35 Greatest Horror Soundtracks: Modern Masters, Gatekeepers Choose

Composers, reissue-labels and synth-savvy musicians pick best in fright

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2. 'Halloween III: Season of the Witch' (John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, 1982)

You can trace synthesizer sophistication in the early Eighties by how John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's Halloween themes changed with each sequel. For 1981's Halloween II, the iconic theme got baroque with a little bit more synth-pop, and for 1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the theme is a screwed smear of dread that doesn't even touch on the original's famous melody. It's fitting for an installment that doesn't feature Michael Myers and was originally penned by sci-fi fatalist Nigel Kneale (writer of Quatermass and The Stone Tape, a horror movie all about acoustics) involving Celtic rituals, Stonehenge and space. Other tracks similarly reimagine Carpenter and Howarth's sparse style: rushes of electronic noise on "Starker and Marge"; metal-on-metal murmuring on "Robots at the Factory"; and ambient burps on "The Rock." And the familiar Halloween melody gets contorted on Vangelis subtweet "Chariots of Pumpkins," a jittery version that turns theme into a jagged anxiety attack.

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