The Best Horror Movie Soundtrack Tunes

Spooky season is finally in full-swing! As jack-o-lanterns begin to dot doorsteps and witches faintly cackle in the distance, an air of mystery cloaks each moment of every day. In the midst of the frightful fun, we can’t forget about one of the best parts of the season: horror movies. From classics like The Shining to modern creations like Us, the haunting melodies of the spooky films listed below are the perfect pairing for a chilly walk to class (plus, they’ll drown out the sound of the ghosts and ghouls...).

  1. 1. The Exorcist — “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield

    When one thinks of terrifying classic films, The Exorcist is at the top of the list. Released in 1973, the movie has retained its original popularity, sparking fear in the hearts of thousands. Its main theme comes from the album Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield; the movie popularized the record, especially the introduction to Part One. Funnily enough, Oldfield has never seen The Exorcist himself because of the great fear factor, but he knows its music inside and out!

  2. 2. Suspiria — Main Theme by Goblin

    All of the music from this Italian horror movie will give you chills, but the main theme is iconic in its ghostly glory. Composed by Italian band Goblin before filming began, the film’s soundtrack features whispered verses and eerie melodies. While this movie is lesser-known when it comes to “iconic” horror films, it’s definitely a must-watch for the spooked soul!

  3. 3. Halloween (1978) —  “Halloween Theme - Main Title” by John Carpenter

    Perhaps one of the most iconic slasher movies of all time, the 1978 version of Halloween has blossomed into a franchise. The musical score was inspired by the compositions of both The Exorcist and Suspiria, listed above, but what makes the songs of this film unique, however, is that John Carpenter both composed the score and directed the film. The cohesion of his thoughts shows in the flow of the action with the music, making the “Halloween Theme - Main Title,” one of the most recognized movie scores of all time. 

  4. 4. The Shining — Opening Theme by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind

    I’m a bit biased when it comes to The Shining, as it’s been one of my favorite horror movies/thrillers for as long as I can remember; there’s something so fascinating about watching the slow decay of the main character. The tension in this movie is palpable. One of my favorite parts of this film is the musical score, especially the opening theme of the film. It’s an encapsulation of ominous, threatening, and “something’s looming over me” vibes — perfect for a spooky night in!

  5. 5. It — “The Pennywise Dance” by Benjamin Wallfisch 

    While I love classic horror films, I couldn’t leave out some tunes from the most popular recent narratives. It is unique in the composition of its musical score because it manages to blend elements of fear and fun into every note. “The Pennywise Dance” is a perfect example of this, merging carnival sounds with jarring screeches. Perhaps not the most iconic of the horror movie scores, but the It soundtrack is fantastic for a horror-movie beginner.

  6. 6. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — “Season of the Witch” by Lana Del Rey

    Not all of the best tunes from horror movies stem from composers! The 2019 film, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, opens with a bop from Lana Del Rey. It’s groovy, fun, and just a little bit haunting, but definitely not as scary as the sounds above. For those of you that just want a fun fall song to listen to, I highly recommend this and the rest of the movie’s soundtrack.

  7. 7. Us — “Anthem” by Michael Abels

    While Us is a mash-up of horror and thriller, I can safely say it is one of the best films I have seen in the past year. I went into the movie with zero expectations and came out covered in goosebumps, my mind reeling from the terrifying yet beautiful story I had just witnessed. Spine-tingling, unearthly, and eye-opening are just three of the adjectives I could use to describe the movie. What made it so complete? The musical score. Michael Abels’s “Anthem” is both petrifying and hair-raising, and perfectly encapsulates the mood of the movie. Only brave souls should listen— I get scared just playing it!

Put on your headphones, wrap a scarf around your neck, and channel your inner witch, ladies! Hopefully, the above jams will put a pep in your step and not scare you into speed-walking to class. Stay spooky!

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