Let's be real, even though Halloween is still two weeks off, the whole month of October is basically Halloween. Not to mention that this October featured a Friday the 13th
, which is all the more reason for us to get down with our spooky-selves. And what better way to do that then by revisiting some of the most spine-tingling, goose-bump-inducing soundtracks and theme songs of horror movie history? These are the best sounds, old and new, for things that go bump in the night.
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
A true progenitor in the horror genre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
revolutionized the film and soundtrack world with its release. Composed by Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell, rumor has it the two set out to create a soundscape reminiscent of what a cow would hear in a slaughterhouse. A true musique concrète, the soundtrack combined terrifying industrial sounds with interspersed country tracks that belie the terror that lies beneath.
2. It Follows (2015)
2015's It Follows
has probably one of my favorite film soundtracks ever, and it's thanks to an amazing mix of retro-futurist horror and modern industrial sounds. Synth-heavy tracks like "Jay" and "Pool" create a nostalgic atmosphere reminiscent of 80's horror soundtracks, while industrial-noise tracks keep you on your toes and heighten the tension.
3. Cannibal Holocaust (1985)
I once saw a VHS copy of Cannibal Holocaust
selling online with a custom barf bag included. That alone should give you an idea of how brutally graphic it is, and the shocking effect it had on unsuspecting audiences. But in one of the biggest twists, the film's soundtrack eschews traditional, dramatic horror sounds and instead goes light, with acoustic and orchestral tracks that wouldn't seem amiss in a classic drama. Juxtaposed against a level of gore that convinced Italian authorities that they were watching a snuff film, composer Rix Ortolani's soundtrack is a perfect contrast of moods.
4. Friday the 13th (1980)
Next to the strings in Jaws
, I don't think there is any sound or music in film immediately more recognizable than the classic "ch, ch, ch, ah, ah, ah" in Friday the 13th
. Eerie and foreboding, it's a sure sign that something bad is about to happen to someone. Harry Manfredini's soundtrack primarily uses strings to build a tension that feels like it has no release until a swift and terrible conclusion.
5. C. H. U. D. (1984)
A little campy, but definitely a horror classic, 1984's C.H.U.D.
had a killer (get it?) theme to go along with it. It's quintessential 80's. Fuzzy and bassy synths with a sci-fi/futurist melody, it paints a dark and desolate sonic landscape, in which the C.H.U.D. reign supreme.
6. Day of the Dead (1985)
Composer John Harrison's soundtrack feels right at home in the third installment of George A. Romero's Dead series. It is as much an action soundtrack as it is a horror soundtrack; instead of making the end of the world a lonely, hopeless affair, funky synths, caribbean drums, and wailing guitars challenge the listener to fight with everything they've got to survive.
7. Halloween (1978)
The one and only. This is Halloween
. Two piano notes is all it takes in Halloween's
main theme to give you goosebumps and the feeling that someone's watching you. Director John Carpenter made the score himself, translating his minimal skills as a musician to minimal, yet foreboding sounds of terror.