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.
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.
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!