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Halloween Playlist Collection Volume Four: Theme Songs and Showtunes

Updated on July 6, 2013
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Songs We All Remember

One, two; Freddy's Coming for you....

How scary would our horror movies really be without their music? They send shivers down our spines, announcing the presence of our terrifying villain and the doom of our unfortunate (and so often inept) victim. They can be loud and epic, subtle and creeping, even lighthearted or humorously ironic.

Here are the horror film themes from my Halloween playlist!


Nightmare on Elm Street theme- Charles Bernstein

One of the most absolutely horrifying scary movie villains is Freddy Kreuger, the child killer who was slain by the people of his town and came back from the dead to slay people in their sleep. You cannot run from him, and once you're in his world of dreams there is no escape! His theme music is eerie and ominous, often coupled with a haunting rhyme chanted by two ghostly children:

One, two; Freddy's Coming for you. Three four, Better Lock Your Door. Five, six; Grab your crucifix. Seven, eight; better stay up late. Nine, ten; never sleep again!

He's got style, he's got wit, he's got claws that will tear you to pieces. You hear his music, and you know somebody's done for!

Saw theme- Charles Clouser

I've never been a huge fan of the Saw franchise. The first film was creative, but as they kept being made it seemed they were only concerned with unrelenting violence.

But sweet Jesus; is this theme song awesome! It is loud and epic, sounding like the devil's own power saw spinning in the deepest pit of hell. I could just as easily see some great badass walking to this as the diminutive but intimidating Jigsaw doll.

Scream theme

Not really one of my favorites, as a movie or for music. This series was made as a parody of the great horror movies, and enjoyed some popularity in the 90s. It had all the required pieces of a horror film: attractive people being slain by a shadowy killer, mysteries to be solved, blood everywhere, and plenty of pop culture references. It left very little impact, though.

Its theme is a decent example of the slasher genre, and belongs on the playlist of any of us who grew up watching these films.

"Vampire Hunters"- Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula"

Of all the disappointments Hollywood has produced over the years, Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula" ranks among the worst. This film had everything it needed to be great: the classic story, a star-studded cast, a fine high budget, and the director of the Godfather at the wheel.

...and yet it was a miserable failure! But this song on the soundtrack was wonderful, providing a driving, menacing tune. You listen to it and you can almost sense some dark evil creeping over hill and dale in the foggy night.

Twilight Zone theme

From disturbing to heartwarming, horrifying or humorous, the Twilight Zone always took us to that shadowy part of our minds where the strange and supernatural became the norm and there was no limit to how strange it could become.

And of course, this theme takes us back there. We hear it and suddenly wonder what that shadow in the corner really is, what that light was in the sky, and whether you're really alone in the dead of night.

X-Files

The X-Files, much like the Twilight Zone, always took us to the world of the weird, and this tune always signaled the change. Whether it was aliens, strange creatures, or the shady government organization trying to control them, the X-Files was never without some conspiracy or plot.

Psycho- Bernard Hermann

It's every traveler's nightmare: You pull off the road at some shady hotel for the night, check in, relax, and go to take a shower...and are never seen again.

This film about the man at war with himself and possessing horrifyingly homicidal tendencies reminds us of the fragility of the human mind and how scary people really can become. And its theme fits it perfectly, all at once fidgety and panicked and confused yet with a driving menace that can't help but make us all nervous.

Sweeney Todd Opening Title- Stephen Sondheim

Who is good and who is evil in a world where law is tyranny and justice is madness? How far will a man go for revenge? How far will a woman go for love and prosperity? And what is that smell coming from the pie shop's bake house? All these questions are addressed in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Baker Street. It is a story of wit and wisdom, laughter and sorrow, and some truly memorable music.

The opening theme demonstrates the insane, desperate, grotesque world we are about to enter, with organs playing, frantic strings, and a chorus of voices sounding like souls in torment. Whether the film/musical is your cup of tea or not, this song is great for the Halloween season.

Sleepy Hollow theme- Danny Elfman

In one of his most violent, cheesy, and enjoyable films ever, Tim Burton took Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and gave it a mixture of steroids and cocaine. The result was a spooky journey through the mysterious world of post- colonial Sleepy Hollow, New York starring one of Burton's best teams of stars. I have always ben fond of the original story and really loved this movie. I still watch it every year.

The theme song is absolutely beautiful, exploring a world of black magic and bloodbaths under the branches of a cursed forest where tortured spirits lurk.

This music captures the mood of Halloween night very well!

Friday the 13th theme- Harry Manfredini

Much like Freddy's theme, the theme song for Jason Voorhees is instantly recognizable. When we hear it, we might as well begin detaching ourselves from whatever poor sap is onscreen because their lives are numbered in seconds. It's a classic theme from a classic movie series, and belongs on any Halloween playlist!

Libera Me- Interview With a Vampire - Elliot Goldenthal

Interview With a Vampire is a movie that has its ups and downs, but is on the whole one of those great semi-horror flicks that rock. The story, the acting, the style of film all add up to one hell of a movie, and the soundtrack reflects that. This opening tune sets the stage, telling us we are about to enter a world of mystery and horror, but not without its elements of seductive charm. It makes a great mood setter for any Halloween party, and thus a perfect addition to a spooky playlist.

Jaws theme- John Williams

Two notes sound as we gaze at the ocean. They repeat, then repeat again, over and over, getting louder and more intense as we suddenly see a fin rise above the water. We see the helpless swimmers and boaters as the fin continues to move and the music gets faster and louder until finally the water turns red and we know Jaws has struck once again.

This was the film that made us afraid to get in the water, and the music that built the suspense so well that we were terrified of the elusive killer shark long before we ever saw it. It is a song of nature's merciless ferocity and our own fear when we enter the water and no longer stand at the top of the food chain.

Ave Satani- Jerry Goldsmith

The theme song for "The Omen", the story of a young boy who happens to be the anti-Christ and slays all who get in his way, this epic and terrifying theme is dark and strong as the armies of hell itself. It has been done and redone several times, but the classic remains the best and most intimidating version. This is an absolute must for any Halloween playlist, bringing the ultimate evil in among all the others. After all, who is scarier than evil incarnate?

You never look at a hockey mask the same way again, do you?

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Honorable Mentions

  1. Graveyard Symphony (Undertaker's theme)- WWE
  2. End Credits- Brothers Grimm- Dario Marianelli
  3. Munsters theme- Jack Marshall
  4. Scooby Doo theme-Jessy Lepert
  5. Great Pumpkin Waltz- Vince Guaraldi
  6. Casper the Friendly Ghost theme- Jerry Livingston and Mack David
  7. Overture- Phantom of the Opera- Andrew Lloyd Webber

Also never look at a straight razor the same way...

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