Poltergeist, The Shining, Psycho, Halloween, The Exorcist — these are just a handful of the classic horror films that have come to define our modern perception of scary movies.

Without them, there would be no Sharknado(!), no Final Destination, and most likely no Saw or American Horror Story.

But what about the soundtracks?

Truly great films have soundtracks that are just as memorable as their imagery and dialogue.

They set you on edge before you even see the first scary image flash across the screen.

They make you jump out of your seat when the killer finally makes their entrance. And they send chills down your spine when all is said and done and you reflect on how much of an emotional rollercoaster you just experienced.

And while it’s true that a film’s soundtrack can’t make or break a movie in a vacuum (just look at some of the terrible ones that failed to make the list), it’s hard to imagine many horror flicks without them.

So check out this list of the best horror movie soundtracks ever, but be warned: once you really get into them, they may follow you home.

Best Horror Movie Soundtracks

What Are horror movie soundtracks?

The sounds of horror and suspense movies give viewers an extra chill down their spine.

They are a key ingredient in the horror genre, but they are also part of many other film genres such as the action, thriller, sci-fi and drama.

Music and sound play an important role in the creation of a movie’s atmosphere. There’s nothing quite like a bloodcurdling scream, a jarring soundtrack or a creepy laugh to set the tone for a horror film.

Soundtracks are used to scare or shock viewers by incorporating elements such as suspense, sudden changes in tempo and volume, or dissonance.

A sudden increase in volume can signify that something unexpected is about to happen, or it can be used to create tension prior to an expected event.




Best Horror Movie Soundtracks

Here’s a list of some of the scariest soundtracks used in some of the most iconic horror films.

The Keep (Michael Mann, 1983)

The Keep is a horror movie from 1983 that I have only seen once, but I remember quite well.

It is directed by Michael Mann and stars Scott Glenn, Jurgen Prochnow, and Gabriel Byrne.

The plot concerns a writer who arrives at an abandoned castle in the middle of Germany on the eve of World War II with his wife and young daughter to do research for his next novel.

While exploring the castle, he finds that it is inhabited by evil spirits who are imprisoned there and are fighting to get out. If they succeed, they will be able to escape into our world, destroy it, and take it over.

The movie is based on the book The Citadel by F. Paul Wilson and it draws heavily upon other works of fiction like Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

It was filmed at an actual ruined castle in Germany called Hohenwerfen Castle which has since become a tourist site because of its use as a location for this movie.

Keep, The
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Scott Glenn, Alberta Watson, Jürgen Prochnow (Actors)
  • Michael Mann (Director) - Michael Mann (Writer) - Colin M. Brewer (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, is a horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written with Diane Johnson.

The film stars Jack Nicholson as tormented writer Jack Torrance, Shelley Duvall as his wife Wendy, and Danny Lloyd as their young son, Danny.

The character of Jack Torrance is a little more complex than his role in the novel: he’s less of a degenerate drunk, but there’s still something not quite right about him.

As the film progresses, we get more glimpses of his mental instability — Nicholson does a great job conveying this. The Shining is certainly worth watching for its creepy atmosphere and shocking ending.

The Shining was both a critical and commercial success. Upon its release, it was widely considered one of the greatest horror films ever made – earning praise for its acting, direction, production values, and cinematography.

Today it is often regarded as one of the greatest psychological horror films ever made.

The Shining (1980)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd (Actors)
  • Stanley Kubrick (Director) - Stanley Kubrick (Writer) - Stanley Kubrick (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)


Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)

With its Dario Argento-esque opening credits, Berberian Sound Studio establishes itself as a unique, unsettling film from its first moments.

In the opening scene, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a repressed English sound engineer, is introduced to the bizarre world of a 1970s Italian horror film called The Equestrian Vortex.

It’s a classic giallo film with everything you’d expect: red herrings, startling jump scares, and a masked killer.

All is not as it seems for Gilderoy as he is thrown into an alternate reality — he’s been hired to rework the audio of this film from the UK, but no one in Italy seems to have any interest in communicating with him.

And then things get even weirder when he meets Mrs. Aylwood (Catherine Walker), the cast and crew’s translator and cheerleader. As the production gets more troubled and terrifying, Gilderoy begins to lose his grip on reality.

Berberian Sound Studio is an incredible character study that uses horror tropes to examine how people deal with extreme situations. Gilderoy is an outlier in the film world: a mild-mannered sort of guy who would rather listen to his headphones than engage with his co-workers.

Throughout the movie, Gilderoy struggles to cope with his job—which includes dubbing screams over images of torture and mutilation—and the chaotic world around him.

He’s isolated both by language and by temperament, and it’s only when he begins to unravel that he’s able to find some kind of peace.

Berberian Sound Studio (2012) ( Studio ihografiseon Berberian ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import - United Kingdom ]
  • Berberian Sound Studio (2012) ( Studio ihografiseon Berberian )
  • Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
  • Studio ihografiseon Berberian
  • Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Suzy Kendall (Actors)
  • Peter Strickland (Director) - Berberian Sound Studio (2012) ( Studio ihografiseon Berberian )...

The Thing (Ennio Morricone, John Carpenter, 1982)

I’ve always been a fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing. It is not only a great horror film but an awesome movie in general.


In my opinion, Carpenter is one of the best directors out there. And what I like about him is his ability to include a lot of tension and suspense in his movies.

The film is set in Antarctica, where a group of researchers is attacked by a shape-shifting extraterrestrial with a taste for blood. The enemy is both indefatigable and imitates its victims perfectly, which makes it extremely difficult to identify.

The Thing was scored by Ennio Morricone and he uses some elements that fit the icy landscape perfectly. As the team starts getting picked off one by one, the music sounds more and more frantic.

