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The 10 Scariest Film Scores Ever

Updated on October 21, 2018

10 Scary Film Scores: The Best Horror and Thriller Soundtracks

If it weren't for the scary music that accompanies a horror or thriller movie, that movie might not have the same impact on its audience that the director would have hoped for.

Some of the best known and most popular films in the horror genre also have some of the most recognisable music in movie history. Just hearing it without seeing the film can scare the living daylights out of a lot of people, but marry those chords and notes with a well directed chiller and then you have the makings of a top notch fright night.

So, why not dim the lights, grab a pillow (or the person sitting next to you) and prepare yourself for some of the scariest film scores ever recorded.

1. Halloween: John Carpenter

One of horror's most famous themes was composed by the director of Halloween, John Carpenter.

2. Psycho: Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack to Hitchcock's movie Psycho is one of the film world's most recognisable scores, and one that you should never play when taking a shower!

3. The Omen: Jerry Goldsmith

You'll have a Devil of a time listening to Jerry Goldsmith's score to the movie The Omen, the first of which introduced us to the Antichrist, Damien.

4. The Exorcist: Mike Oldfield

Taken from Mike Oldfield's best selling album Tubular Bells, his composition was an excellent marriage to the ominous and horrific tale of a young girl in The Exorcist.

5. Alien: Jerry Goldsmith

Another Jerry Goldsmith composition accompanied the crew and its unwelcome guest aboard a spaceship bound for Earth in Alien.

6. The Amityville Horror: Lalo Schifrin

The highly respected composer Lalo Schifrin wrote the soundtrack music to the allegedly true story of a family experiencing horrifying paranormal events after having moved into a house where a mass murder had been committed.

7. The Shining: Hector Berlioz

The movie version of Stephen King's The Shining not only dramatized the claustrophobic and eerie atmosphere of an isolated and possessed hotel, but also included one of the creepiest soundtracks, enhancing the feeling of impending horror.

8. Saw: Charlie Clouser

Known as Hello Zepp, Charlie Clouser's signature theme to the Saw series of movies has appeared throughout the franchise and adapted to the changing situations and various victims of the Jigsaw Killer.

9. Jaws: John Williams

No list of scary soundtracks would be complete without John Williams' superb theme to the movie Jaws.

10. Friday the 13th: Harry Manfredini

Any resemblance to Bernard Herrmann's signature music to the shower scene in Psycho is no doubt unintentional, but Harry Manfredini's soundtrack music to Friday the 13th has some uncanny similarities to Hitchcock's classic in this most famous of slasher movies. Maybe because of the knife.

Which of these 10 film scores do you find the scariest?

See results

About Your Author

With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share thoughts about singer Lynsey de Paul and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.

For a complete list of Richard's articles, please visit Richard's profile.

Thank you for visiting! Is there a movie score that you find scary that is not included here? Please let us know below.

© 2010 Richard

Are You A Fan of Scary Soundtracks? - Your Comments Are Welcomed!

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    • Keith W Johnson profile image

      Keith W Johnson 

      6 years ago

      Great choices. I also really like the Goblin score for Dario Argento's _Suspiria_. It's awesome and helps make the movie feel all the more surreal.

    • profile image

      Vi Lo 

      6 years ago

      I think "Sinister" score is pretty freakin creepy

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Check out the Texas Chainsaw Massacre soundtrack, it's literally a bunch of broken instruments. Also, Halloween 3 amazing

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting lens! Soundtracks in movies tend to be overlooked, so it's always wonderful to see them get some respect. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see Suspiria getting some recognition.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Cool lens, I wish theere were a bit more from Italian horror (Argento, Fulci, Deodato), these films have the best music!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens! As a soundtrack groupie, I agree with you, although I haven't seen all of these films... I'm too wimpy. LOL

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great blog, I love it :)

    • mcstacy profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens!

    • Otto Phillips profile image

      Otto Phillips 

      8 years ago

      The be all and end all best Horror Movie Score for me is Halloween.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      It's amazing how well music can set a scene!

    • PaigSr profile image


      8 years ago from State of Confusion

      Not a fan of scary movies. However from the list my money would be on The Shining.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Really enjoyed this lens.

