October is the month that ends with Halloween, which means many of our minds will turn to all things scary. For many of us there is no better way to enjoy Halloween than with horror movies, and while the most memorable aspects of most horror movies are the terrifying visuals of gruesome deaths at the hands of famous movie monsters, of course, we like to focus on the sounds.
Music creates atmosphere, which means that a great horror movie soundtrack can scare the hell out of you before a single drop of blood is ever shed on screen. Whether you’re listening to these by themselves, or pumping them through your home theater on scary movie night, here are five horror movie soundtracks you should check out this Halloween.
While there are a couple of notes from this soundtrack that we all know, the shower scene soundtrack is only a slim part of a great sounding movie. Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho is chilling and brilliant from beginning to end. It’s what makes Psycho a horror movie from the start, even though the violence doesn’t start for quite some time. And the shower scene music is brilliant. Herrmann created it without direction from Alfred Hitchcock, because the director wasn’t planning on the scene having music at all. We can’t even conceive of such a thing.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
So, this one may not be a traditional “horror” movie, but there needed to be at least one scary movie the whole family could enjoy on this list, and the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas is just too good to ignore. Danny Elfman is one of the greatest modern composers and he’s in top form here. From “This is Halloween” to “Oogie Boogie’s Song” there’s plenty here to give you a legitimate fright. The music hits all the great notes of dread and tension that a true horror movie will give you, even if nobody actually dies.
It Follows is the most modern film on this list and the man who scored the film, who goes by the name Disasterpiece, had never written music for a movie before. Some people just get it right the first time. The music feels like it’s a throwback to a 1980’s slasher movie, while being better than the music for most of those. The old school sound does its job of transporting you into the world of the film, which itself takes a lot of cues from classic horror movies. If you missed It Follows last year, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.
If there’s a single piece of music that instantly evokes Halloween, it is likely the theme from the movie of the same name. It’s repetitive piano is one of the most iconic sounds in all of movie music. Even if you had never seen Halloween we bet hearing those notes would instantly give you a sense of underlying dread. The fact that the music was actually written by John Carpenter, the same man who wrote and directed the film, just makes it all the more perfect. We know that music makes you feel exactly how the director wanted you to feel.
Suspiria is a film you may not be familiar with, but you owe it to yourself to fix that immediately. From the legendary horror director Dario Argento, it’s a 1977 Italian horror film that is one of the master's best works. The soundtrack, from an artist known only as Goblin, is an equally great creation. This soundtrack was written in and recorded in a single day which is only one of the amazing things about it. The music absolutely drips with atmosphere. There’s literally no way to listen to it, even outside of the film, without beginning to feel somewhat scared.