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 haven’t 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 Pumpkinsby 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. Needless to say, the 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 among them.
A collaboration again between Carpenter and long-time musical partner Alan Howarth, this score honestly feels more Carpenter-esque (in my estimation) than 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 off 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 John’s score, which takes much inspiration from Goblin’s kinetic and prominent sounds.
Presented here at 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 by 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!