My 10 Favorite Horror Movie Themes
With Halloween right around the corner, you may be trying to build the perfect playlist for trick-or-treaters. Here’s my list of favorite horror movie themes.
Most of the best horror movies are punctuated by the best horror movie themes. Nothing can accentuate the action on the silver screen quite like the right dramatic score.
Here are the themes that top my list.
1. Theme from ‘Halloween’
It’s a very simple theme, but it’s more than effective. Aside from the main theme, though, there’s a moment in the original picture when Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) thinks Michael Myers is dead. As she slumps against a doorway, the “shape” rises quietly behind her and begins to approach.
This cue plays at that moment, and visuals and music combine for an edge-of-your-seat scene:
2. Theme from ‘Psycho’
Like Halloween, I think the greatest part of Psycho’s theme isn’t the main theme, which is scary enough in its chaotic melody, but the actual murder theme. Bernard Herrmann is said to have decided to use only strings to create a “black and white score.”
Here’s the famous shower scene and that murder theme comes in at 1:36:
3. Theme from ‘Jaws’
Jaws was the first major movie I saw on HBO when my family first got cable television. I was about 8 years old or so and I hadn’t seen the movie before.
But that haunting two-note melody just got more and more intense as the shark moved in for the kill.
4. Theme from ‘Christine’
Stephen King’s thriller about a classic car with a supernatural curse features a piercing murder theme:
If you’re ever walking along a dark street at night and you hear that music and hear the revving of an engine in the distance behind you…don’t look back! Just run!
5. Theme from ‘The Thing’
The main theme from John Carpenter’s The Thing reminds me of a heartbeat with a building sense of foreboding.
The Thing was essentially Alien set at an Antarctica where an alien life form can assume the shape of a person it has killed and lure its next victim in.
6. Theme from ‘The Fog’
This was a ghost story set in a coastal California town. As townsfolk prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their community, their forefathers’ past comes back to haunt them…with deadly consequences.
7. Theme from ‘Friday the 13th’
I never was as big into the Friday the 13th series as I was with Halloween, but the music was always creepy.
Though the chanting effect sounds like “cha cha cha, ka, ka, ka,” I’ve read that it’s really “ki ki ki, ma, ma, ma,” for “kill, mama.”
8. Theme from ‘The Amityville Horror’
Anytime you take what sounds at first like a nursery rhyme with children’s voices, then turn it dark, you’re already more than halfway towards a really chilling horror theme.
The Amityville Horror takes place in a New England home supposedly haunted by the brutal murder of a family who lived there and it’s based on an allegedly true story.
But the eerie Dutch Colonial house’s quarter-circle top windows looked like angry eyes, giving the house a very sinister look, whether you believe in the story itself or not.
9. Theme from ‘The Omen’
You might be surprised to know that I’ve never actually watched The Omen all the way through. For whatever reason, I just missed it along the way
But the main theme, a piece called Ave Santani, is instantly recognizable:
10. Theme from ‘The Shining’
The main theme from The Shining isn’t as scary as some of the others on the surface. But combined with the building terror in the picture, it serves as a nice foundation of a terrifying experience.
The opening sequence which follows Jack Nicholson to a job interview at the Overlook Hotel where the actual horror begins combines an eerie, floating sensation with that music and sets a nice atmosphere for what’s to come.
Those are the horror movie themes that top my list.