As influential and essential as Alan Howarth may have ultimately been to that “Carpenter” sound, nothing proves John’s singular mastery like his score from 1978’s Halloween.
Everyone knows the iconic theme. Hell, people that have never even seen the movie recognize it’s repetitious, modulating sound.
However, John’s score is more than just that simple and oh so effective opening number. The entire sonic landscape of Halloween is synthy and unnerving, with buzzes and stabs that have become icons in and of themselves.
So we’d be remiss, particularly since our block of synthetic horror themes has bleed into Halloween, to leave out the man himself and one of his lesser heard arrangements from that classic seasonal favorite.
So, tingling your 31st spine is Shindig All-Star John Carpenter with the haunting and memorable and succinct, Laurie’s Theme.
Though over listed and a decidedly cliched choice, for the purpose of this list, of course, John Carpenter’s classic has to take the pole position.
Though I give much love and respect to it’s Yuletide predecessor and inspiration Black Christmas, I still feel Halloween does it better. It is hands down my favorite slasher film and one of my favorite horror films period.
Effectively and methodically paced, Michael’s rookie outing is awash in strange glows and Halloween energy. And the music, not simply the theme (which is great) but all the incidental scoring throughout is eerie and seminal horror business.
The Shape had many sequels and imitators, but nothing holds a jack-o-lantern’s candle to this true American original. And it’s all on Halloween.
Many years have I watched this film on Halloween night and it’s never been a bad decision. Simply watching this film any night is never a bad decision, but from a young age, into my teenage and adult years, Halloween still makes Halloween feel like Halloween.
Long before Christopher Walken needed more cowbell, Annie Brackett and Laurie Strode we’re cruisin’ around Haddonfield, smokin’ a J and rockin’ out to some Blue Öyster Cult.
Almost inaudibly and without much ceremony at all, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper is the only piece of music appearing in the film not scored by John Carpenter.
If that wasn’t enough (and it is) the song also finds itself quoted in Stephen King’s original novel The Stand, as well as playing mood setter to it’s TV miniseries counterpart. Though not appearing on the Shindig, honorable mentions go out to the 2 covers featured in The Frighteners and Scream, performed by The Muttonbirds and Gus respectively.
“It’s Halloween,” Sheriff Brackett tells us “I guess everyone’s entitled to one good scare, huh?”
The first track on any Halloween playlist should probably be John Carpenter’s simplistic, iconic and downright horrific theme to his 1978 classic Halloween. Nothing quite sounds like Halloween the way this song does. Call it nostalgia, call it indoctrination, call it whatever you’d like, when I hear this song I immediately think of jack-o-lanterns. That’s followed closely by children trick or treating, rounded out by some rustling leaves and perhaps coming in at a close 4th would be a white-masked sociopath by the name of Michael Myers.
Now, those are probably 4 of the most Halloweeny things I can think of, and they’re all elicited from just the first 3 notes of this song. For my money, that’s musical genius.
This is taken straight from the DVD, so no whack ass midi version, no trumped up Halloween CD nonsense, no later, slightly altered version; this is the real deal, complete with the chanting trick or treaters at the end.
Black cats and goblins on Halloween night. Trick or Treat!