Music is an essential part of a movie. It can create tension during crucial scenes or set the tone for the whole movie, and some people even identify the movie by it’s score. In honor of Halloween, I’ve complied a list of some famous (and so
me of my favorite) movie scores of horror movies.
Halloween – John Carpenter
A simple song written by the director himself, this theme song still sends chills down moviegoer’s spines to this day. The song was written in 5/4 meter, an usual time measurement for music, which I think is very appropriate. The song builds up a lot of tension, but it never seems to break and projects a very ominous tone. When I hear this song, I start to think I should check behind me and make sure Michael Myers isn’t sneaking up behind me… then maybe go lock the doors. If music is suppose to set the tone of the movie, then Halloween‘s main theme did its job.
Psycho – Bernard Herrmann
Anyone who has seen Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic film Psycho has undoubtedly heard Herrmann’s Psycho Suite, but it’s not the entire suite that really sticks with me when I think of this movie. The music in this movie that sticks out to me most is during the infamous shower scene. The set up is perfect; naked, vulnerable and defenseless in a shower when all of a sudden… someone is slowly sneaking up on you *cue the violins* and you’re suddenly being stabbed and fighting for your life. I loved how the shrill of the violins almost matched up perfectly to the stabbing motions. Just makes the movie (and the music) so much creepier.
Jaws – John Williams
Yet another simple theme song. The song only has eight notes, but maybe that’s all Williams had time to write before Jaws made his move on an unsuspecting victim. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t hum this to myself every time I went swimming; pool, lake, ocean, doesn’t matter. I’d also be lying to you if I told you I didn’t freak myself out enough to get out of the water after humming this tune.
Friday the 13th – Harry Manfredini
Ok, so this isn’t really music, but I think that’s what makes the iconic whispers of composer Harry Manfredini so scary. It’s totally quiet then you hear those whispers. What the whispers translate to is “ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma”. While that sounds like gibberish to you, what Pamela Voorhees is hearing in her head is her son, Jason, saying “kill, kill, kill, mom, mom, mom.” So how did Manfredini get that cool whispering echo effect? After watching the documentary His Name was Jason: 30 years of Friday the 13th I found out that Manfredini is only using the syllables “ki” and “ma” and running them through a microphone with a delay effect.
Next time you watch a scary movie, make sure to pay special attention to the music you’re hearing. It’s not just there as a filler, it’s there to create a mood, and not just for that specific scene you’re watching, but for the entire movie. Listen if you dare… and Happy Halloween.
Written by:Katie Sperduti