Growing up in the late 70s/early 80s a trip to the cinema was always an adventure. The movies my friends and I wanted to see often carried the dreaded X rating (this was replaced by the 18 certificate in November of 1982) which made them an even bigger draw for the average teenager. We were desperate to see these films drawn in by the advertising and that hint of danger, but as we were still at school this presented a problem. Luckily, I was tall for my age, so I’d hide my school uniform and, very nervously, gain admission to the likes of Sean S. Cunningham’s ‘Friday the 13th and a string of dodgy slasher movies made by guys all hoping to be the next John Carpenter.
I was too young for the initial cinema run of Halloween in 1978, but with the arrival of VHS and a video store on every corner I had almost unlimited access to a host of horror movies and my world opened to endless variations on how to stalk and slash your way through ninety minutes if you were so inclined. Admittedly some of the quality, as more and more titles were illegally copied, made it pretty hard to tell who was actually killing who but I was hardly Mark Kermode or Kim Newman so I wasn’t too bothered by such technicalities.
One of the earliest things that struck me about the horror genre was the music. Italian act Goblin had freaked folks out with the likes of ‘Susperia’ and also composed the score to ‘Dawn of the Dead’ the film by which all recent Zombie TV and film should be measured. Great stuff for sure but John Carpenter with his use of synthesizers on ‘Halloween’ had changed the horror movie soundtrack forever with a score that was a thing of beauty; simplistic, dark and menacing. A knack he would repeat on many of his later films including ‘Christine’, ‘Escape From New York’ and ‘The Fog’.
In 2018 the 80s are seemingly cool again with the runaway success of ‘Stranger Things’ on Netflix and a ‘Halloween’ reboot that doesn’t involve Rob Zombie, so the time seems right to rediscover a host of fantastic music recorded for horror films forty years ago. Robin Ogden (OGRE) and Dallas Campbell already knew this. The transatlantic duo began their collaboration in 2015 with the release of the original ‘All Hallows’ and they’ve continued to work together over the years, most notably on a rescore of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ for Lakeshore records, coincidentally the musical home of ‘Stranger Things’.
For newcomers I should point out that before you scour Amazon or pester your local retailer for ‘All Hallows’ the film. It doesn’t exist, nor does their upcoming release ‘All Hallows’ II’ as both are soundtracks to imaginary films. The original ‘All Hallows’ music was released in 2015 and is available to stream and download via Bandcamp and this new sequel expands on the themes of the original. If you’d like a physical version of the release it’s available on cassette - yes cassette -now you can’t get more 80s than that! ‘All Hallows’ also comes with a 34 page PDF file of notes and interview transcripts to enable the inquisitive/inventive to piece together what happened to investigative journalist Ellis Ledstone. A deluxe triple cassette edition with additional recordings including the rather creepy sounding ‘Psionic Realignment Meditation Cassette Tape’ will also be available.
There is a certain irony that something as incredibly retro as this collaboration, which embraces all things analog via tape machines and vintage synths would not be possible without modern technology as Ogden and Campbell live over three thousand miles apart and have never met in person. The duo connect via FaceTime, Dropbox and Sid Meier‘s Civilisation V which surprisingly given the later still allows them the time to make albums…
‘All Hallows’ II’ is frankly terrific. If you’re familiar with Ogden and Campbell’s previous works you won’t need me to tell you to get your orders in ASAP. Their combined ability to create atmosphere is second to none. You can envisage complete scenes; you can feel the tension, you can picture the inhabitants wondering the corridors of The Shepard Institute for Psionic Inquiry. You’re given free rein for your imagination to take over and make your own film a reality…I’m even considering my casting choices. The opening track ‘Ident VI’ is actually the musical cue for the imaginary company releasing the film. OGRE Vision presents possibly? You can picture the film credits on the screen as ‘Last Rays of Daylight Part II’ unfolds before you’re introduced to the facility via ‘The Path Set before Us’ which brings an eeriness to proceedings. You just know things aren’t going to end well. ‘Autopsy’ and ‘Spiritual Inertia’ up the creep factor before ‘Admittance’ all pulsing synths and chord choices that bring to mind primetime Carpenter continue the immersive feel and build the tension. I’m not sure what’s happening during ‘NEXION’ but it can’t be good while ‘Forest Clearing - Laughing Shadows’’ is a short but sweet nod to 80s pop with its clanking synthetic drum track.
I don’t like to name check ‘Stranger Things’ too often as the duo’s work predates the series but sometimes a hit show or a specific piece of music can allow people to find you amidst the hectic clutter of our media driven lives. OGRE and Dallas Campbell present you with a genuinely spooky and eerie piece of music that any soundtrack/horror/Carpenter fan can and should enjoy. ‘All Hallows II’ might be an imaginary film but just how imaginary depends on the listener and the power of their imagination.
All Hallows II is released on January 25th 2019.