Halloween Soundtrack Variations

The score for the original Halloween film has been considered one of the most effective in any movie genre to evoke the proper atmosphere for the evil incarnate known as Michael Myers. The story is one of legend – how John Carpenter screened the film for a studio executive minus the score; they were unimpressed and called the film, “not scary.” After viewing the film with the score added, this same executive had a rather different opinion.

Most fans will know how each film in the franchise has a slightly different version of Carpenter’s score (except for part 3, which is a different beast altogether). However, what is frustrating for this Halloween fan is how even the soundtrack from the original 1978 classic has been altered and, in my opinion, weakened.

In 1998, a 20th Anniversary edition of the Halloween soundtrack was released. I am happy to say I own this edition as it is already becoming rather expensive on Ebay (near $30). This soundtrack is a Halloween fan’s dream, as it keeps virtually the entire score from the film intact and in order. For the casual listener, this will become tedious as so many of the cues are identical from one track to the next. Also, the 20th anniversary edition keeps some of the famous dialogue from the film in the score, which I enjoy, but can understand how some might not like the talking interspersed with the music.

In 2010, a new MP3 edition of the original soundtrack was released and is the current version available for purchase (Good news – if you are an Amazon Prime member, you get the entire album for free). This version is an abridged selection of the score, but covers all the essential cues from the film. If you are looking for just the great music without the dialogue and repetition, this is the version for you. The 2010 version is ideal for haunted houses, Halloween parties, etc.

Now, here is the problem from a purist standpoint. For some reason, which I can’t understand or come up with a possible motivation, the 2010 edition places a bass drum front and center of the main title credits, pounding away throughout the duration of the theme. It is simply inexplicable. If the film score had this bass drum in the original version, then it was so pushed in the background that it is completely inaudible. The difference is substantial.

I have placed both the original film score title credits and the 2010 soundtrack release back-to-back in the MP3 below. See if you agree that the first sample, from the film itself, is the superior version of the score.

Although I have already ripped my 20th Anniversary CD to MP3, I am hopeful that at some point in the future they will release the 20th Anniversary edition in a MP3 form. Until then, these kinds of differences are not the end of the world, just a little confusing.

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