Tag Archives: John Carpenter

Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

 

HalloweenIII


Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth

 

Alan Howarth Incorporated – 2007

Let’s get something straight.  The music for Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one of the best soundtracks for a movie ever made.  If it’s not the best score in the Halloween series, then it comes in second right behind Halloween.  I personally think it’s one of the most underrated scores in cinema history.

This Limited Edition (1000 units) consists of; the original soundtrack (first 12 tracks) and thirteen never before released bonus tracks (the last 13 tracks).

The Original Soundtrack

“Main Title” establishes a dark serious atmosphere from the first swiping keyboard line.  The composition builds to match the computerized image of the pumpkin seen in the opening credits of the film.  A brooding keyboard churns under higher synthesized parts that flicker and pixilate like the onscreen Jack-O-Lantern.

Alan Howarth says in the linear notes, “Using cutting edge technology of the day, we would play our synthesizers with synchronized audio and video tape and build tracks of musical elements; this was before digital sequencers and sampling”  You can really hear this advanced technological approach in the composition of “Chariots of Pumpkins.”  There’s a cool propulsive keyboard line that amazingly brings to life the adrenaline of Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry) being chased down by the mysterious men in business suits.  One of the most interesting parts of this cue (listen carefully), is the slow tap of the tambourine, which sounds related to Escape From New York.

You definitely get the sense of traveling during “Drive to Santa Mira.”  The music is kind of light and airy, yet conveys the destination may prove to be troublesome.

There is sternness to “Starker and Marge.”  In the end, you hear the full release of terror these characters experience from watching the Silver Shamrock commercial, while wearing the deadly Halloween masks.

The pounding of the high metallic instrument over the deep throbbing keyboard line in “First Chase” certainly influenced the composers’ music in Christine.

You sense danger coming from “Robots at the Factory.”  The underlining drone brings considerable menace to the cue.

My daughter loves hearing “Halloween Montage.”  This is the audio blurb, narrated by Director Tommy Lee Wallace that supports the Silver Shamrock commercial.  It has a bunch of kids singing “Happy, Happy Halloween” with circus-like instrumentation and a clap-track to provide a form of percussion.

“Hello Grandma” has gloomy synthesizers that swirl around clanging metal hits and high register strings.  It’s actually the longest piece on this entire soundtrack running just short of five-minutes.

“The Rock” looms large, like the massive pillars from Stonehenge.  Carpenter and Howarth give the composition not just atmospheric importance but are able to create history, an audio back-story of sorts to support the prehistoric monument.

When I listen to “Challis Escapes”, I can visualize Tom Atkins character searching out Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) and breaking free of Colonial Cochrane’s (Dan O’Herlihy) evil clutch.  This track has the composing duo’s signature of low synthesizers augmented with deep pounding drums, metal like high strikes and gyrating keyboard lines.

“South Corridor” teeters along the edge of suspense as high-pitched keys inch along the border of anxious uncertainty to the outcome.

The final curtain call of the original soundtrack comes in the form of “Goodbye Ellie.”  Darkness drifts from the music condemning the characters to certain doom.

The Bonus Tracks

I’ve got to say “Hey Boom” is one of my top-5 movie music tracks of All-Time.  The first low keyboard always extends down grabbing me by the balls.  There’s something powerful about the lowest parts of the harmony getting your full attention, putting you on alert to the immediate threat of danger.  But this isn’t the only reason while this cue rules.  The way tension is racketed up is expertly constructed with multiple layers of synthesized elements working in conjunction to make it more and more frightening.  When you combine this music with Dean Cundey’s expertly lit cinematography and camera movement during this scene; where the robot business man kills Harry Grimbridge with his bare hands in the hospital, then walks out to blow itself up in a car, cements its cinematic greatness.

“Mask Test Tone” is a dark stroke from the composers.

“I Really Love This” plays along the lines as “Drive to Santa Mira.”  It’s got that traveling aspect, which comes from the clomping-like musical steps moving within.

There is a pensive mood to “Local Boy, No Way.”  Audio stingers strike during “The Factory” to let you know it’s not just a Halloween mask facility.

Tension drifts over “I think Its Time.” 

The Man Who Killed” has to be supportive of Colonial Cochrane.  It’s got this wicked composition of keyboards working in unison to make you fear him.

A heavy dark drum thumps “A Pleasure Doing Business.”  The music makes it seem like there is no hope for tomorrow and that the end of the world is near.

“Halloween III Close/Open” is just that.  The same cue that supports the beginning credits, wraps the closing titles as well.

The classic Carpenter/Howarth high tension sound hovers above ‘Where Is She?”  Then the duo concocts a series of electronic instrument embellishment to punctuate the piece.

“It Will Be Morning Soon” takes the music movement of the previous tune further along toward the hopeless future.

“Stonehenge” is sold as rock with keys that scale up its large dimension to give you a sense of its grandeur.

There’s nothing funny about “I Do Love A Good Joke.”  Scalding synthesized notes jab like a molten-hot tipped fire poker to the belly.  Deep keyboards enforce the seriousness of this film about Gaelic Festival Samhain and dark witchcraft.

Altogether Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is 67-minutes of movie soundtrack magnificence.

www.alanhowarth.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 – Collector’s Edition

 

Halloween

Halloween – Collector’s Edition

Anchor Bay Entertainment – 1978

Directed by John Carpenter

Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

 

Starring
Donald Pleasence
Jamie Lee Curtis
PJ Soles
Nancy Loomis

I had to take a step back and collect my thoughts before tackling this masterpiece. It’s one of my two favorite films, so I hope my words can do it justice. In 1978, this film was released upon the unexpecting world. It was originally panned by the critics, until the Village Voice saw it for what it is, 90 minutes of unrelenting suspense. That review critically turned the tide for the entire country and HALLOWEEN started picking up steam to eventually become the most successful independent film ever made.

