Six Horror-Movie Soundtrack Essentials

Friends, the greatest time of year is upon us once again. It's getting a little bit chilly outside (for Texas), the nights are getting just a little bit spookier, and the magic of Halloween is in the air! I don't know about you, but I get excited for it every year. One of my favorite parts of all the Halloween fun is having horror-movie marathons, like the one running on AMC right now, and, of course, the accompanying music.

Halloween music normally gets sort of a bad rap. Your first thoughts are probably novelty recordings like "Monster Mash," which probably holds a special place in a lot of our hearts but are pretty childish. But not all Halloween music is just a novelty. Some of it is awesome, and horror movies have thankfully inspired the creation of much of it.

Step with me back in time as we look throughout the years at the great horror movie soundtracks that have come Halloweens before.

Bernard Herrmann, "Psycho" (Psycho, 1960)
Well, of course this is the first on our list. Horror film soundtracks had long dabbled in similar tropes, but is there any score more evocative than the music for Alfred Hitchcock's legendary Psycho? You could argue that the soundtrack practically made the iconic film, in particular Herrmann's "The Murder," which shouldn't even be a surprise considering Hitchcock's origins in the silent film era.

Krzysztof Komeda, "Rosemary's Baby" (Rosemary's Baby, 1968)
The title theme for Rosemary's Baby ranks among some of the creepiest ever written for a horror film, and also went on to be massively influential on future horror soundtracks. Of note also is the incredible version by Mike Patton's metal supergroup Fantomas, who recorded it alongside other classic horror themes for their 2001 album The Director's Cut.

Mike Oldfield, "Tubular Bells" (The Exorcist, 1973)
The Exorcist was revolutionary not only as a film, but for being one of the first horror movies to outsource its soundtrack. "Tubular Bells" was a composition by Oldfield for his same-titled progressive rock album. The album was a massive hit, but the movie was an even bigger one and today almost everyone can at least hum the opening notes of the 48-minute piece.

Iron Maiden, "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter" (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, 1989)
By the '80s outsourcing your soundtrack to hitmakers had become the industry standard. By this time horror had gone massively mainstream, and the rise of slasher flicks like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and, of course, A Nightmare on Elm Street had become intertwined with all forms of outside marketing, including soundtracks featuring songs by bands like Iron Maiden.

I'm cheating a little bit here, because the actual version on the soundtrack was recorded by Bruce Dickinson's solo band, but Iron Maiden took the song and gave it a little bit of extra oomph a year later. Nevertheless, "Bring Your Daughter," which ended being a #1 hit single for the band in the UK, was originally written and recorded for Freddy Krueger to hack up teenagers to.

List continues on the next page.

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Raymond McNeel
Raymond McNeel

No list of Horror Scores would be complete without:

The Amityville Horror - Phantasm - Candyman - Children of the Corn (film sucks) - The Omen (Oscar winner) - Halloween - The Changeling - The Exorcism of Emily Rose - Eyes Wide Shut

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