The jack-o’-lanterns are glowing, the apples are bobbing, the scary stories and haunted houses are bringing our worst nightmares to life and what better way to celebrate All Hallows Eve than to commemorate the soundtracks and scores that help bring terror and anxiety to the horror film genre. From Entity to 28 Days Later to The Woman In Black, composers the world over have been creating spooky soundtracks for decades; soundtracks that make our skin crawl, our ears bleed and our hearts race. A horror film is nothing without great musical accompaniment, so join us as we reveal the 30 Best Horror Soundtracks Of All Time.

30. Poltergeist

30. Poltergeist

 

 

 

We kick off our countdown to the ultimate horror soundtrack with the music to the 1982 American horror film, Poltergeist (composed by Jerry Goldsmith). The sweeping melodies and childlike lullabies of the main themes are creepy to the extreme. A child la-la-ing in sing-songy voices against the plot of a suburban home being invaded by malicious ghosts was never going to be comforting. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-poltergeist/id86000188?i=85998839

 

 

 

 

29. Splinter

29. Splinter

 

 

 

 

The entire soundtrack to the 2008 horror film Splinter deserves high praise. Written by Czech composer Elia Cmíral, the score is fast, frenzied and screeching, with short moments of calm that never last long enough for the listener to relax. It’s effective in creating extreme levels of tension and you’re bound to feel exhausted after listening to it.  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/splinter-original-motion-picture/id526996628

 

 

 

 

28. The Others

28. The Others

 

 

 

 

 

This absorbing score sets the perfectly haunting tone for the 2001 psychological horror, The Others. Composers Alejandro Amendaber and Claudio Ianni created a faultless balance of sounds; the end result is a delicate, peculiar and at times frantic score. Emotional and eerie, the film would have surely failed to scare if it hadn’t had such an original and supernatural feeling soundtrack. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/others-original-motion-picture/id215566333

 

 

 

27. The Ring/The Ring 2

27. The Ring/The Ring 2

 

 

 

 

The score for the 2002 version of The Ring and its sequel was a combined effort by Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner & Martin Tillman. With a jumpy and heavy emphasis on strings, the composers have collectively created a soundtrack that is dark and threatening. At times it’s efficiently stripped down, but it soon powers up again with sudden electronic rhythmic patterns emulating the building tension within the plot. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ring-ring-2-original-motion/id68252591

 

 

 

26. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

26. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

 

 

 

 

The 2006 horror/slasher prequel has the best score of all of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Steve Jablonsky has composed a sinister and impressive soundtrack that really does create a hideous sense of darkness and gloom. A morbidly brilliant score; perfectly suited to the genre and the franchise. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/texas-chainsaw-massacre-beginning/id19325254525

 

 

 

 

25. The Sixth Sense

25. The Sixth Sense

 

 

 

 

One of the more delicate orchestral scores to feature on this list, James Newton Howard’s soundtrack to The Sixth Sense (1999) cleverly captured the essence of one of the most memorable horror films. It’s an emotional and affecting score, which always maintains that edge of chilling ghostliness. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-sixth-sense/id288259727

 

 

 

 

24. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

24. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

 

 

 

 

Tense and high-pitched strings followed by deep rumblings and whispering notes are always a killer combination. The score to the 2005 courtroom drama/horror film The Exorcism of Emily Rose is the main reason the visuals are so terrifying. Composed by the superb Christopher Young, this film score is a contemporary exorcism film soundtrack. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/exorcism-emily-rose-original/id80549647

 

 

 

 

23. Final Destination 5

23. Final Destination 5

 

 

 

 

Regardless of whether you liked or hated the film (let’s be honest, most of us were over the franchise after the first two), the 19 song soundtrack to Final Destination 5 (2011), composed by Brian Tyler and performed by The Slowak National Symphony Orchestra, surpasses the film. It’s rock infused, choppy and ominous; the one good thing about the continuing saga. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/final-destination-5-original/id454185483

 

 

 

 

22. The Entity

22. The Entity

 

 

 

 

An older horror soundtrack now and the accompaniment to the 1982 film labelled by director Martin Scorsese as being on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time; The Entity theme has that archetypal sound that helped set precedence for modern horror scores. Composer Charles Bernstein is certainly no stranger to horror soundtracks and we applaud him! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/entity-theme-charles-bernstein/id186472397?i=186472674

 

 

 

 

21. Silence Of The Lambs

21. Silence Of The Lambs

 

 

 

 

Way before he composed the scores for the magical Lord of the Rings, The Twilight Saga Eclipse and Hugo, Howard Shore created the unsettling soundtrack for the celebrated and disturbing Silence of the Lambs (1991). Typical of Shore’s compositions, the score is expressive and atmospheric, though it’s also uncharacteristically unsettling. Perfect against the backdrop of Hannibal Lecter and his carnivorous ways.  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/silence-lambs-soundtrack-from/id14764168

 

 

 

20. The Omen

20. The Omen

 

 

 

 

The second Goldsmith composition to feature on this list, the soundtrack to the 1976 suspense horror The Omen and in particular the main theme, is considered by many to be the ultimate horror soundtrack. Whilst we can’t agree that it’s top of the list, the choral segment of ‘Ave Satani’ with the Latin chanting is foreboding and demonic. You can feel the evil seeping from each note of the theme. A remarkable soundtrack indeed. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-omen-deluxe-edition/id81312782

 

 

 

19. Phantasm

19. Phantasm

 

 

 

 

A soundtrack that has clearly had an effect on subsequent horror scores is the musical accompaniment to Phantasm (1979). Many people will recognise the Myrow and Seagrave’s main theme (which holds similarities to the preceding theme from The Exorcist) but might not be readily familiar with the film. It’s repetitive, memorable and classic; a timeless horror soundtrack. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/phantasm-myrow-seagrave-evaluna/id186472397?i=186472420

 

 

 

18. Let The Right One In

18. Let The Right One In

 

 

 

 

Swedish composer Soderqvist has created quite the melancholy masterpiece with the score to 2008 Swedish romantic vampire horror, Let The Right One In. The soundtrack is designed to give an equal sense of light and dark, providing a contrast between the love and horror developing on screen. The score is relatively gentle for a horror film, though it still manages to be a chilling standalone beauty. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/let-right-one-in-lat-den-ratte/id294341229

 

 

 

17. The Shining

17. The Shining

 

 

 

 

If you’re a horror or classic film aficionado you’ll be familiar with The Shining (1980) and the brief yet grating electronic score that accompanies it by Carlos & Elkind. The main theme is sharp, culminating & otherworldly. It’s just as frightening as Jack Nicholson and his ‘Here’s Johnny’ catch phrase.  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-shining-main-theme/id85931163?i=85930522

 

 

 

 

16. The Grudge

16. The Grudge

 

 

 

 

Another Christopher Young composition and once again it’s an intense avant-garde score. The 2004 supernatural horror The Grudge (another remake of a Japanese film – we love our horror remakes!) has a soundtrack that uses low almost inaudible sounds to lure you into a false sense of security, before pounding your ears with excruciatingly piercing shrieking notes. It’s a real ear bleeder. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/grudge-original-motion-picture/id284759936

 

 

 

 

15. Dracula

15. Dracula

 

 

 

 

The oldest horror film on the list, the British Bram Stoker-inspired Dracula (1958) has a dramatic and distinct soundtrack, composed by British film composer James Bernard. Whilst there have been many Dracula films made, none have had such a wonderfully conflicting and frantic score as the 1958 version. A magical and theatrical horror soundtrack that is distinct in every way. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/suite-from-dracula/id110373041?i=110371909

 

 

 

 

14. The Exorcist

14. The Exorcist

 

 

 

 

Rather than an entire soundtrack, we are honing in on one song in particular. Tubular Bells is one of the most recognisable horror theme tunes ever; it was inevitable that it would make the list. The piano solo used for The Exorcist (1973) theme is so unique and culturally noteworthy – the only reason it didn’t make it higher on the list is due to its over-use in popular culture. Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/exorcist-theme-tubular-bells/id186472397?i=186472415

 

 

 

13. Mirrors

13. Mirrors

 

 

 

 

Displaying all the usual tricks of the horror film soundtrack trade, the score for Mirrors (2008) is delightfully eerie and unnatural. With shrill strings and plenty of ups and downs, it’s a well-rounded horror score with a stand out main title song that helped to secure its high position on the list. Composer Javier Naverette used the classical Spanish guitar song Asturias by Isacc Albeniz for the title, transforming it into a horror score success.  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/mirrors-original-motion-picture/id285596691

 

 

 

12. Drag Me To Hell

12. Drag Me To Hell

 

 

 

 

Once again Christopher Young comes up trumps, this time as the composer of the 2009 supernatural horror Drag Me To Hell. What’s not to love about a soundtrack that’s calm and gentle one moment, raw and hearty the next, with marvellous swells and crescendos throughout?  It’s perfectly representative of devilish creations. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/drag-me-to-hell-original-motion/id324338280

 

 

 

 

11. A Nightmare On Elm Street

11. A Nightmare On Elm Street

 

 

 

 

Another entry for Charles Bernstein with his score to Wes Craven’s slasher horror, A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984 – not to be confused with Nick Glennie-Smith’s 2010 remake score).  With a heavy use of synthesizers and sound effects, the music brings to life the inhumane antagonist Freddy Krueger. A blatant horror creation of the 80’s – it may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but we love it! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nightmare-on-elm-street-original/id174891918

 

 

