Tag Archives: Alan Howarth

Halloween II – 30th Anniversary Edition

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Halloween II – 30th Anniversary Edition

Music by John Carpenter in Association with Alan Howarth

Alan Howarth Incorporated – 2009

I think it’s absolutely sensational that Alan Howarth has put together this Limited Edition CD (1000 units), because he’s giving us a chance to hear the complete score for Halloween II.

Alan Howarth’s involvement with John Carpenter is felt right from the get-go, as his talent with audio opens up the “Halloween II Theme.”  A huge, deep sounding organ broadens the original Halloween motif and the composers add synchronized keyboard lines, layer upon layer to construct an awesome sound that represents “more of the night he came home.”

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The way the Halloween theme travels through a tunnel-like effect is a great choice in “He Knows Where She Is.”

The flute tone in “Laurie and Jimmy” makes it probably the most underrated cue on this soundtrack.  Though it’s certainly melodic, the high-airy notes create cinematic anxiety and the clang of metal during the moments the main theme stop, amplifies this.

“Still He Kills” is 4 ½ minutes of the stingers that back Michael Myers psychopathic rampage.  For me, there’s some real fascinating score moments like where MM forces Karen (Paula Susan Shoop) into the boiling Jacuzzi.  This music gives the sensation that the water is burning-hot.  The low drone mid-way in that is jointed with the whispering high-pitch sound is creepy.

Deep-seated drums hit while “The Shape Enters Laurie’s Room.”  The shrilly keyboard notes make the track ultra-suspenseful.  This is the scene where Michael stabs the scalpel into Laurie’s pillow (she is of course not there).

“Mrs. Alves” is more low-key, though an incredible penetrating frequency of notes will keep you on the edge of your seat.  This high sound, which sounds like steam billowing out of a boiler, is carried out even further in “Flats in the Parking Lot.”

“Michael’s Sister” uses the theme from the first film with the upper register to highlight the counterpoint meaning.

The clicking sound in “The Shape Stalks Again” makes it feel like a bomb (Michael Myers) is going to detonate by song’s end.  The use of the hi-low parts of the sound spectrum makes this a thrilling listening experience.

The composers get “Operation Room” to feel like gas canisters are being turned on, releasing flammable air that build for certain explosion.

The Chordettes version of “Mr. Sandman” is easily associated with this sequel.  Somehow this dreamy old pop song, feels just right with the terrifying music that surrounds it.

The real exciting addition for fans of this film is the inclusion of Tracks #13 through track #18.  Alan Howarth says “The new tracks represent a series of 7 “Halloween Suites” which consist of every note of the of the entire film score, sequenced, layered and grouped in chronological order.  This gives the true fan of the original Halloween II the opportunity to relive the experience of the film through their mind’s eye.”

The way in which Howarth blends and overlays the music is just brilliant.  How can you not get overexcited by the cinematic results?  “Halloween II Suite A” clocks in just over ten minutes and I loved every second of it.  Howarth manipulates the themes to maximum effect pushing forward, moment to moment like the never ending advance of Michael Myers.

Howarth drives the main Halloween theme like a Grand Prix racer during “Halloween II Suite B.”  He travels across all sorts of soundtrack terrain that conjures Michael Myers in deadly pursuit of Laurie Strode, while Dr. Loomis is right on the Shape’s tail.

“Laurie’s Theme” is the impetus for “Halloween II Suite C.”  The hospitalized heroine is encapsulated with the melancholy rhythm pattern of flute notes that slow things down to let us get a breather from the unrelenting terror.  Except at the very end, where Howarth plunges us into the scolding water of the boiling Jacuzzi.

“Halloween II Suite E” is the second longest of the new cues and features some high-octane suspense moments.  I’m guessing this music represents the movie probably mid-way through because the keyboards whisper ghastly hints that death is coming soon.

The last cut “Halloween II Suite F” wraps this score up with the gentleness of Laurie’s theme then moves into the explosive fire bursting finale.

