Monday, April 18, 2011

Top 9 Beautiful Horror Scores

A while ago I read a very interesting post on Day of Woman and I was shocked that I never thought of this myself, since I love horror soundtracks. That post was BJ-C’s most beautiful horror movie scores. Considering that a whopping 48% of my iTunes library is nothing but horror scores, I was shocked when I realized that I never did a top 10 on them. I’ve been saying to a lot of people that horror movies have some of the best and possibly the most beautiful scores in film. So, I decided to compile a list of beautiful harmonies that were used in horror movies. Some of the scores I wanted to use were already mentioned so I decided to pick scores that people wouldn’t think were beautiful, but really they were.

9) Main Title – House on Haunted Hill – Don Davis

This is really the only true horror sounding one I have. I guess the reason why this is so beautiful is simply because of the organ music. It’s very operatic and mixed with the violins and string instruments give it a Phantom of the Opera feel. It’s very somber but at the same time very catch and I can’t help but feel like I’m listening to an old silent horror flick.

8) Mae’s Theme – Tangerine Dream – Near Dark

Already sounding like it comes straight out of the 80’s, this beautiful synth piece from Near Dark is very reminiscent of old-school sounding noir romance flicks. It’s simply hypnotic with its striking composition that evokes feelings of remorseful love and passion. It’s almost cosmic in a way; the way the score is so smooth and tranquil. I could just picture myself driving on a lonely highway in the dead of night listening to this.

7) Floating Minds – The Ring – Hans Zimmer

Only available on the stand-alone Ring soundtrack.

I love Hans Zimmer and he created some of the best scores I’ve ever listening to (Driving Miss Daisy being one of them) but this track on The Ring soundtrack is different. It’s unbelievably sad but at the same time it feels touching as though it brings you and your loved ones close. Perhaps it’s the heartrending string segments that are very reminiscent of Itzhak Perlman or the saddening harmonious piano, but regardless… it certainly doesn’t sound like something from a horror movie.

6) Main Theme – Krzysztof Komeda – Rosemary’s Baby

With its haunting and almost serenading vocalization, and its surreal acoustic guitar, this theme is probably one of the creepiest tracks in my library because its meant to be a beautiful composition but comes off as being uncomfortable yet sweet. I’m sure that’s its intentions but the fact still stands. It’s a twisted lullaby that suggests surrendering yourself to the dark beauties of nightmares. It foreshadows the pain and sympathy that lies ahead of the film.

5) Theme – Pino Donaggio – Carrie

Definitely sounding like it came out of the 70’s, this is probably one of my favorite Donaggio scores. It’s absolutely beautiful and calming as it reminds me of really happy summer days back when I was younger. The way the violins and horns just stir up the senses and bring a sense of soothing peace to my ears. It’s strange that such a pleasant-sounding score comes from one of the saddest horror movies out there and you can definitely hear the sadness in the track. It’s very subtle but if you listen to the horns, it previews sad things to come.

4) Particle Magazine – Howard Shore – The Fly

This one always stood out to me because it makes me feel like I am in a quiet coffee shop in the city, watching all the people walk in and go by. Like most of the others, it still has this overwhelming feeling of sadness and sympathy but it’s very tranquil and nerve calming. You could just imagine yourself watching everybody pass by and wondering what their lives may be or where they are going. That’s exactly the type of feeling that I get when I listen to this a feeling of quiet, seldom observation of the world around me.

3) Come To Me – Brad Fiedel – Fright Night

Next to The Terminator, this is one of Fiedel’s greatest scores and probably one his most underrated compositions. I’ve mentioned this track every time I bring up the sexuality that is presented in Fright Night and how the score is almost intoxicating as you listen to it. With its low bass synth, raw guitar rifts and its wailing saxophone, it makes for a sexually arousing yet powerful track. It’s another one of those types of songs that you could listen to while you’re driving down a lonely highway in the dead of night. How the track is composed is very genius because it starts off low and gradually builds up to a climax, then when it reaches its peak you can hear that guitar wailing as the track slowly comes down. It’s almost haunting as it lures you into a state of relaxation. It’s really quite magical.

2) Carol Anne’s Theme – Jerry Goldsmith – Poltergeist

In the same vain as the theme from Rosemary’s Baby, this wonderfully yet goosebumps-giving track always makes me smile for some reason. With what sounds like an all children choir and the use of violins the track reminds me of good old days of television when shows like Leave it Beaver and Father Knows Best were on. I think that’s the main intention was to give this track an overwhelming feeling of childhood innocents but at the same time make it seem a little awkward. Midway into the song, the choir stops so that the violin solo could play and it’s one of the most beautiful sounding things I’ve ever heard. On a personal level, it reminded me of the summer days of my childhood when I use to play with my friends. It certainly doesn’t sound like something that belongs in a horror movie.

1) Main Theme – Riz Ortolani – Cannibal Holocaust

I chose this song because it had the most amount of playbacks in all my horror soundtrack collections with a total of 253 playbacks. I haven’t heard the score in a while so I was a little shocked to find out that I listened to that track that many times and when I pressed play and was suddenly reminded of why I love it. It is probably the most beautiful compositions to ever be in a horror movie for several reasons. It’s such a happy sounding track and makes you want to get up and have a good time but there’s something different about it. Though it may evoke feelings of happiness and playfulness, it also gives me this feeling of remorse and total awe. It does a wonderful job of keeping the feelings happy but you can’t shake this feeling like something awful is going to happen. The score draws me into a false sense of security as I blindly follow thinking that everything will be alright, but at the same time I want to be shocked. If there has to be a reason for me to collect horror soundtracks, let this song speak for all the rest.


Chris Hallock said...

Great list!
Man, I love Pino Donaggio and talking about horror scores.

I remember Come to Me giving me goosebumps when I first saw Fright Night. Well, it still kinda does.

now for my obligatory "but what about these soundtracks..." post, haha.

I've always been in love with John Harrison's work on Creepshow. Such eerie compositions.

Also, Mark Isham's atmospheric work on The Hitcher gives me the chills.

The Hidden always gets mentioned for the metal stuff, but I love the score by Michael Convertino.

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

I never thought about Isham's or Convertino's score but I was tossing around the idea of including something by John Harrison. Particularly the first half of the Father's Day track. Hell, I was even about to include a track from Day of the Dead until I came across House on Haunted Hill. :)

BJ-C said...

Fabulous! I had totally forgotten about a lot of these, but I agree with your list 100%

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