UNK SEZ: I don’t know if these are the best scores (Hey, where’s Tubular Bells?!) but they are my personal favorites. Hope I didn’t neglect too many! BTW, both TENTACLES and THE VISITOR just barely missed the cut!
Let’s just get this one taken care of immediately. How can any list of horror scores not include this madness? So big, so brazen it nearly kicks the movie itself right off the screen! No small feat!
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (WOJIECH KILAR)
A good score lets you know what’s going down right off the bat. Sure this film is plenty romantic but KILAR’s work makes sure you remember there’s plenty of anger and vengeance seeping through its veins as well.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (LANCE RUBIN)
LANCE RUBIN is not only the name of me after I marry JENNIFER RUBIN, but it is also the name of the guy who did the score for one of my favorite slashers. The music box combo of sweet and creepy weaves throughout the film and culminates in a memorable theme song sung by SYREETA! If RUBIN’s work sounds a tad familiar it may be due to his talent lodging in another classic, MOTEL HELL!
PHANTASM (FRED MYROW & MALCOLM SEAGRAVE)
THE SHINING used to have this spot until I found out that most of its music is not original to the film. That’s alright, I was feeling bad about leaving out PHANTASM anyway and now I don’t have to. Listen to how sad it is! It sounds like the seventies and it sounds like rain and it makes me want to go on a tandem bicycle excursion with KAREN CARPENTER. Shit, that makes me think of THE ATTIC and how I should have put THE ATTIC in here as well. Damn self-imposed deadlines!
CAT PEOPLE (GIORGIO MORODER)
MORODER is the man and his soundtrack for PAUL SCHRADER’s Meow Mix is something y’all need to get your paws on. Its influence is still felt to this day in fact, the band GOLDFRAPP recently admitted that their last album was strongly influenced by MORODER’s efforts here! That’s some staying power!
THE THING (ENNIO MORRICONE)
Wow. I guess you know you kind of rule when JOHN CARPENTER decides to hand over musical duties to you rather than tackling them himself. Well, MORRICONE is a legend and his minimalistic, heartbeat mimicking, icy cold contribution to CARPENTER’s film fits like a snug glove.
PSYCHO II (JERRY GOLDSMITH)
Talk about big shoes to fill. (Not that anyone involved in the making of this sequel didn’t have more than their work cut out for them.) JERRY GOLDSMITH pays homage to and follows trails paved by the great BERNARD HERRMANN but he adds something uniquely his own too. Almost as if in cahoots with ANTHONY PERKINS‘ performance, GOLDSMITH sways you toward the tragic and sympathetic side of Norman Bates’ soul. Look out! Once in your head, very hard to evict!
CARRIE (PINO DONAGGIO)
Speaking of BERNARD HERRMANN, composer PINO DONAGGIO does a fine job of tipping his hat toward the guy too. Sure, screechy stabby violins will always owe a debt to PSYCHO but PINO brings an extraordinary sincere velvet dark melancholy to the table too. I know this score like the back of my hand and I love it even though some of the creepy church vibes bring back strange unwanted memories of the DAVEY AND GOLIATH show. Aw, that reminds me I should not have forgotten CARNIVAL OF SOULS on this list either! I’ll just shove it in here. Cassie won’t mind, er, I mean Carrie…
CANDYMAN (PHILIP GLASS)
Not everybody digs PHILIP GLASS but you have to admit that he’s an inspired choice for the soundtrack to CANDYMAN. His signature repetitive synth blips reek of urban insect existence. I’m gonna rate this baby extra high on originality alone and for the simple fact that “Helen’s Theme” may be one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to my ridiculous ears. Here be the proverbial bee’s knees…
THE FOG (JOHN CARPENTER)
Number one score for me forever for sure. I know CARPENTER’s HALLOWEEN theme will always shadow over his other fine work but the truth is, on an emotional level it can’t really hold a candle to what he accomplishes with THE FOG score. Sometimes gentle, slight and ethereal, sometimes pounding like a primal alarm to flee. It does more than set the mood, it blankets you in the otherworldly and it does not let go as it pushes you further and further away from safety. To put it simply, THE FOG score sounds like a ghost story being told without words…
UNK SEZ: that’s my top ten folks but wait I’m not done yet! Here are TWO EXTRA BONUS TRACKS!
My choice for outstanding opening theme song goes to ROSEMARY’S BABY by KRZYSTOF KOMEDA featuring MIA FARROW!
…And my choice for most annoying theme song goes to TOURIST TRAP! I love you TOURIST TRAP (and PINO DONAGGIO) but once I fell asleep with your DVD in the player and woke up to a menu screen playing this track over and over and I just about lost what little of my mind I had left.