You could make a decent case that John Carpenter’s original 1978 horror classic Halloween is one of the two or three most influential American movies of the last 50 years. It birthed the whole still-thriving slasher subgenre, proved just how tense a low-budget movie could be, and repurposed Hitchcock for grindhouses. Next month, we’ll all get to see the Halloween remake. It’s not the first time Halloween has been rebooted; Carpenter’s fellow musician Rob Zombie did it just 11 years ago. But it’s the first time Carpenter himself has been involved in a remake. David Gordon Green directed the new Halloween, but Carpenter served as executive producer and creative consultant. And most crucially, he did the music.
Carpenter did all the music for his old movies. As much as anything, he did it to save on the budget. But he turned out to be a natural, and his bleak, synthetic scores are among my favorites. Carpenter’s original needling theme for Halloween is iconic horror-movie stuff, and it’s been sampled in tons of rap songs in the decades since. And now we get to hear Carpenter revisit it.
Carpenter hasn’t directed a movie in recent years, but he has been going through a bit of a musical renaissance, releasing albums of ominous synth instrumentals (like 2015’s great Lost Themes) on Sacred Bones. For the Halloween score, he’s once again teamed up with his son Cody Carpenter and his godson Daniel Davies. And with “The Shape Returns,” they’ve taken that original Halloween theme and given it a whole new sense of ticking tension. Listen below.