The Thing
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Bill Lancaster (Writer) - David Foster (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992)

Bernard Rose’s Candyman is a horror film with a lot of things going for it. It was a surprise hit, bringing in over three times its budget, and it was the second highest-grossing horror film of the year (behind Stephen King’s Needful Things).

In fact, it was so successful that Candyman spawned two sequels, both of which failed to recapture the magic of the original. The movie also received critical acclaim for its unique premise and for its execution.

Roger Ebert gave it three stars out of four and called it “an entertaining thriller with a real sense of style.”

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley (Actors)
  • Bernard Rose (Director) - Bernard Rose (Writer) - Steve Golin (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Speaking of slashers, here’s our guide to slasher films:

Land Of The Dead (George Romero, 2005)

When it comes to the zombie genre, Land Of The Dead is by far my favorite movie. In this film, we follow a small group of survivors as they try to fight their way through a city infested with zombies.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the dead can somehow rise again and feed on the living, this movie is full of suspense and horror.

Land Of The Dead’s plot is simple, but that is what makes it so effective. It doesn’t need anything extra because it’s already packed with action and suspense.

We don’t need to know why there are now zombies walking among us or how exactly they come back to life.

Most of the movie’s characters don’t even know how all this works; they just need to find a way to survive in this terrifying new world.

It’s not just the plot that makes this film great. I also love the way it was filmed. Director George Romero brought some amazing camera angles and sequences that really add up to make for an exciting movie experience.

The scenes in which we see the world from within a car are especially awesome. You never know what might jump out at you from an alley or around a corner, so you can’t help but be tense throughout most of the film.

George A. Romero's Land of the Dead
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento (Actors)
  • George A. Romero (Director) - George A. Romero (Writer) - Mark Canton (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (Tommy Lee Wallace, 1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 horror film directed by Tommy Lee Wallace. It is the third installment in the Halloween series, and stars Tom Atkins as Dr. Dan Challis and Stacey Nelkin as Ellie Grimbridge.

The plot focuses on a fictional drug called Silver Shamrock, which causes harmful side effects, including death. The Silver Shamrock company seeks to market their product on Halloween through television commercials, which prompts local children to go out and murder trick-or-treaters in order to create more business for Silver Shamrock.

A mysterious stranger named Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy)—the owner of Silver Shamrock—plans to use the killings to instill fear in the hearts of the American population so that they will demand his company’s product to keep them safe from violent crime.

Standalone from previous films in the series, Halloween III received extremely negative reviews upon its release, but has since garnered a large cult following for its bizarre storyline and myriad production problems.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy (Actors)
  • Tommy Lee Wallace (Director) - Tommy Lee Wallace (Writer) - Debra Hill (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Dracula (John Williams, 1979)

Dracula (1979) is a film made by Hammer Film Productions. It stars Sir Laurence Olivier, Kate Nelligan, Donald Pleasence, and Sir Ralph Richardson.

The movie was directed by John Badham and based on Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. This movie has been considered one of the best horror films ever made.

This film takes place in 1897, London, England. It is the story of Dracula and his attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he can be free to prey upon new victims.

Dracula’s nemesis is Professor Van Helsing who has followed him to England with the help of his son and a group of teachers, some of whom have been bitten by Dracula and are slowly turning into vampires themselves.

John Badham, the director, was approached by Universal Studios after the success of Jaws (1975) which was also produced by Universal Studios.

Dracula Untold
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon (Actors)
  • Gary Shore (Director) - Matt Sazama (Writer) - Mike DeLuca (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 1974 American exploitation horror film directed by Tobe Hooper.

The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead.

Although it was marketed as a true story to attract a wider audience and as a subtle promotional tool, the film is entirely fictional.

Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, co-authors of the screenplay, developed the project independently before joining forces with producer Irvin Shapiro. The actors were allowed to improvise their dialogue based on general outlines of the scenes.

Due to financial limitations, the film was shot in rural Texas over a period of three weeks in the summer of 1973. It was shot on 16 mm film and entered into several film festivals upon completion.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was released theatrically by Columbia Pictures in October 1974, one month before the Motion Picture Association of America officially gave it an X rating for violence, which helped sustain its popularity into the next decade.

It grossed over $30 million at the United States box office and has since become a significant cult film that has been labeled one of the most influential films ever made. Its success led to two sequels.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Marilyn Burns (Actor)
  • Tobe Hooper (Director) - Tobe Hooper (Writer) - Tobe Hooper (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

What Makes A Great Horror Movie Soundtrack?

Movie soundtracks are often overlooked. But a good score (or background music) can easily enhance the feeling of dread in a horror movie.

Often, the best horror movies have the best horror movie soundtracks. This is because it creates an environment, which heightens our senses.

It also helps if there’s a variety of different types of music: scary classical music, scary pop music, and even some funny soundtracks for those who like to laugh and scream!

Soundtracks can also be used to create feelings of fear and suspense during quiet moments.

Background music may be full of eerie sounds or use unsettling chords to build tension within scenes.

During scenes where characters are alone and vulnerable, sounds can be used to enhance their fear.

For example, if a character hears a strange noise in an empty hallway, the soundtrack will emphasize that this is not a place where the character should be, which heightens the viewer’s sense of fear.

The best horror movie soundtracks are unsettling.

In a genre that’s typically all about jump scares, the music is what can really make a movie scary.

The use of sound as a weapon is key to any good horror film. The fear begins with the buildup of tension and then is amplified by the way an audience member reacts to what he or she is hearing.

Tapping into the primal fears that lurk in our subconscious, horror films often use music to bring them to life on-screen.

The best horror films use this tool to its full effect, creating a unique experience for each viewer based on their own personal fears.