What’s Top 10 Tuesday? It’s a new Top 10 List every Tuesday!
With so many memorable horror soundtracks that have stuck with me over the years, this is easily the hardest Top 10 List I’ve put together. To narrow things down a bit i’m only including original soundtracks which will explain the absence of some amazing compilations like The Return of the Living Dead, The Exorcist & The Shining. I’m also only including one album per composer/performer (otherwise half this list would be John Carpenter).
Honorable Mention, It Follows (2014)
The most recent soundtrack on this list by far is from video game composer Richard Vreeland (known as Disasterpeace). This eerie soundtrack gives you a tense uneasy feeling delivered through a retro-feeling synth-heavy score.
10. The Wicker Man (1973)
Paul Giovanni & Magnet
If you listened to The Wicker Man Soundtrack without watching the movie first you probably wouldn’t know it was for a horror movie. Composed by Paul Giovanni and performed by Magnet, it’s a weird mix of folk and children’s music that somehow is perfect for the film and makes it that much creepier.
9. Videodrome (1983)
Would it really be a Cronenberg movie without a Howard Shore composed soundtrack? For as strange of a film as Videodrome is, the soundtrack was created in an even stranger manner. Everything was composed for an orchestra but played through a synthesizer and then combined with the same score played by a string section. You weren’t able to tell which source was which and it didn’t matter, the end result is one of the creepiest soundtracks of all time.
8. The Beyond (1981)
The Italian partnership between composer Fabio Frizzi and director Lucio Fulci was a beautiful one that gave us fantastic soundtracks like City of the Living Dead, Zombi 2 & Manhattan Baby. But it’s The Beyond which features a masterful atmospheric blend of synth-filled prog rock and with orchestral pieces eerie chanting.
7. The Keep (1983)
German Prog Rock legends Tangerine Dream were no strangers to film soundtracks but the only horror film they scored besides Near Dark was The Keep. Even rarer was finding a copy of the soundtrack. Only 300 official copies were originally released which caused a flood of bootlegs.
Tangerine Dream fills this strange film with wailing guitars, disco beats, vocoders and overall synth mastery. It’s also a case of a soundtrack being better than the film itself.
6. Psycho (1960)
While Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is one of the most iconic movies of all time, it’s orchestral soundtrack is even more memorable. As soon as you hear the rough violins of “The Murder” you’re immediately transported to the bathroom in Marion Crane’s room at the Bates Motel.
5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
It’s not often you get a jazz legend like Krzysztof Komeda to score a movie, let alone a horror film. Komeda skilfully manages to blend jazz, orchestras and lullaby (sung by Mia Farrow) into a subtle yet eerily effective score for Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.
4. Nosferatu (1978)
Werner Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu features one of the stranger soundtracks in horror with German “Krautrock” band Popol Vuh. Popol Vuh gives the film an unique sound that ranges from acoustic folk to synth that ranges from dark and dreary to light and hopeful. There’s nothing else that really sounds like it and somehow it fits the film perfectly.
3. Halloween (1978)
With masterpiece soundtracks like The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13 and his collaboration with Alan Howarth on Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, choosing only one John Carpenter soundtrack was the hardest part of making this list.
A chilling blend of piano and synths, it made for the perfect slow-burn soundtrack for the suburban terror of Michael Myers. It’s mind boggling considering Carpenter was self-taught and didn’t know how to read or write music and the entire soundtrack for Halloween was written in 3 days.
2. The Thing (1982)
Sometimes less really is more, especially in the case of Ennio Morricone’s minimalist score for John Carpenter’s big budget debut of The Thing. The partnership of Morricone, Carpenter and composer Alan Howarth made for a eerie mix of synths and orchestral strings that give you a near-constant feeling of paranoia.
1. Suspiria (1977)
Clearly Dario Argento had a lot of faith in Italian Synth rock band Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti who wrote and recorded the soundtrack to Suspiria in only one day. It was definitely the right decision considering it became one of the best horror soundtracks of all-time.
This creepy mix of synths, pianos, bells and voices makes the film an immersive experience as it follows you throughout the prestigious dance academy. Some other great Goblin soundtracks that I didn’t include on the list are Profondo Rosso, Phenomena and Dawn of the Dead.
As a special bonus i’d like to share with you some of my personal vinyl movie soundtracks that I’ve had signed over the years.