John Ottman is a composer best known for works like The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns, X2, The Nice Guys, X-Men Days of Future Past, and Valkyrie. He’s also composed quite a few horror films such as Apt Pupil, Lake Placid, Urban Legends: Final Cut (which he also directed), Eight Legged Freaks, Gothika, Hide and Seek, and Orphan. And recently, he won an Academy Award for Best Film Editing on Bohemian Rhapsody. Overall, he’s a pretty talented guy.
Interestingly enough, he’s credited with being the composer on Halloween H20, but very little of his music is actually heard in the movie. This because most it was replaced with music by Marco Beltrami, which he had composed for Scream and Mimic.
So, why would an accomplished composer be replaced with music that was previously used in a very popular film like Scream? Because of studio meddling of course.
John Ottman was hired to take John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween theme and bolster it with an orchestra. The directions from director Steve Miner were to mix the John Carpenter tracks with something out of a Hitchcock movie. Not since Halloween II was so much thought and effort put into a Halloween score and this was part of Miramax’s attempt to rejuvenate/finish off the Halloween franchise on a high note.
So, what actually happened? Well, the release date for H20 was pushed up and the studio claimed it didn’t have time to show the film to a test audience with Ottman’s complete score since they only had five days to finish the score up. So instead, they stuck with a temp score and flew Beltrami in to write bridges between his music and Ottman’s score. The only untouched piece of music of Ottman’s was the opening scene.
Luckily for horror fans, John Ottman’s score was released as an album entitled Portrait of Terror, which you can find streaming on most major services as well as YouTube. As much as I enjoy the Scream soundtrack, it takes just a track or two to see that Ottman’s score was the superior score and would have enhanced the movie and made it feel even more like a Halloween film.
For any fans of horror scores, I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a worthy trip into the “What if” and “What could have been” world of Halloween.
You can read John Ottman’s thoughts on his score at his website.