I remember the first time I ever came across anything to do with the film. I was thirteen years old, flipping through the Seattle Times newspaper and I saw the poster ad with the horrifying image of a pumpkin holding a large butcher knife. It was so scary I remember not wanting to look at it very long. There was something frightening about seeing an image we associated with trick or treating now looking like death. It clearly represented the film and is a brilliant movie poster. Simple yet completely effective, the same can be said of the film.

For those of you who don’t know, HALLOWEEN is about a six year old boy named Michael Myers, who kills his sister with a butcher knife on Halloween night 1963. He’s put away into Smith Grove-Warren County Sanitarium where Michael waits patiently for the right moment to break free. October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, Michael Myers makes his escape. He steals a car and heads straight for home, Haddonfield, Illinois.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the kind of good girl every parent would hope to have. Straight laced, focused on school, she excels at what most consider boring and not fun. Laurie’s father is a real estate agent and on Halloween morning, he asks Laurie to drop off a key at the old Myers house. He says someone wants to see it. Laurie does the favor for her father, but little does she know someone is already in the house. As Laurie puts the key under the front door mat, a dark shadowed man with heavy breathing puts his head into frame to look at her. It’s Michael. This is the first of many instances where John Carpenter uses the foreground and background with impact. As Laurie walks away down a sidewalk, Michael takes the opportunity to step into frame into the rest of her life.

Later that day, as Laurie is sitting in class, she looks out the school room to see a pasty faced man staring at her from across the street. The man doesn’t move as he stands fixated on her. Laurie gets asked a question, which she answers. When she looks book to the window, the man and his car are gone. This begins a string of situations where the white faced man follows Laurie around, always making himself seen and then disappearing. This cat and mouse game makes Michael Myers seem almost supernatural, which works tremendously well because it’s not hard to think of him as the Boogeyman.

Laurie agrees to babysit Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews) that night and her friends Annie (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda (PJ Soles) hook up with their boyfriends. Amazingly in the second half of the film, the three girls are placed across the street from each other, but unfortunately Mr. Myers is there too. Carpenter shrinks the distance down to two neighboring houses which is one of his trademark moves. Carpenter likes to confine his characters to tight spaces and put them under attack. You’ll see this if you look at any one of his films. It’s a stroke of genius, because it puts the film crew in one location (no wasted time traveling) and all of the characters are in immediate danger.

The other character heavily involved in the story is Michael’s doctor, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Dr. Loomis, who carries a gun, pursues Myers the entire film and is the only one who understands what Michael is capable of doing. He has been watching Michael for fifteen years and he knows what is inside Michael is “purely and simply, evil.” Donald Pleasence is very important to HALLOWEEN‘s success. He is the voice of experience and wisdom. Donald Pleasence will always be remembered playing this character.

John Carpenter made a huge mark in the industry with HALLOWEEN. Carpenter gets honest performances from each of his actors and he can thank Debra Hill for selecting Jamie Lee Curtis for the lead role. Carpenter’s visual approach is awe-inspiring. The visual precision is so economical, yet ambitious at the same time, it’s a blue print for any aspiring director. The lenses Carpenter picks make full use of the widescreen format and show off Dean Cundey’s stellar lighting. There are many visual moments in the film that will burn right into your head and you will never forget them; Annie on the phone in foreground, while Michael stands behind her, Annie stuck in the window of the laundry house with Michael staring into the window behind her, Tommy Doyle’s POV seeing “The Boogeyman” standing in front of the Wallace house across the street, Michael’s long walk across the street coming right at us, Michael smashing into the closet, Michael sitting straight up behind Laurie as she sits in the doorway at the end. The one that really got me when I first saw the film was when Michael’s white mask slowly appears out of the dark closet, right before he slices Laurie’s shoulder with the butcher knife. I still can’t fully shake that nightmarish image.

Carpenter also made an unforgettable music score. His music conjures up the atmosphere of a small Midwestern town, during the autumn season. The main HALLOWEEN theme is so identifiable that the minute you hear it, you can’t help but think of Michael Myers.

Nick Castle’s performance as Michael Myers or “The Shape” is very special. It’s not often that an actor wearing a mask will make such an impression. You would think just about anyone could throw that white mask on and become Michael Myers. But if you look at the sequels, nobody has come close to recreating the William Shatner mask and no other actor moves like Nick Castle. Castle gave The Shape a touch a grace. All of the other actors playing Michael are clunky and stiff.

I understand that Anchor Bay’s first DVD release of HALLOWEEN was not well received. With this you can rest assured that you will be completely satisfied. Anchor Bay with the supervision of Lucasfilm has struck a new 35mm interpositive (made from the original camera negative) transfer that is THX-Certified and brings HALLOWEEN to DVD with startling visual power. The picture is super clean without scratches. The colors are practically life like and black runs deep.

Anchor Bay put a nice effort into the supplement section. Halloween Unmasked is a new 26 minute documentary that chronicles how HALLOWEEN was made. Most important cast and crew speak out (except the late Donald Pleasence) about how they went about making HALLOWEEN. There are neat details exposed and they show you how some of the film locations look today. Most fans will want to have this just for this documentary.

The still gallery is packed with photos, advertising material and more. The audio commentary which was on the Criterion laser disc is missing, but that would be my only complaint.

I wouldn’t go another day without this DVD.

www.anchorbayentertainment.com