11 Horror Film Soundtracks That Will Chill Your Spine

Michael D'Alimonte
Top Lists
3 minute read
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Music makes the movie, and that is truest when it comes to the horror genre. Fans (and haters) of horror know just how much the soundtrack of a film can play with your emotions, instilling fear, building suspense, and create a sense of dread.  But like any genre of film, not all horror soundtracks are created equal. Below, however, you'll find some of the best in our list of the top soundtracks from horror movies.

11"It Follows" Rich Vreeland/Disasterpeace

One of the most celebrated horror films to be released in recent years was It Follows, which has a solid soundtrack to match. Composed by Rich Vreeland, otherwise known as electronic artist Disasterpeace, who was a newcomer to feature film soundtracks, the sounds of It Follows were definitely influenced by previous horror films like Halloween, yet was still entirely original. Vreeland expertly inserted ominous sounds throughout the film, building tension when necessary, and never breaking the mood of the film.

10"Scream" Marco Beltrami

Even though it was his first time scoring a film, Marco Beltrami still did an amazing job on the meta-horror film Scream. First tested by director Wes Craven, Beltrami was asked to score the infamous opening of Scream, where Drew Barrymore's character gets killed, which secured him the job. Beltrami took a western approach to the movie, rather than as a traditional horror, while still pointing to the film's inherent meta-fictional elements, as can be heard when Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" softly plays in the background during the first bedroom scene between Sidney and her (spoiler alert) murderous boyfriend.

9"Jaws" John Williams

Another horror film to win the Academy Award, John William's work on Jaws is celebrated by critics everywhere, even named the sixth-greatest score by the American Film Institute. Despite only being a simple alternation of F and E sharp, the simply two-note sound still gives you a sense of imminent danger. Other tunes can be heard throughout the feature length film, but its the main "shark theme" that will forever be remembered by audiences.

8"Halloween" John Carpenter

From youngins to older folks, when you think "horror movie soundtracks" Halloween almost always comes up first, and for good reason. Using only a piano melody, John Carpenter was able to create a chilling auditory setting which still leaves viewers feeling tense and uneasy. Quite the feat for someone who can't even read music, it is, however, worth nothing Carpenter did get some help from Dan Wyman, a music professor at San José State University.

7"The Shining" Stanley Kubrick/Wendy Carlos/Rachel Elkind

A three-part collaboration between director Stanley Kubrick and composers Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, the soundtrack for The Shining is a mixture of musical eras. Orchastral movements and Gregorian chants (specifically "Dans Irae" which served as the basis for "The Shining" sequence) are placed alongside 20s-era musical pieces, reflecting the film's own creepy temporal framework. The only shame is that the Shining's soundtrack album was never fully released because of licensing issues, with the only (hard-to-find) copies only available on vinyl.

6"Psycho" Bernard Herrmann

Even if you haven't seen Hithcock's Psycho, you have no doubt heard the sounds of some of the movie's more iconic scenes, especially the shower part, which has been used in a variety of mediums since the film's release. Apparently money could have caused this score to never be made, as composer Bernard Herrman originally rejected Hitchcock's offer, it being quite low given the movie's modest budget. Thankfully Herrman got on board and created what many critics say was some of his best work, and largely contributed to the film's horrific success. Hitchcock even recognized the fact, giving Herrman a slot in the opening title credits, just before his own.