The right soundtrack can instill terror with just a few notes for years after you see the film. The wrong soundtrack can kill a flick. Don't believe me? Imagine PSYCHO with a jazz score. WTF, right? Well that's how Hitchcock wanted it originally. The soundtrack is so important, in fact, that the top four entries on the list are instantly recognizable when spelled out phonetically!
So let's get to some genius music that has caused most of us to foul our pantalones at some point or another in our lives.
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith
To paraphrase Worm in ROUNDERS, "Y'know what Mr. Goldsmith, f@ck you and your never-ending stream of nightmare inducing music." I seriously can't listen to any part of the this score without feeling like Satan is gonna pop out of my basement and say "Howdy". I wonder if devil-worshippers ever creep each other out? Because that crap scares the shite out of me.
Composer: Harry Manfredini
Ki, Ki, Ki, Ma, Ma, Ma
Let's be honest. There is plenty of better music earlier on this list. But you can't get past the fact that Manfredini, with two syllables repeated three times each, created an aural classic that will most likely be with us until the end of mankind (even if we do get it together and survive the next 50 years). It's just so perfect and permeating that the rest of the soundtrack doesn't matter.
Composer: John Carpenter
Dee, Doo, Doo, Dee, Doo, Doo, Dee
Carpenter's main theme is as relentless as Michael Myers and perfectly matches his pace. There's no hurry because it is pre-ordained that both WILL get you. While I am less impressed with the C-man's overall work as a composer than some give him credit for, there is no question that with this effort he hit it straight out of the f@cking park.
Composer: Bernard Herrmann
Ee, Ee, Ee
We can all thank our lucky stars that Herrmann talked Alfred Hitchcock out of going with a jazz score for PSYCHO. It would have been a far different movie, and considering PSYCHO basically birthed the slasher genre, who knows what alternate horror universe we'd be stuck in. Perhaps more than any other score except for #1, the music here IS a character in the film. Just brilliant. Ever been scared to take a shower? Thank Bernard Herrmann.
Composer: John Williams
What can be said about John Williams work here that doesn't fall short of praising the most genius horror score of all time. Is there anyone in the world who can enter a body of water without THAT music going through their head? I doubt it. Want to see people walk on water? Play the JAWS theme at the beach and watch abject fear cause people to rise up out of the water and sprint like f@cking gazelles to the beach. Then prepare to get your ass kicked, so you probably shouldn't do it. But this score is the scariest, most effective music I have ever heard.