The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) : This is the great granddaddy of modern horror film soundtracks. This classic soundtrack is the point most modern horror soundtracks can be traced back to. Franz Waxman’s striking score still holds up , 80 years after its original creation and displays a unique understanding of the pathos inherent in Frankenstein’s Monster. Employing string tremolos to create an eerie and foreboding mood , the soundtrack provides the aural accompaniment to the Monster’s loneliness , confusion , self-hatred and yearning for companionship.
Waxman crafted separate themes for the Monster , and his Bride , and in doing so , gave this soundtrack a unique dynamic for its time. To revisit the soundtrack on its own now , even outside of the film’s context , is still a very powerful reminder of Universal’s classic monster movies of the 30’s.
Deep Red is a singularly stylish piece of filmmaking with some very kinetic camerawork , some sensational kills and some almost fetishistic closeups of the mysterious killer’s black gloves-clad hands and his hatchet. This style is matched by Goblin’s frenetic and exciting music that goes into overdrive everytime the killer enters the scene. It works brilliantly in building the tension of these still-shocking scenes. A very scary lullaby is thrown in to boot. This is a soundtrack that runs just as deep red as the film it was made for.
Also , any score that can make a trailer featuring the Minions feel spooky , clearly scores high on the Fright-o-Meter.
The Devil’s Backbone (El Espinoza del Diablo, 2001): Guillermo Del Toro’s classy and tasteful ghost tale is set in the final days of the Spanish Civil War. The film derives its poignancy and spookiness from its moving story and mysterious atmosphere. Javier Navarrete’s score provides a set of mournful themes and cues that are as evocative and exquisite as the events unfolding across the screen. The elegant score mirrors the themes of murder , greed , unrequited love and wartime secrets that run through the movie.
Navarrete would go on to colloborate again with Del Toro on 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth , a score which earned him an Oscar nomination.
The Descent (2005) : After working with Christopher Nolan on his early films (Memento , Insomnia,) David Julyan composed some stellar music for a couple of great British horror flicks (The Descent , and Eden Lake.)
In The Descent , Sarah , the central character , grieving and shell-shocked after a tremendous personal tragedy , is taken along on a spelunking expedition by her friends , as a part of an intended healing process , but as they soon discover , her (and their) nightmare is only beginning. As the all-female cast gets lost within an unmapped cave system and contends with claustrophobia , mortal fear and terrifying humanoid flesh-eaters ; Julyan’s orchestra weaves a hallucinatory sonic tapestry of dread , mourning , betrayal and retribution. The resulting aural atmosphere , dovetails with the ambient unseen skitterings in the dark , the dripping water and the splashing blood and rattling bones , and is a profoundly unnerving experience that is not easy to shake off.