As Halloween draws closer and closer, we've been binge watching all kinds of classic horror movies. While some achieve greatness in terms of jump scares and gory visuals, others remain our favorites because of their incredible soundtracks. From Argento and Fulci to Carpenter and Romero, these masterful directors have made fantastic choices when choosing the composers and artists who would make the music for their films.
In an effort to better understand just what exactly makes a horror movie soundtrack so eerie and enjoyable at the same time, we decided to investigate what synthesizers, modular synths, keyboards and electronics were used by the composers during the recording process. Read on to discover the gear behind four unforgettable scores, including Profondo Rosso, Zombi 2, Halloween and Day Of The Dead.
While many know Dario Argento's seminal film Suspiria, it's the theme to his 1975 film, Profondo Rosso, that is truly one of the all-time classic horror songs. Created by Goblin, a prog rock band and frequent Argento contributors, the score plays off themes of classical music, jazz, rock and metal, all served under a heavy layer of synth and haunting electric piano.
The Italian directors had it right when choosing artists to partner with on scoring and soundtracks. As Argento closely aligned himself with Goblin, so did Lucio Fulci with composer Fabio Frizzi, who would work on a majority of the director's movies. Frizzi's legendary theme to Zombi 2 is almost lo-fi sounding at first with ghostly orchestral voices and sequenced drums before powerful Mellotron and synth work rushes into the fray.
John Carpenter is one of the ultimate masters of horror, but what many non-genre fans might not know is that he did a majority of his own scores as well. Teaming up with synthesist/University of Southern California student Daniel Wyman, Carpenter created the soundtrack to Halloween using an incredible modular system from Moog and forever gave an anthem to the scariest of all holidays.
Gear Used: Moog III Modular System, Ribbon Controller and MiniMoog
Day Of The Dead
Another director-gone-composer, John Harrison worked on many of George Romero's movies including Knightriders, Creepshow and Day Of The Dead. Handling the scoring for the latter two films, the Pennsylvania-born Harrison developed music that closely blurred the lines between synth-pop, classical music and the experimental sounds of rock bands like Tangerine Dream.
Gear Used: Yamaha DX-7, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 and Kurzweil K250