A Killer Jack-O'-Lantern Collection Is Among Film Composer Christopher Young's Scariest Works

The man behind the scores of films like "The Grudge," ''Ghost Rider" and "Spider-Man 3" is also the man behind a major jack-o'-lantern mask collection.

Welcome to His Nightmare

Photo by Oscar Benjamin-Compassionate Wolf Productions One of the biggest jack-o'-lanterns in Christopher Young's collection looms large over those brave enough to attend an after-party exhibit following a concert in which the composer conducted an orchestral-choral-heavy-metal-band performance from his Ghost Rider score.

Halloween in Hollywood is traditionally a hallowed holiday, but it has especially spooky significance for Christopher Young, an extremely prominent and prolific film composer. Not only is his music from frightening flicks like Hellbound, The Grudge, Drag Me to Hell and A Nightmare on Elm Street frequently used in haunted houses, but it’s the one time of year when his vast collection of jack-o’-lanterns gets the true awe and respect it deserves.

He has so many — well over 1,000 — that he’d need a museum to display them all year-round. But his favorites are on constant display in two places: his office/studio, and his famous pumpkin bathroom at home. “It is so jammed with pumpkin paraphernalia it leaves people speechless,” he laughs.

The rest live in a warehouse, unless they go out on display, like they were this year in San Pedro’s famous Art Deco Building gallery. There they were enjoyed at an after-party for the Varese Sarabande Halloween Concert Gala, where Young conducted an orchestral-choral-heavy-metal-band performance from his Ghost Rider score.

In the first-ever interview he’s given about his jack-o’-lanterns, Young told FrontDoor.com that he started his collection more than 20 years ago, when he was drawn to a “Lantern” mask on display at Oz in Westwood. “I couldn’t afford it at the time,” he said. “So I went back the day after Halloween when they had their sale, and picked it up for half price.”

The Famous Jack o' Bathroom

Photo by Joaquin Montalvan Here is the film composer himself, Christopher Young, seated in the most famous room in his house.

That original mask is still his favorite, but he’s also partial to a few others, like his President Obama pumpkin mask. “He’s the only president I’m aware of who has been immortalized in a jack-o’-lantern mask,” says Young.

He’s also partial to a little vintage pumpkin eye mask that his daughter made for him with glue and glitter. And then there’s the edible pumpkin mask on a stick that you can wear and eat at the same time.

Young has loved Halloween ever since he was a child growing up in New Jersey. “Back then most of the jack-o’-lanterns you saw were carved by hand, and there was something mysterious about staring into their candle-lit eyes. They were sort of like a conduit to the invisible spirits in the dark sky. They were the essence of suspense, mystery, the unknown,” he says.

He tries to capture that same essence — that connection to a mysterious, invisible world — in his scores for his more ethereal films.

His repertoire, of course, goes far beyond horror flicks. He’s created music for films as diverse as Spider-Man 3, The Rum Diary, Swordfish and The Shipping News, just to name a few of the more than 100 movies he’s scored.

His projects that are soon to be released include Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Christmas and Single Moms Club, as well as Gods Behaving Badly, a black comedy starring Christopher Walken, John Turturro, Sharon Stone and many other favorites.

With all those masks at his disposal, you’d think you could guess what he’d be for Halloween each year, but Young will surprise you. He prefers to admire them rather than wear them, and seldom puts them on.

But he does make a big deal of Halloween. Last year he toured the great haunted houses across the U.S. He says the best are in Atlanta and New Orleans, but locally, Knott’s Scary Farm really does it right. “They have 11 mazes,” he says, and notes that the last time he was there they were playing his music from Drag Me to Hell.

And how is he celebrating this year? If he revealed that, it wouldn’t be a mystery, would it? But you can bet it will be full of both tricks and treats — not to mention a vast number of jack-o’-lantern glowing grins.


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