Reissue Review: John Carpenter — Halloween OST

Reviews / November 19, 2013

Reissue of ‘Halloween’ is most complete vinyl effort to date


Any self-respecting horror fan is well aware of John Carpenter’s contributions to the genre, not only in the directing game, but as the composer behind many of his films. And while scores like Assault on Precinct 13 and The Fog have been treated to sold out vinyl pressings in recent years, no score of his touches the cultural contributions of his work for Halloween, the now 35-year-old genre classic. And to date, no release of this score has honored its legacy in such a way that Mondo has accomplished with their recent vinyl pressing. Touted as the most complete collection of tracks from the film, Mondo’s pressing isn’t a simple reissue, but an experience, in which you can follow along on each step of the villainous Myers’ journey, from initial “POV” to the final masked breath.

Mondo accomplishes such a feat through a 28-piece tracklisting, featuring not only Carpenter’s score, but several extended and crucial chunks of dialogue from the film. As you listen to the screams of Michael Myers’ initial murder victim and take in the famous Dr. Loomis speech, “The Devil’s Eyes,” it’s as close as you’ll get to taking in the film, without actually popping in the Blu-Ray (or DVD, or VHS?). Musically, the score does double back on itself quite a bit — with moments of deviation like “The Shape Stalks Laurie” as standouts — at least what’s being repeated (most often the theme beat) is truly iconic. In the end, with this lineup and tracklisting, you shouldn’t have to ever purchase the soundtrack again. And if you’re going to reissue an album of any sort, that’s always the end goal.

Writer’s Note: I was corrected by a commenter that this tracklisting actually appeared on the 20th anniversary CD; it just hadn’t been pressed to vinyl yet. My mistake. Thus the changed headline.

Sound Quality: Let’s hit on the positive aspects first, highlighted by a balanced sound. The minimalistic, synth-aided score may seem simple, but the ability to manage the high end of Carpenter’s work, along with the occasional organ-like lows is something which could have easily been botched. His work on the keys jumps all over the place, all the while being managed by James Plotkin, who remastered the work for vinyl. It helps that the score has been cut at 45 RPM, as well, while being spread across 2 discs, with an average side length of 13 minutes, allowing for the music to truly breathe. Despite these positive factors, there is some surface noise present, especially during the quieter moments, such as “Halloween, 1963.” If they could have eliminated such issues, we’d have a great pressing on our hands, but that distraction was a little tough to get over.

Packaging: As with all Mondo releases, the 2xLP set comes housed in a gatefold jacket, complete with exclusive artwork (shown below) by Phantom City Creative. And while the cover isn’t the best work they’ve released, the inner gatefold and back art are the shadowy images necessary to properly capture Myers’ essence. Mondo has actually put out a better Halloween print, by Ken Taylor, but like anything, it’s up to individual opinion. The remainder of the packaging is quite flawless, with a sturdy jacket, center labels featuring a pumpkin and appropriately black inner sleeves. The $30 price tag may be high, but it’s a quality product, which is sure to last a few years.

Extras: For the standard release, Mondo offered up two variants to customers: 180-gram black and 180-gram orange (no pressing # revealed). They would also release a 180-gram orange with black splatter variant (limited to 1,000), available at the Halloween: 35 Years Of Terror convention in Pasadena, and featuring different center labels (Myers’ face and the famous clown mask instead of the pumpkin), different front and back cover artwork (with half Myers’ face and half the clown mask) and a different inner gatefold (all pictured below). And while many didn’t have a chance at that specific aspect of the release, it’s excellent to see a label putting that much work into an extra variant. Furthermore, Mondo spiced up the purchase options for customers, offering up two slipmats, as well. A digital download code is not included.

Summary: With Mondo’s reissue of Halloween, they’ve presented horror fans with the only version of this iconic score ever needed. The 28-piece tracklisting is epic, allowing for listeners to be taken on a true journey through the film, while the sound quality just about matches the ambitious release. And while Mondo has released better artwork in the past for their pressings, it’s still eye-catching, like most of their impressive visual work.

Make Sure To Spin: “Halloween Theme,” “The Shape Stalks Laurie” & “The Devil’s Eyes”

Photos courtesy of Mondo

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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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