Movie scores can make or break a film, especially in horror films. These are the best scores in horror movies.
The Exorcist (1973)
The movie that pushed Linda Blair to stardom, The Exorcist is about the exorcism of a 12-year-old by 2 priests. Lalo Schifrin originally wrote 6 minutes of the musical score for the film but it made the film way too scary. Jack Nitzsche eventually made the music for the film, alongside Mike Oldfield. Oldfield’s Tubular Bells became the iconic theme for the movie.
Nightmare on Elm Street
Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street became the stuff of people’s nightmare, thanks to the brilliant acting of Robert Englund as Freddie Krueger and the music of Charles Bernstein. The song that sends chills down everyone’s spine, Freddy’s theme song, was a collaboration between Bernstein and Alan Pasqua.
Director John Carpenter also did the music for Halloween, composing and performing the score. Finishing the score in 3 days, Carpenter drew inspiration from The Exorcist and Suspiria. The Halloween theme is one of the film’s assets, though film critic James Berardinelli said it was “relatively simple and unsophisticated.”
Dawn of the Dead
George A. Romero wrote and directed the 1978 horror classic Dawn of the Dead. The movie has 2 different musical scores, one for theatrical release and one for international release. David Argento and The Goblins provided the music for the international release, while Romero used stock music scores and cues from the De Wolfe Music library.
Critically acclaimed psychological thriller It Follows is directed by David Robert Mitchell. Richard Vreeland, aka Disasterpeace, did the musical score for the film. The musical score is reminiscent of the movies Halloween and Psycho. The sound brings chills and makes you look behind you all the time. It Follows is now one of the best horror movies you can watch for free on Tubi TV.
Another iconic horror classic is Candyman, written and helmed by Bernard Rose. When the Candyman (played by Tony Todd) appears, composer Philip Glass scored it in such a way that evokes a creepy feeling from you. With the unique combination of instruments, Glass was able to create that prickly, hair-raising feeling as he moves in for the kill.
Director James Wan and composer Joseph Bishara collaborated on the supernatural horror film, The Conjuring. Bishara’s score was inspired by brass sounds and some fluttering effects, which was his impressions when he came across the material. As you watch the film, it does not rely heavily on songs, though it does feature songs like Time of the Season and In the Room where You Sleep, its sound effects inconspicuously placed in key scenes will make you jump in your seat.
The Lost Boys
Joel Schumacher tried his hand at horror comedy via the movie The Lost Boys. Thomas Newman worked with Schumacher to write the original score for the movie. His use of organ and orchestra music lent an eerie feel to the movie. He also used songs from INXS and The Doors. George McMahon’s Cry Little Sister was used as the movie’s theme song.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th is one of the most iconic slasher films to date. Harry Manfredini was tasked to do the musical score. He only applied a score when the killer is around. In tense scenes, Manfredini held back and allowed the scene to play in silence. This proved a good tactic as the scares became more intense and moved the audience on the edge of their seats.
Richard Donner’s The Omen is another horror classic. With music by Jerry Goldsmith, the movie sends chills down the spine over the ages, despite having been released in 1976. Goldsmith received an Oscar for his musical scoring. A Latin chant was incorporated in Ave Satani, the movie’s theme song, along with an ominous choral arrangement.