With Halloween laying in wait, the Vamers Crew have put together a list of music to set the mood for all things that go bump in the dead of night. While few aspects of life are as bone-chilling as a good horror, a big part of that thrill comes from the audio. Music has the power to both soothe and awaken the savage beasts that lie within.
The horror genre, in particular, is filled with unforgettable soundtracks and scores that will always comes to mind when alone and walking down a dimly lit path or when alone at home and in the shower. With this in mind, we have put together a list of some of our favourite halloween songs to be haunted by.
Themes so iconic they can never be forgotten:
John Carpenter’s Halloween:
Halloween is arguably one of the most beloved horror franchises, and Michael Myers is therefore one of the most recognisable and feared villains.
A franchise as iconic as Halloween needed a theme song to not only complement the film, but also stand alone and evoke feelings of suspense and horror. This is precisely what what John Carpenters theme does.
It is aurally one of the most haunting halloween songs, but even more so courtesy of the feelings the tune evokes in the mind’s of listeners.
There is a science behind fear. Fear is an adaptive behaviour shared by all to help identify threats. Some of the most heart-pounding moments in cinema not only understand the science of fear, but also use it to their advantage.
Jaws is still regarded by many as the reason why sharks continue to be feared. However, the emotion evoked by sharks is a fear that is learnt. Unlike, for example, the fear of loud noises – which is one humans are born with.
When composing the theme for Jaws, John Williams opted to create a theme that would build in suspense, with sudden bursts of loudness, featuring an repetitive tone increasing in speed – like a racing heart or… an approaching shark.
A Nightmare On Elm Street:
Horror films already have a way of invading dreams. Now imagine the potency of horror about a villain whose sole purpose is to make all dreams nightmares. This is Freddy Krueger in a nutshell.
In order to help pull together all the elements of this supernatural horror, A Nightmare On Elm Street went for a theme that was equal parts dreamy and early in its buildup and repetitiveness. This is the song that comes to mind when people leave their arms to hang off the side of the bed in the dark of night, and then feel a strange presence or touch. Easily one of the most chilling halloween songs on this list.
Songs from iconic scenes to haunt dreams:
American Horror Story: Hotel
Music can accentuate visuals, and visuals can highlight music – giving new meaning to both. This is precisely what happens in a rather unforgettable scene within American Horror Story as Tear You Apart plays.
The music complements the visuals almost perfectly, allowing for the scene to be both extraordinary and memorable. An easy pick for one of the most unusual halloween songs.
There are often a set of rules to be followed for entertainment media to neatly slot into what encompasses the horror genre. There are a few exceptions, with Donnie Darko leading the pack.
There is nothing “usual” or predictable about the story, and even more so about the choice of theme song.
Gary Jules’ rendition of Mad World perfectly encapsulates the darkness, confusion and sadness radiating from Donnie Darko, and it is the perfect song to wind down to on Halloween night (or wind up).
American Horror Story: Freakshow
The horror genre often spurs cult followings, yet American Horror Story has managed to take the genre and make it far more mainstream than never before.
Since the show’s debut in 2011, American Horror Story has worked its way into many households, nightmares, and eardrums, with Jessica Langes rendition of Gods and Monsters being a true standout for one of the best halloween songs available.
If you’re looking for some absolute classics:
Thriller by Michael Jackson
A good scare is timeless. It remains scary no matter the decade. The same rule applies to songs. A good song will remain great, no matter how many months, years or decades have passed.
Thriller by Michael Jackson is one of these truly iconi songs. From the beat, to the lyrics, and especially the music video, Thriller is undeniably a Halloween staple and will continue to be one for years to come.
Sweet Transvestite from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
How does one quantify perfection? it is impossible to do so since perfection is utterly subjective. However, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is as close to being objectively perfect as a piece of media can be. In this sense, Sweet Transvestite is its crowning jewel.
No matter how many times fans watch the movie or hear the song, it never tires. As such, no mix of halloween songs can be complete without it.
This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Very few movies are able to age alongside their original audience, and remain just as enjoyable and engaging when watched for the first or 100th time. One such film, in this humble author’s opinion, is The Nightmare Before Christmas.
A rare film with a near perfect song called “This Is Halloween”. It managed to delight every time it is played and is easily sung to – if the words are known.
If you are looking for songs to inspire your Halloween playlist:
I’ll Kill You That Way by Slashstreet Boys
What would Halloween truly be without a yearly release from the Slashstreet Boys? This parody group knows just how to put a smile on any horror lovers face with their clever, sing-along-able tracks. Making them an absolute staple for any and every list of halloween songs.
Pet Sematary by Ramones
It goes without saying how Stephen King is quintessentially halloween. Hence why this song by the Ramones absolutely has to feature. It is inspired by Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and is perfect for any playlist made with halloween songs.
Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Last, but certainly not least, is this fun and energetic track by the Yeah Yeah Yeah. It will have listeners moving and grooving before the clock strikes twelve, and probably a few hours thereafter too. An absolute banger of a track with a more than deserving place on every list of halloween songs.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all of the songs that make halloween the celebration of scares that it is; these are merely some of our favourites. Do you have a song that haunts your dreams and fuels your nightmares? Let us know in the comments below.