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John Carpenter - Halloween II and III Soundtracks

  by Tom Fogarty

published: 29 / 10 / 2012

John Carpenter - Halloween II and III Soundtracks


Tom Fogarty examines horror director John Carpenter's iconic film scores, ‘Halloween II’ and ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’, which have just ben re-released in a limited vinyl only edition

Last month saw the release of two of horror maestro John Carpenter's iconic film scores, ‘Halloween II’ and ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’. Lovingly packaged, featuring exclusive artwork, sleevenotes and A2 posters - limited to just 1000 vinyl copies each - these are certainly collectors’ items. These soundtracks are being released by Death Waltz Recordings, who are UK cult genre specialists and have previously put out other John Carpenter tracks such as ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘Prince of Darkness’, as well as horror films such as ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ and ‘The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue’. From the outset, ‘Halloween II’ is dark and menacing, slowly building up the tense atmosphere until the point where you feel like there is someone (or something) looming in the shadows behind you. At this point I feel I should suggest for best effects, this album should be played at night and turned up loud, preferably in a dark room and on your own. Heavily synth and keyboard-based, as was the trend of the time, the score is richly layered and mainly consists of different variations of the same tune - at times slow-paced and methodical, at others frantic and erratic. Both compliment each other well and add a true sense of gloom and tension to the proceedings. Not a fully-fledged horror album in the sense that Goblin's ‘Susperia’ soundtrack is, but this works more as a selection of set-pieces that gradually pick up pace and momentum. Just like you would expect a horror film to be in fact. The album ends with an upbeat happy track (as is so often the case with horror films in general), ‘Mr Sandman’, but this does not detract from the album's effect at all. If anything it offers a welcome release from the buildup of anxiety you will probably have been feeling. ‘Halloween II’ is a genuinely unnerving piece of music, to the extent where I thought twice about going out into the garden to have my bedtime cigarette. Maybe not the right soundtrack to play at a fancy dress-themed Halloween party, but is certainly the kind of album to play if you want to get a ouija board out and scare yourself in the wee small hours. And as a horror soundtrack, it probably can't get any better endorsement than that. Much like the film itself, musically ‘Halloween III’ is a mixed bag and something of an acquired taste. Although dramatic and fast-paced, it does not have any really creepy moments as ‘Halloween II’ does. Indeed, if you did not know which film this score accompanied - although bearing the mark of John Carpenter - you could easily imagine it being the soundtrack to any of the action films he made around the same period such as ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ The albums most memorable moment is provided by’ Halloween Montage’ - the annoyingly catchy Silver Shamrock TV jingle of the film - and will probably stay in your head for most of the day/night after listening to the album Although maybe not a bona fide classic like ‘Halloween II’, this is still a score that collectors will want - whether they are cult film aficionados or fans of unusual albums.

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John Carpenter - Halloween II and III Soundtracks

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