Monday, October 12, 2009

31 Days of Halloween - Day 12: Top 10 Horror Composers

Much like my previous Top 10 or Top 5 lists, this is a list that I developed that are my personal favorite Top 10 Horror Composers and the reason why I am doing this to get you in the Halloween mood, to maybe give you an idea of what to play on the porch when giving candy to kids who come knocking. It will also be interesting to note that John Williams does not make the Top 5 even though he is my #1 favorite composer of all times. Horror is a different breed all together.


10. Douglas Pipes for Trick ‘r Treat. I really enjoyed his score since it was so eerie, tense high strings and it’s surreal fairytale like composition. Recommended track: Main Titles 

9. Fabio Frizzi for Zombie. This was an electronic score that sounds so simple but so haunting for it’s low key humming. It also gives us that sense of sorrow adventure and it’s beautifully written. Recommend track: Main Titles.

8. John Williams for Jaws. I am not going to analyze this one because so many people have done it but I think we all know why it’s so good. Recommend track: Main Theme.

7. Hans Zimmer for The Ring. I liked this one because it’s so electronic and so sorrow in a childish kind of way. It tenses up and even the score can spooky you a little. So relaxing yet so haunting. Recommend track: The Ring Suite.


6. John Harrison for Day of the Dead and Creepshow. Day of the dead works because it’s so endangering and alarming but yet adventurous. It’s also very industrial sounding. My review for Creepshow is located here. Recommended tracks for Day of the Dead: Breakdown, Escape Invasion, The Dead Walk. Recommend tracks for Creepshow: Welcome to Creepshow, Father’s Day, Until Next Time.

5. Goblin for Suspiria and Dawn of the Dead. Suspiria started off sounding like a ghoulish blend of disoriented incantations and chants then explodes into a hard rock nightmare. Dawn of the Dead sounded very apocalyptic and sorrow. Recommended tracks for Suspiria: Suspiria, Suspiria (Daemonia Version). Recommended tracks for Dawn: L’alba Dei Morti Viventi, Risvelgio.

4. Marco Beltrami for Scream. This score was very studio driven but it has all the elements of a horror score, tense moments, eerie sounding bells and wood instruments. It gives the sound like you were stranded in the woods with a killer. Recommended track: Trouble in Woodsboro / Sydney’s Lament.


3. Charlie Clouser for Saw. No score is most widely known for having such a great sense of destruction, conspiracy, revenge, adventure and horror in one simple score than the theme for Saw. High strings and industrial sounding instruments make this a must. Recommended track: Hello Zepp. This is a must play for any kind of Halloween party.

2. John Carpenter for Halloween, The Fog and Halloween III. Not going to analyze Halloween. The Fog was so sorrow and sounded very mystic in a way. Halloween III rightfully sounded like low key, soft television noises that when mixed together… made a score. Recommended track for Halloween: Main Theme. Recommended track for The Fog: Main Title Them. Recommended track for Halloween III: Season of the Witch.


1. Danny Elfman for The Frighteners, Sleepy Hollow, Tales from the Crypt, Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. No horror score composer is most widely know for having some of the most horrifying, ghastly and devilishly sounding scores the Elfman. He combines organ music with harp solos, low key piano and horns, ominous choir solos and that infamous trademark that he has. Every horror score that he does is so demonically brilliant. Recommended tracks: All of them. 

Honorable Mention: Jerry Goldsmith, Wendy Carlos, Claudio Simonetti and Howard Shore.

So, looking back on these, I know there may be a couple of complains since Jaws should be higher or Halloween III shouldn’t count cause it was so bad; this was a  personal list and not a professional list. Movies can be bad and have good scores, and yes, maybe Jaws should be higher but not for one song. So I hope you enjoy. 


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