The 2009 release of Trick ‘R Treat (2008) is notable because it finally allows horror fans to see and hear the film and music of writer/director Michael Dougherty, and composer Douglas Pipes.

To film music fans, Pipes is best-known for Monster House (2006), a witty and lyrical score that captured the right tone of what it’s like to be drawn to a creepy presence even though it could very well eat you alive.

Monster House was ostensibly about a home transformed into the physical vengeance tool of a wronged woman, with total disregard if the souls swallowed up were kids, adults, or seniors. Of course, there was a simple rule you had to follow to avoid being physically usurped: stay off the damn property. You could look at it safely from the sidewalk (public property), but don’t do it for too long…

That fascination with, hesitation and need to touch the dangerous ground and do some exploring is what Pipes’ music nailed, and it’s that deft combination in an orchestral environment that made him ideal for Trick ‘R Treat.

Michael Dougherty’s first foray into film was the animated short Season’s Greetings (1996), which introduced a nascent version of Sam, the physical symbol of Halloween in Trick ‘R Treat. The filmmaker was also involved in the writing of X2 (2003) and Superman Returns (2006) for director Bryan Singer, as well Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005), the second sequel in the horror franchise.

Trick ‘R Treat is Dougherty’s directorial debut, and while the film’s production and long period in limbo are addressed in the film review (as well as an extensive spread in Rue Morgue’s 2009 Halloween issue), our Q&A with Dougherty and Pipes focuses on the music, and why the score and film will slowly age into small seasonal classics in coming years.




Trick... R... Treat?




Mark R. Hasan: As a first-time director, Michael, it’s obviously exciting to select the key people with which you’re going to be working, and I wonder if you could describe some of the steps you took in searching for a film composer, in terms of your own research, and what made you decide on Douglas?


Michael Dougherty: Well, I’m a pretty big collector of film scores (it’s been that way since I was a kid), so I have a pretty big library in my head of the type of sound that I’m looking for, and even when I was writing the screenplay, there was a whole list of different composers and soundtracks that I was listening to draw inspiration. When it came time to actually find somebody, it was difficult, because we were a low budget film; there were a lot of names that we just flat-out knew we couldn’t afford.

As as luck would have it, I think it was the day we officially got greenlit (it was summer ’06). I sat down to watch Monster House, and when that score started, I knew [Douglas] was the guy because it had a sense of fun to it; it was foreboding, because it was a scary kid’s movie (but it wasn’t too scary); and most importantly, it had melody and it had themes, which were really important for me in Trick ‘R Treat, because I wanted the film to harken back to eighties horror movies.

I knew he was the right guy because he was a young, up-and-comer like me; we were both willing to go above and beyond to get it right, and we both had something to prove.

Monster House DVD

Read the DVD review!

Monster House CD

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