15 Amazingly Creepy Horror Movie Musical Scores
As you know, music plays a huge part in the filmmaking process and plays with our emotions while we are watching the movie. Music heightens our senses and adds to the quality of film. When it comes to horror movies, the music is supposed to scare us, make us feel uneasy, and gives us moments of panic and fear. Director Martin Scorsese said the following about music and film:
“Music and cinema fit together naturally. Because there’s a kind of intrinsic musicality to the way moving images work when they’re put together. It’s been said that cinema and music are very close as art forms, and I think that’s true.”
Just the other day the main theme song from Halloween started playing on the radio, and it freaked my kids out to the point that they were in tears. It was sad but kind of funny at the same time. Anyway, it got me to thinking about what the scariest horror movie soundtracks created over the years have been, so I put together a list of fifteen that I think do their horror movie job well. These are all scores that still make chills go down my spine when I hear them.
Look through my choices below, listen to them if you want, and let us know if there's anything that you would add to the list.
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
He won an Academy Award for his work on the film in 1977. Director Richard Donner credits the success of the film to Goldsmith's score, which made the film scarier than it would have been without him.
Composed by Chuck Cirino
Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind wrote and performed a full electronic score for this movie, but Stanley Kubrick threw most of it out and used a different soundtrack. Only the adaptation of the "Dies Irae" melody during the opening credits during the family's drive to the hotel and a few other brief moments made it to the final version.
Composed by director John Carpenter
It took the director four days to complete the score.
Composed by Mike Oldfield
The movie was originally scored by Lalo Schifrin, but his score was rejected because it was the exact opposite of what director William Friedkin wanted. He wanted music that would inspire chills and a feeling of dread in the audience.
Composed by the rock band Goblin
Director Dario Argento composed the eerie music with the band and played it at full blast on set of the film to unnerve the actors and provoke a truly scared performance.
Composed by John Williams
When Williams first played the score for director Steven Spielberg, Spielberg laughed and said, "That's funny, John, really. But what did you really have in mind for the theme of Jaws?" The director later stated that without Williams's score, the movie would only have been half as successful.
Composed by Bernard Herrmann
Alfred Hitchcock originally wanted the shower sequence to be completely silent, but Herrmann scored it anyway, and when the director heard it, he changed his mind.
Composed by the Climax Golden Twins
Director Brad Anderson was inspired to use the Danvers Mental Hospital as he drove past it every day.
Trick 'R Treat
Composed by Douglas Pipes
You can read ten fun facts about this film that I wrote up here.
Composed by Akira Yamaoka
Other than "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash, every piece of music used in the movie is taken directly from the game series. Smart choice.
The Amityville Horror
Composed by Lalo Schifrin
There was a rumor that the music in this film is the rejected score that Schifrin originally composed for The Exorcist, but that's not true. The rejected Exorcist score has been released, and it's completely different.
Drag Me to Hell
Composed by Christopher Young
The composer of the musical score can be briefly seen eating a cupcake outside the bakery Christine looks into on her way to her work at the beginning of the film.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Composed by Charles Bernstein
Many extended scenes, which were lifted from the work print, appeared on the 1996 Anchor Bay Special Edition release. Bernstein had not yet composed the iconic score for the film, so these scenes include preexisting temporary music taken from other sources.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Composed by Wojciech Kilar
The main title music was inspired by the music of James Bernard, the composer of many of the Hammer Film horror productions from the late '50s, '60s, and early '70s, particularly the Christopher Lee Dracula films.
Composed by Joseph Bishara
When the Insidious logo flashes on the screen in the movie you can clearly see the letters 'DIO' highlighted, which means God in Latin.