John Carpenter: “Chariots of Pumpkins”
March 17, 2015
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Well here it is, Saint Patrick’s Day (or as I like to call it, “The-Irish-Catholic-Excuse-For-Celebrating-the-Vernal-Equinox-by-Honoring-a-Saint-Who-Was-Never-Actually-Irish-and-Who-Never-Actually-Drove-Any-Snakes-Out-of-Ireland-Since-There-Were-Never-Actually-Any-Snakes-in-Ireland-in-the-First-Place” Day. And what better way for me to mark this special occasion and express pride in my Irish heritage than by posting the best instrumental piece of music that was ever written about a malevolent Irish fairy and his insane plot to start the apocalypse by turning American capitalism against itself? That’s right, I’m talking about the soundtrack for Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), which is my second-favorite film ever made (and the absolute best film you’ll ever see in which robots and Stonehenge both serve as important plot points at the same time).
It may seem strange that I’m posting something from this film when it isn’t Samhain, but there are a couple of reasons why I think it’s relevant. I’ve already mentioned the Irish connection, but it’s also because I tend to think of spring as being autumn in reverse. So when the snow starts melting and the clocks spring forward and the temperatures start rising and our shadows grow shorter, I always feel an unstoppable urge to pull out all of my favorite horror films that take place in the autumn. I also first saw Halloween III during the spring of 1995 (sometime between Ostara and Walpurgisnacht), and I might also mention that the film bears a certain resemblance to the original Wicker Man (1973), which is one of the few good spring-related horror films that are out there. Finally, I’m posting this piece of music now simply because it’s cool and I absolutely love it!
The title of this track – “Chariots of Pumpkins” – is a play on the Vangelis favorite, “Chariots of Fire” (which was composed for the film of the same name). If you’ve seen Halloween III and you know the parts when this song is played, you might understand the joke. This piece of music always makes me think of an even more demented version of the Pied Piper story, with the Piper leading a parade of trick-or-treaters and killer robots through a dark suburban neighborhood that’s dimly lit by a burnt orange sky. John Carpenter isn’t just my favorite filmmaker; he’s also one of my favorite composers, and the Halloween III soundtrack showcases some of his very best work. Here it is now, and if you’re interested in reading more about the film, check out the review I wrote about it back when I first launched this website. (And here is my review of the Wicker Man, just for good measure.)