Halloween Kills: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1. Logos Kill
2. Halloween Kills (Main Theme)
3. The Myers House
4. First Attack
5. Stand Off
6. Let It Burn
7. He Appears
8. From The Fire
9. Strodes At The Hospital
10. Cruel Intentions
11. Gather The Mob
13. Frank And Laurie
14. Hallway Madness
15. It Needs To Die
19. Michael's Legend
20. Halloween Kills (End Titles)
John Carpenter’s name is synonymous with film and soundtracks. Ever since the film maker first started his soundtrack and score work has been almost as well know (sometimes even more so) than the work they come from. He pioneered the use of synthesisers to help create atmosphere that was crucial to his work in the horror genre.
It’s the horror themes that has brought us back to this point. In 2018 "Halloween" was released, a new spiritual successor to Carpenter's original 1978 horror classic, and he blessed it with a new score from himself. Now we have a new Halloween film, "Halloween Kills", and a new score from the maestro.
Like the previous Halloween soundtrack, Carpenter is bolstered by his son Cody and Daniel Davies. The trio have worked together for some time now and their work shows how well they do this. It's hard to say who comes up with what within the process, in fact I'd say it's pretty damn near impossible.
"Halloween Kills" weighs in with 20 pieces of music and just shy of 45 minutes. Some of these are incredibly short with almost a third of them clocking in at a minute or just over. But, people listening to this are not looking for quantity. The opener 'Logos Kills' is quite serene to start, all sustained notes before 'Halloween Kills (Main Theme)' begins with the infamous piano line backed with more synths and chorus swells. The piano theme is revisited several times in different variations throughout the soundtrack ('Stand Off' distils the theme to a lonely piano, 'Payback' becomes almost an identical version of the theme, and 'Halloween Theme (End Titles)' is, yep, the same thing but with a more insistent and threatening beat carrying the track along).
Elsewhere, pianos and keys work in opposition against each other ('The Myers House'). They can unsettle you like in the shrill 'First Attack'. A lot of the tracks are based around drone sounds, chords that are held for long periods of time, with embellishments from other keyboard parts creating pulsating menace or even discordant percussion. Pianos seem to suggest something more human and natural. 'Frank and Laurie' is almost tender in comparison (if this was a Rock album it could almost be described as the token ballad).
The centrepiece is probably 'It Needs To Die' which clocks in at an epic (for this soundtrack) near 7 minutes. It's a slow build of drone sounds and pulses, light on melody but heavy on atmosphere.
After listening to the album a couple of times it felt quite empty and hollow. Later on that evening though I watched the film itself. Here, the soundtrack came into it's own, adding depth, menace and peril where needed. Listening to the album on its own though is a bit tougher. There's no dialogue or visuals to help carry you along so everything becomes out of context. This is a shame as there a good few film scores that work as well away from the film as they do a part of it. Carpenter has achieved this before with his own catalogue. Halloween Kills though feels awkward on it's own. There are good moments but, ultimately, there isn't anything to help elevate it above the film which is a shame as it's a fun, bloody shocker. The soundtrack steals the menace from Myers and leaves you wondering what would be happening on screen. Let's hope the third and final part of the new trilogy, Halloween Ends which is due next year, can help resurrect the themes and fear that helped scare the audience and listener so much with it's iconic refrain.
Review - Scott Hamilton