My roommates and I have been on a bit of a horror movie splurge the past couple of weeks, getting into the season as it were. There really is no time more appropriate than Halloween to gorge down gore-filled features and feel OK doing so day after day.
We’ve watched great ones, terrible ones and in-betweens, but what has stuck out in so many of these films has been the soundtrack. Music, or lack thereof, can sometimes make or break a film. The cheesiest synth can make a bad horror movie that much worse, and an excellently placed quick cavalcade of violins or any sharp noise can be more terrifying than what is actually onscreen. (The Ring anyone?)
But those great Halloween musical moments (and I’m not talking The Nightmare Before Christmas, though that is a favorite of mine) seem to really capture the tone and intensity of the scene onscreen. There’s John Carpenter’s eery, repetitive piano-based ditty that pinpoints Michael Myers’ creepy essence to the T on “Halloween Theme.” Speaking of Carpenter, you can’t forget Ennio Morricone’s operatic overtures in The Thing. And though it might not have the same fright factor, Howard Shore’s score for David Cronenberg’s The Fly has something of an emotional tug that may have been a key factor in transforming the film into a full-blown opera.
However, the one horror film score that’s really captured my attention after years of watching scary movies is the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. The praise falls upon Godspeed You! Black Emperor and composer John Murphy for a simply striking sound. Godspeed’s contribution to the film, “East Hastings,” is a chord-driven, prog powerhouse that builds to an emotional climax that reflects the absolute bewilderment for Cillian Murphy’s Jim in the film. What’s more is that Godspeed’s song blends in perfectly well with Murphy’s sweeping score to help build the fairly depressing, end-of-the world atmosphere in what is easily one of the best horror movies of the decade.
Whatever your favorite scary soundtrack may be, may it provide some spooky thrills for your Halloween this year.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “East Hastings”:
Bonus Video: “The Simpsons” spoof of 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later: