What’s a horror movie without a bone chilling score? Something to set the mood or heighten the suspense. I don’t have a lot of soundtracks on my ipod but out of what I do have, I don’t think you’d be surprised to hear that they’re primarily on the creepy side. From the classical scores of the golden age to the experimental synths of the 70s and 80s, there’s loads of great scores to choose from. Though I’ll only list films I’ve seen, I’ve certainly heard some compelling cuts from some other freaky flicks. So before I begin how about I briefly acknowledge a few of them.
– The Beyond (1981) by Fabio Frizzi
– Deep Red (1975) by Goblin
– Rosemary’s Baby (1967) by Krzysztof Komeda
– Carrie (1976 by) Pino Donaggio
– The Shining (1980) by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind
And now on to my terrifying ten.
10. Poltergeist (1982)
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith
Not a big fan of the movie but I love the effects and veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith’s score. This melancholy tune with a nursery rhyme like chorus (much in the sam vain as the theme from Rosemary’s Baby) gives Poltergeist that moody and unsettling feel.
9. Zombi 2 (1979)
Composer: Fabio Frizzi
Italy’s answer to Dawn of the Dead may be kind of a shlocky production but it makes up for it’s shortcomings with some great effects and an excellent 70s synth score from Fabio Frizzi. Full of eerie old school synths and beat machines (basically the kind of stuff AJ likes) it’s my opinion that the soundtrack makes this movie. I love listening to it this time of the season.. but not watching the movie, once was enough.
8. Suspiria (1977)
Composer: Goblin and Dario Argento
Though this atmospheric film makes absolutely no sense, it’s shot magnificently and it’s score by progressive rock band Goblin is terrifyingly awesome. Goblin (known for providing lots of spook-tacular scores back in the day) makes use of primarily more organic instruments for this flick about black magic. Mandolins, glockenspiel and all sorts of inventive percussion, not to mention some disturbing whispery like vocals on the main theme almost make this movie worth watching.
7. The Exorcist (1973)
Composer: Jack Nitzsche, Mike Oldfield
Ahh “Tubular Bells” a theme I love so much I used a crappy midi version in my “Slaughter Man” trailer. “Christplotation” films are always well complimented by classical scores and this one is an excellent entry. Sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.
6. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
A surprisingly upbeat score (aside from your usual horror flared hook) from Goblin, Dawn of the Dead is probably the group’s most defining and memorable score. I mean if it was never composed, what would Paul listen to when he played x-box?
5. The Thing (1982)
Composer: Ennio Morricone
Bleak, simplistic and brooding, it’s a weird thinking of famed western composer Ennio Morricone working with synthesizers but by god he does it. This is one of my favorite all time movies but if it didn’t have this score? Hmm, I don’t know it really sets the mood.
4. The Omen (1976)
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith
Out of a whole career of classic scores who would of thought that The Omen would give Jerry Goldsmith his only oscar. Though I’m not surprised considering the epic, brooding quality of this Devilish latin infused chant. I mean this really does sound like the kind of music Satan would listen to. The song’s refrain “Sanguis bibimus, corpus edimus, tolle corpus Satani” literally translates to “We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, raise the body of Satan”. I mean that’s bad ass, that’s like some Nick Erwin shit there.
3. Halloween (1978)
Composer: John Carpenter
Filmmaker John Carpenter (the son of musicians) has done a lot of scores in his career. Some good, some bad but I don”t think anyone will disagree with the genius that is Halloween’s score. Dark and choppy piano’s perfectly set the mood for this suburban thriller and really give it that unsettling tone.
2. Jaws (1975)
Composer: John Williams
I’m always on the fence whether or not Jaws is a horror film but one thing is for sure… That is one hell of a scary score. Perhaps the most talented film composer of all time, John Williams’ music more or less was the film’s antagonist. Can you imagine what this would of been like without that “Duh duh, duh duh” as we watch from under the water. This score made this film.
1. Psycho (1960)
Composer: Bernard Hermann
Legendary for it’s intenseness and sharp piercing sound. This is not only one of the best horror scores, it’s one of the best movie scores period. I don’t know what else to say, it scares the shit out of me.