The Horror Score

October, the perfect month to talk about horror music.

Horror is one of my favorite film genres and is largely the reason why I fell in love with cinema. I grew up watching classic movies from the 70s and the 80s (even though I’m a millennial) and the music of Carpenter, Goblin, Young helped shape my love for the genre.

Alessandro Mastroianni's blog - The Horror Score

Halloween’s classic theme, together with Goblin’s soundtracks for Dario Argento’s films (here’s a famous example) were my first loves in film music, together with Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the 1989 Batman.

80s music is experiencing this huge wave of popularity at the moment that we are all too aware of, driven by scores like Stranger Things, Drive and many more.

There is a tendency in many scores of the 2010s to be purely based on sound design and, as creepy as this is, I think we can all agree they are starting to get a little boring.

That said, I do think we’re living in a fantastic era for the genre and I absolutely adored two recent scores: It (2017, Benjamin Wallfisch) and Hereditary (2018, Colin Stetson).

I loved them for profoundly different reasons. 

It is a masterpiece of themes, motivic development and orchestration (which should come as no surprise if you’re familiar with Ben Wallfisch’s career). I fell in love with the piano theme, the children’s choir (which is possibly overused in the genre but it works incredibly well in the film) and all the ways the score manages to be melodic and thematic in an era where themes seem to be a thing of the past.

Stetson’s score for Hereditary is incredible in the same way many Jonny Greenwood’s score are and, although the practice of having pop musicians score films is somehow a controversial topic among film composers, if this is the outcome, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next (plus, it definitively brings a breath of fresh air).

The score is a masterfully crafted soundscape of acoustic sound design, with layered clarinets and interesting textures.

I’m going to celebrate Halloween by writing some bone chilling music myself; I’ll post some examples below. 

How about you? What’s your favorite horror score? 

Write your top choice in the comments and, if you are a composer, post a creepy track we can listen to.