Virtual Hangs: John Carpenter ‘The Horror Master In The Flesh’

John Carpenter interview 2022

And now announcing something completely different, but not too far removed from our regular scheduled viewing—the horror master himself, John Carpenter, joins Wall of Sound Virtual Hangs.

The mastermind behind the killer franchise (pun intended) takes up a seat to chat with us about his involvement with the Halloween Ends soundtrack and film. It finds the Hollywood director/composer crafting haunting sounds that set the tone (and then some) for the final outing’s key scenes, working alongside his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel Davies.

The end result even manages to throwback to the original debut outing of Halloween (1978) by bringing key moments back to the big screen for modern cinema-goers in 2022. Learn more by watching the full interview, or read on as we dissect the best bits with the biggest name that has ever graced the pages of Wall of Sound

Just reiterating again, this is John Freaking Carpenter!! To put this icon’s accolades into perspective, one quick google search (for the ill-informed) will remind you of the legacy this man has behind him. Conceiving cult classic horror films—spanning well over 40+ years in the industry—such as The Thing, Christine, The Fog, Ghosts of Mars, They Live, Vampires, Prince of Darkness, Big Trouble In Little China, Escape from New York, and of course Halloween. Not only did John serve as director for the above-mentioned flicks, but he also scored and composed the majority of them, a talent dating back to his early years as a student filmmaker where (much like in this day and age) he tried his hand at everything in order to keep the costs down—more on that later.

This method resulted in John creating the infamously iconic theme music for the Halloween series that we all know and love (or fear). Hellbent on going back to where it all began, I quizzed John about the moment he realised the piano-driven opus became something special for him and those watching the movie… and, well, it’s been a while as he replied.

“Well, you’re talking about something that took place [40+ years ago].”

He then added that the arrangement was put into his head at a very young age after his father invested in one of his first musical instruments.

“Well, when I was 13 my father got me a pair of bongos [and] he taught me how to five-four time on the bongos. [John then proceeds to play the sound on imaginary bongos]. That’s Halloween.”

He admits he loves hearing new iterations that have surfaced throughout the years that the story has been told. A personal fave of mine is the rendition Nine Inch Nails members, Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, released back in 2017. But, as they say, nothing beats the original.

One of the big drawcards for cine-buffs to check out the latest in the franchise is the fact that if you’re listening close enough, you’ll pick up on signature sounds and compositions that were first introduced in the 1978 debut.

To tip the hat to where they came from, and where they ended up, John and co. revisited old scores and compositions, giving them a new-age makeover (this can be heard in the ‘Laurie’s Theme Ends’ clip below) by adding new bits and providing a familiar, yet updated sound for those who have been following the Halloween story since the very beginning.

John explains, “We took the original soundtrack from Halloween (1978) and I work with my son Cody, and my godson Daniel, and we took all the themes that I had done way back when and then we brought them into the modern age, adding new sounds to them [and] rearrange them in a different way, depending on what David Gordon Green [director] wanted. We sit down with him and we do spotting sessions and he tells us what he wants where, and what he’s looking for in a scene, and that’s what we try to provide.”

For the uneducated, this new series consisting of Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends (2022) all take place in the same universe (and town of Haddonfield, Illinois), 40 years after the events of the first bloodbath. Having written, directed and scored the original, I pondered whether he was able to provide additional input to the storyline of the new David Gordon Green-directed sequels, to which he replied:

“I was associate producer on this, so I did have input. But mainly I talked about the filmmaking of it. In other words, if a scene was slow, if there’s too much of this, but I didn’t get into his vision of Halloween, that was all his.”

And now for the horror/thriller movie twist none of you saw coming…

Throughout my years working in the heavy music industry, I’ve comes across many musicians who share a similar passion for all things spooky/horror. One of which is The Ghost Inside drummer, Andrew Tkaczyk, who shared with me a while back his own horror pleasure room featuring lifesize Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees mannequins, limited edition Halloween masks, horror paraphernalia and many more goodies. See a sample of it for yourself below.

It turns out John Carpenter is his all-time favourite horror director, so I approached him with the idea of asking a question he’s always wanted to know from the mastermind himself. He jumped at the chance and put forth the following question: “When making the movie back in the day, did you already have that theme in mind, or as you were making it, was it something that came to you and really enhanced the scenes that Michael was in?”

“Well that particular theme was something that I played on a piano and basically it was like an exercise. I limbered up my hands by playing that.”

He then explains that back in the 70s, there weren’t the kind of budgets you have with today’s day and age movies, especially considering this was the first outing of Halloween and it was a completely independent release (that would later go on to make $70 million at box offices around the world).

Back then, everything was done by someone on the production team and John just so happened to be skilled in various departments, including soundtracking and scoring.

“I started scoring movies in film school because we were all broke. We didn’t have any money. So I’d do the scores for my own student films and others. And then I just brought that into low-budget filmmaking. We didn’t have any money, so I had to do the score for Halloween and I had three days to do it in.” 

“I realised I have to do something simple here, plus I had minimal chops. So that was perfect. It was just the right theme for the right time for me.”

It all goes to show what the power of dedication and ingenuity can accomplish with the end product resulting in a lasting legacy that has terrified and thrilled audiences for well over four decades… and no doubt many more to come.

Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul

Listen to John Carpenter‘s latest workings
on the Halloween Ends OST here

Halloween Ends – OST tracklisting

1. Where Is Jeremy?
2. Halloween Ends (Main Title)
3. Laureis Theme Ends
4. The Cave
5. Drags To The Cave
6. Evil Eyes
7. Transformation
8. Because of You
9. Requiem For Jeremy
10. Kill The Cop
11. Corey and Michael
12. Corey’s Requiem
13. The Junk Yard
14. Where Are You?
15. Bye Bye Corey
16. The Fight
17. Before Her Eyes
18. The Procession
19. Cherry Blossoms
20. Halloween Ends (End Titles)

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About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3541 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!