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.
Chariots of the Pumpkins by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
Speaking of perfect ways to start of an October 31st, lets move to this selection from the (unjustly) lesser-lauded Halloween 3, a film so damn Halloweeny, it practically out-Halloweens every other film in a series called Halloween. No small feat.
When John and Michael parted ways in 1978, the money guys weren’t content to just let that be the end of the Myers tale.
John didn’t want any part of a sequel though, and declined to direct, being more creatively inspired to explore new stories, like The Fog. Allegedly, he only agreed to pen the script so he could recoup some money following the original, from which he claims he never saw much in the way of profit. Additionally, he co-produced the sequel and provided some scoring, no doubt assisting in that aim.
By the time the inevitable Halloween III rolled around, John finally got his wish, and they produced a Halloween-themed film, completely separate from Michael Myers. But it seems it was just a little too little, too late. And needless to say, fans were not pleased.
However, Halloween III is superior to just about every other sequel in the rather disappointing and hum-drum franchise that is Halloween. And of the many things it has going for it, it’s score stands proudly amongst them.
A collaboration again between Carpenter and long-time musical partner Alan Howarth, this score honestly feels more Carpenter-esque (in my estimation) the one they provided for Halloween 2. Perhaps Howarth is more instrumental to that sound we call Carpenter’s than he’s given due credit for.
This is an 80’s, synth-drenched sound that just reverberates “horror.”
And if October 31st sounds like anything, Chariots of Pumpkins might be a perfect descriptor.
Phantasm (Intro and Main Title)by Fred Myrow & Malcolm Seagrave
With so many great horror scores from the 70’s and early 80’s, you might be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Maybe Carpenter’sHalloween Theme is your choice. Perhaps it’s Michael Oldfield’sTubular Bells. Would you select Charles Bernstein’s theme from A Nightmare Elm Street? Maybe even Wendy Carlos’ work on The Shining? Or is it something from Goblin?
All great choices, without question.
However, I don’t think any horror fan would fault you if your selection was this opening number, from Don Coscarelli’s 1979 classic Phastasm, performed by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave.
This entire score is great, fashioned as it is with a veritable dream-list of vintage electronic gear. Frequencies from an ARP Odyssey to a Moog Model D, to a Mellotron and even a Fender Rhodes buzz all over this thing, and it simply oozes a warm, green slime of 70’s electric creepiness.
Spooky, unsettling and perfectly matched for Phantasm’s eerie, fever-dream otherness, it ticks every box you could want for a Horror Theme.
On top of that, it’s Halloweeny as all get out, and I can’t think of a more fitting track to start of this October 31st.
I don’t know if I could ever actually pick a favorite horror theme, but if I was in a pinch and hard-pressed to give a knee-jerk answer, I might very well just pick this one.
No Goblin block (or indeed even any brief conversation about Goblin) exists without a mention of perhaps their most famous of all arrangements, that from Argento’s Ballerina-Witch-epic, Suspiria.
This spooky, ethereal and very Italian supernatural shocker is classic horror business.
It has captivated and inspired fans and other filmmakers since its release in 1977. Not the least of whom being John Carpenter, who’s own classic horror offering, Halloween, has hallmarks of Argento’s masterpiece all over it.
And not the least of that being it’s music, which takes much inspiration from Goblin’s kinetic and prominent score.
Presented here number 176 and rounding out our Goblin-Fest is the title theme from Suspiria.
Next up from Goblin is a track that technically isn’t a even a Goblin song at all, but a song performed the 3 godfathers Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante and Fabio Pignatelli specifically, and individually, the theme from Tenebre.
Goblin had long since called it quits by the time Dario Argento got around to tapping them again to score another horror picture.
And though they buried their hatchets (at least enough to work on this score) they choose to be credited here individually, rather than as a group. Bad blood runs deep.
But you can’t fool us. This sound is unmistakable, and we all recognize it for what it is – the sound of Goblin!
When George Romero’s highly anticipated sequel to Night of the Living Dead hit Europe, Dario Argento recut it as Zombi, which is why sometimes you’ll see Fulci’s Zombi titled Zombi 2. This can get get a little extra confusing by the time you get to Zombi 3 and 4.
But I digress.
Dawn of the Dead’s soundtrack features a bevy of strange, incidental musical arrangements (like Track #89 The Gronk) but the actual score was composed by frequent Argento collaborators Goblin. And though it plays more prominently in Dario’s European cut, some of the tracks ring out through all versions of the film.
Most especially this tune, L’alba Dei Morti Viventi, which roughly translates to “Dawn of the Living Dead.” Seems appropriate.
Here’s Goblin, at the top of their game, the height of their popularity and firing on all cylinders,… just before they breaking up entirely. At least for little while anyway.
Despite being represented on the original Halloween Shindig mix CD back in ‘02, or their standing as the Horror Themes icon since this site launched, Italian prog outfit Goblin has yet to see any action in 170 tracks. What gives?
Well, they’ve always just kinda gotten shuffled around. Maybe it didn’t felt like quite the right moment, or maybe some other song seemed better to load up next. “Yeah, we’ll get to them later” always seemed like the move.
