For horror films, the soundtrack can turn a movie from slightly scary to god damn creepy. Many horror movies have done an excellent job at producing scores and soundtracks that are meant to scare the bejesus out of you. Read below for some classics and new age terror tunes from horror movies that get the goosebumps going. Let us know your thoughts in the comments box provided below!
PSYCHO– Bernard Herrmann
Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack to Hitchcock’s movie Psycho is one of the film world’s most recognizable scores, and one tune that’s probably best for the shower. Or maybe not.
Bernard Herrmann changed film music together with blood-curdling timing and screeching voices for Psycho’s shower murder. After Hermann’s bold move, soundtrack music was no longer seen primarily as a background feature to film, but rather as an integral component, fully capable of adding dramatization and emotional depth.
Hermann’s composition helped to make showers everywhere one of the most frightening places on earth.
HALLOWEEN- John Carpenter
Halloween stands on its own as an uncannily frightening experience, but one of horror’s most famous themes was composed with Herrmann and Morricone in mind by the director of Halloween, John Carpenter.
Although recorded with cheap ’70s synthesizers, the simple scores composed by Carpenter are acclaimed masterpieces with an instantly recognizable theme, and a score that is incredibly effective at evoking the required moods.
The score plays such a huge part in the movie and why Halloween is so effective at eliciting scares from it audience.
THE OMEN– Jerry Goldsmith
The Academy Award-winning score by Jerry Goldsmith is as haunting as the rest of the original The Omen and its premise.
Time has not altered the effectiveness of the soundtrack and nowadays, anyone writing music that sounds like The Omen are often accused of sticking to clichés. But many horror scores written since have borrowed its methods, the most effective of which is whispering voices.
You’ll have a devil of a time listening to Jerry Goldsmith’s score.
THE EXORCIST- Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield’s 1973 album Tubular Bells – which launched Virgin Records, became a hit after its opening was used as the theme for the film The Exorcist.
The staccato rhythmic piano married with the ominous and horrific tale of a young girl and her demonic troubles go together perfectly.
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Sound, The Exorcist will always be up there in horrifying soundtracks.
ALIEN– Jerry Goldsmith
Another Jerry Goldsmith composition which amazingly accompanied the crew and its unwelcome guest in the movie Alien.
The sounds that Goldsmith conjured in 1979 still make the Alien score a tough one to beat. Goldsmith created a haunted house in space that fits the films very dark and intense atmosphere perfectly.
The iconic, avant garde, score to the film Alien creates a visceral soundscape that a lot of today’s loud bang approach to horror scoring can’t come close to.
THE SHINING- Hector Berlioz
The movie version of Stephen King’s The Shining not only dramatized the claustrophobic and eerie atmosphere of an isolated and possessed hotel, but also included one of the creepiest soundtracks which enhanced the impending horror.
The film features a brief electronic score by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind while including one major theme in addition to a main title based on Hector Berlioz’ interpretation of the “Dies Irae”.
While comprised almost entirely of pre-existing material, the music on The Shining soundtrack contains some of the most radical and psychologically hellish pieces ever written.
JAWS– John Williams
This list of scary soundtracks would not be complete without John Williams’ superbly terrifying theme to the movie Jaws.
Is there a more universally recognized horror theme? Williams’ famous pressure-cooker score will be forever chained to the images and mounting dread of Spielberg’s relentless, man-hungry underwater beast.
Those panicked, tuba bellows helped set in motion the birth of a newly found fear of the ocean. Da- dum… Da-Dum… Da-Dum Da-Dum Da Dum.
FRIDAY THE 13TH– Harry Manfredini
Composer Harry Manfredini said that contrary to popular belief, the famous “chi chi chi, ha ha ha” in the Friday the 13th’s score is actually “ki ki ki, ma ma ma”. It was meant to resemble the voice of Jason in his mother’s head saying “Kill her, Mommy.”
Manfredini created the effect by speaking the syllables “Ki” and “Ma” into a microphone running through a delay effect.”
This well-known effect is actually only used when Friday the 13th Killer Jason Voorhees is around, but are sounds that will be forever recognizable.
SINISTER– Christopher Young
Sinister was made effect by those disturbing silent super 8 movies, and what made them even more effective was the terrifying ethereal tones added to them.
The Sinister soundtrack is by composer Christopher Young, who explained that he usually uses an orchestra for his composer’s, but with Sinister, he composed his first all-synth/sound-design-based score. Well, he definitely scored with that.
The soundtrack to Sinister totally breaks the mold when it comes to horror film music with tones that are hard to forget.
Which is your favorite tune of terror?