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MRH: I wonder if Douglas can provide some brief details on his intro into film scoring because he’s still fairly new to movies, and I think like Michael, I was really impressed with Monster House because it had a great deal of lyricism, and it was a really fun score.


Douglas Pipes: I grew up in a family of musicians, and being a musician I kind of got introduced to film scoring from someone who’d come to me when I was playing music…
 It was a student filmmaker who had made a $100,000 film, and I scored that one and a couple of others after it, but I realized that I wasn’t the composer I wanted to be, so I stopped and went back to school and studied composition and orchestration.

Then as luck would have it, when I was in school [at UCLA] I met Gil Kenan and scored his project, and he was enough of a fighter to do the big bold step of bringing me on to score his first feature film [Monster House], which was a pretty amazing thing.



MRH: I guess that’s one of the most difficult challenges for a new director – to bring along people that he’s worked with in the past, and sometimes deal with a studios’ preference for a larger-name composer who may not be appropriate for that particular film.


Douglas Pipes: I think it’s just understanding that they have money and they don’t want to risk things, so it’s not easy for them to throw a bunch of money at something that hasn’t been proven. You get it; but on the other hand, there’s something to be said for bring emerging talent into the pool.



MRH: For myself, Trick ‘R Treat feels like a Grimm’s Halloween fable, and I wonder if both of you could articulate how you arrived at the score’s style, since there are so many stylistic and technological options for horror movies?


Michael Doughtery: Well, I think it was a conscious effort to go backwards a little bit but not go too far – we don’t want to get too caught up in making too much of an eighties horror film.

The initial goal of the film was to have a slightly nostalgic flavour. I initially wrote the script out of dissatisfaction with the horror films being created in the late nineties, because that was a point when we were just drowning in Scream knock-offs. I love Scream (1996), but success unfortunately gave birth to all the rip-offs of Scream, so every movie had a cast of twentysomethings on the poster in half profile staring at you, and as we were just drowning in these movies, I wanted to try and give rise to something else.

I grew up loving Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside, The Twilight Zone, and old horror comics, so every element of the movie was meant to be slightly nostalgic for the holiday, for the horror genre, and I think with the score we wanted to make sure we retained that; it wouldn’t make sense to go and make this kind of Grimm’s fairy tale style of a horror movie, and stick a moody electronic Saw score on it.

The fairy tale atmosphere that I think you’re feeling - that was meant to be in it; it’s modern day folklore, modern day urban legends campfire stories. When I sat down with Douglas to talk about it, we definitely wanted to retain some of it. That’s why there are parts of the score which are very gentle; they’re like a lullaby at times, and that grew from my appreciation of a lot of Jerry Goldsmith stuff.

If you go back and look at Goldsmith’s scores for The Omen (1976) or Poltergeist (1982), he has absolutely terrifying cues in there, but to contrast that, he also has some very gentle, subtle, almost beautiful theme music in there. I think there was that contrast that made those scores powerful, and I knew they would be effective for this movie; it’s also a style that we just don’t see too much anymore. Modern horror scores are just obsessed with being moody-moody-creepy-dark-scary, and because there’s no lighter contrast, there’s no yin or yang, and it actually loses its potency.

The monstrous house...

Scream (1996) DVD

The Omen (1976) DVD

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