Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”
Mike Oldfield released his Tubular Bells album in 1973. The entirely instrumental title track is recognizable right from the start, as it was used in the popular 1973 horror film The Exorcist. The dissonant melody continues throughout the track, giving a sense of uneasiness to its listeners. Check it out below.
Throbbing Gristle's "Very Friendly (Pt. I)"
Industrial music group Throbbing Gristle's "Very Friendly" track appears on the bootleg album The First Annual Report. "Very Friendly" opens with the pounding of a highly distorted guitar riff, until a fuzzy radio-sounding voice comes in at about the one-minute mark. The guitar builds until four minutes in, when the distortion tones down to allow synth sounds and chant-like vocals. This trend continues on for the 10-minute runtime of the song, even including some strange shouting/choking/indescribable noises that make the song that much more terrifying to listen to.
Coil's "Tainted Love"
The iconic "Tainted Love" was originally recorded by Gloria Jones but is most famous for the Soft Cell version from 1981. English experimental group Coil took a stab at it, slowing it down dramatically to pull out the eeriest and most somber version of the song possible. Church bells, synth sounds and almost monotone vocals really incite chills with this one. Check out the equally chilling music video below.
The Horrors' "Death at the Chapel"
"Death at the Chapel" appears on The Horrors' debut album, Strange House, from 2007. The English rock group brings the spooky feel to this one with punchy distorted guitar chords, a walking bassline with the keys and lots of shouting. If you're more into the loud and wild scary songs as opposed to slow and eerie, check this one out.
Bernard Herrman's Psycho theme
One of the most notable horror movie sounds was composed by Bernard Herman for Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho. The track starts off with strings fluttering in a rapid melody similar to the sound of bees. Around four and a half minutes in, the cello draws out a long note before the iconic screeching of the violins breaks the silence. If you were planning on listening to this spooky playlist while getting ready for Halloween night, we recommend not listening to this one in the shower.
Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man"
Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan released "Hurdy Gurdy Man" in 1968. The song uses distorted guitars, a steady drum beat, the pounding of a tambura and his echoing vocals. The track has been used for film and television soundtracks, including 2013's big horror hit The Conjuring and the chilling opening scene of 2007's Zodiac. Listen to the mesmerizing and haunting song below.
HIM's "(Don’t Fear) The Reaper"
"Don't Fear the Reaper" is a song originally performed by American rock band Blue Oyster Cult from their 1976 album Agents of Fortune. Finnish goth-rock band HIM later covered the song in 1997, slowing it down with a variation of the opening melody done on the piano instead of guitars. The group also cuts to a haunting interlude to feature dark sounds of synth and keys before returning to the final chorus.
Goblin's "Suspira Theme"
The 1977 Italian horror film Suspira, which gets a remake this year, features this incredibly creepy theme song. It starts off with somewhat innocent-sounding chimes, until a whispering voice starts mimicking the chime melody with eerie "la la las." The six-minute-long song shifts into various melodies and features a wide mix of instruments, including guitars, drums, keys, synths and more. Each movement keeps up the suspenseful feel of the song. Check out the masterpiece below.
Marilyn Manson's "This Is Halloween"
In 2006, Marilyn Manson covered "This Is Halloween" from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. His version includes more aggressive guitar riffs, experimental spooky voices, his characteristic growling vocals and pounding drums. Check out this video of his version dubbed over the original scene from the film.
John Carpenter's Halloween Theme
Last but definitely not least, John Carpenter composed this theme song for the 1978 horror film Halloween. Nothing screams spooky season more than the iconic anxiety-inducing melody of the keys. Check out the audio below or stream it on Spotify to play at your Halloween parties.