 

 

10. Suspiria

10. Suspiria

 

 

 

 

Weird, wonderful and terrifically trippy, the original Italian horror film Suspiria (1977) has one of the most intense, vibrant and cinematic soundtracks ever. The music is as freaky as the film, with an electronic almost circus-like feel that never ceases to feel unhinged. Composed by Italian rock band Goblin, the soundtrack was created before the film was shot and the main theme has been listed as one of the best and most influential songs between 1977 and 1979. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/suspiria/id385900834

 

 

 

9. The Woman In Black

9. The Woman In Black

 

 

 

 

The most recent soundtrack to appear on the list is the orchestral score to 2012’s standout horror The Woman In Black. A terrifyingly macabre and ghoulish score composed by Marco Beltrami, whose other credits include Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and the Scream franchise, this score is a ghostly work of art. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/woman-in-black-original-motion/id498751905

 

 

 

 

8. Psycho

8. Psycho

 

 

 

 

A tense and tumbling score that stays with the listener long after the film has finished, the soundtrack to Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) is untainted cinematic gold. Bernard Herrmann’s shrill knife accompaniment has become iconic to the film; the entire composition is an unforgettable part of horror soundtrack, and indeed general horror, history. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/psycho-complete-original-soundtrack/id504582882

 

 

 

 

7. Rosemary's Baby

7. Rosemary’s Baby

 

 

 

 

Once again a soundtrack which almost overshadows the film itself – Krzysztof Komeda’s music to the 1968 horror Rosemary’s Baby is enough to put you off reproducing indefinitely. The rhythmical lullabies, old-fashioned jazz tunes and uncomfortable coven chanting aid in the ritualistic theme of the film, securing its top 10 position.  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/rosemarys-baby/id331479782

 

 

 

 

6. Wolf Creek

6. Wolf Creek

 

 

 

 

An unexpected and perhaps controversial placement for the soundtrack to Greg McLean’s independent Australian horror Wolf Creek (2005), though fully deserving in our eyes. A brilliantly gloomy and musical score; the lyrical and dramatic quality is what makes it such a greatly elegiac horror soundtrack. Francois Tétaz successfully stirred a real and raw sense of despair and hopelessness, qualities that won the score the Australian Guild of Screen Composers ‘Feature Film Score of the Year’. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/wolf-creek-original-motion/id162883066

 

 

 

5. Sleepy Hollow

5. Sleepy Hollow

 

 

 

 

Making the final countdown to the ultimate horror soundtrack, at number 5 we have the score to Tim Burton’s 1999 horror film Sleepy Hollow. Composed by the much-admired Danny Elfman, the score is terrifically brooding and menacing, whilst always maintaining that magical dreamlike quality Elfman is so famous for. What we love most about this soundtrack is the embedded sense of theatricality; the score is the very heart and soul of the film. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sleepy-hollow-from-sleepy/id522672948?i=522673508

 

 

 

4. 28 Days Later

4. 28 Days Later

 

 

 

 

What we have with John Murphy’s soundtrack to the 2002 British horror film 28 Days later, is the absolutely perfect zombie apocalypse accompaniment. Light, angelic and hopeful one moment, aggressive and frantic the next, it has the ability to heighten the emotion and fear on screen. Much like the virus within the plot, the soundtrack is infectious. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/28-days-later-soundtrack-album/id175959939

 

 

 

 

3. Candyman

3. Candyman

 

 

 

 

As famed as composer Philip Glass himself, the delicately disturbing theme to Candyman (1992) is a classical horror score. The minimalistic and repetitive structures of the theme may seem tame to many horror film buffs, especially when compared to many of the screeching, ear piercing soundtracks featured on this list, but it’s within the simplicity that the menace lies. An inimitable and memorable score that simply never gets old. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/candyman-helens-theme-more/id288740613?i=288740659

 

 

 

2. Halloween

2. Halloween

 

 

 

 

Closely missing out on the top spot is the score to the 1978 independent slasher/horror, Halloween. Whilst Michael Myers may be one of horror’s best known antagonists, the soundtrack has one of the most recognisable main horror theme tunes in history and was composed by the film’s director John Carpenter (also the producer). The morose yet musical piano melody is a relatively simple piece of music…proving that sometimes simplicity overrules. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/halloween-original-motion/id393996224

 

 

 

1. Jaws

1. Jaws

 

 

 

 

How could we possibly have chosen anything other than Jaws (1975) as the ultimate horror soundtrack? Not only is it one of the most culturally significant films of all time, it also has the most well known accompaniment. Composed by John Williams, it’s a classic cinematic score full of tension, suspense and the overwhelming presence of danger. The main theme is one of the most iconic and celebrated pieces of horror music in history, making it the best horror soundtrack of all time. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/jaws-collectors-edition-soundtrack/id14453805

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