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Friday, October 30, 2009

Top 5: Spooky film themes

It's that time of year once again, and I'd be remiss if I didn't seize the opportunity to go all fanboy on y'all and turn Crib Notes, for a moment, into a total geekfest. After all, this is a music blog, and film and music have long been recognized as natural complements to one another. Actually, the truth is that quite often, the music makes the movie. Nowhere is this more evident than within the horror genre, which has given us some of the most haunting and iconic scores of all time. With that in mind I present a rough smattering of a few of the best spooky film themes, because really, who doesn't love scary movies, especially at Halloween?

1. The absolute king among horror movie themes is, of course, Bernard Herrmann's iconic score to Hitchcock's breakthrough 1960 film Psycho. The main theme is creepy enough, but nothing compares to the horrifying, shrieking music heard during the infamous shower scene. This score would go on to heavily inform another great theme, the one to 1985's Re-Animator.

2. Interestingly, the spooky theme to 1973's The Exorcist wasn't written for the film at all, but rather by composer Mike Oldfield for his album Tubular Bells. Nonetheless, it would become legendary, serving as inspiration for countless horror scores to come, including...

3. The theme from Halloween. This one is perhaps most notable for its use of suffocating, foreboding synths, which would become the horror standard throughout the next decade or so (see the theme to The Shining). Speaking of synths...

4. Everyone loves zombies. But no one loves zombies more than George Romero, whose 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead used one of the best and most memorable themes, in my book, of all time. Three decades later, the modernized 28 Days Later would rewrite the book on zombie themes, adding a post-rock bent to a perfect amalgamation of themes past.

5. This one is much more recent, and not quite terrifying in itself, but Johan Söderqvist's score to 2008's creepy Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In is incredibly affecting and, in many ways, an instant classic. Its lilting melodies are light and airy while somehow retaining a palpable degree of darkness and suspense. For such a stark, chilling film, it's the perfect pairing.

But man, oh man, I know this list just touches the tip of the iceberg. What are your favorite horror scores?

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