Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Limited Edition Expanded Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music by Alan Howarth
AHI Records – 2011
The tagline is correct: “Ten Years Ago, He changed the face of Halloween. Tonight, HE’s Back.”
In more ways than one, Halloween 4 (1988) was a return for the Halloween series to what made John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) so successful. The things that were immediately noticeable where; Dwight H. Little’s restrained direction focused on atmosphere & suspense, Peter Lyons Collister’s moody cinematography and Alan Howarth’s brilliant score.
These aspects have the most impact on giving a movie tone and feel. So right from the get-go, The Return of Michael Myers felt right.
This film gave Halloween II & Halloween III: Season of the Witch Co-Composer Alan Howarth the opportunity to score this alone and that was a smart move by the producers. Not only did Howarth have the experience of co-composing those films, but he’d worked with John Carpenter on Escape From New York, The Thing, Christine, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness and They Live. So he knew how to get the right sound, which is apparent in track #1 “Halloween Theme.”
The second track is “Halloween 4 Opening” and this is where Alan Howarth establishes himself with hugely atmospheric windblown mood, that’s highlighted by slow dark notes. Howarth’s approach is tactfully ingenious because not only do we feel the film franchise has been righted, but he sets the stage for Michael Myers to terrorize Haddonfield once again.
Speaking of the little leaf strewn town, Howarth gives the community heart in “Haddonfield.” But there is a darkness that pervades it with deep hits that warn you death is coming. The last minute is as frantic and horror driven as any within the series.
“Darkest Night” musically conjures up the image of the late Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, talking about the great danger the town faces.
It’s the little cymbals and gentle airy keyboards that make “He’s In The Street” so frightening.
There’s a true sense through the composition, that Michael Myers is “Outside the House.” My favorite part of this track is the slow use of the Halloween theme done in different instrumental ways. It’s creepy crawly to say the least.
A gentle piano/keyboard leads you “In the Shadows.” The military-like drums give this score the impression that the cavalry is coming to the rescue.
The notes that hit hard and then blend into ambience are effective at making you feel unsafe in “Basement Terror.”
The military drumming motif is used again during “Upstairs’ and it gives the listener a fighting chance versus the knife wilding psychopath.
“Still He Kills” runs over seven-minutes and features a collection of stingers striking against the main themes. You just know Michael Myers cannot be stopped as the drums and percussion build to a standoff. It’s cool to hear the main theme skirt out from the maniac’s clutches and flee for safety. No matter how many times it’s used, it works every time.
Howarth scores “On the Roof” in a way that you know that it’s a deadly scene, rife with high-wire suspense and tension.
Believe it or not, “Shape Attack” has some of the softer more sensitive moments during its first minute and a half. But things change as drums pound and the Halloween theme cuts through the mix like a large sharp butcher knife. It’s really weird, but the way the main theme punctuates this cue, makes it sound like a lit Jack-O-Lantern smiling.
“Michaels Finale” has all the thematic elements colliding into a fury. I particularly liked Howarth’s inclusion of the familiar musical moment that sounds like when Michael mounted the stairs to get his sister from the first film. There’s something powerful about bringing Michael back to that character driven moment.
This Expanded Limited Edition CD wraps with “Halloween Theme (Reprise)” as it should.
For my money, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is the second best film within the Halloween franchise of films featuring Michael Myers. As I’ve explained within this review, Alan Howarth’ music is without question one of the main reasons.
You can get it all from the talented composer by going to his site and purchasing it from him.
It’s a great time to do with the holiday just around the corner.