Top-10 Horror Movie Themes

Horror movies usually have very memorable music which is why I decided it would be fun to list my ten favourite horror movie themes. A lot of these will be familiar to those who have seen my Top-10 Horror movies list, but there’s hopefully a few good surprises here.

On with the list.

10. The Thing by Ennio Morricone

The first theme on this list is a very low-key number from Ennio Morricone, better known for his excellent spaghetti-western compositions. The Thing is an excellent movie but its soundtrack is perhaps a little too subtle for its own good. However, that’s where the main theme gets its power and really makes you feel alone and isolated.

9. Predator by Alan Silvestri

Here’s a theme from one of the greatest soundtrack maestros. Alan Silvestri’s themes are always lively ane memorable and his theme for the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger monster movie is no exception. In fact, I think the theme is almost a little too good for the movie. I especially love the march that kicks in and the various noises that accompany it.

Very memorable, but doesn’t quite top the creepy scale enough for me.

8. The Shining by Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind

Here’s another low-key theme from one of the few Stanley Kubrick films I like. This theme is a little more sinister in my view than The Thing, but still subtle enough not to betray the horrors which the characters eventually face. I always love wonky synthesizer themes, since they always give a movie a very disturbing atmosphere.

7. Swan Lake (Dracula) by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Here’s a theme that is familiar from my Top-10 classical compositions list. It’s a great piece of music which I feel perfectly fits the movie it was picked for. It’s dramatic, romantic and even a little sad, all of which perfectly fit Dracula. I always feel funny that the theme is so imposing yet the film itself was entirely devoid of music (which I’ll admit is the movie’s biggest weakness).

I really hated the re-orchestrated version of the Bela Lugosi classic which removed this iconic theme, even though the music itself helped to bring the movie alive.

6. Psycho by Bernard Herrmann

Here’s a horror movie theme that some might feel is almost cheesy with its intentionally ominous feeling. However, I think the theme perfectly fits the intense atmosphere of Alfred Hitchcock’s proto-slasher film. And, cheesy or not, it’s just a hellishly addicting composition.

5. Event Horizon by Orbital

My favourite horror movie and also one of my favourite opening themes to one. I’ve always loved the relative simplicity of the film’s opening credits and the intensity of this electric theme from Orbital. Paul W.S. Anderson used Orbital’s music in a lot of his early films, including Shopping and Mortal Kombat. This one puts me in an uneasy mood and enforces my sentiment about the fact that nightclubs are scary places.

4. Halloween by John Carpenter

Possibly the most iconic slasher-movie theme. Halloween’s theme was indeed composed by the director of said movie (as were the scores of many of his films). This is another theme that just puts you in an uneasy mood, but it’s also deviously catchy because of its simple repetition on the piano. I also recommend checking out the different movie’s variants on the theme which all sound pretty great.

3. Terminator by Brad Fiedel

I debated a bit if this one really fit this list since I don’t see The Terminator as simply a horror movie. However, I do feel it’s enough of a horror movie to count and as a result I felt Brad Fiedel’s iconic synthesizer theme really did deserve to be up here. It’s again a theme with a deviously catchy melody but over-all one of my favourite compositions of all time. It has a real progression, the theme really has its own story in a way.

2. Tubular Bells (Exorcist) by Mike Oldfield

Although it’s considered the theme of one of the most iconic horror films ever made, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was actually an incidental piece licensed for the film. The scoring of the Exorcist was a veritable clusterfuck with composer Lalo Schifrin getting fired after the music he composed for the film’s trailer was deemed too scary. So the music was composed from the oeuvres of four composers of which only Jack Nitzsche received any credit.

This one is one of the most iconic horror themes and, yet again, just a great piece of composition over-all.

1. Resident Evil by Marilyn Manson

Resident Evil’s main theme was one of the most amazing things I ever heard and it immediately got stuck in my head. It’s a twisted, haunting melody with a great build-up and a genuinely disturbing dancing quality to it. It pains me that this song didn’t get reused in any of the sequels since it is an exceptionally effective piece in my view.

We have rocker Marilyn Manson to thank for this and together with Marco Beltrami, he created the excellent soundtrack of the film where every piece seems to perfectly fit the scene it accompanies. A great theme from one of my favourite movie soundtracks ever made…

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