Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Festival of Lists: October 28: TWENTY-EIGHT Of My Favorite Horror Soundtracks

Soundtracks are my life. 

Okay, that's over-stating it a bit. But it's no lie that most of the music on my iPod is horror movie scores.  You could say I have a serious obsession.  I've got waaay too many downloaded scores from off the internet, many are even legal! 

Of course I like most of the same scores as the majority of other horror fans, the ever-popular Halloween, Jaws and The Omen...but I also have a lot of more obscure ones.  I recall my serious fixation with getting my hands on the score for Psycho II (which most regular readers here will not be surprised to hear).  It was listed on eBay, sure...for about $150.00! That was certainly out of the question.  Finally found it for around $25.00 - it was on cassette and was in Nebraska.  Guess what? I bought it.  A few years later I found it online - for free! Of course I won't tell where, but suffice it to say I was elated and probably made about four or five copies.  I even have a copy in my fire safe with my marriage certificate and insurance policies. Now that's commitment! It remains one of my favorite scores.

Anyway, I've listed twenty-eight of my favorite scores.  I thought about trying to find samples for every one of them, but some of them would be hard to find and I'm not savvy enough to know how to upload them here.
*You'll note The Exorcist isn't here, and that's only because I chose not to base my picks on one tune, and Tubular Bells is actually Mike Oldfield's composition and wasn't written specifically for the movie.  That does not however, make it any less affecting.

Off to the races....

One of the best. Carpenter is a multi-talented son-of-a-bitch.  Besides the main theme, my two favorite tracks are 'The Haunted House' and 'Halloween 1978'.  Sometimes, simple is just more effective!

No denying Bernard Herrmann's fantastic score here, with the shrieking strings depicting the murder in the shower it is one of the most (if not THE most) famous segments in music.  But I enjoy the entire score, in particular 'Marion and Sam', the music playing over their hotel rendezvous.

Probably not well known, this score by Brett Rosenberg struck me so quickly that the first time I heard it I literally paused the film and got on the internet looking for it.  Thankfully, iTunes made my day.  The music here is as gorgeous as the sweeping Welsh countryside, especially the last song on the disc, 'The Girl in the Storm'.

Christopher Young is certainly a prolific composer, and one that has done his fair share of horror.  In this score the music evokes the moody and frightening tone of the film, with the main theme being the most recognizable.  There are no track titles, just simply a list of "parts". 

Ah, Goblin.  They are Dario Argento's go-to band, and horror fans have a deep regard for their work.  While Suspiria may be their most famous score, Phenomena has some truly spooky tracks, with not quite as much in the way of drumming, banging, and wailing.  Great stuff.

It is actually surprising to be able to purchase a score from a documentary, so I was pleasantly stunned to see it available.  It's an amazing compliment to the top notch film, with just as much atmosphere.

Easily as dark and eerie as the title suggests, this score is perfect for the morbid subject matter at hand.
My favorite track is 'Ebril'.
Everyone knows the "da-dum, da-dum" main theme, but this score is an absolute masterpiece.  From the 'Montage' which backs up folks coming to the shoreline to vacation, to 'Father and Son' - where you'll remember Brody and his son having a moment at the kitchen table, to 'Three Barrels Under', which is one of several "chase" tunes that make up this one of a kind gem.  To me, the best score in horror, hands down.

Dark, dark, dark.  I love Trevor Jones, and he is at his grim best here.  When you're dealing with such horrific subject matter, it's best to have subtlety when scoring a film.  Too loud can be too much, and even though there are murders throughout, the film still stays at an evil keel.  So melancholy it hurts.

Another movie that I had to have the score for immediately after watching the film....way back in the 80's. However, I didn't actually get to purchase it (after much looking around) until the 90's.  The ghostly haunting voice at the end of the 'Finale' is simply sublime.

Must have been a real coup to get Hans Zimmer to score (or at least oversee) this project. 
It's a great score, with 'The Well' being the most familiar (and generally though of as the main title), but my favorite remains 'Shelter Mountain', which perfectly matches the eerie cabin at the remote resort.

The most spectacular thing about this score is the fact that it has been remastered and re-released as of this fall!  To my knowledge it is only available on iTunes, but I could be wrong.  A superb score by a true master, Ennio Morricone.

Badalamenti, who scores David Lynch films and also the television counterpart for TP, is a master of weird.  His distinctive tracks like the fabulous 'The Pink Room'  and the utterly bizarre 'The Black Dog Runs At Night' are only a few of the treats in store.  My favorite remains the melancholy main title - jazz never sounded so good in a horror flick.

Speaking of jazz, Trevor Jones strikes a melancholy mood here that has me wanting to hang out in a jazzy dive bar.
By far one of my favorite scores for a rainy day.

A simply gorgeous score, which you wouldn't necessarily expect for a film about a blood-thirsty vampire. 
But it is so adept at inducing feelings of wistfulness and sorrow.  Its American counterpart for the Let Me In film is quite good as well, but darker and without the layers of feeling that this one has.

