Halloween (Carpenter, 1978)

New picture disc release of Halloween rerecording
     John Carpenter has written almost all of the music for his directed films, and the first "Halloween", his 3rd film, was no exception.  Originally released in an 11-track album consisting of partially alternate mixes (including the Main Title), it got an expanded release for the film's 20th anniversary, but with film dialogue and effects blended into the tracks.  In any case, the Halloween theme is one of Carpenter's most infectious, and comes from a bongo rhythm pattern that he had learned as a child from his father.  Though the film credits the "Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra", the entire score was performed by Carpenter on piano and synthesizer, with technical assistance from Dan Wyman.  Carpenter's first screening without music left the studio unimpressed (not scared), so his mission in scoring the film (inspired by Bernard Herrmann's Psycho and Ennio Morricone's work) was to make it actually scary.  The themes created for Halloween would reverberate in its future sequels as well.


     Carpenter does an amazing job of building varying layers of extreme atmosphere with 5 basic themes and not much else.  It was composed in 3 days and recorded in 2 weeks.  The film itself is obviously a low-budget affair (aren't all slashers?) and the simplistic music fits the tone and pacing very well.
  • Halloween theme: Piano rhythm over percussive electronic pulses in 5/4 (or 10/8), joined by variations of a 3-note rising piano/synth motif (with a shadowing 2-note falling line), with a secondary "bridge" section based on a rising 4-note figure.
  • Michael theme and fanfare: 3-note Michael fanfare in high synth, Michael theme in slow piano chord pulses under variations of 3-note rising-falling motif in piano, synth.
  • Laurie theme: Modulating 2-note piano ostinato with 4-note rising-falling motif and a slow 2-note falling figure in 2 synths.
  • Evil theme: slow, wide 4-note descending figure passed from piano to synths, often ending in high metallic hits.
  • Stalking theme: 3-accent piano theme, joined by keening pulses and dissonant synth layers.

