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.
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.