HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Randy Slaugh’s Top 10 Horror Movie Film Scores

Randy Slaugh is the keyboardist and co-songwriter/producer in White Moth Black Butterfly, whose sophomore album Atone came out on September 1 (read our review here). In addition to his work with WMMB, you might have heard his excellent string arrangements on music by acts as diverse as PeripheryDevin Townsend,  Skyharbor, ArchitectsIntervals and Thy Art Is Murder. As you might be able to tell by the cinematic quality of his arrangements, Randy is a huge film score fan. He agreed to share his top 10 favorite horror movie film scores as a part of It Djents’ Halloween Special.


Film: The Invitation (2015)

Composer: Theodore Shapiro

From the tasteful solo violin overdubbing to the eerie piano and electronic production, everything in the score feels totally apprehensive and uneasy. This is a great example of how sometimes less is more, if done correctly.


Film: Get Out (2017)

Composer: Michael Abels

You rarely see a first-time director and a first-time film composer tackle such an ambitious and outside-the-box project and be able to achieve something so fresh and flawlessly executed.  With a film that juggles so many different tones and social themes, the score for Get Out accordingly shifts from sinister, to hypnotic, to straight-up thought-provoking, and works seamlessly as a narrative device for the story.


Film: It Follows (2014)

Composer: Disasterpeace

I hadn’t heard of Disasterpeace until I saw It Follows, but I immediately fell in love with his work. His eerie blend of 80’s synthwave and chiptune perfectly complements the production design and the mood of the film.


Film: Psycho (1960)

Composer: Bernard Herrmann

This one goes without saying.  One of the most influential and iconic cues, not only within the horror genre, but in all of film music.


Film: Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Composer: Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler

Most of the film actually goes by without any background music whatsoever, except for a few short sections using a very minimal string quartet (co-composed by the film’s own writer/director). Because of that sparsity, these short movements are especially effective, and absolutely capture the bleak and somber tone of the film.


Film: It (2017)

Composer: Benjamin Wallfisch

Something you don’t hear too often in modern horror film scores is the use of distinctive character themes and motifs. Benjamin Wallfisch does an incredible job recreating the same quality and feel of some of the great orchestral scores of the 80’s.


Film: Zygote (2017)

Composer: Lorne Balfe

(The Zygote score is from 42:17 til the end of the video, but it’s cued up to one of my favorite parts) I can hardly listen to this score without physically tensing up. As you’d expect by the work of someone so accomplished and versatile as Lorne Balfe, the visceral score only heightens the short film’s already sickening and anxiety-inducing atmosphere.


Film: Crimson Peak (2015)

Composer: Fernando Velázquez

As far as horror films go, you really don’t find such gorgeous and well-composed themes as you hear in Velázquez’s score for Crimson Peak.  The beautiful Victorian waltzes are tragic, moving and ominous, and it completely enhances the classiness of the film.


Film: The Exorcist (1973)

Composer: Mike Oldfield, Jack Nitzsche

When you think of The Exorcist, “Tubular Bells” immediately comes to mind. As amazing and iconic as that theme is, what stands out to me even more is the use of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Polymorphia” in the film (which was also used in Kubrick’s The Shining). Recorded way back in 1961, this was so unconventional and ahead of its time, and helped pave the way for a lot of the atonal and aleatoric music you hear in horror films today.


Film: The Witch (2015)

Composer: Mark Korven

Largely improvised, entirely organic with no use of electronics, and almost always dissonant with no sense of traditional melody or harmony, the music from The Witch is one of the most creative film scores I’ve ever heard.  Mark Korven utilizes everything from a nyckelharpa, jouhikko, and waterphone, to an improvisational choir and even goes to the extent of creating his own instruments (check out his “apprehension engine” here, and bonus points if you have time to check out his TIFF interview too).


We want to thank Randy for taking the time to write this excellent guest piece. You can check out his website to learn more about his work here, and keep up with White Moth Black Butterfly here.

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