Boo! It’s Halloween! Throughout October, HollywoodLife is running The Sound Of Halloween, where some of your favorite fiends of music, movies, television, and pop culture pick songs that should be on your Halloween 2022 playlist. Today, it’s the legendary director and composer John Carpenter, the man behind the original Halloween film and the score to the latest installment, Halloween Ends.
“So we have the ‘Monster Mash,’ we have ‘Thriller.’ Those are obvious, right?” John Carpenter tells HollywoodLife when discussing song selections for The Sound of Halloween playlist. As a filmmaker, Carpenter helped revolutionize the horror genre with the original Halloween film in 1978 and subsequent horror/science fiction classics such as The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In The Mouth of Madness. Carpenter is also renowned as a film composer, creating iconic themes and soundtracks that continue to send shivers up and down our spines.
The soundtracks Carpenter crafted for films — from The Fog to Escape From New York to Christine to the recent Halloween trilogy of films – are as memorable as the scenes flickering on screen. Though he’s not behind the camera for the David Gordon Green-directed Halloween Ends, Carpenter’s presence is felt throughout, thanks to the original score he crafted alongside his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel Davis.
“I’m working with my son and godson, which is just unbelievable,” he tells HollywoodLife. “We do albums together, we toured together, we do scores together. And this is like the second act in my life. My first love is directing — Never getting over that. Some of the baggage that goes into that is a little rough, but now I’m happy. This is great. The greatest, man. I didn’t expect it.”
So, it makes sense that John would be the ideal person to consult about crafting a Halloween playlist.
“I got it,” he tells HollywoodLife after considering his options. “The perfect Halloween song is ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper,’ by Blue Oyster Cult. As a matter of fact, it is in the new Halloween,” he says, referring to Halloween Ends, the latest – and possibly last – entry in the Halloween franchise, one that Carpenter scored himself. “I love that song,” he says of the BOC hit. “I heard that song in ’77, I believe. And I thought, ‘this is the scariest song I’ve ever heard in my life. Woah!’ Even though the Blue Oyster Cult guys claim it wasn’t [scary.].”
Though BOC songwriter Bob Dharma said it was a love song, Carpenter isn’t buying that. “That’s such horseshit,” he says with the wisdom of a man who’s been around the block. “But anyway, doesn’t matter. All good.”
Another song that was floating around the ether when Carpenter heard “Don’t Fear The Reaper” was “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon. In earlier interviews, Carpenter said that Peter Fonda introduced Zevon to the party and that the songwriter revealed he initially wrote it for the Everly Brothers, who passed on it. “Now you’re talking,” he tells HL. “‘Werewolves of London’ is awesome. The lyrics are hilarious. My god, it’s so great.”
But no Halloween playlist would be complete without a John Carpenter song. The original “Halloween” theme is in heavy rotation this time of year, but when asked what to add to 2022’s The Sound of Halloween, he points to the new Halloween Ends score, out today (Oct 14).
“Any song you want to pick – I think we have our second single out today called ‘The Junk Yard.’ I would say that’s a good representation,” says John Carpenter. “Or the first single, which is ‘The Procession.’ Either one.”
Halloween Ends aims to do just that: bring a conclusion to the story of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers started in 1978. With this being the end of their saga, did John Carpenter feel any sentimentality with scoring this film? “No, there was none,” he says matter-of-factly. “You understand, for me, the end of Lori Strode’s story took place in 1978. It’s been resurrected by myself and others, but it’s not the first one. The first one was the one I loved, but this one is really terrific. Really.”
The same could be said for John’s musical partners, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davis. “They’re happy about the paycheck, but it’s a job,” says John Carpenter. “We work hard. That’s what it’s all about. We go through the movie — this is our job and we try to please the director. I try, personally — I don’t want to have an emotional attachment to what I’m doing. I want to provide what is necessary to make the movie better, to enhance the images, and to enhance the characters. So that’s the job I have.”
“You see, one of our jobs, and no one told me this when I began, is to maintain the glamor at all times,” says the veteran filmmaker. “Make everything glamor but it’s not true. … I know, I know. I let everybody down, but I couldn’t. There’s nothing glamorous about it. Look, I was sitting on a glacier in the middle of the night waiting for the explosion [in The Thing]. It was freezing cold. The snow was falling upon me and I thought, ‘what am I doing? There’s nothing glamorous about it.”
“It’s hard work,” he adds. “All art I think is. The music is fun, but it’s also hard work.” Carpenter says that he does “love the process and I do it – all that’s great, but come on. I mean, every job is a job.”
When he’s not working, John Carpenter enjoys life as an avid video gamer and watching the NBA. “Well, I have two teams. My main team is the Golden State Warriors, and my second favorite team is the Milwaukee Bucks,” he says. Unfortunately, the Warriors are not scheduled to play on October 31 (they do play the following day, taking on the Miami Heat.) If they were to play on Halloween, what song would Carpenter want the team to come out to?
“Well, ‘Halloween,’” he says. “That would be great. That’s what Kobe Bryant used to listen to. Do you know this story? Before games, he would listen to the Halloween theme over and over and get him focused. He wanted to be like Michael Myers. Just a basketball machine. And that’s what he was — like bang!”
Though Halloween is coming to an end with this new movie, John Carpenter will continue making music. Perhaps, there is an Alice Cooper collaboration in the future? John worked with Alice on The Prince of Darkness, and while Mr. Cooper didn’t provide a song for a Halloween movie, he did famously write a song for another slasher icon – Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th franchise. Cooper wrote “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” for Friday The VI: Jason Lives.
When pitched the idea of teaming up with Alice Cooper on a musical project, John Carpenter seemed open to the idea. “I’ve not even thought about that,” he says. I should rethink that. That’s a good idea. No, I haven’t talked to Alice in quite a while, but he’s still banging away, I think. Well, nice guy. I really like him.”
John Carpenter’s Halloween Ends score is out today, Oct. 14. Halloween Ends is also available on Peacock.
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