The Tenth Man’s resident horror dork Eric Davidson has taken a stab at his favourite horror film soundtracks. Featuring deranged folk, haunting minimalism, unnerving synth and pioneering electronica, get ready for a haunted algorithm after listening to all of these.
‘The Shining’ (1980)
From the opening scene’s driving, iconic synth line by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind you immediately know you’re about to enter an otherworldly and intense dimension. With old-timey jazz and sounds from veteran composer Krzysztof Penderecki echoing throughout the Overlook Hotel and Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece continues to unsettle the viewer.
‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968)
Krzysztof Komeda’s score for this classic slow burn is hauntingly delicate, but stays with you for far too long. Much like the veneer of Rosemary’s life, its melancholic lullabies hide the film’s sinister underbelly, making it one of the most memorable horror soundtracks of all time. Especially that big reveal at the end… Oof.
Philip Glass’s minimalist score for Candyman is a chilling composition that combines orchestral elements with choral voices. What emerges from the proverbial mirror is a hypnotic soundtrack that burrows into your brain like a hook.
‘The Exorcist’ (1973)
Perhaps THE most iconic and memorable horror theme of all time (apologies John Carpenter…), Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ has become synonymous with demonic possession after its use in ‘The Exorcist’. The beautiful melody contrasts with the film’s horrifying imagery, creating a sense of unease that lingers long after the credits roll. Quick shout out, I run a horror film night called Slaughterhouse and I’m hosting a 50th anniversary screening in The Complex on November 30th.
Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is a vivid and nightmarish experience, and its soundtrack by the Italian progressive rock band Goblin is equally unforgettable. The music’s mix of eerie chants, frenetic percussion, and haunting melodies elevates the film to a new level of terror.
‘The Wicker Man’ (1973)
Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is a vivid and nightmarish experience, and its soundtrack by the Italian Paul Giovanni’s folk-inspired soundtrack for ‘The Wicker Man’ is the perfect marrying of the deeply familiar and the totally uncanny. Its blend of traditional melodies and pagan rituals adds an eerie authenticity to the film’s exploration of ancient cults and sinister rituals. rock band Goblin is equally unforgettable. The music’s mix of eerie chants, frenetic percussion, and haunting melodies elevates the film to a new level of terror.
‘The Thing’ (1982)
John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ is a masterclass in suspense and paranoia, and by bringing in the legendary Ennio Morricone it doubles down on the (literally) chilling atmosphere. Morricone’s music captures the sense of isolation and impending doom that permeates the film. The main theme, with its pulsating heartbeat-like rhythm, is a constant fray of nerves.
‘Zombi 2’ (1979)
Lucio Fulci’s ‘Zombi 2’, aka ‘Zombie’, aka ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ aka one of Italy’s most entertaining splatterfests. Fabio Frizzi’s score is a standout in this gory horror, combining pulsating rhythms with eerie melodies, creating an unforgettable soundscape that complements the film’s gruesome zombie mayhem.
‘Day of the Dead’ (1985)
George A. Romero’s classic zombie outing features a synth-heavy score by John Harrison that perfectly encapsulates the post-apocalyptic despair of the film. Harrison’s music reflects the tension between humans and the undead in the claustrophobic underground bunker. Gorillaz also expertly sample the opening scenes in ‘M1A1’.
We may have said ‘The Exorcist’ had the most recognisable theme song, but we had to end with John Carpenter. His legacy goes far beyond his directing work, bringing a unique skillset to the table by being a revered composer too. His score for ‘Halloween’ is a true classic in the genre. The minimalist, repetitive piano melody is instantly recognisable and, like the ‘Psycho’ main theme before it, has become synonymous with terror.