Decontextualized film soundtracks...hmmm... always an interesting experience. At the time of writing, neither director David Gordon Green's addition to the 'Halloween' movie franchise or its John Carpenter soundtrack have been released. I've yet to see the movie, but have been digesting its score for a couple of weeks now. To be honest, I've tried to avoid reviews of the movie, as want to approach it without either expectations or spoilers, albeit a sense of eager anticipation is kind of unavoidable with such a hugely touted sequel, with not only the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the role of Laurie Strode, but its narrative supposedly ignoring everything that's happened in Haddonfield from 'Halloween II' onwards. That includes entirely forgetting Curtis's last reprisal of her iconic character in Steve Miner's 20th anniversary outing for Myers and co., 'Halloween H20: 20 Years Later'.
This time, of course, is a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Carpenter's original, so it's apt, gratifying and deliriously exciting that the man himself has returned to score this new celluloid offering, alongside his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel A. Davies (who both feature in his touring band and collaborated with him on his last three solo albums). In fact, Carpenter's also billed as both executive producer and creative consultant for the movie, so it really has stimulated the excitement of horror fans the world over.
So yep, decontextualized soundtracks. I've been digesting this one entirely divorced from the context within which it came to be. I guess track titles reveal fleeting, and often blatant, glimpses into the movie itself, but it's a 'Halloween' flick, so the likes of 'Michael Kills' and 'Michael Kills Again' barely venture into spoiler territory. Likewise, the piece that's been called 'The Shape and Laurie Fight' is a showdown that's not only expected, but surely an indubitable given, with the screen reunion of Strode and Myers. Bring on the knitting needles!
The main 'Halloween' theme rears its carved pumpkin head a few times throughout, with various arrangements, as do other cues and motifs from Carpenter's original score. But it's not all about nostalgic overload. Brand new themes have also been introduced to the compositional cauldron; emphatically so, with mightily strong themes that are heavy on the atmosphere in the likes of 'The Shape Hunts Allyson' and 'Prison Montage' - the arpeggios on the former are very reminiscent of Carpenter's main theme from 'The Fog'. Both contain passages that, while original, have distinct late-70s/early-80s flavours and, as such, sound very much at home alongside the established and more familiar compositions. And, even though I've posited the sonic aesthetic within that time period, it's all very timeless sounding, of course, such is the enduring appeal and compositional mastery of the original music, as well as people's nostalgic sentiments towards its unparalleled sonically sinister majesty. This is top 5 stuff in terms of horror movie soundtracks... an opinion undoubtedly shared by millions across the globe.
There's some great instrumentation at work here, with a range of sounds across the entire album. Of course, it wouldn't be a Carpenter 'Halloween' soundtrack without its fair share of minimalist, melancholic, piano-centric pieces, and there are a number here. 'Laurie's Theme' is one, although it's inexplicably fleeting at just 45 seconds long, considering it concerns the film's protagonist. I'm guessing it's a central motif that's recurs throughout the movie. Some of the music has been embellished with a programmed percussive backbone, which will evidently drive along some of the more intense moments on the screen. Elsewhere, some of it sounds just plain nasty, like 'The Grind'... presumably a musical accompaniment to something rather vile and messy on the screen, judging by both its title and from listening to the track itself. And the stridently sinister dissonance in 'Ray's Goodbye' implies it won't transpire to be any kind of warm sense of auf wiedersehen for whoever Ray is!
The soundtrack climaxes with 'Halloween Triumphant'; a closing credits piece, I'm guessing, judging by its 7+ minutes length. And, indeed, this is a triumphant sonic return to the 'Halloween' franchise for Carpenter and his two compositional comrades. Let's hope the movie itself is a triumphant celluloid return for Myers and Strode.
HALLOWEEN - ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
Review by Mark Holmes
19th October 2018
1) Intro; 2) Halloween Theme; 3) Laurie's Theme; 4) Prison Montage; 5) Michael Kills; 6) Michael Kills Again; 7) The Shape Returns; 8) The Bogeyman; 9) The Shape Kills; 10) Laurie Sees the Shape; 11) Wrought Iron Fence; 12) The Shape Hunts Allyson; 13) Allyson Discovered; 14) Say Something; 15) Ray's Goodbye; 16) The Shape is Monumental; 17) The Shape and Laurie Fight; 18) The Grind; 19) Trap the Shape; 20) The Shape Burns; 21) Halloween Triumphant
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"The main 'Halloween' theme rears its carved pumpkin head a few times throughout, with various arrangements, as do other cues and motifs from Carpenter's original score. But it's not all about nostalgic overload. Brand new themes have also been introduced to the compositional cauldron; emphatically so, with mightily strong themes that are heavy on the atmosphere..."