The 13 Greatest Horror Movie Theme Songs

Dead Air

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a top ten and I felt like today was the perfect day to drop one on the unsuspecting readers. This time I’m doing themes. Music is absolutely imperative for creating mood in films and some themes stick with you and have become as iconic as the movies or characters they represent. Music can enhance the emotion of any given scene or just be fun as hell to listen to. There is no way to just do this in 10 so in the spirit of the Day I give you my top 13 Horror Movie Themes!

13 – Night of the Demons

One of my favorite Halloween horrors I not only love the theme song for how 80’s it is I just love the intro in its entirety. Just good old fashioned Halloween fun!

12 – Hellraiser

True story: one time I had the menu screen on for the Hellraiser DVD for 3 hours while I was writing something. I found the music very easy to relax to. It perfectly captures the brutal yet dignified sense of the Cenobites.

11 – Puppetmaster

Charles Band and company have made a pretty impressive industry based around their puppetmaster franchise but to me the best aspect will always be how perfectly the theme captures the creepy yet whimsical idea that puppets can kill.

10 – The Blob

Okay, this one just makes me laugh a lot. The 50’s were the heyday for drive-in-cheese and the blob is arguably the best example of it. Complete with its own toe tapping novelty song!

9 – 28 Days Later

The film isn’t perfect but it’s unmistakably brutal. The action and gritty violence were often off-centered by this haunting melody which was a beautiful touch.

8 – Candyman

Philip Glass composed this piece to match with the character of Candyman being an educated and more tragic figure. The gentle music sets the tone perfectly for one creepy bee infested love story.

7 – Zombie 2

I honestly would put this higher on the list if it was a little more iconic but as it stands the theme music for Zombie 2 is probably one of my favorite bits of soundtrack ever. I just love the weird synth tracks. This will always be the official zombie marching song to me.

6 – The Exorcist

The first time I ever saw this movie it was the films re-release in theaters. I remember just being shocked by the very virtue of the era in which this movie came out in the first place. It set the standard for creepy little girls for years to come.

5 – Saw

An undeniably powerful theme, this makes the list by not only being catchy but also mood enhancing. Although the franchise really ended on a whimper it’s hard to deny that in the first Saw movie; this song accompanied one of the best horror movie twists of the modern era.

4 – Jaws

Jaws has one of the most instantly recognizable themes to even the most casual movie goer. When it comes to knowing that something is stalking you to bite you in the ass nobody even comes close to this score.

3 – Nightmare On Elm Street

The purposefully confusing tones that strike out in this melody were supposedly supposed to emphasis that dreamlike and reality bending nature of Freddy himself. As much as I enjoyed the later incarnations of Elm Street and can enjoy the slapstick violence for what it was, the original theme always reminds me that the first Nightmare on Elm Street was there to scare us.

2 – Halloween

Halloween is full of fantastic music. Their use of mister sandman never made me able to think of that song without thinking of Halloween. Even the misfit of the franchise Season of the Witch has a fantastic Score but I’ll stick with the theme most people are familiar with

1 – Friday the 13th

Okay so you probably figured out by now that I’m posting this on the 13th and there are 13 entries that the number one theme would probably be Friday the 13th. Well. You’re right smarty pants. When it comes to horror fans there is nothing more instantly recognizable than the “Ki ki ki ki Ah ah ah”.

The story goes that the song came about from the words “Kill and Mom” (You don’t fuck with misses Voorhees). Not only is it well known to horror fans but – like the jaws theme; even casual viewers know of it. My favorite use of his theme was the super funky and fun version from Part 3. So enjoy!


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      1. Cat Flores July 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

        Thanks for this really great compilation! I think that the Suspiria theme should also be in here.

      2. TheDude July 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        No Phantasm???!!! This is a complete joke without it.

      3. corposant July 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm

        There are quite a number of notable film scores for horror film themes, and many that would be considered quite obscure. Cases in point would include the achingly beautiful, melancholic theme for ‘Mary Reilly’, to the supremely gothic qualities of such themes for ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ and ‘Interview with a Vampire’. Yet another example would be Danny Elfman’s theme for ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Tales from the Crypt’ (though it isn’t a film). I do think the author is a bit remiss in not including the music from ‘Psycho’, which was most likely the first time strings were used to define such a violent scene and one that has been replicated innumerable times.

      4. Cat Flores July 15, 2012 at 2:18 am

        Yes, and I think the Pysycho theme was the base for many other scores to come, including the main theme from Saw.

      5. MsGorefiend July 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you for placing F13 above Halloween. I like a good many of these scores, but I would have included Psycho and The Omen. 

      6. MsGorefiend July 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you for placing F13 above Halloween. I like a good many of these scores, but I would have included Psycho and The Omen. 

      7. MsGorefiend July 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you for placing F13 above Halloween. I like a good many of these scores, but I would have included Psycho and The Omen. 

      8. Alma September 18, 2013 at 12:46 am

        This selection is quite terrible. What? no Psycho? Even more disapointing NO Herrmann score !!! And I absolutely dislike Halloween and Exorcist themes for their terrible repetitive melodies with no connection whatsoever with the story. Just junky pop music feel tacked on a film. Jaws is kind of OK but not as effective or diverse as Psycho which came 13 years earlier.

      9. Jack November 12, 2013 at 6:08 am

        What about the ‘Scream’ theme song? That one is cool, and pretty disturbing in it’s own sense. If you listen to the backround during the song there are some really creepy distorted screams and weird buzzing sounds. I also love the piano solo and the gong. The Scream theme song is definitely my favorite.