What is a horror movie without a soundtrack? It’s not a horror movie. The soundtrack to all our favorite movies is just as important as any monster, maniac, serial killer, or demon. When watching a horror movie, the soundtrack gives you the cues on when to be scared, and when to take your guard down, and sometimes, it’ll even trick you into either option. Throughout the history of horror, even a simple soundtrack like Dracula (1931) adds greatly to the overall experience. So when you’re talking about horror, you need to remember the musical cues and music that got you to that point. Here are the 5 Best Horror Movie Soundtracks.
5. Rosemary’s Baby – (Krzysztof Komeda, 1968)
Talk about haunting. The best kind of music for horror movies could be deemed in any other medium, as beautiful. Horror takes the beautiful and makes it horrifying. Rosemary’s Baby is a slow burn, and the soundtrack for the film had to recognize that. Krzysztof Komeda crafted a score that sets the mood perfectly for the film. Watching until the end and hearing this song over the ending of the film is even more frightening.
4. The Keep – (Tangerine Dream, 1983)
Is there a movie out there where the soundtrack holds up the film more than what Tangerine Dream did with The Keep? The movie itself is damn good, but at points, it does get a bit messy. However, the soundtrack is what really carries these messy portions. The synths expand and stretch to cover portions of the film, but it never overpowers what’s on screen. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the film. “Dreamscape” is the best track from the film. The Keep would have been a much worse film without this amazing soundtrack from the German synth explorers.
3. The Thing – (Ennio Morricone, 1982)
Ennio Morricone might be known for his western themes and soundtracks but his style translates incredibly well to John Carpenter‘s The Thing. It captures the paranoia, the isolation, and the tense mood of the film perfectly. It combines sweet-sounding instruments like the violin with the swelling horns to create an atmosphere of tension. It’s minimalism at its finest with a lumbering pace that fits the film like a glove. If you want something that sounds similar, Morricone won an Oscar for his music for The Hateful Eight which repurposed tracks from The Thing.
2. Psycho – (Bernard Herrmann, 1960)
Is there a more famous piece of music for movies than Bernard Herrmann‘s “The Murder” or colloquially known as “The Shower Scene”? It’s been parodied, ripped off, copied, and is part of the pop culture lexicon at this point. People who don’t know or haven’t ever seen Psycho, know this music. The opening theme does what a lot of our other entries do, which is to combine beauty with terror. “The Murder” does just the opposite, assaulting your senses and ears with high pitch strings. The whole soundtrack bubbles over with unsettling notes, and a feeling of unease.
1. Halloween – (John Carpenter, 1978)
This is the most famous horror theme of all time. If you’re making a Halloween movie, you need this theme. There are plenty of versions that have changed throughout the years (I’m partial to the Halloween III: Season of the Witch version), but you can’t top the original. For the new trilogy of films, Carpenter and his son Cody have gone back and made new music that’s among the best in the series. However, the simplicity and magic of this original film take the top spot. It takes inspiration from Psycho and Goblin (Susperia, Deep Red) but also some from Jaws as well. The rest of the soundtrack is basically the blueprint for how to scare people with music. It all combines to create the greatest example of a slasher movie out there, and one of the best movie scores ever.
So, what’s your favorite Horror Movie Soundtrack? Is it one of these five? Or is it something else?
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