Best scary movie music themes

7 Kwi

Atmosphere is one of the most essential, if not THE most essential aspect of every scary movie. In fact, it’s what makes the picture so scary in the first place. Try watching Hitchcock’s “Psycho” opening credits with no sound. Despite the movie being an absolute classic of world’s cinema, without suspenseful music, the scene is not even partially as powerful. A good choice of music is thus extremely important. It can’t be too noisy or it might become annoying instead of thrilling, it also should be in sync with what’s happening on the screene, don’t distract the viewer from the scene itself etc., etc. It is a real challenge to come up with a good sountrack for a movie, needless to say a horror one.

Nevertheless, there are certain scary movie themes that were so distinctive, so good, that not only thrilled us during the screening, but remain in our memory long after we turn off the TV. My dear readers (I know you’re there somewhere;)), I hereby present my selection of best horror movie music themes:


10. The Exorcist (directed by William Friedkin) music theme by Mike Oldfield

Arguably one of the most widely recognized movie themes. Interestingly, it wasn’t even written for this particular movie nor it was intended to be featured in any horror story. Yet the beginning of “Turbulent Bells” creates a suspensful atmosphere and fits perfectly one of the most ground-breaking horror movies in the history.


9. Psycho (directed by Alfred Hitchcock), music theme by Bernard Hermann

Definitely one of the most unsettling pieces of music ever written for a silver screen. It’s not literally scary… but I dare you to try and relax while listening to it! It just makes a person feel like sitting, waiting for some sort of disaster to happen. Brilliant!


8. One missed call (directed by Takashi Miike) music theme by Kouji Endou

For some reason some things intended to be associated witch childhood and innocence often prove to be the creepiest (be it clown, dolls or music box-like horror themes;)) The soundtrack for American remake of the movie was also decent, nevertheless Japanese theme rocks my socks (and used to rock my cellphone as well).


7. Prince of Darkness (directed by John Carpenter) music theme by John Carpenter

Prince of Darkness is one of my favorite horror movies. It’s in fact so good in terms of story and its originality that it’s easy to overlook the movie’s great soundtrack. This is one hell of a creepy music theme!


6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (directed by Francis Ford Coppola) music theme by Wojciech Kilar

I often emphasize that I don’t consider “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” a horror movie but rather a love story. Nevertheless, this time I’d have to contradict my own words a little, because I simply can not ignore the brilliant theme music from “Dracula” composed by a Polish (ok, now I’m bragging a bit…;)) composer Wojciech Kilar.


5. The Omen (directed by Richard Donner ) music theme by Jerry Goldsmith

Listening to “The Omen”’s “Ave Satani” never fails to give me the shivers. A diabolic music doesn’t get better that that!


4. The Thing (directed by John Carpenter) music theme by Ennio Morricone

It’s not usual for a John Carpenter movie to feature a music soundtrack composed by someone else that Carpenter himself. However, in this case, choosing Ennio Morricone definitely was not a mistake. The composer created an unsettling, disturbing music that proved to be perfect for a paranoid atmosphere of the movie.


3. Halloween (directed by John Carpenter) music theme by John Carpenter

Next to the music from “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby”,  “Halloween” theme is probably the most widely recognized (and feared;)) one in the history of scary movies. This time, John Carpenter decided to take care of the soundtrack to his movie himself and delivered a mesmerizing yet terrifying melody that nowadays has already become legendary.

2. Rosemary’s Baby (directed by Roman Polański) music theme by Krzysztof Komeda (sang by Mia Farrow)

A sinister “lullaby” from the best horror movie ever made.

1. Suspiria (directed by Dario Argento) music by Goblin

Finally, we have arrived at the first place of this personal, subjective top 10 of horror themes. It is occupied by my all-time-favorite scary movie theme – a track composed and performed by an Italian band named Goblin to Dario Argento’s classic picture “Suspiria”. Goblin and Argento collaborated on many movies, yet personally I think “Suspiria” is the absolute highlight of their work together. I have yet to come across a track that is equally creepy, unsettling and fascinating. It also proves that the best horror theme doesn’t need to be classical music accompanied by the choir singing. An absolute masterpiece!



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