Trk Dur Title Film Sequence/Themes
1 2:23 Halloween Theme Main Title, credits, zoom in to lit Halloween pumpkin (also retracked many places, especially whenever Michael stalks from afar).
Piano rhythm over percussive electronic pulses in 5/4, joined by variations of a 3-note rising piano/synth motif (with a shadowing 2-note falling line), then a repeated rising 4-note figure, then back to the 3-note motif in synth, a final 4-note figure statement (dissolves to a children's Halloween chant). 
2 3:13 Halloween 1963 (with film dialogue)
0:00: POV of a stalker outside a house observing young lovers, then entering the house and picking up a carving knife.
3-note Michael fanfare in high synth, Michael theme in slow piano chord pulses under variations of 3-note rising-falling motif in piano, synth.
1:00: The boy leaves, and the grandfather clock strikes.
Held synth texture, Michael fanfare.
2:00: Michael kills his sister Judith and then runs downstairs and outside.
Low drone accent, Michael theme with added synth layers.
3 4:08 The Evil Is Gone 0:00: Dr. Loomis and a nurse arrives at the hospital in a rainstorm (film dialogue).
2:16: Inmates are seen wandering around.  Michael commandeers Loomis' car and escapes.
5/4 Halloween theme on piano/high pulse with rising 3-note motif, various electronic stingers.
4 2:50 Halloween 1978 Laurie walks down the street of a suburb.  She heads towards the Myewr house to drop off a key.
Also: in class, Laurie, sees someone staring at her from across the street, and later, Laurie walks with her friends after encountering a mysterious car.
Laurie theme: Modulating 2-note piano ostinato with 4-note rising-falling motif and a slow 2-note falling figure in 2 synths, repeated twice in lower registers with added oscillating synth tones, ending in low synth drone.
5 0:40 The Boogie Man Is Coming After the school bell rings, kids taunt a boy (dialogue only).
6 1:42 The Shape One of the boys bumps into the escaped Michael (the Shape), who stalks the school grounds on foot and in Loomis' car.
Stinger leads to Halloween theme with developed held synth textures (filtered), ending in piano figure/pulses alone.
7 1:35 The Hedge Laurie sees someone duck behind a hedge.  Her friend Annie taunts her but there is no one there.
Michael theme in piano chord pulses/synth drone joined by 3-note rising-falling piano/falling synth line, descending and joined by lower textures, ending in higher register.
8 2:40 He Came Home 0:00: Loomis and a detective explore the cemetery (dialogue).
0:49: They finds that Judith's tombstone has been dug up and Loomis realizes Michael has returned home (dialogue).
Michael piano pulses with synth, descending.
1:14: Michael stalks Laurie in his car.
Stinger, Halloween theme in piano/synth with 3 and 4 note motifs, ending in electronic pulses. 
9 0:38 Trick Or Treat 0:00: "Trick or Treat!" (dialogue).
0:12: Michael sees Laurie arrive at Tommy's house, as Tommy's parents depart.
Michael theme in piano pulses/3-note piano/synth figure.
10 1:44 The Haunted House Loomis arrives at the old Myer house.  He and the detective discover a dead dog.
Evil theme: slow, wide 4-note descending figure passed from piano to synths, joined by oscillating synth line.
A man wouldn’t do that.
This isn't a man.
11 1:35 The Devil's Eyes In Judith's old room, something flies in through the window.  They discuss Loomis' history with Michael.  Loomis decides to wait for him to return (dialogue).
Evil theme in piano/synth, ending in high metallic hits.
12 1:27 The Boogie Man Is Outside Tommy interrupts Laurie's phone call with Annie to tell her that he sees the Boogeyman outside (dialogue).  She looks but sees nothing.  Meanwhile Michael approaches Annie's window.  He watches Annie change.
Michael theme in piano pulses/3-note figure, descending and joined by lower textures, held synth texture/piano pulses.
13 1:34 Damn You For Letting Him Go! 0:00: Loomis teases kids near the Loomis house.  He talks with the detective about Michael (dialogue).
14 0:33 Empty Street Lynda and a boy make out in Annie's living room as Michael watches from the other room.
Michael theme (falling piano pulses/3-note figure).
15 2:22 See Anything You Like? 0:00: Lynda and a boy get intimate in Annie's upstairs room (stinger, dialogue).
0:26: Later, the boy is killed by Michael in the kitchen.
Noisy synth chord stingers.
0:52: He then proceeds to the bedroom under a sheet (dialogue).
1:36: Lynda calls Laurie, but Michael begins strangling her (dialogue).
Stalking theme in low rhythmic piano accents/high electronic pulses.
16 2:52 Lock The Door (alternate) Laurie, concerned, tries calling her back but no one answers.
Evil theme on piano/synth, intercut with high metallic hits and modulating downwards, ending with added oscillating synth.
17 0:55 He's Here (unused) Loomis finds the car which Michael stole sitting in the neighborhood.
Halloween theme with piano/pulses only.
18 2:50 Lights Out Outside, Laurie notices that the lights are out in Annie's house.  She rings the doorbell but no one answers.  She enters the house.
Laurie theme in piano/synth, repeated lower with additional oscillating synth layers (reprise of Halloween 1978).
19 1:18 Cut It Out Laurie goes upstairs (dialogue, score).
Evil theme.
20 1:09 Tombstone Laurie sees Annie's body with Judith's tombstone next to it.  Michael's body swings into view, and Lynda's body turns up.  Michael stabs Laurie and she falls over the railing (with dialogue).
Michael fanfare stinger, held synth tones, noise synth chords, Michael theme with fanfare/stinger.
21 1:33 The Shape Stalks Laurie Michael comes down the stairs.  Laurie tries to escape but finds herself trapped.  She escapes and eventually makes her way back to Tommy's house and locks the door.
Stalking piano theme joined by high keening pulses/held synth, developed with added lower textures.
22 0:33 Turn Around The phone is dead and Laurie cowers.  Michael stabs at her but she stabs him back with a knitting needle.
Michael theme in piano/synth.
23 2:09 Unlock The Door Laurie grabs the knife and sees Michael collapsed.  She drops the knife.  Loomis walks the streets looking for Michael.  Laurie goes upstairs to check on the kids.  Michael appears behind her.
Laurie theme and variations, ending in added oscillating synth.
I killed him.
You can't kill the Boogeyman.
24 3:04 The Hanger The kids lock themselves in and Laurie looks for a hiding place, as Michael approaches.  Michael tries to break into the closet where Laurie is hiding.  Laurie uses a wire hanger to stab Michael.  She grabs the dropped knife and stabs him again.  Michael falls.
Stalking piano theme, joined by keening pulses and dissonant synth layers, building with added layers/drones.
25 0:25 Call The Police Laurie tells the kids to go outside (dialogue).
26 1:33 Last Assault Michael sits up as the kids get Loomis' attention.  Michael sneaks up on Laurie and then tries to strangle her.  Laurie tears off Michael's mask, just before Loomis shoots Michael.
Stalking theme in piano/keening pulses/synths.
27 0:32 Was It The Boogie Man? Loomis shoots a few more times and Michael falls out the window (dialogue, stinger).
28 3:33 End Credits: Halloween Theme - Reprise Loomis discovers Michael's fallen body has disappeared.  Images of several houses at night pass by in a collage.  End credits.
Halloween theme alt. mix with 3 and 4-note rising motifs.


