Entertainment

The Best Horror Movie Synth Scores  

Jacob Shelton
371 votes 134 voters 4.6k views 13 items

Unlike many other genres of film, horror movie soundtracks play as important a role to the storytelling as the dialogue. The music tells you when to watch out for the killer, or when some is RIGHT BEHIND YOU! Many composers have made many different horror scores, but synthesizer music has helped change and shape the genre. The best horror synth scores either create something completely new, or they turn the conventions of film music on its head. Obviously, John Carpenter’s influence weighs heavy in the world of synthesizer-based horror music, but he doesn't stand alone.Many composers have spent years honing their craft to perfect creepy moments in film.

Film scores like those of Halloween, and Suspiria have gone on to have a life outside of the films that gave them birth, but they’re never better than when you’re hearing them pumped through the speakers of your local theater as a waft of fake fog blows across the screen and a terrified young woman brandishes a machete in the middle of an empty street. The scores listed here aren't just “the best.” They’ve managed to transcend the realm of non-diagetic music and effect the culture in terrifying ways.

What are some of your favorite synth based horror film scores? Did we miss out on something that you believe truly defines the genre? If so, tell us about it in the comments. 

back to page 1
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

No matter what you think about It Follows, the breakout indie horror hit of 2014, the immersive and genuinely frightening score by Disasterpiece is one of the coolest pieces of music set to film in a decade. It's one of the rare scores that works just as well in the theater as it does on a long overnight drive. 

More It Follows

#32 of 34 on The Objectively Worst Decisions In Horror Movies #11 of 15 on Pretty Good Horror Movies That Make Everyday Activities Terrifying #13 of 14 on Pretty Good Horror Movies Where The Villain ISN'T REALLY DEAD! #53 of 111 on The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

Agree or disagree?
see more on It Follows
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

While a lot of horror films and their scores allow a haunting minimalism to creep out the audience, A Nightmare on Elm Street and its composer, Charles Bernstein, threw everything at the wall and made all of it stick. The breathy synths of the main theme are only a precursor to the heavy digital orchestral stabs lifted straight out of an early New Order track, and by the time the introduction is finished you've basically taken a semester of MIDI classes. 

More A Nightmare on Elm Street

#49 of 334 on 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #4 of 764 on The Best Horror Films of All Time featuring Ranking Freddy Krueger's Best Kills from A Nightmare on Elm Street Behind The Scenes Of Glen's Death In 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'

Agree or disagree?
see more on A Nightmare on Elm Street
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Wendy Carlos has mentioned that she scored so many scenes that didn't make it into the final cut of The Shining that she has no idea how many pieces actually exist. First of all, that's crazy, but it also sounds exactly how we assume working with Stanley Kubrick was.

Carlos' score makes use of early vocoder technology and even a few vocal samples. By itself the music is a masterpiece, but with the film it's transcendental. 

More The Shining

#6 of 258 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #39 of 334 on 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime featuring A Timeline Of The Beef Between Stephen King And Stanley Kubrick Over 'The Shining' The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story

Agree or disagree?
see more on The Shining
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Starry Eyes should have been one of those movies that people don't shut up about. It's one of those rare films that takes its influences and turns them inside out while creating its own breathtaking set pieces. Jonathan Snipes, the film's composer, uses an analog synth sound to create a fine texture that adds to the sometimes dream like, and often horrifying visuals of a young woman doing whatever it takes to make it in Hollywood.

At times the score is reminiscent of the music of some of Disney's classic animated films, which adds to the existential terror.

More Starry Eyes

#34 of 101 on The Best Movies On Shudder #15 of 17 on Depictions Of Satanic Rituals In Film #12 of 12 on Pretty Good WTF Horror Movies On Amazon Prime

Agree or disagree?
see more on Starry Eyes