5 Most Iconic Horror Theme Songs

 

5. Halloween 

Hands-down, John Carpenter’s terrifyingly minimal composition for the original Halloween is more than enough to strike fear into my heart after a few tinkering notes. The synth-enhanced tune, played in 5/4 time, was famously performed by the director—and turned Halloween from a eerie, oddly brutal horror flick to something so much more nightmare-inducing. Try driving home from the theater without hearing those dreadful low notes after a viewing of this one.
 

4. Dead Slience

 

3. Jaws 


Two single notes never did as much work as it did when queueing up the intro of the ocean’s scariest predator. The Jaws theme, written and conducted by Hollywood legend John Williams, is (and will remain) one of the most recognizable, horrifying clips of music for decades to come. It’s also a great ringtone for fielding calls from the in-laws. And for those arguing that Jaws isn’t a horror movie—people are chewed to death by a giant (real-life) monster. Blood goes everywhere. Screams are had. It’s a horror movie.

 

2. Friday the 13th 


While Halloween stirred up an amazing set of eerie notes that set itself aside from its slasher peers, Friday the 13th defined the palette the modern slasher soundtrack would draw from with hushed whispers, drilling strings and heart-rattling low horns. What this tune lacks in ambient creepiness it makes up for with its pure, horrifying attack mode. Plus, who hasn’t re-created that “ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma” while alone with some friends in the woods?

 

1. Saw 

Say what you will about its sequels, but for an original horror film, the first Saw did most things just right—soundtrack included. With the introduction of our Jigsaw villain (and his tricycled representative), the creators paired equally nail-biting, signature tones for its first theme. Much like the Halloween theme, Saw‘s composers paired clicking electronics with a simple piano melody to create the best musical representation of what it’s like to sever an appendage.