It’s that time of year again: Halloween! For the big pumpkin festival, we will again willingly scare ourselves and shock each other. Trick or Treat! Soundtracks and songs from horror films have been proving for decades how a frightening spectacle can be enormously intensified using music… Check out these soundtracks… Even though it’s a phenomenal song, we’ve heard “Thriller”, by Michael Jackson, way too many times? Here’s something different, between metal and classical:
1. The Silence of the Lambs – “Goodbye Horses” –
Q Lazzarus (1991)
Q Lazzarus, who sadly passed away in 2022, only landed a one-hit wonder. But one that is unforgettable amongst cinema lovers. Her song “Goodbye Horses” was used in several soundtracks. Filmmaker Jonathan Demme used the piece in Dangerous Girlfriend, then in his comedy film The Mafiosi Bride and finally in 1991 in The Silence of the Lambs. The song served as background music for the scene in which a serial killer played by Ted Levine dances in front of a mirror.
2. Friday the 13th Part VI – Man Behind The Mask – Alice Cooper (1986)
It is undisputed that rocker Alice Cooper is an expert in the horror genre. So it was only natural to let him have a say, musically, in the world of horror movies. In the sixth part of “Friday the 13th” his time came. Cooper contributed to the song “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” and thus provided a signature sound with the horror film. The song has a distinctly ’80s rock / pop style, so it’s also suitable for Halloween party dancing.
3. The House of 1000 Bodies – “House of 1000 Corpses” – Rob Zombie (2002)
If one metal maniac embodies the bridge between metal and horror, it’s obviously Rob Zombie. He conducted “The House of 1000 Bodies” in 2002 and at the same time provided much heavier music. It was his first job as a recorder, with others to follow. While the plot is based on the fear of a recurring serial killer and the torture of psychopaths on Halloween, the setting is suitably pushed into the Olympus of suspense by Rob Zombie’s music. It is clear from this film that heavy metal marries Halloween.
4. Halloween – Night of Horrors – John Carpenter 1978
But which soundtrack could be more appropriate for Halloween than the famous “Halloween Theme”? John Carpenter, author, director and composer of the horror film “Halloween” should not be missing. In this film, he drew on all the clichés and tricks that make this genre so unique and suspenseful, from minimalist to bombastic, surprising and scary. If you don’t recognise this, you aren’t a real Halloween fan, yet!
5. The Exorcist – Anton Webern, George Crumb, Hans-Werner Henze (1973)
Possessed by the devil! The exorcist pushed all boundaries of the imaginable. The soundtrack consists of a blend of unique acoustic effects with classic sounds from iconic composers such as Anton Webern, George Crumb, resulting in a particularly disturbing effect. No wonder, after all, the devil-possessed 12-year-old in the film not only says scary things, but she can also turn her head in weird ways. Deeply disturbing…
6. Jaws “Shark Attack” – John Williams (1975)
The pounding orchestra sound of John Williams’ Shark Attack is perfectly fitting to an aquatic nightmare. It’s orchestrated in such a way that you feel like you’re in the water with the sharp-toothed beast. The screeching violins and cellos bring an amount of anxiety to the visuals that you almost hold your breath while listening. Well done, Mr. Williams and co.!
7. The Omen – Jerry Goldsmith (1976)
It starts immediately, already during the opening text. It’s written by the composer Jerry Goldsmith and is nothing short of chilling: “Sanguis bibimus, corpus edimus, toler corpus Santani”. Translation: “We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, we awaken the body of Satan.” The composer of the film accompanies the monotonous life of the Thorn family, with passages that become more and more chaotic as the plot progresses. Goldsmith received the only Oscar of his outstanding career for the music of “The Omen”.
8. Suspiria – Goblin (1977)
The music of the shocking and disturbing “Suspiria” was created in an extremely unusual way. Director Dario Argento did not rely on one of the renowned composers of the classical genre. Instead, he gave the script to the Italian prog rockers Goblin, who gave free rein to their creativity in one of the most beautiful soundtracks ever. Who would have thought that tools like bouzoukis, tabla and moog could create such suspense? By the way, translated from Latin, Suspiria means “sigh”. The remake released in 2018 and directed by Luca Guadagnino, also has a very respectable soundtrack composed by the frontman of Radiohead: Thom Yorke!
It is clear that this list can only be a small excerpt of the many soundtracks, scores and songs from horror films with which you can get into the Halloween spirit. We are waiting for your suggestions and opinions in the comments. What songs make your hair stand on end?