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Soundtrack Review

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The Sound of Evil
Music From The Halloween Film Scores


Composers: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth, John Ottman, Danny Lux, and Tyler Bates
Arranged and produced by Dominik Hauser
Label: BuySoundtrax Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 02 October 2013

To coincide with the 35th anniversary of John Carpenter’s classic grandfather of all slasher films, Halloween, comes this single CD release of 22 tracks incorporating music from the Halloween movies franchise. Included are examples from Halloween by Carpenter, Halloween II by Carpenter & Alan Howarth, Halloween III: Season of the Witch by Carpenter & Howarth, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers by Howarth, Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers by Howarth, Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers by Howarth, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later by John Ottman, Halloween Resurrection by Danny Lux, Halloween (2007) by Tyler Bates, and Halloween II (2009) by Bates. It is available by download or on limited edition CD from BSX Records. The collection is produced and arranged by Dominik Hauser, and the colour booklet houses an article by Randall D. Larson called 'Designed to Chill – The Cinematic Musical Heritage of Halloween'.

Let me just say from the outset, I don’t like it at all. Phew! That’s got that one out of the way. However, rather suspecting the great editor may require more of an explanation, I’ll just add that this release is a missed opportunity of monumental proportions.

Now, you might just have garnered from some of my previous reviews that I’m a huge John Carpenter fan. I’ve followed the man’s progress practically from the start, reading the novelisation of Dark Star by my favourite science fiction writer, Alan Dean Foster, before I saw the actual film. Halloween, the original 1978 classic, is still probably my favourite movie of all time – it’s certainly in my top three, alongside The Italian Job and Westworld.

I could bore everyone into a coma with just a few of the countless snippets of interesting information I’ve accumulated about the film. However, this is about the music, and Halloween is one of only three famous horror scores I can think of which are instantly recognisable. Carpenter, who has composed the majority of his own films music, has a knack of finding just the right sounds to complement and enhance the action. There’s a certain atmosphere at play, and that’s something you simply don’t tamper with. And that brings me to my main gripe regarding this new collection...

The John Carpenter tracks from the first three Halloween movies I know very well, having collected them on the original soundtrack CDs and on Carpenter collections over the years. It’s the same music but it’s different. A fan can tell. These tracks have been re-recorded - or at the very least, rearranged - and have therefore lost much of their impact. By extending the tracks and adding elements in an attempt to make them more appealing to a younger generation, the opposite effect has been achieved. On some it’s simply little nuances, but to the old school fan who knows where these pieces of music fit into the pace and atmosphere of what is (in the case of the first film) a master-class of lighting and directing, it is simply sacrilege.

There are only three tracks from Carpenter’s Halloween: 'Main Title (presented with and without the top and tail children’s song), 'Laurie’s Theme', and 'The Shape Stalks'; just one from the Carpenter scripted Halloween II: 'Theme' (where is the Murder Montage?); and three from the Myers-free Halloween III: 'Silver Shamrock Commercial', 'Drive to Santa Mira', and the excellent 'Chariots of Pumpkins'. Practically every other track included on this release is a variation on these pieces – including the 2007 and 2009 remakes. There are just a couple of exceptions: 'Thorn', from Halloween VI and 'The Ceremony', from Halloween Resurrection successfully offer us original and captivating pieces.

Film score enthusiasts who haven’t come across this music before will undoubtedly hear much to appreciate. However, Carpenter fans of all generations will do better to seek out copies of the original CD soundtracks to the first three films, or pick up a collection of Carpenter’s film music, such as the Varese Sarabande releases of a few years back.


Ty Power

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