In 1998 Varese Sarabande released a “20th Anniversary Special Edition” version of John Carpenter’s score for Halloween that featured the original score tracks in chronological order. Carpenter’s minimal score for his own slasher horror film is rightly cited as being one of the most iconic scores in film scoring history. It’s a simple score, using piano, synth keyboards and a few electronic “stingers” at carefully chosen spots where the on-screen action required. The story goes that Carpenter decided to compose the score after his original idea to have no music in the film seemed to backfire – without music the film was just not that scary. Having just finished revisiting the original CD release of the score for a review, I was surprised by how different the two releases actually are. And, although the Special Edition release boasts an additional 20 minutes to its running time, this “20th Anniversary” version is a good example where more is not necessarily better.
First off, the good points. Heard here, the music is in chronological order (something that I usually like in a score presentation). Highlights here include “Halloween 1978”, “The Shape”, “Lock The Door” and “End Credits: Halloween Theme – Reprise”. The original release features cues that are edited together in a way that enhances the listening experience. The main result of this is that the tracks are relatively long and have a structure to them. Hearing the original tracks in film order in the “20th Anniversary” version changes the emphasis of the score. The tracks tend to be shorter and there is less of a reliance on the title theme – the last 14 minutes of the album (excluding the final “End Credits: Halloween Theme – Reprise”) does not feature this theme at all as the cat-and-mouse stalking of Jamie Lee Curtis’ character unfolds. Another plus point is the sound quality. Read the rest of this entry »