Are you looking for some spooky tunes to set the mood this Halloween season? Need some frightful jams to give your haunted house the right feel? Well, look no further (than this list)! We have cobbled together some of our favorite horror movie soundtracks that with fill your fall with the right sonic tone and perfect amount of dread. After you read our favorites sound off in the comments with your favorite horror soundtracks!
Roman Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece was scored to perfection by the talented (and unpronounceable) Krzysztof Komeda a.k.a. Christopher Komeda, who delivered some of the most haunting melodies every to grace the big screen. The sparse piano, the lullaby like singing, and the sharp strings combine to make some nightmare inducing music. Even if you’ve never seen Rosemary’s Baby, the score will creep you out. It’s that good.
Nightmare on Elm Street
The original Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the greatest horror films of all time. Released in 1984, it felt hip, original, and a product of its time. The same could be said for Charles Bernstein’s score, which has a decidedly 80s feel to it. There’s a dream like quality to much of the soundtrack, which is perfect given the movie behind it. It also servers as a great reminder to the fact that everyone in the 80s thought the more reverb you put on drums, the better.
It Follows caught everyone off guard. A brilliant horror picture that is sure to become a classic in the genre, It Follows set a new standard for modern horror pictures. Same goes for Disasterpeace’s anxiety inducing soundtrack; there’s nothing else like it. The music of It Follows punches you in the gut then kicks you right in the teeth. It’s frantic, scary, and unique. Just listening to this thing will make the hair on your neck stand up. It’s like bottled tension.
The original 1954 Godzilla is a lot scarier than people remember. Over the decades, the King of all Monsters became a giant, rubber suited menace that battled moths, dragons, and robots, but in the beginning he was a horrific creature that terrorized Japan. Scored by Akira Ifukube, the music in Godzilla feels as mean and big as the movie’s monster. It’s downbeat, often sad in tone, leaving you with a feeling of hopelessness and dread. The main theme is wonderfully intense and captures the feeling of destruction perfectly.
The soundtrack to Psycho might be more famous than the movie itself. The music of the shower murder scene has got to be one of most famous pieces of music ever. Bernard Hermann’s soundtrack certainly stands on its own, but it also succeeds in evoking one of cinema’s most iconic moments. Legend has it that director Alfred Hitchcock double Hermann’s salary upon hearing the music he had composed for the horrific shower scene. I hope that’s true because Hermann certainly deserved it.
Speaking of iconic soundtracks, there’s no denying that Jaws sets the standard. It’s no surprise that it was composed by the always genius John Williams. The stress inducing score builds tension and anxiety like no other. It’s been parodied and mimic so many times, it’s hard to imagine what audiences who first experienced that string driven theme must have thought. To this day, listening to it makes the idea of going for a swim in the ocean seem like a terrible idea.
Listening to The Omen soundtrack feels like religious experience. It’s like going to church, if your church worships horned devils and demon-possessed children. Jerry Goldsmith’s score just feels evil, from start to finish. Most horror movie soundtracks have a slow creep, a build up to terror, but The Omen comes at you like a choir from hell. It belts it out and fills your head with nightmares.
The interesting thing about the Philip Glass’ score to the 1992 horror film Candyman is that it’s not all that scary. In fact, it’s strangely beautiful. Sure, there’s darkness to it, but it’s more haunting than scary. At times, it’s downright pleasant, before building into a slow, foreboding gloom. It also features some of the most bizarre chanting to ever grace a film score. It’s downright weird at times, which is part of the charm.
28 Days Later
The soundtrack to 28 Days Later plays out like an album from metal gods Neurosis. It’s heavy, atmospheric, and murderous. John Murphy controls your emotions with his music just as well as Danny Boyle controls you with his imagery. The movie is a modern classic, and largely responsible for the rebirth of zombies in popular culture. It’s score, with its slow builds into heavy distortion and pounding drums, deserves credit in the film’s success. It’s fantastic, from start to finish.
You can’t talk about horror movie soundtracks without talking about John Carpenter. In addition to being a brilliant director and writer, the man often scores his own films. I would argue that almost all of them are great, but his crowning achievement is the soundtrack to Halloween. Hell, the soundtrack to Halloween the movie has practically become the soundtrack to Halloween the holiday, and rightfully so. The movie’s theme is perfection and perhaps the best thing to come out of the entire franchise (which is saying a lot because the franchise is mostly pretty great). That piano just makes you feel like fall. It evokes pumpkins, candy, costumes, and a little bit of murder. It’s awesomeness, through and through. Nobody does it quite like John Carpenter, and nobody probably ever will.