My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores & Soundtracks

A movie’s score and/or soundtrack of songs is extremely important to me as I think the right music can make a good movie into a great one or even a bad movie into a cult classic. When you think of the biggest Oscar films, almost all of them had award winning scores from highly respected composers. When I think of my own personal all-time favorite movies, the majority have brilliant scores that helped to suck me into that magical movie world that only the very best composers can help create. Can you imagine The Good, The Bad And The Ugly without Ennio Morricone’s amazing score?? (No. You cannot.)

I’m very picky when it comes to the horror genre & have loved very few horror films since the 70s & 80s. I do find it interesting that most of my all-time favorite old horrors are on this list of scores, though. It goes to show that they used to put so much more effort into these films than they do now, even down to the scores (but I do have a couple fairly current films on the list too). I think the score is even more important in horrors as the mood & atmosphere are fundamental to this genre. I don’t understand why so many modern horrors put so little effort into using a score effectively to create the right mood. Oh well – this genre is showing more promise again so maybe we’ll see a return to great horror scores.

More than anything, I love a good musical score that has been composed for a film but do also appreciate when a soundtrack of great songs, whether existing or new, are put together for a movie’s soundtrack. So my top ten will consist of scores but there are a few horror soundtracks that I really love so I didn’t want to exclude them.

Here are a few Horror Movie Soundtracks That I Love:

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Composer: AC/DC

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Composer: Danny Elfman

The Lost Boys (1987)
Composer: Thomas Newman Score/Various Artists Soundtrack:

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Composer: Tyler Bates Score/Various Artists Soundtrack

And now onto My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores (and their composers):

Honorable Mentions:

The Fog (1980)
Composer: John Carpenter
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Composer: Krzysztof Komeda
The Shining (1980)
Composer: Wendy Carlos/Rachel Elkind
The Omen (1976)
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Top Ten:

10. It Follows (2014)
Composer: Disasterpeace

9. Suspiria (1977)
Composer: Dario Argento/Goblin

8. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Composer: Charles Bernstein

7. Psycho (1960)
Composer: Bernard Herrmann

6. The Thing (1982)
Composer: Ennio Morricone/John Carpenter/Alan Howarth

5. Jaws (1975)
Composer: John Williams

4. 28 Days Later… (2002)
Composer: John Murphy

3. The Exorcist (1973)
Composer: Mike Oldfield

2. Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Composer: Goblin/Dario Argento/De Wolfe Music Library

1. Halloween (1978)
Composer: John Carpenter

IMDB Top 250 Horror Recap

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I’d like to thank everyone who has done a guest review for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. I should have planned ahead & saved the horror reviews for October. I’ve kept a few of my favorite Top 250 horrors for myself to review someday so will post one of those the last week of this month and have another review of a modern horror classic from Guest Reviewer Eric posting next week.

As I don’t have a new review of a horror movie from the Top 250 today, I figured I’d post this horror recap with links to the guest reviews (and one I did myself) in case you missed them. Thanks again, everyone! I’ll continue posting the IMDB reviews every Tuesday for the rest of this year then will see how many I have for 2015 as the guest reviews have started drying up. Does anyone want to join in who hasn’t yet done one? Let me know. 🙂

Se7en 1995 (Guest Reviewer: The IPC)

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The Silence Of The Lambs 1991 (Guest Reviewer: Raging Fluff)

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Pan’s Labyrinth 2006 (Guest Reviewer: Cameron’s Pit Of Terror)

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The Sixth Sense 1999 (Guest Reviewer: Flick Chicks)

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The Exorcist 1973 (Guest Reviewer: Celluloid Junkie)

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Rosemary’s Baby 1968 (Guest Reviewer: Film Grimoire)

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Nosferatu 1922 (Reviewed By Me)

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The Exorcist (1973) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from C Taylor of Celluloid Junkie. A big thanks to her for taking part in this IMDB project! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Exorcist, IMDB rank 205 out of 250…

There are still a few movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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After the 12-year old daughter of a famous actress, Chris MacNeil, begins displaying signs of demonic possession, Chris turns to a Catholic priest in hopes that an exorcism will restore her daughter’s health.

Starring Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, Jason Miller as Father Karras, Max von Sydow as Father Merrin, Linda Blair as Regan, and Mercedes McCambridge as the voice of PazuzuThe Exorcist is directed by William Friedkin based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty.

