Perhaps more than any other film genre, horror is a construct in which music and sound play a crucial role in the way that we identify with character. Indeed some films — such as Robert Wise’s chilly classic The Haunting — primarily elicit scares from their masterfully subjective acoustics, the film’s spectral antagonist unseen. An effective score can enhance a dire film, while other soundtracks have terrified us in such a primal way that their sounds have ineffably scarred our unconscious — and perverted our bathroom habits (see: Psycho). Yet, amongst the creeping terror of these melodies are soundtracks that have haunted us with their beauty, acting as disarming counterpoints to on-screen anomie. Sometimes, it’s not a minor-chord lunge or a synth-shriek that renders the malevolent world of make-believe uncannily palpable. Here are ten beguiling favorites. What are yours?
Nosferatu the Vampyre / Popol Vuh
Longtime Herzog collaborators Popol Vuh teamed up with the German director for his 1979 remake of the silent horror film classic. It’s an unlikely mix of ethereal, exotic and hypnotic Heathen sounds, plus the band’s signature Moog-tastic style that sets a completely different tone for the famous vampire tale. If you ever wanted to imagine Dracula with a side of tabla drums and sitar, this is it.