The Ten Best Horror Movie Soundtracks

Categories: Commentary

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Halloween should be filled with good, albeit strange, music. Horror film soundtracks provide the most suitable gateway to such enjoyment. From grotesque to gorgeous, these represent our ten favorite offerings (in reverse order). Enjoy.


10. Rosemary's Baby
Composer: Krzysztof (Christopher) Komeda

In keeping with Polanski's eerily disarming, slow-to-unravel direction, jazz legend Krzysztof Komeda's score for Rosemary's Baby is beautifully fragile and subtle--more like easing into a warm bath than being hurdled into a spit. Anchored by the now iconic lilting female-sung lullaby, Komeda's work is constructed from airy jazz passages and stylish, almost gothic orchestration. Surprisingly, '60s pop even makes an appearance, though tastefully framed on both sides by shadowy instrumentation and demonic chants. Though Polanski and Komeda had collaborated before (Knife in the Water, The Fearless Vampire Killers, etc), this was the climax of their artistic relationship.


9. Dracula (1931)
Composer: Philip Glass

In typical Glass fashion, the Dracula score is hyper-minimal. Composed by Glass (1999) and performed by the Kronos Quartet, the composition is not particularly scary, but it's immensely mesmerizing in a fashion that perfectly compliments Dracula's elegant cinematography. In keeping with the 19th century aesthetic, Glass uses a string quartet to amass a work that is both graceful and bewitchingly cerebral. The skeletal music dances about a general thematic center, expanding and contracting on an axis that uniquely mirrors the arc and close of the film's narrative. Every aspect of the structure hits just right, revealing Glass' considered approach to music making. Soundtracks don't get much prettier than this.

8. Marquis De Sade: Justine
Composer: Bruno Nicolai

Bruno Nicolai's score for Jess Franco's film adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's Justine is one of the strangest soundtracks in existence. While not strictly a horror film by traditional understanding, this erotic thriller certainly deserves to chart on this list. Instilling a mood of druggy sex, the Justine score plays out like a work of psychedelic lounge music. Structurally, it's a landscape of hypnotic voices and streaming aqueous coloring, all grounded in a bedrock of eastern flourishes and disjointed, jazzy arrangements. At times, on this masterwork, Nicolai - longtime friend and protégé of Ennio Morricone - outshines even the master.


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3 comments
kimberly90210
kimberly90210

 Are you goddamn kidding? Best Of Horror soundtrack article with NO John Carpenter?!?!?!  Even if you aren't a fan of the main Halloween theme, as pointed out in your 'Intentional Omission',  The Fog and Prince of Darkness have first-rate scary sounds.

Pitchfork would LOVE your Morricone + Goblin references. Psssh.

Kevron_Woodley
Kevron_Woodley

Awesome list, some of my favorites are on it! Amy was a great horror flick, I saw it on demand. Nothing is scarier than possessed amish people.

jacademic20
jacademic20

@kimberly90210 Yea, both of those are strong, but just not quite there.  And pitchfork?  why? did she say something?  I've kinda' always had a crush


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