runs amok with a large blade.
I did enjoy the new movie – it was a welcome-enough reboot. But I loved the score. And this new version – with some 24 extra minutes – is a listening experience in and of itself. I don’t need to see the film again but I get the best moments come to me in flashes while hearing this.
Closing piece here, and longest track, Halloween Triumphant, our closing credits, is like a mini-movie in and of itself – what a journey this iconic theme has set up. Now, over 40 years on it continues. And it’s all thanks to Carpenter’s music.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron