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  • Writer's pictureEric Senich

The Song That Rocks & Shocks: John Carpenter's 'Halloween' Through The Years

The sound of Michael Myers breathing inside his mask. It sends chills down your spine. Add John Carpenter's iconic theme song to "Halloween" and you've got one of the greatest one-two stabs in music history.

The story of Carpenter's theme song is as fascinating to me as the movie itself, which was written by Carpenter and Debra Hill in about ten days. With the movie done, he quickly came up with the theme he says was inspired by an exercise his father taught him on the bongos in 1961, the beating out of 5/4 time. Carpenter was also influenced by legendary composers Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann, who is best known for his score for Psycho, which is the film that inspired Halloween.

Here's what Carpenter had to say about the music's effect on the film from his website:

There is a point in making a movie when you experience the final result. For me, it’s always when I see an interlock screening of the picture with the music. All of a sudden, a new voice is added to the raw, naked without-effects-or-music footage. The movie takes on its final style, and it is on this that the emotional total should be judged.

While the music of the many Halloween films (there are 13 in all including the latest "Halloween Ends") has remained true to Carpenter's original arrangement, it's gone through some interesting reworkings. Here is a compilation of all the theme songs beginning with the original 1978 classic right up through 2021's "Halloween Kills":

Happy Halloween and rock on John Carpenter!

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