Tag Archives: Alan Howarth

Christine – Original Motion Picture Score

ChristineOriginal Motion Picture Score
Music by John Carpenter in Association with Alan Howarth

Varese Sarabande – 2017

Because of the success of John Carpenter’s Lost Themes, Lost Themes II, Varese Sarabande is re-releasing John Carpenter’s classic score for Christine fully remastered and available on blue vinyl.

 

“Arnie’s Love Theme” that begins the score for Christine is very simple yet contains tremendous mood that’s character based, not only for the Arnie Cunningham character, but the car itself, Christine. John Carpenter in association with Alan Howarth, create an indelible audio presence that sets the tone of the whole film.

The way John Carpenter captures “Obsessed with the Car” is honestly a film scoring marvel. He does so much with so little, it just goes to show you his connection as the main story teller of the movie cannot be overestimated or undervalued.

“Football Run / Kill Your Kids” shows incredible grasp of the film composers with the material on the screen. You can literally feel every emotion as “Dennis” (played by John Stockwell) runs out to catch a pass and gets pummeled, getting injured on the play at the same time Arnie pulls up with Leigh (Alexandra Paul) in now fixed-up magnificent looking red 1958 Plymouth Fury. The juxtaposition – counterbalance between the different emotions, runs so high from the composition.  It’s just astounding to listen to and makes you visualize the scene in its entirety 30 plus years since the movie came out.

The tonality and seriousness of “The Rape” cue is very emotionally disturbingly appropriate in terms of the scenes content.

The super high airy keyboard lines in “The Discovery” really create the sensation of heat after the car has been completely vandalized. It’s shocking and John Carpenter captures the vulnerability that Arnie must feel seeing the utter intentional destruction of his beloved car.

“Show Me” as one of always been one of my favorite cuts from the soundtrack. Carpenter connects with Arnie’s words, which are the same as the cue title, asking his girl to regenerate itself and its really the turning point where the movie gets dark.  Shortly thereafter Christine and Arnie seek revenge on “the shitters” who tried destroying her. True emotion is captured in this elegantly shadow drenched piece. I’d rate this as one of the top 10 tracks of John Carpenter’s illustrious career.

Carpenter and Howarth put their foot to the floor with “Moochie’s Death. ” Pounding single bass drum rules the track as keyboard lines dance around as the fuel for the car, as it chases down the heavyset character to his death in a tight dead-end alley.

“Junkins” is the music cue that encompasses Arnie Cunningham first seeing dilapidated Christine. The title says it all in terms of how run down and broken she looks.  But there’s something about the car that attracts Arnie to her. The high pitch keyboard lines have almost a funeral quality that foretell the unfortunate soul the falls for her.

“Buddy’s Death” begins as the school bully Buddy Repperton (played with great skill by William Ostrander) runs out of the gas station that Christine ram shacks. John Carpenter and Alan Haworth beautifully render the scene transition as the tough guy attempts to flee the still burning Plymouth Fury, which is honestly a vision straight out of hell. But all is for not, as the blazing vehicle chases down this movie’s tormentor and Carpenter/Howarth can literally make you can hear it’s fiery tracks left on the burning corpse.

The dark churning keyboards in “Nobody’s Home / Restored”, set up palpable mood of tension. The little higher pitch notes somehow still represent Arnie Cunningham and his relationship to the old car. I believe this is the scene where the bad guys go to Darnell’s garage before they attempt destroy her.

“Car Obsession Reprise” is such a beautifully understated piece by Carpenter and Howarth. The saying less is infinitely more certainly applies to this composition, as it subtly captures all the dynamic elements working within the film.

“Christine Attacks (Plymouth Fury)” is the pounding musical cue that represents Christine’s deadly fury. Carpenter literally puts his foot down on the bass drum to stomp all over those who get her way.

I believe “Talk on the Couch” is the musical arrangement that accompanies the scene where Dennis (John Stockwell) and Leigh (Alexandra Paul) talk about the situation their friend Arnie is in and how they can stop the rampaging car, and at the same time save their friend.

Obviously from the title, “Regeneration” supports the sequence where Christine repairs herself at the very end of the movie. Carpenter and Howarth utilize reverberating drum, tapping percussion, metal hits and clanging sheet of metal to revitalize the incapacitated car.

John Carpenter’s signature low rumbling keyboard lines speak volumes in “Darnell’s Tonight.” The director/composer really leaves his mark and foretells the film’s thrilling climax to come.

“Arnie” underscores the film’s lead character Arnie Cunningham (played magnificently by actor Keith Gordon). This composition has a white-hot, almost demonic quality. Carpenter and Howarth bring out the tragic element of the doomed character.

“Undented” could be the most threatening piece on the entire score. There is a darkness that prepervades the musical soundscape. It’s an impressive piece of work that absolutely captures the moment within the 1983 film.

“Moochie Mix Four” mixes all the compositional themes and elements together for the last track in the movie. The pounding bass drum, fluttering keyboards and all sorts of ghoulish vehicular aspects are brought together for this underrated masterpiece.

Being a lifelong fan of John Carpenter I know his work as well as anyone on the planet.  The thing nobody ever talks about or maybe even realizes is that this is the film he made between The Thing and Starman.  Think about that.  Carpenter went from making one of the best films ever made in the history of moviemaking (John Carpenter’s The Thing) to going on to make an Academy nominated performance love story with Starman.  He was without question at the peak of his directorial career and his work in this movie absolutely shows it.  Both on the screen and in this brilliant musical score.

I would rate Christine as one of Top-6 best scores and films of his historic career. The acting in the movie is nothing short of sensational and John Carpenter & Alan Howarth should be forever recognized for what they accomplished with their Original Motion Picture Score.

I would encourage you to go out of your way to go purchase this soundtrack, as it is imperative if you’re any kind of serious collector of movie music and if you’re a horror fan, it’s a no-brainer.  A true treasure and kudos go to Varese Sarabande for getting it back out for the world to hear.

www.varesesarabande.com

 

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