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.
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.
In 1987, after struggling to work within the studio system and the unfortunate box-office performance of Big Trouble in Little China, John Carpenter decided to go rogue once again.
And rogue indeed, producing a straight-faced and strange (maybe even ahead of it’s time) film that I can’t imagine any major studio green-lighting.
What emerged was an atmospheric, dread-drenched affair of Science converging with Religion to prove the existence of God.
Or perhaps more appropriately, the existence of Satan.
Sub-atomic. Moving within the atoms of things, where logic need not apply. Liquid evil. A green, putrid substance filled with all the abominations of the earth.
It was captured and sealed up long ago. A race of Humanoid Aliens, of which Jesus was a member, kept watch. But the truth was hidden. Wrapped in metaphor and buried under ritual.
Now, in light of our faithlessness, it has awoken, and it wants control.
I like Prince of Darkness. It’s a little talkie, sure, and maybe a tad slow, but I don’t mind. I could listen to Egg Shen spout off about theoretical physics all night. Donald Pleasence is solid, even if he feels like he’s just plugged in from The Devil’s Men, andA.J. Simon is only distracting if you actually used to watch Simon and Simon, which you probably didn’t. The supporting players do a fine in their respective roles, including Carpenter regulars like Victor Wong, Peter Jason and Dennis Dun.
And, once the scientists start getting slowly absorbed by the evil and the hobos begin to gather, John turns on the gas a bit.
Speaking of the street people, Alice Cooper jumps in to play the pale-faced, beanie-rockin, head-hobo. He even kills a dude with a rusty, old bike. A dude who happens to be listening to this very song on his Walkman….meta.
Seems this bike was Alice’s own personal prop too, as he used to do this gag live during his stage show. Now thats pretty bitchin’.
Here’s reigning All-Star Alice Cooper rockin’ again with Prince of Darkness.
Just look at that album cover. That shit is awesome. That’s one of the coolest album covers I’ve seen in a long time. I know they say you shouldn’t judge stuff by it’s cover and what have you, but c’mon, look at that fucking thing. There’s no way the band hiding behind this cover doesn’t rule.
And they do.
Sludgy, doomy and packed front to back with Halloween imagery, Acid Witch delivers the goods. Hailing from Detroit, it seems they’ve taken up the mantle from Motorcity’s own Halloween and dubbed their music “Halloween Metal.” Goddamn right.
As such, they’ve got plenty of Halloween fodder for the Shindig, and like their local brethren, are first ballot Shindig All-Stars.
They even cut an EP last year called “Midnight Movie” featuring covers of songs already included on the playlist, with samples and everything. It’s like they covered the Shindig! It’s insane. I love these dudes.
First up from Acid Witch: Trick or Treat. Chuggier than shit and more unsettling than that, it’s written from the perspective of a true predator on Halloween, lurking in the guise of a mild mannered neighbor.
With his thicked-rimmed glasses, trimmed mustache and white cargo van, he relishes in the opportunity Halloween provides to snatch up children to feed his cannibalistic desires. His is the house you stay away from on Halloween, and every neighborhood has someone like him.
Sampled up with clips from the Tales From the Darkside pilot Trick or Treats, featuring a different kind of Halloween predator, Mr. Hackle.
Banker and land baron to a small farming community, he has the whole of the town indebted to him through IOUs. Every Halloween he allows the children a chance to enter his haunted abode and search for the IOUs to clear their parent’s debt. There, they find he has a few tricks up his sleeve for them. But this year, the spirits of Halloween have a few tricks in store for him.
Featured within is one of the scariest witches to ever grace the screen, who’s cackle and entreaties for treats are the stuff of nightmares.
What better combo for Acid Witch and their All Hallo’s horror.
Though they share titles, I’m not entirely convinced Blitzkid was inspired by the film Terror in the Haunted House to write this upbeat spookster.
See, Terror in the Haunted House doesn’t really take place in a Haunted House. I suppose House of Haunted Hill doesn’t really either, but it at least it pretends to. Terror in the Haunted House doesn’t even do that.
What it does do however, is attempt to bug you out with a bunch of subliminal messages and images cut into the movie. They called this gimmick “Psycho-Rama!” which sounds way cooler than it actually is.
The look of these messages is pretty goofy. They’re actually kind of distracting and not at all effective. Take a look. I’ve slowed them down for optimum perception!
Not so spooky. Hell, the later ones seem pretty aftermarket. Particularly this red snake one, instructing you to “Rent Rhino Videos Everyday.”
Yeah, pretty sure prints didn’t ship with that message in 1958.
No, Terror in the Haunted Houseis much more a psychological thriller than horror, and not an entirely ineffective one at that. A bit silly sure and no doubt more than just a little Castle-esque, but it is occasionally somewhat sinister and intriguing.
Mostly though, it’s just a snoozer. And with the absence of any fun ghosts or phantasmic goings-ons, 100% missable.
So, let’s just enjoy this spooky spin from Shindig All-Stars Blitzkid. It’s shorter and a lot more fun.