Whatever the reason, we’re correcting that this year with a solid block of voltage-controlled chaos from Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante and Fabio Pignatelli.
Let’s begin at the beginning. First up from the boys is from their first foray into the world of horror scoring, Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso. And when it comes to Italian horror scores, this ones a doozy.
Originally named Cherry Five, Goblin actually changed their name to Goblin specifically for this soundtrack. See, they had a debut album due out as Cherry Five, and didn’t want any confusion regarding their output. That was until this song blew up all over Italy.
Profondo Rosso, much (I’m sure) to everyone’s surprise, was a legitimate #1 hit in Italy in 1975, spending 5 weeks in the top slot. Not bad for the bands first stab at scoring.
Particularly considering they stepped in last minute,…almost literally. Original composer Giorgio Gaslini was either fired or quit (depending on which Wikipedia article you believe) and Goblin was asked to fill his shoes. Supposedly Dario’s original choice, Pink Floyd turned down the offer.
Dunno if I believe that either. Nor is it disappointing to hear, as I believe Goblin performed the tasked exceptionally and I’m not sure how well Roger and the guys from Floyd would have fared.
But I digress.
Argento supposedly gave Goblin a night to write the new score and then the following day to record it. I’m not sure how true that is, but it sounds cool and I want that to be the story, so I’m choosing to believe it.
Because to bust out the score for a horror movie, particulary this score, on-the-fly mind you, and have it reach number #1 on the charts is absolutely insane.
Here’s the song that put Goblin on the map, in more ways than one, and (with help from Mike Oldfield’sTubular Bells) shaped the sound of horror to come.
This is Stevie Wayne here, your night light, on fabulous 1340 Shindig Radio, spinning the tunes for you all October long.
Halloween is just around the corner now, and I’ve got a solid block of spooky synth songs to shake your Samhain soiree. No singin’, just the smooth buzz of oscillating vibrations to give you and your guests the shivers.
This first one goes out to the men on the Seagrass. Watch out for that fog bank you’ll say isn’t there until all of a sudden it is. It’s filled with ghost pirates, and Garfield won’t be there to bail you out.
Unil then, keep it here on Shindig Radio, and we’ll take you right into the witching hour.
It may not be Harry Manfredini’s classic score but the Theme From Friday The 13th Part 3 by Hot Ice is as bad news as any horror theme you can throw at me.
Spooky, synthy and down right Halloweeny, it’s one of my favorite horror themes ever. Even those partiers unfamiliar with its origins won’t question this instrumental’s inclusion on your Halloween playlist, so perfectly suited is it.
With a creepy theremin like chorus and a thumping baseline, Hot Ice delivered the goods, even if it was for an installment I’m less excited about.
Yeah, I’m not crazy about Part 3. I like it, don’t get me wrong and it has a lot going for it but if I’m ranking the first 5, it looks like 1, 2, 4, 5, 3. On the 10 film spectrum, it centers up pretty a bit, (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 3, 8, 10, 9) but its still in the bottom 5. Why you ask?
Welp, it’s the kills. They’re a little lazy I think and the 3D (a gimmick I appreciated in the bad old days) actually hinders rather than enhances.
It almost appears as though the filmmakers were hoping the 3rd dimension would make any old bullshit look cool. It doesn’t.
Jason’s first hockey mask adorned kill is a great example of this. It should be intense, up close and gory. Instead he fires a harpoon across a dock, right at the audience’s face and into the eye of his young prey. It’s suppose to be cool, I guess. It’s not. Not even in 3D. It’s just weak. And lazy. Literally lazy. He fires a harpoon 20 yards. It’s whack as fuck. At least he looks like a badass tossin’ the gun down. There’s that I guess.
However, part 3 does have some stuff that makes it worthwhile. The hockey mask’s debut, some great shots of Jason unmasked (including a horrifying final sequence), some fun assholes you really wanna see die, particularly Shelley (one of my least favorite Friday characters of all time) and definitely this theme by Hot Ice.
There are few Halloween movies I love as much as Night of Demons. It satisfies all the criteria for a Halloween horror hit. If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing it, click here for some reasons why it should be playing right now on your television set. Or better yet, just click this to watch the fucker immediately on whatever screen you happen to be reading this. To hell with the rest of my post. You’ll hear the song right off the bat and see the real animations where the gifs originated. I won’t be hurt, you’ll be watching Night Of The Demons and my goal will have been actualized.
Still here? Alright, fair enough. Maybe you’ve already seen it. Or maybe you’ll just wait. Or maybe you don’t care at all about watching Night Of The Demons. If so, you’re probably not reading this either, so who cares about you? Why am I continuing to address you? Back to people who care!
One of the things I love most about Night the Demons is this great theme from director Kevin Tenney’s brother Dennis and the awesome opening credit sequence which it accompanies.
What better way to kick off a Halloween gore fest than with some seasonal synth and some simple, spooky animations? A solitary glowing Jack-O-Lantern and some scarier synth? Yeah, maybe you’re right. But there ain’t no gore in Carpenter’s original, so my statement still stands.
So, if you’ve already had your fill of Michael Myers, pull up a chair and spend All Hallo’s with Angela, Stoogie, Sal, Suzanne and the rest of the demons gang. You may not live to regret it.