There are few things more important than a horror movie’s main theme song. Yes, you can still make a good film without one, but a killer title track will elevate a movie from good to legendary. That’s why we’re celebrating eight of our favorite horror movie film scores for National Film Score Day. These songs stuck with us throughout the years, giving us nonstop nightmares. Turn off the lights, crank up the jams, and try not to scream too loud. It’s about to get SPOOKY.
“Main Title (Theme from Jaws)” – Jaws (1975) Composed by John Williams
One of the most memorable songs in horror film history is “Main Title (Theme from Jaws)”by John Williams. The slow creep of the piano mimics the movements of the great white beast, keeping the audience on edge until the shark finds its prey. Quick tip: NEVER listen to this one before going to the beach.
“Main Title (Theme from Halloween)” – Halloween (1978) Composed by John Carpenter
Goosebumps. Chills. Sweaty palms. These are all very common reactions when listening to John Carpenter’s “Main Title (Theme from Halloween).” You can play 10 seconds of this iconic piece and viewers will know that Michael Myers is on the way. It’s a masterpiece and a true inspiration to the horror genre.
“Halloween III: Season of the Witch” – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) Composed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
Halloween III’s main theme is a synth-heavy symphony that’s as catchy as it is unsettling. The buildup is enough to make you jump out of your skin. It’s tough to top the first Halloween’s theme song, but Carpenter and Howarth struck gold again with this spacey horror anthem.
“Hello Zepp” – Saw (2004) Composed by Charlie Clouser
“Hello Zepp” is the signature song from one of the most popular horror movie franchises of all time. It’s featured in all nine Saw movies and it brings the audience on a terrifying adventure every time it plays. Simply put, this song is epic.
“Title” – It Follows (2014) Composed by Disasterpeace
A good horror title track sets the tone for the entire film, and “Title” from It Follows executes this perfectly. It seems to take some inspiration from Halloween III’s theme, going heavy on the synth and building up to an incredible hook. When you hear this song, you’ll always feel like someone’s creeping behind you.
“Main Theme / The Murder” – Psycho (1960) Composed by Bernard Herrmann
When you play this horrifying tune for someone who has seen Psycho, they’ll instantly envision the exact scene that it’s from. It’s powerful enough to make your heart beat like a drum (and we don’t mean in a lovey sort of way). Put on this song and your adrenaline will be through the roof.
“Main Title (A Nightmare on Elm Street)” – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Composed by Charles Bernstein
Charles Bernstein’s main theme for A Nightmare on Elm Street is dream-inducing, which is scary because that’s when Freddy Krueger is most dangerous; when you’re dreaming. Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep…
“Overlay of Evil (Main Title)” – Friday the 13th (1980) Composed by Harry Manfredini
“Ki, ki, ki; ma, ma, ma.” If you hear this noise, run for your life. This classic theme from Friday the 13th always reminds us that camping can go HORRIBLY wrong. Especially if Jason Voorhees is lurking in the woods.