    • Rankography profile image


      9 years ago

      Great stuff. I am adding your lens to my Plexo for Scariest Movies

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      9 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Oh, I just watched The Exorcist the other night! Creepy!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      9 years ago from Southampton, UK

      The soundtrack is the first impression that you get of a movie, so if it really does help to set the scene, or make you feel creepy, then it has done it's job. The soundtrack to Psycho definitely did that for me, and even now it's a creepy movie. I find some of the older horror movies are scarier than the new ones. Nicely done, love the creepy color scheme too, blessed.

    • TapIn2U profile image


      9 years ago

      Scary! Perfect for Halloween. Sundae ;-)

    • TapIn2U profile image


      9 years ago

      Scary! Perfect for Halloween. Sundae ;-)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love the creepy soundtracks. Great idea for a lens!

    • fiercerulingdiva profile image


      9 years ago

      Scary stuff !!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Just seeing the photos scares me!

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 

      9 years ago

      great collections.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Halloween. Michael Meyers. Horrifying! Sweet lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Exorcist, Exorcist, Exorcist. Perfect theme.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens. I love horror movies but more the gothic or fantasy or sci fi kind, not the slasher type. The Fog sounded pretty scary to me.

    • Paul Ward profile image


      9 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Excellent and unusual lens - Angel Blessed

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      9 years ago from So Cal

      I am one of those who can be frightened by the music while not watching the movie. It's the music makes it scary. Great list, I did not listen to any of them. All I have to do is to see the name and it starts playing in my head.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I just love horror movies, and it took me weeks to get over just reading The Exorcist, then I made the mistake of going to see the movie! Yikes! Great, entertaining lens, and a great idea for a Halloween lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i like most of them....soo scary.....

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i like most of them....soo scary.....

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Let us not forget DRA - CU - LAAA :)

    • yayas profile image


      9 years ago

      Now, I hafta' invest in some good 'Brain Cleaning Fluid.' Ooooh! I hate scary music.

    • OldStones LM profile image

      OldStones LM 

      9 years ago

      Definitely some scary sound tracks. It is amazing the feelings that the music can envoke.

    • profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      10 years ago

      Great picks Rich. I love scary movies...even though they have been known to keep me wide-eyed and awake when I should be sleeping. Interesting how just hearing the music brings back the scary parts of each of these films. Ewww!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Excellent page, Rich! I couldn't pick in your poll (you could offer an option for people like me who can't pick.) That JAWS music is the most memorable for me (although I have not seen all of these movies.) I believe though remembering the music was enough to keep people from swimming.

    • Timewarp profile image


      10 years ago from Montreal

      If you want to hear something really scary check out the original COIL soundtrack for Hellraiser that was cut from the movie for being too creepy!

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      10 years ago

      I'm not a fan of scary movies but I have seen Jaws and heard that music.

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 

      10 years ago

      I love them all, but "the shining" still gives me the creeps. =)

    • Meloramus profile image


      10 years ago

      All of these scare me, but I still enjoy watching (and listening) to them!

    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Canela Ajena 

      10 years ago from Houston

      Alien was the only movie that really ever scared me.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      10 years ago

      Love your collection. I can remember the theme from the Exorcist being a hit tune on the radio.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      10 years ago

      I am really impressed how you put your music lens together. Very spooky one you have here. Music really does add to the effect of the movies. Very well done!!

      ~SquidBOO Angel Blessing~

    • patinkc profile image


      10 years ago from Midwest

      This is a great list although I haven't seen all of these films.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! These are great scary scores! Gives me chills!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow. What a great collection of horror movie soundtracks. I'm not a fan of horror movies but I love playing scary music when kids come to the door for Halloween. :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I don't watch horror films much, but I really enjoyed listening to these selections. "Psycho" and "Jaws" made me grin since I knew what was coming! Nicely done - blessed!

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      10 years ago

      I don't know if this qualifies, but one of the most unnerving pieces in the world to me is the toccata from Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in d minor". It was Captain Nemo's theme music in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

      Maybe using that music for my ringtone wasn't such a good idea :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Eeek. Chants scare me so much. There's so much anti-chuchy feel about chants. I voted for the Omen.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      10 years ago from UK

      I agree, the music is a powerful way of creating a mood in a film, it's hard to imagine these horror classics without their scores. I bet these scary soundtracks would be perfect on Halloween.


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