This Limited Edition Soundtrack is produced on the highest audio quality containing over 70-minutes of music, linear notes describing both the making of Halloween II and the score in detail.  How could you not want it t o be part of your collection?  For me it’s an absolute must have and a perfect soundtrack for anyone who appreciates Halloween, Michael Myers, horror films or outstanding film music.

To purchase and or find our more, please visit:

www.alanhowarth.com

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – Limited Edition Theatrical & Producers Cut Soundtracks

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Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Limited Edition Expanded Theatrical and Producers Cut Soundtracks 

Alan Howarth Incorporated – 2014

When producers at Dimension Films saw Director Joe Chappelle’s version (known as “The Producer’s Cut) of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (aka Halloween 6) they demanded a bunch of changes.  They wanted more action and gore, which is usually a big mistake and proved to be true again if you saw the movie in the theaters like I did.  I can never understand why the business men mettle with true storytellers of films (directors) and ruin pictures in the process.

This alteration of the film also necessitated changes to the film score, which were done by Music Composer Alan Howarth.  Now for the first time, you get a chance to hear both versions on this Expanded Edition 2-CD set. 

I have yet to see the Producer’s Cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers but after listening to this Limited Edition, it contains music more in line with the original John Carpenter approach with moody subtlety and nuance.  For this reason, I’d be curious to see it.

CD ONE: PRODUCERS CUT begins with “The Birth Ceremony.”  This track oozes with ambience as airy keyboards lines breathe the foretelling of something wicked coming.  The notes literally hang in the hair like noose floating from above.  “Halloween Newborn” signals in the rebirth of the all familiar main theme from Halloween.

“Haddonfield Jock Rock” has the higher pitch distorted guitars and electronic drums so prevalent in the 80s.

I really like the dark slippery feel of “Separation.”  Synth lines slowly snake around the legendary Halloween notes to create a sinister, foreboding atmosphere.

The deliberate pace of “What Will We Do”, makes it seem as doom is all but certain.

Sullen piano and soft strings take us back to “Strode House.”  This recognizable theme brings warmth to the family residence and in a small way connects this film with the original storyline.

Laurie’s Theme is integrated in “Be Still” with a quick, rapid paced rendering of the franchise theme.  “Night of Shadows” uses Laurie’s theme with equal success.

Old historic practice with evil exudes from “Druids.”  The somberness that Howarth generates adds not only tremendous air of dread but makes it feel like the Celtic heritage was real.

“Thorn” is a cross between Ennio Morricone’s heartbeat theme in John Carpenter’s The Thing and what Howarth & Carpenter did in Prince of Darkness.  Shadowed notation moves underneath a consistent rhythm pattern, while organ embellishes the 8 ½ minute cue.

“Michael’s Curse” begins with a reprise of the famous Halloween theme.  I loved a minute into the track when Howarth individually spaces out the single notes, which sounds cool and different yet relates to the melody.  This was a smart move on the composer’s part and rounds out the 47 minutes and 20 seconds of the first disc.

CD TWO: THEATRICAL CUT – I love the darkness “The Birthing” brings.  You wouldn’t normally associate darkness with the arrival of a child but in this movie series, such is the case.  The choir-like instrumentation adds some gloom to the mix.

A super fast, metronome click propels “Halloween Curse.”  This tune utilizes electric guitar, bass and drums to rockify the presence of the knife wielding psychopath.

Howarth uses the principal motif to help “Jamie’s Escape.”  Bolts of synthetic keyboard distortion shoot out of “Bus Depot.”  You get a good sense that wouldn’t be a good idea to visit “The Chambers” or “Runes.”

The high pitched airy quality of “Look Out” makes it a super suspenseful piece.  “Nightscape” is one of my favorite tracks from disc 2.  I’m a big fan of the guitar and Howarth captures a cool, creepy vibe with the chords he plays on the instrument.

“Grab The Ax” is a fear inducing tidbit.   “Michael’s Back” teeter-tooters between the chief theme and Laurie’s Theme, with some stingers thrown in for good measure.

“Thorn Ritual” is a subdued affair that in some ways reminds me of something you’d hear in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  You get a strong sense of danger from what’s “Across The Street.” 

