Holy F, this song still scares the shit out of me.
Halloween was the first horror movie I saw as a kid, and consequently, gave me my most recurring nightmares as an adolescent. I was afraid of the dark for a long time, worried that Michael Myers would materialize from the depths of hell and chase me down the hall of my basement. But he never really needed to rely on darkness for stalking his prey. The worst part was that he struck just as much terror in broad daylight, which was really unique in the slasher flick genre (Hitchcock had previously broken ground with this idea in crop dusting scene of North By Northwest).
In retrospect, I was traumatized by Halloween at the same time I was wholly obsessed with the idea of it. There was something really disquieting about the simplicity of the story in that first movie. The lore would unfold as the franchise made movie after movie, but the most disquieting thing about the the original Halloween, as with any inexplicable event of tragedy, shock or truama, was that we didn’t know why this was happening. Why was Michael was doing this? What was his motivation? We could only conjecture, and normally our imaginations are much more terrifying than reality, but Halloween completely upended that idea. The reality was far worse.
John Carpenter’s “Halloween Theme” makes me nauseous. First there is the onset of an atavistic chill, my body is still primed to enter fight or flight mode from when I first heard this track as an 11-year-old. The insidious, looming peeps of the piano’s octave changes is a perfect complement to the persistent, seemingly simplistic behavior (when he just stares like a curious dog down the length of his arm toward one of his victims, hanging from the cabinet. Or when he dresses, almost playfully, like a ghost) of the white masked stalker. It is a display of efficiency as well, always doing the same thing ad infinitum until far beyond insanity.
The movie is a classic for a myriad reasons, but I think its iconic for its score. Listen below if you dare.