In contrast to the big-budget approach of many successful Hollywood films, with a huge orchestral score that’s performed to a click, John Carpenter’s Halloween (the movie and the score, both of which he created) is astonishingly sparse and effective.
In this article, Carpenter delves into his process for writing and recording the soundtrack to Halloween, which celebrated its 35th birthday earlier this week.
I had composed and performed the musical scores for my first two features, Dark Star and Assault on Precinct 13, as well as many student films. I was the fastest and cheapest I could get. My major influences as a composer were Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone (who I had the opportunity to work with on The Thing). Hermann’s ability to create an imposing, powerful score with limited orchestra means, using the basic sound of a particular instrument, high strings or low bass, was impressive. His score for Psycho, the film that inspired Halloween, was primarily all string instruments.
Here’s the original title theme.