A sharp audio blow tells you to “Run For Your Life.”  Knowing the white-faced “Boogeyman” is hot on your tail encourages you not to look back and take heed of the warning.

“He’s Coming” has that slow, yet relentless musical push that was used so effectively in the original film when Laurie Strode walked across the street to check on Annie.

Alan Howarth includes the taping of a metallic instrument to heighten the tension of “Shape Assault.”

Ghastly ambience drifts in with “Thorn Sacrifice.”  It’s like the fall wind carries the promise of death, which drifts along with fallen tree leaves amongst autumn current of air.

“Thorn Runes” uses the heartbeat motif established on the first disc track “Thorn.”

“No Place To Hide” offers no sanctuary from the pasty-faced madman.

The longest track on disc 2 is the second to last “Hallway Out” running almost 7-minutes.  It features all sorts of stingers and hits to make you jump out of your seat.  Drums and percussion go crazy about 1-minute in and are taken over by the familiar high pitched tapping sound associated with Mr. Myers.  I do like the different instruments used to convey the major recurring melody within this cue.

I wouldn’t say that Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is my favorite score in this franchise, but it is definitely worth having.  It’s not only part of the Halloween film series legacy and completes a trilogy that began with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), continued into Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.  That fact is Alan Howarth has done another first-rate job of giving us two different musical versions of his score.  I’d say this 2-CD set are most certainly an intriguing part of the Michael Myers saga.

www.alanhowarth.com

 

 

John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Alan Howarth Incorporated – 2008

Music composed by John Carpenter
In Association with Alan Howarth

You have to have Prince of Darkness if you are at all serious about horror film music because it’s one of the best.  The fact that Alan Howarth has gone back to produce the music for this film in its entirety, should excite anyone big time.

I’ve loved this score since I first saw John Carpenter’s movie back 1987 in the theater on Fort Polk, Louisiana, where I was stationed in the U.S. Army.  What I’ve always admired about this music is not only dark and scary, but the main theme is heroic and romantic all at the same time.  It’s a true display of the two composers’ skill at constructing music that gets to the heart of this film’s emotional core.

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Alan Howarth continues his impressive feat of releasing all the music for another John Carpenter film he was associated on, spread out over 2-CDs.  Altogether there is 134.60 minutes worth of music that should have you rushing to AlanHowarth.com to purchase before the 1,500 units are gone.

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It is appropriate Howarth kicks the CD set off with the spooky transient message from the future “This Is Not A Dream.”  This warning is almost as scary as the cinematic terror Carpenter and Howarth conjure with their superb score.  If you really listen to the fuzzy distorted voice and think of its meaning, it will stay with you and cause your mind to wonder its infinite meaning.

I think the low keyboard notes that begin “Opening Credits” are as iconic as the eight piano notes in the theme” for Halloween or even Jaws.  Listening to this again now (I wore out my cassette of the Original Soundtrack because I played it so much) Prince of Darkness is ground-breaking and should be considered a landmark because of the long-form nature of tracks that run over 8-minutes (7 of them).  I can’t think of a horror film score that preceded it that had as many music cues that run for that length of time.  In doing these, Carpenter and Howarth almost approach the tracks as progressive rock tunes because they are ever changing, always pushing ahead into Devilish gloom and darkness.

There are so many compositional aspects to the “Opening Credits” that make it cool.  You’ve got the deep reverberating keyboard line that grabs you by the balls.  Then there is the use of unholy choir vocals “OOoooooooohhhhhh” that sounds not only ghost-like but reinforce the sacrilegious nature of what is being contained in the spinning green large canister underneath the church setting.  The love theme in the track is hugely important because it helps make you care about the characters and lets you know there’s more to this movie then just the supreme personification of evil.

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Next up is the Film Version of “The Underground Church.”  Carpenter & Howarth take their time building this cue with little sparkling notes that are surrounded by a wall of doom.  You just feel something is about to be unearthed and come into our world bringing death and darkness.  Two minutes in, the wicked choir voices denote the arrival of the ungodly power that’s been stirred up and about to be unleashed.