The Exorcist is a once-in-a-generation film.  It’s the kind of film whose far reaching influence continues to touch and inspire creative endeavors all around the world.  It has been referenced in countless other films, television series, cartoons, and comedic stand-up routines.  This year, December 26th, will mark the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist‘s release.

The version of The Exorcist I screened for this review is the 2000 theatrical re-release entitled The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen.  I was lucky enough to get a copy of the film on DVD years earlier and am happy to use it now because it includes the restored “spider-walk” scene originally cut from the film by director Friedkin.  It is a scene so chilling, despite it’s short length (from start to finish, I believe it’s less than 30 seconds of screentime), it renewed the fear I felt upon watching The Exorcist for the first time decades earlier.

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Friedkin believed the spider-walk effect didn’t work technically in 1973 because the wires used to aid the contortionist (Linda R. Hager) in the scene could not be fully removed in post-production.  It’s unfortunate because of its importance to the plot.  This scene is arguably the moment when Regan’s mother, Chris (Burstyn), no longer believes her daughter (Blair) is just ill, but, instead, truly possessed by a demonic force.

The spider-walk scene is that “aha!” moment in the storyline that drives the character of Chris , who is an atheist, to seek the help of the Catholic church; specifically Father Karras (Miller).  And while it is a little bit more dramatic than the spider-walking in Blatty’s novel, it remains unnerving and powerful nonetheless. [1]

Much has been said and analyzed and theorized about the use of a young child in a story about demonic possession, particularly a young girl.  I think the crux of the arguments for and against ignore the truth; that Regan is a child or a girl has nothing to do with the demon Pazuzu’s true intent.  Pazuzu’s intent is to chip away at and eventually destroy those around Regan; her atheist mother, Father Karras’ faith, and Father Merrin’s health.  It is the sowing of the grief and despair that interests Pazuzu.

That Regan is a girl is irrelevant.  But not for the audience.

One of the key elements to The Exorcist‘s shock value is Regan.  A fresh-faced, otherwise relatively unknown Linda Blair, embodied a youthful innocence and curiosity.  She is shown as a sweet, horse-obsessed child who, in the wake of her parent’s separation, is just a little unsure of her surroundings.  Her one mistake, finding and playing with a Ouija board she finds in a downstairs closet, like Eve and the Apple, is also her downfall. Regan unwittingly opens a doorway to another realm, inviting in Captain Howdy (Pazuzu).

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As Regan is forced to endure the litany of defilements, violence, and abuse of Pazuzu’s possession, the audience is trapped as a passive observer;  powerless to help, unable to look away.  It’s a brilliant mechanism employed by screenwriter/author Blatty, who,in doing so, extends the reach of Pazuzu’s torments beyond the 4th wall, into the real world.

It is this extension of fiction into the realm of reality that aids the overall feeling of terror The Exorcist exudes.  For those particularly sensitive to religious or supernatural horror, there is possibly no greater film in the horror genre than The Exorcist.  For those of us who could take or leave religiously based horror, there is the psychological element behind Regan’s illness to consider.

That her mother had consulted 88 doctors in a relentless effort to discover what is ailing her, and that search yields nothing more than a final scene in which a doctor, in a room full of doctors, tells her to consider exorcism, is as powerful today as it was in the 1970s.  Potentially more so, as we begin to see cultural shifts in the way we view the dealings of the Catholic church in general.

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It’s this opening of loopholes, of possibilities, of causality, that makes the premise behind The Exorcist so horrifying for any viewer, not just those with religious inclinations.  For me, there is a serious body horror element to The Exorcist that will plague my thoughts as long as I live.

Most things are done right in the film adaptation of The Exorcist, despite the lengths to which the audience is required to go in order to see it through.  The pacing is deliberately slow allowing for a more complete development of the central characters (namely Chris and daughter Regan, and Father Karras).  In fact, this development is implicitly necessary in order for the events of the film to have any meaning and impact.  After all, it’s the connection between mother and daughter that ultimately creates the driving fear behind the girl’s losing battle with Pazuzu.

Although it goes without saying, I’ll say it.  The Exorcist is a horror film classic, suitable for fans of religious and secular horror alike.

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REFERENCES:

[1] ”The Exorcist (film)” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 Feb. 2013. Web.  22 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist_(film)>

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-C Taylor (celluloidjunkie.me / @ctaylor on twitter)

about.me/c.taylor