Horror producing maven Jason Blum made it clear to John Carpenter that they would make a “Halloween” sequel with or without his participation, so the wily filmmaker decided to insinuate his influence as composer. “He told me to stop complaining from the sidelines and try to make this movie good, and that’s what we did,” said Carpenter, who also scored his original horror classic.
In David Gordon Green’s highly praised “Halloween” sequel, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie has become a tough survivalist who’s spent decades preparing for a final confrontation with slasher Michael Myers (Nick Castle and Jude Courtney). Carpenter liked that it was a primal story that ultimately reversed their predator and prey roles. He advised Green “to make it simple and relentless,” and that’s how he scored it, working with the director to spot the cues.
“The score was done in 1978 on old tube synthesizers,” said Carpenter. “It was very crude. Well, today, the technology has just advanced, amazingly. And the sounds have become very sophisticated and deep. We adapted the old themes and refurbished them so they sound better. But then we sprinkled the new stuff.”
Carpenter applied a series of ascending and descending synths, sampled piano, drum hits, and powerful thumps. Plus, there’s the addition of electric guitar supplied by his godson Daniel Davies. Son Cody played keyboards. Carpenter was particularly proud of the strange percussive and rhythmic sounds during a slasher scene in a house. “We rubbed our pants and then distorted it and you’re also hearing the drum machine orchestral hits,” he said.
The standout piece, though, is “The Shape Returns,” which accompanies Myers donning his iconic mask again for his latest Halloween killing spree. On the soundtrack, it has its own three-part structure: It begins with creepy strings and then brings in the main theme filtered through piano, follow by a new synth progression and disturbing tapping. Lower-register synths take over with more tapping before an ominous conclusion of dread.
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But it was always important to keep Laurie and Myers musically separate. “They’re never going to merge as characters,” Carpenter said. “They’re in conflict, so there are always different approaches to the music. He’s just aggression, he’s evil on the hoof.”
For the suspenseful finale, Carpenter “pulled out the kitchen sink and made it dark.” However, when director Green toyed with reshooting the original “Halloween” ending, Carpenter immediately advised against it. “I didn’t think the fans would like it,” he said. “Think about the audience. They’re going to go crazy if you make it simple and direct and just ruthless.”