I've said before that Dario Marianelli is one of my favorite composers.  I've also indicated that this score could possibly be why I like this movie so much, as I realize it isn't that great.  But this score is on my iPod at all times, and it is generally the music I fall asleep to at night. 

And here's more JC.  The man is a force of nature.  Something else I like here besides just the music is the Prologue, in which we get to hear John Houseman tell his little tale of woe regarding the doomed Elizabeth Dane.  Musically, the 'Main Title' is a great piece of work, but again, I like the more subtle tracks, in particular 'Walk to the Lighthouse'.

Those crazy voodoo folks!  Edward Shearmur sets a scene with his music, dropping us deep into the bayou to experience the thick-laced atmosphere lurking about.  This disc also has some tunes from the film, including Barefoot Dancing by Blackbud, and Iko Iko - which must have something to do with all this dark magic, right?  Just kidding.

You certainly have to be in the right mood for this disc, the largely organ-based score takes you right back to the deserted carnival where the ghoul awaits to take you deep into no-man's land.  Very creepy.

This score is what I could only call unearthly.  Using an instrument called the theremin, it sounds like something out of an outer space movie.  Hard to describe, other than saying it is incredibly spooky and feels like if you close your eyes you could be watching The Day The Earth Stood Still.  But you're not. 

Another score by Dario Marianelli, Jane Eyre is an impressive score, with a downbeat main theme that remains throughout but is distinctive enough that you never get bored with it.  My current favorite.

And here it is, the score I searched everywhere for.   No matter what, it was worth it.  Imagine the difficulty in trying to emulate the work of the great Bernard Herrman.  Who could possibly even manage to try?  Jerry Goldsmith, that's who. 
Makes perfect sense.  Really good stuff.

Generally not the type of director that would score a horror film, what I heard was that the American composer didn't realize it was for a horror movie when he took the job on.  I mean, this is a man who writes symphonies. 
But lucky for us, he scored this gem and we're the better for it!

I am also a big fan of Wojciech Kilar's The Ninth Gate score, so it goes without saying I'd like this one.
The entire thing is full-bodied and at times, sweeping.  Each track can stand alone, but my favorites are 'The Brides' and the knockout, Love Remembered, obviously meant to be the love theme.  If I were getting married again tomorrow, I'd use it to walk down the aisle.

From the theme playing in the opening scene in which Jack is traveling up the Sidewinder to the final strains of 'Midnight, the Stars and You', this soundtrack is a varied smorgasbord of unnerving musical vignettes.  The copy I have has some spoken cues from the movie, such as "Wendy....Darling....Light of my life...."  Well, you know the rest.

Here's a surprise.  I've never seen this movie.  Yet.  Apparently it's a Finnish film about strange happenings at a boy's school.  All I know is I happened upon it on iTunes and the rest is history.  You can check out a sample there.


I love me some Danny Elfman.  I enjoy most of his scores, but this one in particular really grabbed me.  Not as wonderful as his work in Black Beauty (which remains my favorite of his), it still is a stellar backdrop to the fully atmospheric movie. The first two tracks, aptly entitled "Introduction" and "Main Titles"....sublimely dark and gothic.

And no, I couldn't leave off Goblin's Suspiria.  The whole thing is simply a work of art, with the titular opening track being one of the most familiar in horror.  Talk about conjuring a mood!  They really tap into the feel of the film, the desperate confusion and the harsh reality of what really lies at that German dance school.  Top shelf work.
*A few honorable mentions:  Cannibal Holocaust, The Beyond, The Omen (an Oscar winner!), Hellraiser, Alien....I could go on and on!

5 comments:

iZombie said...

secret of mine is i love movie scores, i think at last count i had 4700 and keep adding to the list... from sci-fi to horror and even more scary is i love period-styled pieces like jane eyre... we should trade sometimes, there are couple you have...

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
Visit The Madness:
IZOMBIE

Budd said...

list fail- lost boys

seriously, great list, but...Lost Boys. I understand that you only had 28 spaces. And really it might be the one song thing. I remember Dracula 2000 having a good soundtrack as well.

Christine Hadden said...

Wow Jeremy, and I thought I had a lot of scores. I didn't want to mention I thought I had near a thousand or so, and here you are with four times that many. I'm in awe. I'll also have to check and see what I may not have that you might - you do the same, and perhaps we can do up some copies and such.

And Budd, well..I couldn't put them all on there, right? And I agree Cry Little Sister is awesome. As for Dracula 2000, I was kind of going for scores here and not soundtracks - that is a whole other ball of wax..I love them too!

Al Bruno III said...

Some good suggestions here. I have a good many of them already but this has added several titles to my 'Must Buy' list.

iZombie said...

i am totally in for a trade, i have not updated my list in some time... but i know what i have and can send you a list or if you have any requests... i have a dracula 2000 score 2cd version too. it's great to know i am not alone in score music.