This article has been written by Sarwar Baig! Thank you Sarwar!
Horror , as a film genre , has endured and retained popularity longer than most other film genres. A good horror movie induces dread and exhilaration in equal measure. Apart from its story , its characters , and its creatures / supernatural forces / implacable boogeymen ; a horror movie achieves its chills through a disquieting soundtrack. This article attempts to honour a few great horror soundtracks other than the usual suspects (Psycho , Jaws , et cetera.) Let’s take a look at some of the treasures to be found in the world of horror soundtracks.
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.
Check out Boris Karloff on set of The Bride of Frankenstein right here
Deep Red (Profondo Rosso, 1975): This quintessential giallo chiller was made by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento. This film’s music composers , Goblin , are unique , in not so much being typical film music composers as an Italian prog rock band. However , they would go on to create many more film soundtracks , especially for Dario Argento , on classic films such as Suspiria.
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.
The Omen (1976) : Having composed the unforgettable Chinatown soundtrack in 1974 , Jerry Goldsmith crafted an equally legendary score two years later for the horror classic , The Omen. This score fetched him the only Oscar award of his long and illustrious career. It’s not hard to see why The Omen soundtrack picked up the Oscar for Best Original Soundtrack.The macabre theme Ave Satani (Hail Satan !) is an ominous and portentous Gregorian chant that perverts the original verses of the Latin Mass and it is still guaranteed to make your hair stand on end.
Halloween (1978) : John Carpenter was a man who wore several hats ; writing films , directing them , and scoring them. This seminal slasher movie features one of his most famous soundtracks. Halloween’s taut score was minimalist in style , relying mainly on a piano and a synthesizer. But with those basic components , he created a consistently tense mood. As the unstoppable killer , Michael Myers , prowls the streets of his hometown in a stolen car , and lurks behind bushes and clotheslines , and pounces from the shadows ; the soundtrack keeps jolting the audience.
Also , any score that can make a trailer featuring the Minions feel spooky , clearly scores high on the Fright-o-Meter.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) : Howard Shore is perhaps most famous for the music he created for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies , but he has also turned in some very strong entries in the genre of horror film music. His music for the twisted serial killer thriller Se7en , in the form of John Doe’s theme , is a snapshot of hell ; but it was his music for The Silence of the Lambs that left an indelible stamp on horror film music. 24 years after the movie’s release , his score remains just as distinctly recognizable as the hellish tableaux of depravities onscreen. The obvious highlights are the main titles and the cue that accentuates the visceral tension of Lecter’s brutal escape from his cage in the Tennessee courthouse.
are some behind the scene photos from The Silence of the Lambs!
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.
What are some of your favorite horror soundtracks ? Feel free to share your picks in the comments section or on our FB page!