Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Horror scores that make the movie

Pieces of music I love, from movies I love
Everett Collection
PSYCHO(1960). courtesy of IMDB

I am a firm believer that music can make or break a film in its entirety, and soundtracks and scores are a crucial part of filmmaking. They help directors set the tone of a scene, evoke different emotions within the audience and at times and acts as a bridge between the viewers and the story world.

If someone asked me to choose my favorite soundtrack of all time, I couldn’t pick just one. My answer, however, is narrowed down to a genre: horror. From classics, like John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” to modern masterpieces, like Luca Guadagino’s “Suspiria,” here are some of my favorite horror movie soundtracks, in no specific order, just in time for Halloween.


“Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Composer: Bernard Herrmann

Everyone knows the sound of violins that play ever so menacingly in the background of Marion Crane’s murder in “Psycho.” There’s a reason it’s so well known; this film’s score is disconcerting, jarring and frantic. With these descriptors, this type of music is seemingly disjointed, yet it flows in a surprising way. Herrmann’s menacing score lingers quietly behind each passing scene of this film, building up tension and impalpable fear.


“Suspiria” (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)

Composer: Thom Yorke

“Suspiria” is one of my favorite films of all time, and I truly think it is due to the soundtrack. Penned by the lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke, the music that accompanies this horrifying film is extremely layered and versatile. From the lengthy piano interludes to the slow synths, the soundtrack to this film is beautifully complex and an orchestral treat to listen to.


“The Thing” (John Carpenter, 1982)

Composer: Ennio Morricone

Morricone, one of the most influential composers in the film industry, is best known for his work on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” but he’s done other considerable works throughout his career as well. His musical additions to John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is so fitting for the film, as it mimics its cold Antarctica setting to a tee. Morricone’s score is haunting; low-humming drones, stark violins and harps linger throughout the entirety of the film. His signature loud drums and throbs don’t come to light until the very last act of the film, and when they do, it’s breathtakingly familiar.


“Halloween” (John Carpenter, 1978)

Composer: John Carpenter

Watching “Halloween” for the first time as a child is a vivid memory of mine, and I think Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is one of the best final girls of all time. John Carpenter’s score for this film was groundbreaking, as he was a very early adopter of the synthesizer and employed this heavily in the film. As described by Carpenter himself, he believed that synths were the future of horror movie music, and he also knew that placing the score in 5/4 time (something his father had taught him) would increase the unfamiliarity of the music and cause viewers more distress, making it a haunting score to be remembered.


“The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Composer: Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind

For this film, Kubrick relied on pre-existing concert music to give his film an eerie, far-off feel. The sights of the Overlook Hotel are accompanied by classical pieces of music from Beethoven and Rossini, yet they have been slightly transformed to fit the aesthetics of the rocky and cold Colorado mountains.

There are levels to Kubrick’s use of music within “The Shining,” and if one were to listen closely, “Shining/Heartbeat” is a track composed by Carlos and Elkind that is used multiple times in a short span of time. Through this, viewers could hone in on the true abnormalities and strange occurrences that take place in this film.

Ashviny Kaur can be reached at @ ashvinykaur

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