Cult soundtracks (music)

Authored by: James Wierzbicki

The Routledge Companion to Cult Cinema

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138950276
eBook ISBN: 9781315668819
Adobe ISBN:


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In John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween, the kids being minded by the hapless babysitter through most of the film are doing what kids do naturally. The eye of Carpenter’s observant narrator rarely shows us footage from the several ‘scary’ movies that the kids watch, but its ear eavesdrops often on those movies’ soundtracks. Indeed, what comes out of the TV set’s tiny loudspeaker forms the sonic backdrop for the one environment in Halloween that, all things considered, remains relatively safe. Sometimes as pervasive as would be the aroma of popcorn had Halloween been equipped with ‘smell-o-vision,’ this sonic backdrop includes an occasional pitch from the TV station’s host and an occasional scrap of dialogue from one or another of the movies, but by and large it keeps spoken words to a minimum, and most of its content comes in the form of sound effects and underscore. If Carpenter had wanted nothing more than to depict kids watching TV on Halloween night, he could easily have borrowed from any of countless horror films. As it happened, he chose Christian Nyby’s 1951 The Thing from Another World and Fred McLeod Wilcox’s 1956 Forbidden Planet.

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