We can all agree that music can make or break a movie, especially a horror movie, right? How many times have you seen a movie where the music makes it that much more terrifying? There are lots of great horror scores out there that enhance the spooky mood, but I’ve discovered that some are better than others.
Having watched countless horror films, I’m here to present you with—in my opinion—the best horror scores. Let’s take a listen!
On Amity Island, what could possibly go wrong? It’s a summer vacation destination dream. That is until a rogue shark decides to cut the summer holiday short. It isn’t until nearly an hour-and-a-half into the two-hour movie that we see the shark. The only way we know it’s near is by the ba-da of the strings and rattling of the drums that shakes you to the core.
Not only is the theme from Jaws an iconic piece of music, but master composer John Williams does a superb job matching the upbeat feeling of enjoying summer by the shore and the darkness of impending danger.
Haddonfield, Illinois, is a small suburban town in the 70s. Kids are excited to go trick-or-treating later while the teens are eager to plan their hookups, even if some are stuck babysitting for the night. In suburbia, what could possibly go wrong? Laurie seems to be the only one who notices the lurking figure at first, but it’s Halloween, right? The point of the night is to try and scare someone.
John Carpenter does a phenomenal job scaring listeners with his Halloween soundtrack. With its more upbeat tone, it may not seem like there’s any real danger. Although, the later into the soundtrack you go, and the more murders that occur, the heavier the music gets.
Saw is definitely a cult classic. You either love it or hate it. But, no matter where you stand on the films, everyone can agree that Charlie Clouser’s musical creation for the Saw anthology is one of nightmare. It’s not your usual type of horror score, which helps it stand out from the crowd.
With equally terrifying music to match the torturous traps individuals must survive, the Saw soundtrack is sure to keep you up at night. Try to listen to the theme without hearing Jigsaw say, “I want to play a game.” I dare you.
4). A Nightmare on Elm Street
Your dreams are where you escape the horrors of the world. But, what if your dreams were where more terrifying things happened? Then what? Charles Bernstein’s A Nightmare on Elm Street soundtrack will surely keep you up at night, even if you don’t live on Elm Street.
With its dreamy undertones and hidden horrors, this soundtrack is easily one of my favorites, and one of the most terrifying in my opinion.
5). IT (2017)
The piano is supposed to be this beautiful instrument. Benjamin Wallfisch makes it a work of nightmares with his 2017 IT soundtrack. After the disappearance of his younger brother, Georgie, Bill enlists the help of his friends to try and find him. Their somber journey to loss of innocence is accompanied by this haunting music. Featuring mostly piano with orchestra mixed in makes the score for IT a truly terrifying experience.
Picking just five horror scores was near impossible. Because I can, I’ve added an honorable mentions category. These are the soundtracks that I love, but just couldn’t put in my top five:
- Psycho– Bernard Herrmann
- Rosemary’s Baby– Krzysztof Komeda
- The Shining– Wendy Carlos
- The Exorcist– Mike Oldfield
- Dead Silence– Charlie Clouser
Top 5 Best Horror Scores: Do You Agree?
Music plays an important role in horror movies. With the right music, a scary scene can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand tall and increase the tension tenfold. We have lots of horror composers to thank for their musical creations for scaring the living bejesus out of us.
Did your favorite horror score make the list? Let me know in the comments!