Bois: 10 best horror scores of all time

Artists who delve into horrific matters have a dual task: to bring people to a place they don’t like to go to, but to a place they like anyway; darkens their mood without leaving them spiritless; they upset their foundations until they are thankful that they have been arranged at all.

As a pendulum, the artist oscillates between two opposing dichotomies and absorbs the best of both until a stable bridge emerges – a palindrome of equal parts of order and disorder.

When it comes to a film composer, the gruesome terrain can be treacherous. After the composer has forged this beauty in a pit of ugliness, he must then use it to highlight a dramatic event. Like a muted Greek refrain, they guide us through the agony of pathos and confidently signal us from the wings without ever breaking into the stage. Too harmonious, the audience will feel manipulated and become contemptuous; too inconsistent, feel incompetent, and become agitated.

Taking these parameters into account, several considerations were considered in compiling the “10 Best Horror Scores of All Time”. 1.) Does the result highlight the presented images? 2.) Does the score pick up the film without replacing it? 3.) Does the score evolve throughout the film while remaining true to its central theme? In some cases, a great horror score can match a great horror, and in other cases, a great horror score can only match a good or even average horror. They are not excluded.


1. Psycho (1960)

From the composer Bernard Hermann was born the modern horror score. Since then, there has not been a single horror film that is not grateful for Bernard Hermann’s score or Alfred Hitchcock’s revolutionary masterpiece. Not one.

Honorary mentions: Jaws (1975), Rosemary baby (1968), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Interview with a vampire (1994), Fly (1986), Poltergeist (1982), A stranger (1979), Follow (2015), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Carrie (1976)

2. Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s theme has become both synonymous with Halloween season and Nat King Cole for Christmas. There is no debate here: the film would not be the same without this masterful move of a musical genius. Period.

3. A nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Wes Craven’s mix of slasher and fantasy showed that not all killers wear a mask and stalk babysitters in the dark; some meet us in nightmares, such as when we don’t wake up and say, “It was just a dream.” Charles Bernstein’s iconic score invites us through a mirror to the dream land of jagged edges.

4. When the lambs fall silent (1991)

The American fascination with the real crime after Ted Bundy, Ed Gein and Charles Manson broke through into the pop culture spirit of the time with the magnum opus of director Jonathan Demme. Composer Howard Shore, who would spice up Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings,” regrets the loss of innocence and longs for the elimination of injustice because he once lost it.

5. Exorcist (1973)

Hollywood can parody it a thousand times or weave a thousand sequels and spin-offs, no commercial dive could ever carve out a passionate portrayal of William Friedkin a dubious Catholic priest who rises to save the soul of an innocent girl from the personified father of lies. Although not written directly for the film, Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” reminds us that evil is always lurking in the shadows and patiently waiting to overtake us if we drop the guard.

6. The Shining (1980)

Author Stephen King hated an adaptation of his book by Stanley Kubrick because he didn’t understand his own story: once a father (or any parent) crosses the line of complete depravity, there’s no going back. Although there is only a few credit for their name, the assessment of Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind pinns you to the seat and demands that you witness the embrace of the sinister Jack Torrance lurking within him.

7. The thing (1982)

Director John Carpenter successfully updated this Howard Hawks ’production of the 1950s about a shape-alien alien into a claustrophobic, atmospheric, thrilling piece of sci-fi horror set in an Arctic outpost. The icy score of the great Ennio Morricone reminds us that sometimes isolation is better than the dark forces they want to hinder.

8. Black Christmas (1974)

One of the greatest slasher films they’ve ever made, director Bob Clark ventured into a territory few filmmakers would dare step into, and did the unthinkable: he created the same horror horror and themed Christmas film at once. “Silent night” as a messenger of doom? Check. Carols that make your skin angry? Check. Add a little ambient music by composer Carl Zittrer and this film will scare you.

9. Disappearance (1988)

Before Hollywood castrated this unwavering exploration of a man’s deadly obsession to uncover the truth about his girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance, Dutch director George Sluizer brought up a grim but poetic story about the cost of achieving imprisonment. Composer Henny Vrienten, with his synthesized guitar, evokes the devastation of lost love and malice as we try to regain it.

10. 28 days later (2002)

Director Danny Boyle, with this exploration of chaotic rage and the heights we ascend to, or the depths we dive into to tame it, ushered the zombie genre into the 21st century. Like a flat heart monitor steadily rising into an uncontrollable beat, the constant construction of composer John Murphy from cold piano to rock cacophony takes us up an endless staircase to madness.

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