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I’m convinced that “Love At A Distance” and the scene that it supports is one of the big reasons why Prince of Darkness film carries so much of an impact.  Think about it.  If you don’t feel the deep connection of love between Brian Marsh (Jameson Parker, who pulls off one of the most criminally underrated acting jobs of all-time) and Catherine Danforth (Lisa Blount), than the climax of this movie won’t hit you like it does.

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There is grim somberness to “Will No One Tell Us.”  This is the scene where religion and science can’t fully answer what’s going on within the church.  Priest (Donald Pleasence) and Professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) really make this sequence work and the music does its part to support their performances.

The bass drum that pounds the beat for “The Team Assembles” really propels this piece and keeps momentum sustained for over nine-minutes.  It’s definitely a rock-like approach, which was a brilliant choice by the composers.  The little spooky sounds that are added along the way keep things really interesting and fun.

A keyboard whispers “Translation” as low “Wwwhhhhooooooooo.”  It’s the kind of thing to make your skin tinkle with fright.  “Cross Bar” pulsates with a metallic signal that doesn’t sound human.

Keyboard murmurs “Susan’s Intuition/We Were Salesman” along the same lines of “Translation.”  The stinger that comes a minute and half in made me jump because I turned up the volume to hear the low soft airy synthesized sounds that play before it strikes.

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Something is materializing in “Psychokinesis.” 

Big notes prophesying the coming absence of light resounds in “Darkness Falls.”  The sinister choir voices seem to signify the eventual outcome for the world as we know it.  This is scary stuff if you think about it.  This is getting to something I’ve always felt about Prince of Darkness.  That it’s a horror film for the mind as much as it’s a thrilling movie sporting supernatural action.

I like the slow burn of “A Message From The Future.”  It’s not obvious that the short communication that’s coming from a dream that everyone starts having within the church is bad from the composition.  The music is mysterious, fascinating and encourages making an effort to understand it’s meaning.  But as the cue plays longer we get hit with a stinger that confirms the malicious intent of who’s behind it.  There can be no doubt who that is, when the choir voices rise and synthesize from liquid form into ultimate evil.

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The last track on CD 1 is a ten-minute tour de force of unspeakable terror called “Hell Breaks Loose.”  It begins with the love theme that is beautiful and glues us together with the onscreen character’s plight.  Listening to it without the film is just as potent as the music clearly tells the story and will bring you back to the experience the movie gave.  Around the three-and-a-half minute mark, things amp up as the keyboard rhythm accelerates towards doomsday.

CD2 begins with “I Have A Message For You”, which is delivered by the guy who gets consumed with bugs.  I’ve always found this scene both creepy and funny at the same time.

“Mirror Image/The Only Thing That Matters” has a wonderful juxtaposition of the threat of the dark one infiltrating our world from the other side and with what should be considered the most aspect in our lives, love.  The first five minutes build up to unrelenting terror symbolized with big dark keyboard lines and stomping percussion.  The cue mellows out over the last two minutes to express the moments of tenderness that gives this film it’s warm heart.

Carpenter & Howarth are deliberate with constructing “The Devil Awakens.”  There are moments within this cue that you can hear keyboard tonality lines that the duo used in similar fashion in Big Trouble In Little China.    The deep pulsating keyboards, metallic swishes that move across audio space and the active drums & percussion made me think of “Jack Burton, Pork Chop Express & Lo Pan.”  The bright little keyboard that twinkles through the last half of the track sounds great against the ominous wall of sound surrounding it.

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“Through The Mirror” is powerhouse of supernatural force breaking though into our world with its only intent on destroying us.  Carpenter & Howarth add layer upon layer of sounds until the mirror explodes into thousands of pieces of reflective glass.  The last two minutes makes your hair stand up as you can feel how close we came to end for all, but the love theme lets us know we are okay for now.

An Alternate Version of “The Underground Church” comes as a bonus track and then you get The Original Soundtrack Album, which Howarth says had to be less than 50-minutes long.

www.alanhowarth.com