Thursday 21 October 2010

The Sound of Fear

I recently saw Let Me In with Don Guarisco and Ian.  We were pleasantly surprised, impressed even, with the film.  We talked about its relationship with the source material and how it managed to maintain the same integrity as the original--something so rare.  Then Don made a comment about the music.  He said, "And the music was great."

"I'm so glad you said something," I said.
"Who's gonna drive you home..." sang Ian.
I continued talking, "So few modern horror movies have any real memorable themes or music."
"I know, there's no melody."
"It's just, like, noise," I explained, rather lamely.

It's with this conversation in mind, and the fact that it's almost Halloween, that I take a look at some of my (and hopefully your) favouritest horror movie musics. It doesn't take a genius to know that music helps set the set the mood, and if I had any kind of musical training, I'd be able to further elaborate on this point.  But I don't, so I'll just get to the good stuff:

Tubular Bells - theme from The Exorcist

Mike Oldfield wrote the haunting Exorcist theme and then managed to turn that one short piece of music into four albums (at least).  The theme has been remixed any number of times, but the the creepy melody hasn't changed and continues to evoke a sense of dread.

Beetlejuice Theme

Danny Elfman's frenetic, brass-heavy composition builds up to a dramatic, vocal climax that seems on the verge of spinning wildly out of control.  It's the perfect accompaniment to Tim Burton's film, a movie perched on the edge of insanity.

Helen's Theme - Candyman Suite

Philip Glass' Candyman Suite is typical of his other works: mindblowing.  But Helen's Theme, which is a simple solo piano piece, is sparse and beautiful and offsets the complex nature of the film.

Hello Zepp - theme from Saw

Despite my lamentations regarding the lack of good music in horror these days, Charlie Clouser wrote a thrilling, sticks-in-your-head composition for the climax of Saw.  The piece, titled Hello Zepp, has since appeared in all the Saw movies and now serves as the franchise's theme song.

Jigoku Nagashi (Hell Flow) - Hell Girl OST

Hell Girl is an anime series about Ai Enma, a young girl who ferries condemned souls to hell.  Takanashi Yasuharu's soundtrack is both light and dark, with a clear sense of sadness that permeates throughout.  Hell Flow plays when Ai takes flight in her flaming carriage to visit the damned on Earth before she carries them off to hell.  The tone is energetic, suspenseful, and ultimately damning.

theme from Halloween

A kind of modern renaissance man, John Carpenter co-wrote, directed, and composed the music for his now-classic film, Halloween.  Minimalist and haunting, the piano theme plays over an equally minimalist opening credits sequence.  The music hints at the suspense and horror to come, but the simple visuals give nothing away.


William Malmborg said...

The music really did add an amazing element of fear to this movie. I don't care what you are watching, be it puppies playing with a chew toy, kittens jumping around after a piece of string, or a bright wedding video of two people madly in love, put this music to it and it will be scary.

free movies said...

Comparing the two movies - since the original is still fresh in my memory, I had a check list watching the remake...seeing that all the key scenes for me were in the new movie. They pretty much were. Maybe that was a sort of distraction...ticking boxes as I watched the movie.

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