Original 1983 Release
Trk Dur Title Film Sequence/Themes
1 2:55 Halloween Theme - Main Title Halloween theme alt. "beat" mix with added low downbeat pulse, extended with added synth swells/drones.
2 2:05 Laurie's Theme 0:00: (Halloween 1978 alt mix):
Laurie theme.
1:05: The Haunted House (part 1):
Evil theme.
3 1:42 Shape Escapes The Evil Is Gone: Inmates are seen wandering around.  Michael commandeers Loomis' car and escapes.
Halloween theme beat mix with added low downbeat pulse, stingers, 3-note motif.
4 5:35 Meyers' House 0:00: Lock the Door: Laurie, concerned, tries calling Lynda back but no one answers:
Evil theme/metallic hits.
2:55: Unlock the Door (edit):
Michael theme.
3:26: Halloween theme beat mix, noise synth stinger.
3:50: Cut it Out (edit):
Evil theme.
4:16: Noise stinger, Halloween theme beat mix with 3 and 4-note motifs.
5 3:11 Michael Kills Judith Halloween 1963 (alternate):
0:00: POV of a stalker outside a house observing young lovers, then entering the house and picking up a carving knife.
3-note Michael fanfare in high synth, Michael theme in slow piano chord pulses under variations of 3-note rising-falling motif in piano, synth.
1:00: The boy leaves, and the grandfather clock strikes.  Michael stabs his sister.
Held synth texture, synth stinger, Michael theme, held synths.
2:39: After killing Judith, Michael goes outside.
Stinger, Michael theme.
6 3:31 Loomis And Shape's Car Halloween Theme alt beat mix 2 (extended The Evil Is Gone?: Inmates are seen wandering around.  Michael commandeers Loomis' car and escapes).
7 3:33 "The Haunted House" 0:00: Lights Out: Outside, Laurie notices that the lights are out in Annie's house.  She rings the doorbell but no one answers.  She enters the house.
Laurie theme in piano/synth, low drone.
2:58: Turn Around: The phone is dead and Laurie cowers.  Michael stabs at her but she stabs him back with a knitting needle.
Michael theme in piano/synth.
8 1:35 The Shape Lurks The Shape Stalks Laurie: Michael comes down the stairs.  Laurie tries to escape but finds herself trapped.  She escapes and eventually makes her way back to Tommy's house and locks the door.
Stalking piano theme joined by high keening pulses/held synth, developed with added lower textures.
9 3:02 Laurie Knows 0:00: Unlock The Door: Laurie grabs the knife and sees Michael collapsed.  She drops the knife.  Loomis walks the streets looking for Michael.  Laurie goes upstairs to check on the kids.  Michael appears behind her.
Laurie theme and variations, ending in added oscillating synth.
2:08: Halloween Theme beat mix 
10 3:26 Better Check The Kids 0:00: The Boogie Man Is Outside: Laurie looks outside for the "boogieman" but sees nothing.  Meanwhile Michael approaches Annie's window.  He watches Annie change.
Michael theme in piano pulses/3-note figure, descending and joined by lower textures, held synth texture/piano pulses.
1:38: Cut It Out: Laurie goes upstairs looking for her friends.
Evil theme, descending.
11 3:09 The Shape Stalks The Hanger: The kids lock themselves in and Laurie looks for a hiding place, as Michael approaches.  Michael tries to break into the closet where Laurie is hiding.  Laurie uses a wire hanger to stab Michael.  She grabs the dropped knife and stabs him again.  Michael falls.
Stalking piano accents theme, joined by keening pulses and dissonant synth layers, building with added layers/drones.


Links
John Carpenter Site
John Carpenter Wiki Entry
New picture disc single release of Halloween (Carpenter rerecording)
20th Anniversary CD on Amazon

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