Inspiration Through Music: Understated Horror Movie Soundtracks

For those of you whom are long-time readers of Inspiration Through Music, you’ll know that I’m an absolute fan of original score soundtracks. Anything instrumental that has a creepy, mysterious, or dark tinge to it immediately becomes a favorite of mine. So of course, in the wonderful month of October and Halloween to come, I thought it best to assemble a collection of original score music from Horror/Thriller movies that I thought were over-looked and, to this day, are kind of understated. I made the list by going through movies that genuinely frightened me (whether they be horror or close to it) and came up with this list of six songs. Below are the things I see when I listen to them.

“Old Times” – The Others: (Claudio Ianni) – The staircase at the end of the hall in the forbidden part of the house. She’d thought about it often, wondered where it would lead. Her grandparents had always kept the door locked when they’d been alive. They’d always told her that there was nothing back there but junk from the old days. But then why not let her see it? Why hide it? What was up there that was so important it needed to be locked away? She finds her palm gripping the door to the hallway, twisting it open. The door peels back to reveal a white hall, the wooden floors dusty, no longer pristine with that black lacquer she remembered being able to see her face in. She had only been down this hall once… when her grandma had fallen asleep and her grandpa was away. As she stopped at the bottom of the steps, she gazed up the flight, expectation and fear like little pinpricks on her arms. She placed one foot on the step, then the other moved forward to greet the next. When she had reached the first landing, something crashed upstairs. Her heartbeat smashed against her ribcage, her eyes wide with panic and wonderment. Was someone up there… something? What? Against the better thought of returning to the door, she continued to climb.

“Love Remembered” – Dracula: (Wojciech Kilar) – The gardens were beautiful, just as they’d said they would be. People had been coming to them for years, probably for over a century. They were always kept in imaculate condition and it had always stunned her that someone would feel so passionate about keeping them that way. She walks through ivy-twirled arc deeper into the gardens. Tulips, bougainvillea, geraniums, chrysanthemums, white roses… she lifts her head and catches sight of somebody turning around a corner. She freezes. She knows she’s here alone. The gardens were closed off to the public today. She’d sneaked in, telling herself that if she didn’t see the gardens before she left the city than she never would. But who else would be here? She runs to the next corner and peeks around it. No one. Footfalls echo through the garden. She searches for their owner, all the while knowing that if it was one of the gardeners, she’d have to come up with a good excuse for why she was there. Finally, she turns a corner and sees a man standing there. He’s dressed in clothing from a different century, a waistcoat, cap, and jacket with leather shoes. He looks toward her with kind eyes, though she can see there are tears in them. When she tries to get closer… he vanishes into thin air.

“Compass and The Ruler” – From Hell: (Trevor Jones) – The phonograph plays a fuzzy song in the other room. It sends a stiffness up his spine, icy cold. It’s a dread that he knows well, one that he associates with only one person. He remembers the day he first heard the song, the day that he died. He remembers the harrowing carriage ride that he took (his last) as it tore down the cobblestone streets, thick with mist in that early morning. He remembers the rush of water from the river on the edge of town and how no one could see it that day. It just blended into the mist, its faint outline like a frozen road. He remembered the house, old and twisted.The stories of the macabre that were told about it always had gruesome and horrific endings. But somehow that didn’t stop him. Somehow those warnings did nothing to phase him. He’d crossed the threshold into the darkened world… and had never left it.

“Noah Visits” – The Village: (James Newton Howard) – (This is a piece from the Expanded Soundtrack which, to my knowledge, can only be found on Youtube.) The beginning of this piece conjures an image of an idyllic setting in my mind, a way of life that is slower and more tranquil than the fast life of the city. A young man wanders through a dirt path in the woods on his way back home from town. The wind picks up and the rain starts to fall. Nearly dropping his basket of groceries, he runs. He’s still a good ways out from his home in the village and knows he’ll have to find some place to stay in order to wait out the storm. As he takes off into the woods, the one place his older brother told him not to go, he notices a dark cave, it’s black mouth just barely noticeable over some encroaching rocks. He huddles in the entrance as the sky opens up and the water pours down. Somewhere behind him, something scrapes over the rocks. He turns his head.

“Avarice” – Hannibal: (Hans Zimmer) – She awakens in the back seat of the car, moving down the empty road in the dark. For a few minutes, she almost forgets where she is but then it all comes back at her, like standing in front of a train as it comes screeching into the station. The memories nearly overwhelm her. The destruction, the mania, the loss of life… she has to force herself to take deep breaths in order to sit up. He’s behind the wheel. His hands grip the steering wheel as if he’s afraid he might suddenly lose his sense of touch, that his fingers might slip right through. There is an equal measure of urgency and desperation in his eyes that keeps her from speaking up right away. He’s afraid he’s going to slip away again… in a crucial moment where she might need him. And there is nothing he’ll be able to do to stop it. Limbo was trying to pull him back into its clutches. Soon enough, it would have its way. (This scene is from my apocalyptic novel that I’m currently working on.

“In the Cornfield” – Signs: (James Newton Howard) – The leaves fall from the trees all along the cul-de-sac. It’s closing in on twilight, the orange finally burning out in the sky and being replaced by a blue evening. She stands on her porch. Soon the night will descend. And soon, she’ll be fighting for her life again. The darkness crept in like a predator, one that couldn’t be touched or stopped, just sensed and accepted. She knew that those things would come along with it, creatures that defied rational explanation. They ruled the darkness, ruled in the fear of those they tortured. She knew she only had minutes to decide how best to handle that particular night. She’d barely survived the previous one. And the day seemed to have zipped by despite the safety it had held. She glances at the revolver that lies on the table behind her. How she wished she didn’t have to use it. But there were no other options. This was the only way to go. Fight. Survive. Live to see another day.

My apologies once more for not having this blog up earlier. Both Halloween Readings went immensely well. Another shout out to my fellow readers, Kate Cone, Peter Dudar, EJ Fechenda, and Jen Blood. And a final shout-out to Ken Grossman and Steve Donoso of the Camden and Rockland Public Libraries (respectively) for their enthusiasm about my idea and the use of their space to carry it out. We all had a lot of fun!

Now… back to blog business. Because Inspiration Through Music is going up tonight, you’ll have to stay tuned for Cooking Adventures tomorrow night where I’ll share my triumph of a Pinterest recipe for Apple Cider Caramel Cookies with you (and how they stole the show at both readings!) Also, this Monday on the next Inspiration Through Music blog, I’ll be choosing unusual songs that wouldn’t readily be associated with horror and giving them my own little terrifying tweaks on what I hear when I listen to them. Excited? You should be. Stay tuned!


One thought on “Inspiration Through Music: Understated Horror Movie Soundtracks

  1. Pingback: Storminess is Happening Here « The Monstrum Chronicles

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