Horror movies can provide endless fun for those looking to be thrilled and scared. With horrifying monsters and slashers, spooky specters, eerie lighting, and an air of suspense, there are plenty of ways in which horror flicks accomplish this. However, creepy music plays a vital role in that. A good horror movie is made even better by having truly terrifying theme music. Here’s a list of some of the best and most spine-tingling horror movie theme songs.
13) Candyman (1992)
Candyman is a surprisingly deep horror movie that touches on themes like race relations, social class issues, and urban folklore. It has a lot of layers to it, so its main theme music should as well. This tune is somber, but it also evokes the feeling of there being an otherworldly being that’s above us. It also gives off a mysterious vibe, which fits Helen diving deeper into her investigation regarding the Candyman.
12) The Shining (1980)
One of the best elements of The Shining is that everything, no matter how subtle, just feels a bit off. Whether it’s the design of the carpet, the impossible space in the hotel hallways, or the long tracking shots Kubrick masterfully uses, it’s hard not to feel uneasy while watching this movie. Adding to this uneasiness is the score. The Shining’s main theme makes any audience member feel like something’s wrong, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it.
11) Men (2022)
Much of Men’s score sounds like a collection of random haunting sounds rather than typical music, and it works. It sounds like something unfamiliar to us, and that creates a lot of discomfort. Jessie Buckley’s echo sounds silly and playful at first, but is used later to create a feeling of dread. Listening to this makes it feel like there’s something mysterious out there, and there’s no running from it.
10) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The 80s synth is taken full advantage of in the score for A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s every bit as creepy and mysterious as anyone would want to hear in a spooky movie. There’s something about it that sounds deranged, like something only a maniac would hum while their murdering someone. The use of the lullaby melody is a perfect inclusion for a film that aims to make its audience be too afraid to fall asleep.
9) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead was the first zombie and created today’s standard idea of what a zombie is and looks like. So, for these rather unfortunate characters, this was all something new to them. This theme perfectly fits the feeling that something weird or out of the ordinary is happening. It also sounds like you’re watching something gross take place, which is what dead bodies moving around with their guts showing and eating human flesh absolutely is. This simple theme accomplishes so much. It’s just as creepy as such a revolutionary horror film should be.
8) Friday the 13th (1980)
If there’s any melody that captures what running for your life feels like, it’s the theme to Friday the 13th. The quick tempo evokes a feeling that something or someone is chasing you that you probably can’t get away from. The strings sound like they have clear inspiration from the Psycho theme, which is definitely appropriate here. The noises Jason Voorhees makes being heard over the music only makes things better, and makes it known that he’s the true threat.
7) Children of the Corn (1984)
What is it about creepy children that escalates the fear factor of horror movies? Whatever it is, it works extremely well in Children of the Corn. Its theme music contains vocals of what sounds like a children’s choir, which makes it sound that much more horrifying. Like the Candyman music, this sounds like there’s a higher being that is the real threat. This tune definitely makes it sound like something is coming for you, which is just plain terrifying.
6) Jaws (1975)
The Jaws theme is one of the most iconic songs in cinema history, and for good reason. With just two notes, John Williams made generations of moviegoers terrified to step foot in the ocean. This simple-yet-effective melody has since been the shining example of music to play when there’s something coming to get you. It starts with a slow approach that leads into something that sounds much more intense, just like a creature (a bloodthirsty shark in this case) stalking its prey.
5) The Exorcist (1973)
The theme of The Exorcist is nothing short of iconic. It’s very creepy-sounding, but it also matches one of the reasons The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror films ever. The movie doesn’t rely on jump scares as much as later horror flicks. Instead, it creates a sense of dread that lasts most of its runtime. This piece of music does the same thing. It helps create a feeling of terror in any moviegoer. It truly sounds like something bad is about to happen when this plays in the movie.
4) Saw (2004)
There’s nothing like a great twist at the end of a movie, and Saw easily has one of the greatest twists of all time. Saw has the audience asking plenty of questions throughout its story, but once everything is finally revealed and minds are blown, this music plays, which makes the scene feel that much more intense and the twist more satisfying. This theme has become synonymous with modern horror, and has been used in countless web videos that have twists of their own or feature some mind-bending truth, whether meant for humor or some serious real-life ghost stories. It’s as dark and edgy as a lot of media from the early 2000s, but it absolutely succeeds in evoking a feeling of dread.
3) Re-Animator (1985)
The Re-Animator theme is essentially a remix of the Psycho theme, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s like someone wanted to cover the song from Psycho and went absolutely nuts in the process. It still has the same creepy melody, but with a lot more added onto it. It sounds zanier and more intense. It sounds like something that would play when a mad scientist is having way too much fun in their lab, which fits Re-Animator perfectly. It’s also surprisingly dancey for a horror theme.
2) Psycho (1960)
Psycho is easily one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, so it’s only fitting that its theme is just as recognizable and memorable. This sounds like what fear would sound like if it did have a sound. The intense strings are probably what a mad man hears as they’re stabbing their victim. It’s a nice melody while also causing uneasiness for anyone who hears this. It’s safe to say that just about everyone has at least seen the terrifying shower scene, and the music accompanying it is both beautiful and scary.
1) Halloween (1978)
The Halloween theme has essentially become the theme of the Halloween season and the horror genre. It truly sounds like there’s someone is slowly stalking you, slowly following you wherever you go. This repetitive melody can give just about anyone goosebumps. Any scene that features this song instantly has significantly more suspense. It’s no surprise that the Halloween theme plays in every Halloween pop-up store each year.