If there is one thing I love more than watching movies, it’s listening to horror movie soundtracks. But what happens if we combine both activities? In my case, I have been known to get completely lost in a good film soundtrack — especially when it has killer tunes.
I am not here to talk about musical films like Moulin Rouge or Chicago, but rather those that really put an emphasis on eerie sounds and moody melodies. If you want to be scared out of your seat, these are the ones you should listen to. Enjoy!
The main theme from The Shining by Vangelis is easily recognizable even today. It’s hard to miss this slow-paced tune with its mix of chimes, piano and cellos. And once you do hear it, you can’t unhear it. This song is meant to give you goosebumps and it does exactly that. There’s also another version of the same track called “Theme From Hotel,” which was composed by Danny Elfman. He wrote and performed his own themes for Tim Burton’s Batman series and Edward Scissorhands.
Gordon Stainforth, Kubrick’s music editor on the 1980 classic, and electronic music pioneers Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, as well as a number of pre-existing concert compositions, worked together to create a menacing soundscape.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
As the film’s producer rather than director (who was Tommy Lee Wallace), John Carpenter was in a carefree mood and informed Alan Howarth that recording the soundtrack for Halloween III: Season of the Witch felt like “being on vacation.” When it came time to score the third installment in the Michael Myers film series, Carpenter, who had been playing music since he was a youngster (his father Howard was a professor of music), drew on the work he and fellow 34-year-old Howarth had done for Escape From New York.
The song Chariots of Pumpkins by Tommy Lee Wallace is my personal favorite from the album.
Scream is arguably one of the best slasher movies ever made. What makes it great isn’t just the violence or gore, though they are certainly present. The reason why Scream stands out above other horror flicks is how well director Wes Craven uses tension and suspense. With a script that’s sharp and witty, and a cast filled with actors who knew how to act before getting into the business, Scream is quite simply scary in every way imaginable. You can pickup this soundtrack on vinyl quite cheap nowadays. I seen it at 50% off just the other day at Rabbit Hole Music.
The newest installment of Scream for 2022 also has an incredible soundtrack and almost made our list.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Assault on Precinct 13 was John Carpenter’s first feature-length film, and he had a difficult time raising money for the soundtrack, which was recorded on a synthesizer in just three days, despite the film’s success. The thumping beats and creepy noises perfectly complemented the film’s atmosphere of dread and sorrow. Carpenter’s score for this horror film features a notable theme song, which was purportedly influenced by Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”
Alien is probably the scariest sci-fi flick ever made. Not only is Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic steeped in terror, but the soundtrack by John Carpenter is equally chilling. Even though the original 1979 soundtrack wasn’t released until long after the movie’s release, it still managed to become a pop hit and remain popular even now.
Hellraiser is one of Clive Barker’s most famous books. Written in 1987, the story revolves around the resurrection of Pinhead, a grotesque creature whose head is covered with spikes. As the plot develops, Hellraiser takes us through different locations while the soundtrack grows progressively sparser. Eventually, the creepy atmosphere gives way to silence – a fitting end for this unforgettable tale.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Natural Born Killers is one of the most controversial films of all time. It’s a searing commentary on violence in the media, and it’s also one of the most visually stunning films you’ll ever see. The soundtrack, which was overseen by Trent Reznor, is just as jarring and intense as the movie itself. With songs by Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and others, the soundtrack is a perfect reflection of the film’s chaotic and disturbing world.
The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys is a seminal ’80s vampire movie, and it’s also one of the best soundtracks ever made. With songs by INXS, Echo and the Bunnymen, and others, the soundtrack perfectly captures the film’s dark and stylish atmosphere. The Lost Boys is an essential piece of 80s pop culture, and its soundtrack is just as iconic.
Directed by David Bruckner, Host follows a man named Frank Black (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), who wakes up one day to find himself inside a computer program. Trapped within the machine, he must figure out how to escape without sacrificing his sanity along the way. The soundtrack features music from Antonio Pinto, Imagine Dragons and Die Mason Die and is similarly disturbing. For starters, the some songs it was decided to use actual recordings of human screams instead of relying on MIDI files.
Host is available on Amazon Prime Video.
Zombi (Dawn Of The Dead) (1978)
There is a wonderful smorgasbord of musical styles to be found in the soundtrack of the horror film Dawn Of The Dead (or Zombi, depending on where in the world you live). Horror electro-prog legends Goblin, however, offer up a varied and daring selection of pieces that represent the squalor of a post-apocalytic world.
By far the best track from the movie is Zaratozom which you can hear below.
Whether you’re looking for a classic horror film or something more recent, these soundtracks are sure to give you the chills. So put on your headphones, turn off the lights, and get ready to be scared.