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The importance of a solid soundtrack cannot be overstated, especially for horror films that rely heavily on sound to convey atmosphere and terror.

Horror movies are not just dependent on scary plots, characters, and jump scares. They are equally dependent on their soundtracks, and a good horror movie is one that not only engages you with visuals but with sounds as well. Try watching a horror movie without the background music, and you will immediately realize that it is not nearly as scary as it is with the music. You can pick any successful horror movie from history, and you will find that almost all of them have great soundtracks. Here are a few of my absolute favorites, along with the Spotify playlist links for each one.

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat (the 1986 comedy horror film, not to be confused with the 2007 Samhain anthology Trick ‘r Treat) is not just popular with horror fans but is also beloved by many metal fans as well. The movie tells the story of a teenage boy who is bullied by his classmates and has recently lost his idol, the metal rock star Sammi Curr. It stars Marc Price and Tony Fields in the lead role, and the excellent soundtrack features songs from Eddie Clark and Will Reid. This film’s story revolves around music, so it is not at all surprising that it has such a great soundtrack.

You can find the soundtrack for this movie on YouTube as well. If you want it on your phone’s playlist, you can use a youtube to mp3 converter as well to convert it into a music player file. We’ve also included the Spotify playlist for the album below.

[spotifyplaybutton play=”spotify:album:19EC41PeSa3vVeRfvizIEg”/]

The Return of the Living Dead

One of the most famous zombie horror movies also happens to have one of the best soundtracks. This 1985 punk horror comedy starred Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thomas Mathews, Jewel Shepard, and Linnea Quigley in one of her most famous roles as Trash. The film is known for introducing the popular concept of zombies eating brains and is the first known film to show zombies running, as well as zombies being able to speak. Its enduring popularity has spawned four sequels and turned it into a cult classic.

As influential as the film was in the zombie sub genre, it’s also notable for its soundtrack, which features several legendary LA-based deathrock and punk rock bands of the era. The zombie invasion is made spicier by killer tunes from bands like The Cramps, The Flesh Eaters and The Damned. Notable songs include The Trioxin Theme, Dead Beat Dance, Nothing For You and Tonight.

[spotifyplaybutton play=”spotify:playlist:4RhyJkt32oOQeAMoKNhYNY”/]

The Wicker Man

The creepy folk music in this classic 1973 British horror film adds an extra element to the horrors that befall a puritan police officer when he travels to the isolated island of Summerisle in search of a missing girl, only to clash with the island’s pagan inhabitants. The movie stars big names like Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Diane Cilento and Britt Ekland. It was a critical success and has consistently been hailed as one of the greatest horror films — as well as one of the best British films — of all time.

The film’s soundtrack forms a major component of the narrative, with songs accompanying many important scenes. It was composed, arranged and recorded by Paul Giovanni, and performed by Magnet. The soundtrack contains 13 folk songs performed by characters in the film. Included are traditional songs, original compositions by Giovanni, and even a nursery rhyme, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”. The most famous song on the soundtrack is likely “Willow’s Song”, which has been covered or sampled by various rock music bands.

[spotifyplaybutton play=”spotify:album:7t4FtrDJ6jhL8XcqcrZez4″/]

Halloween

For many horror fans, John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher masterpiece ranks among their favorite horror films of all time, with the film’s original score — one of the most recognizable in all of horror — a perennial favorite as well. Everyone knows the story behind this classic film, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance, about an escaped mental patient with the devil’s eyes let loose in the small town of Haddonfield. Looking to kill again fifteen years after murdering his sister as a young boy, the masked madman known as The Shape stalks a poor babysitter named Laurie Strode, a role that turned Jamie Lee into horror royalty and helped define the final girl.

The film’s score was composed and performed by John Carpenter himself in just three days, who admits to being inspired by both Dario Argento’s Suspiria and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Interestingly, Carpenter stated in an interview, “I can play just about any keyboard, but I can’t read or write a note.” On the film’s 40th anniversary, coinciding with the release of Anthology: Movie Themes 1974–1998, a cover of the popular Halloween theme by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross was released.

[spotifyplaybutton play=”spotify:playlist:2ORYVg1zp6Jfw6MrciQTV1″/]

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