It’s that time of year again… the best part of the year… Halloween season. As I look forward to the frightful festivities, I’m excitedly planning my October Mandatory Movie Viewing List. In considering the contenders for this lineup of horror films, I found myself considering how much the music score can contribute to a great fright flick.
The best filmmakers deliver the unexpected and take creative risks. My favorite music score composers do the same. If the music can complement the story and visuals, while still being inventive and creatively daring, I’m completely hooked.
Even though I’m not a musician, I do have strong opinions about music in movies. Read on to unearth a whole Top Twenty list centered around said opinions. Behold, in order of release, the Top Twenty Best Original Music Scores In Horror Film History, in my judgment, at this time (subject to change without notice). Are your favorites on this list?
1. Psycho (1960) Music by Bernard Herrmann.
2. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Music by Wayne Bell and director Tobe Hooper.
3. Jaws (1975) Music by John Williams.
4. The Omen (1976) Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
5. Suspiria (1977) Music by Goblin (Agostino Marangolo, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignatelli, Claudio Simonetti).
6. Halloween (1978) Music by director John Carpenter.
7. Alien (1979) Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
8. The Fog (1980) Music by director John Carpenter.
9. Friday The 13th (1980) Music by Harry Manfredini.
10. Just Before Dawn (1981) Music by Brad Fiedel.
11. Creepshow (1982) Music by John Harrison.
12. Poltergeist (1982) Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
13. The Thing (1982) Music by Ennio Morricone.
14. Videodrome (1983) Music by Howard Shore.
15. Nightbreed (1990) Music by Danny Elfman.
16. Dracula (1992) Music by Wojciech Kilar.
17. 28 Days Later... (2002) Music by John Murphy.
18. Resident Evil (2002) Music by Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson.
19. Saw (2004) Music by Charlie Clouser.
20. The Collector (2009) Music by Jerome Dillon.
To sum up, I’m a bigger Jerry Goldsmith fan than I realized, John Carpenter was as good at spooky music as he was at spooky filmmaking, and it would appear that Nine Inch Nails has been a great breeding ground for music score composers (Charlie Clouser, Jerome Dillon, and Oscar-winning NIN founder/front man Trent Reznor… even Marilyn Manson began his career being produced by Reznor).
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze