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Remember When ‘Halloween: H20’ Used the Soundtrack From ‘Scream’?

halloween scream

On December 20th, Wes Craven’s classic slasher film Scream turns 20 years old. Many of you know how I feel about Scream. I’ve made my love for it and its sequels (yes, even Scream 3) apparent in the past, but the original really was a landmark film that redefined the horror genre. I’ll be spending this week writing a handful of posts about Scream (call it “Scream Week,” if you will) in the hopes that more people will join in on celebrating this wonderful film. This article is sort of a cheat since it is more about Halloween: H20, but it does show how influential Scream was on the horror genre in the years following its release. 

Many of you may already know this story, but for the uninitiated, let’s start from the beginning. John Ottman was hired to compose the score for Halloween: H20 and compose it he did. You can still hear some of it in the finished film (I’m actually a fan of his re-tooling of John Carpenter’s theme in the opening credits), but certain segments during the more suspenseful scenes were switched out with segments of Marco Beltrami’s scores for ScreamScream 2 and Mimic.

Most of Ottman’s score was removed because the producers (read: Bob Weinstein) wanted a darker and more imposing score, and they didn’t believe Ottman’s score fit that criteria. In the Making Of featurette on Anchor Bay’s Blu-Ray release of the film, editor Patrick Lussier actually admits that Ottman’s score felt like it was for a different movie, saying it was “over-orchestrated, very detailed [and] wasn’t a score for a Halloween movie…it was busy.” Though he did later admit that it was “good music in its own right but it just wasn’t right for the film.”

Understandably, Ottman “was horrified because [he] was the composer of that particular approach” to the score, lamenting that the new approach that ended up in the final cut was a standard slasher score. Unfortunately for Ottman, that approach tested better with test audiences.

Halloween: H20‘s release date was pushed up a month during post-production, giving the crew five days to retool the score. Had they more time, an entirely new score would have been composed. Since they had such limited time, Beltrami was flown in to re-do about half of the score. What remained of Ottman’s score was either edited heavily or used for scenes they weren’t originally intended to be used for. In some scenes parts of Ottman’s score was mixed in with Beltrami’s score, making for an hybrid pieces of music.

It’s an unfortunate situation for Ottman, but it does seem to have been the right choice for the film. It also shows just how good of a score Scream had, since it did work out pretty well for Halloween: H20.

To see an example of Halloween: H20 with Beltrami’s score, watch the clip below:

As you can see, it uses the same music from Tatum’s (Rose McGowan’s) death scene in Scream:

Sounds pretty similar exactly the same, huh? There are multiple uses of Beltrami’s scores all throughout the film, including the pre-credits sequence when Michael murders Nurse Chambers. You can still listen to Ottman’s full score though. It was released as a standalone album called “Portrait of Terror“, but clips of the film with the score weren’t actually released until Shout! Factory released the box set of the entire franchise back in 2014.

You can hear the original version here:

What say you on the matter? Which score do you prefer? You can listen to other comparisons on YouTube user Anthony Borga’s account (Or just buy Anchor Bay’s totally awesome box set of the whole series. It’s only $50 right now for the basic set and $180 for the Deluxe Set).

What say you on the matter? Which score do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!


14 Comments
  • lupe

    Why didn’t they hire Beltrami in the first place?

  • cduns

    The pre credits scene in H20 is my favorite of the movie. A great tie back to the original, and we got to see JGL with a hockey skate in his head. Classic. I like to pretend that shot with the CGI mask doesn’t exist in the movie.

  • gene wells

    interesting article because i have always said that the score for Pacific Rim is what ruined that movie for me…i wanted a darker more ominous score…

    • Oooooh but Ramin Djawani did the score for Pacific Rim…he does Game of Thrones and Westworld.

  • disqus_uqr3Boh0Wp

    I love both of them

  • Frankie Ramos

    As much as I think of Scream every time I watch H20 and hear that score, I think it fits better than the intended score

  • Rolando Contreras

    I figured the score was similar because it was written by Kevin Williamson who also wrote the first Scream. I think it’s because of Kevin that H20 is such a good movie. To me it’s basically the official part 3 of Halloween.

    • Biscoito18

      I love H20 too. For me it’s not only the official part 3, but the last one too. Resurrection don’t exist for me.

    • Williamson didn’t write H20. He was brought in to doctor the script but he wasn’t credited. It was written by Robery Zappia and Matt Greenberg.

  • whysoserious1891

    I’ve always thought that a scream-like score (as well as the entire style of the movie) would make the franchise to lose its identity. Imagine a Friday the 13th movie without the “Manfredini approach”!

  • Luca Vasto

    i ADORE Halloween H20, one of my favourite movie ever.

    Beltrami score was amazing

  • REC03

    Maybe Ottman’s score is a bit OTT but i like it much better. Not that Marco’s Scream score isn’t amazing (cause it is) but its distracting.

  • Simon Allen

    Beloved Dimension …how good they are at fucking stuff up .

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