Thursday, October 6, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Halloween Movie Edition-Horror Movie Themes/Scores


Wandering Through The Shelves has chosen a great theme and it would be fun to see this on other months, but this is Halloween and I can’t wait to see what everyone else chooses. I am certain we will hear “Jaws”  today but I went with one composer whom, I think, just kicks ass when it comes to creating some great musical scores. His name is Bernard Herrmann who was born June 29, 1911 and died December 24, 1975 at only 64 from a heart attack and was a composer for Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock but created great works outside their realm including TV shows like the first theme for The Twilight Zone.  Here are my 3 picks...


I love, love this theme that sounds, sorry...out of this world. The film is about a man from outer space who decides to learn about the human race by living along side them. It is not an easy path for this man who decides to learn what makes these paranoid Americans tick but realizes that they, and the rest of the world, may not be up to par with maintaining galactic peace...with the help of Gort. The music was created using some funky instruments like the Theremin and vibraphones.

2. PSYCHO-1960

We should all know this theme which just seems to jarr us when the credits cut across the screen. Herrmann thought it best to have this theme played with only strings since it was filmed in black and white. The slashing movement really becomes dominant once we see the shower scene. We almost think the music seems out of place when Marion Crane steals the money from her employer so she can marry the man she is sleeping with,  until she decides to pull over into a motel during a rainstorm. It becomes one of the best known and great ways music is used to heighten the scene.


I love this prelude which makes you think what will one see in this film which is more adventurous than horrific but...who cares. You have people on an island inhabited by much larger creatures than one thinks like giant bees and a giant chick all thanks to Ray Harry Heusen. I love the movies with his work and Herrmann's music. This score was performed by the London Symphony.

Which horror music makes you sit on the edge of your seat.


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    How's my buddy "Harley Sweet Breath" today? I love scary theme music from horror and sci-fi films and appreciate your picks.

    I watched the 1951 feature The Day The Earth Stood Still on TV several times during the 50s. It is one of the best and most intelligently written films of the genre. The music gives me goose bumps. I went to YouTube and found more spooky theremin FX in this brief video:

    I saw Psycho in the theater upon its release. I love how the music stabs you, the viewer, as Tony Perkins stabs Janet Leigh in the shower.

    I must have missed Mysterious Island because I don't remember it. My eyes popped every time I witnessed the jumbo size creatures on the screen created by animator Ray Harryhausen using his stop-action model Dynamation technique. I saw Ray's special FX in all their glory in the following movies: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Mighty Joe Young, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, It Came From Beneath The Sea, Jason And The Argonauts, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, 20 Million Miles To Earth and First Men In The Moon.

    My recommendation is the creepy theme from another great sci-fi horror film released in 1951, The Thing From Another World, starring James Arness, Gunsmoke's Matt Dillon. The disturbing, otherworldly music was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin.

    Klaatu barada nikto, dear friend Birgit! (Translation: Enjoy the rest of your week, and don't do anything Shady wouldn't do!)

  2. John Carpenter's The Thing comes to mind. The director always did his own soundtracks which were uber-effective. I think besides Jaws, the ultimate horror film soundtrack is Suspiria's done by Goblin. It's the weirdest, most unsettling, and most effective ever.

  3. Hi Birgit - I'm definitely a non-horror (un)fan - can't sit through them. So please count me out ... just enjoy yours!! Cheers Hilary

  4. Pyscho is so iconic. I haven't seen your other picks but I like the music choices!

  5. For once I've seen all of the film, though I have to say that horror film are not really my thing. Keep well, Kate x

  6. The only one I can think of is "Experiment In Terror," but that's not really a horror movie, more suspense. I posted it a couple of days ago on Truthful Tuesday....

  7. Great picks! Can't go wrong with Herrmann.

    First ones that came to my mind were the original Japanese version of Godzilla with that weird military style symphonic music. To me the music was pretty scary and ominous. Another that stood out for me is the spooky sounding organ soundtrack of Carnival of Souls. It seemed so fitting of that strange film.

    Let me throw in another that might not exactly be fair. The original film Dracula with Bela Lugosi didn't really have much musical soundtrack, but twenty some years ago composer Philip Glass composed a score to be played while watching the film. The music is performed by the Kronos Quartet (and I love string quartet music). I also enjoy the music of Philip Glass who has composed a number of pieces of music used in films. I've yet to actually watch the Dracula film while playing the soundtrack, but the music certain is evocative of the mood set in the film.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  9. All good picks. And yes, that music in psycho certainly ratcheted up the tension. Have a great one.

  10. This is a great theme. When I took film music in college, we spent time on Bernard Herrmann. He was one of the greats. (Great class.)

  11. I’ve seen only Psycho. The track you included is the opening credits track or played in the first half before the shower scene?