When I was about 8, I became obsessed with a book at the Leon County Public Library called something like “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scary Movies but Were Too Afraid to Ask.” Mainly, it focused on horror greats of the past like Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Val Lewton, James Whale and my personal favorite, Boris Karloff. I checked it out over and over again, mooning over Boris (laugh if you will, haters — he was my first movie-star crush) and memorizing arcane trivia about the Universal and RKO horror productions of the ’20s through the ’50s: Lon Chaney Jr.’s own German shepherd appears in “The Wolf Man”! Each of the Frankenstein monster’s shoes weighed 13 pounds! I’m sure my mother was simply fascinated by all the riveting facts I had to impart.
Beyond the inherent absurdity of my 8-year-old fixation, my fondness for the subject of monster movies was made all the more ridiculous by the fact that I’d never seen any of them. Not a single one. And didn’t until years later.
Now, as an avowed horror-movie fanatic I realize that in addition to missing the incredible visuals, acting performances and sheer chair-gripping terror, I was also losing out on the soundtracks. From psychedelic folk to synth-heavy grooves to lush orchestral scores, for my money horror films have some of the best music out there. For your listening pleasure, I’ve selected 10 favorites. And before you start quibbling with my choices: Yes, I have an admitted bias toward Italian composers and, yes, I’ve generally left off greats like Bernard Hermann’s “Psycho” score in favor of tracks that I think are worth listening to without celluloid accompaniment.
Be sure to check out our interview with Rob Millis and Jeffery Taylor of Climax Golden Twins, the band behind my #5 pick below.
1. “The Wicker Man” – Paul Giovanni & Magnet
2. “Deep Red” - Goblin
“Cannibal Holocaust” – Riz Ortolani
“Zombi Holocaust” - Nico Fidenc
4. “Nosferatu” – Popol Vuh
5. “Session 9″ – Climax Golden Twins
6. “The Shining” – Wendy Carlos, Al Bowlly, various composers
7. “Don’t Look Now” - Pino Donaggio
8. “Bees Saal Baad” – Lakshmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma
9. “Zombi 2″ - Fabio Frizzi
10. “Halloween III” – John Carpenter and Alan Howarth