John Carpenter – Halloween (4 stars)

John Carpenter – Halloween

Terrifying soundtrack to the new Halloween movie from the master of horror

Halloween set the slasher template. There had been several precursors (Texas Chainsaw, Black Christmas, etc.) but John Carpenter's seminal horror film set the formula in concrete: teens in peril being picked off one by one by a masked maniac. Released 40 years ago, it's still an exciting and edgy experience and part of its power lies in Carpenter's own score. Again obviously drawing on predecessors (especially the urgency of Bernard Herrmann's stabbing strings on Psycho) but reworked on synths. Carpenter actually took on writing the soundtrack simply to save money and in the process, wrote one of the most enduring and influential film scores of all time.

Jump cut to 2018 and there's a new Halloween hitting the cinemas. Michael Myers is back, so is Laurie Strobe (again played by proto-scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis), David Gordon Green is in the director's chair but John Carpenter returns as producer and with a brand new score (in collaboration with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies). While we say new it picks up on many of the themes from the original. The 'Halloween Theme' is iconic and still sounds jarring and unnerving. Many of the stings repeat and reprise, the insistent title track picks up several times (most notably and effectively on 'The Shape Returns').

From the ominous rumble of 'Intro' you are instantly transported into a world of fear; the mournful 'Laurie's Theme' conveys decades of sadness in just 45 seconds; 'Prison Montage' is doomy and troubling; 'Michael Kills Again' is spine tinglingly spooky with its eerie synths that build to a propulsive beat to match imagined on-screen slaughter. You have to remember this is music for a film and not everything works out of context but it effectively sets a mood and captures an atmosphere of dread and tension. As the final five tracks (from 'The Shape and Laurie Fight' through 'Halloween Triumphant') play you can almost visualise the epic struggle for survival, the ebb and flow, the hack and slash, told via varying bpms.

Nothing could match the original's stark electronica but this update on Carpenter's classic score is meatier and more oppressive. Halloween 2018 is a terrifying treat.

Out Fri 19 Oct on Sacred Bones.

John Carpenter

The legendary horror film composer performs his notable works from films including The Thing, Halloween, The Fog, Village of the Damned and many more.

Halloween

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 45min
  • 18
  • Directed by: David Gordon Green
  • Written by: Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
  • Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle

A direct sequel to the 1978 original: Michael Myers has been locked in a prison for most of his life, and it falls to long-suffering Laurie (Curtis) to stop him. After a slow beginning it gets going, and Laurie, now a mother and grandmother, has to battle with trauma. A straightforward stalk-n-slash in the best tradition…

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