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Horror music in film making

by Chance Bulger

Who is fanatical about horror movies knows that the soundtrack is a fundamental part to give the film the horrifying tone that gives that cold in the spine. Some songs even make the person tenser than the actual scene itself.

That’s why one of the most important factors in a horror movie and video is the soundtrack and the sound effects. Be it in thriller movies like the classic “Psycho” bathroom scene or Halloween movies, psychopaths and supernatural ones like “The Blair Witch Project”, “American Psycho”, and “The Ring”. Finding the ideal music for a horror audiovisual production is not a difficult task at With hundreds of Royalty Free songs in our library you’ll find the best horror songs to give the perfect mood to your production.

For you to get a sense of how important and memorable the soundtrack of a horror movie is, we list below the most epic horror movie songs of all time.


  • Psycho (1960)


  • The Exorcist (1973)

  • Jaws (1975)


  • Silent Hill (2006)



The Effects of Horror Music on the Brain

As we know, the brain is responsible for our perception of the world, from the most basic functions of our body to the complex and almost inexplicable feelings that go through this organ. So the act of listening to music could not be different.

But what you may not know is that music causes very curious effects in our brains, even influencing consumption habits and the way we perceive the passage of time.

Whoever watched the movie “The Exorcist” and trembled with fear during the scene in which the demon is expelled from the body of Reagan already has an excuse to give to friends: those cries, in fact, were not of the actress Linda Blair, but of pigs being prepared for slaughter.

Some sounds stir up fear in the human being, and of course the film industry knows that very well. That’s why, for example, suspense or horror scenes are always accompanied by soundtracks that help intensify the tension or fear we feel while watching the movie. This works because there are certain sounds that humans will always associate with imminent danger or fear, such as the cry of other people or species of animals. Scientists call these sounds “discordant noises.”


Orchestral Music and Alternatives

Often, orchestral music is the most used type of music used in horror films. It has been used since the birth of the genre and to this day is the most popular style of music used in this genre of films. One reason why orchestral music is so common in horror films is because of its dynamics, as it allows the composer to vary greatly in his compositions to accompany the events throughout the film. However, the main reason is that orchestral music is powerful and simply works great when there is a need to convey emotions.

Orchestral music is not the only genre used in horror movies; many current films use other styles of music such as rock or industrial music. A good example of this use is in the movie “Blair Witch 2,” which uses alternative rock and metal.

Some filmmakers, however, take things a step further by replacing orchestral music with songs that would not normally be considered for a horror movie. Perhaps the most extreme case is the movie “American Psycho”, which uses Rock and American pop. In this movie, it becomes obvious that horror movies require the right kind of music to function properly. A very strange feeling is produced when Patrick Bateman (the protagonist) kills one of his victims to the sound of “Huey Lewis and the News” “Hip to be Square”.


Mickey Mousing Effect

Mickey Mousing consists of the sound reproduction of the image, that is, the sound tries to describe what is shown. The technique was very used at the beginning of the cinematographic sound productions. The end of the first King Kong is an example used over and over and over. Nowadays is seen with disdain by the filmmakers. The justification is that it emphasizes the actions and leaves explicit what we should be aware of: the character fell, walked slowly, tiptoe, etc; so there is no room left for the public to reflect and perceive on its own.

Thinking in this way, it is possible to say that Hitchcock’s track in “Psycho”, for example, does the same thing, tells us when to be attentive to an event. Almost as if the music playing told us, CAREFUL! In “Vertigo”, for example, the character has a song to emphasize his acrophobia. (Hitchcock’s technique is called underscoring – a trail during speech, action, etc.).


Sound Symbol

In many horror films, a melody or sound eventually becomes a symbol (or sign) of the villain in the film. It can be a monster, a killer or a demon. This creates a very strong bond between the film’s auditory and visual elements and the villain. Moreover, it is thus possible to recognize the villain only through sound, without necessarily having a visual representation. Assigning a song or sound to villains is more common in movies with many sequences, as it may take some time to “establish” this connection.

Music and sound effects are directly linked to the look of the movie. The music accompanies the events in the film, creates or adjusts a certain mood or atmosphere, since the sound effects are more directly linked to the events of the film and in most cases are applied to intensify and mark direct actions such as movements and impacts. These sounds are usually much exaggerated (especially in action movies and horror movies), a classic example is punches (and / or other impacts), which often sound like whipping.

Usually the punches produce an almost inaudible sound. Although in some cases such “amplifications” negatively affect the realism of some events in a film, they serve to increase the power and intensity of movements, impacts and other actions, which is very important, especially in horror films with the aim of creating a confrontational audiovisual experience.

It is interesting to note also that particularly horror movies tend to highlight sounds that are not usually heard or heard normally, such as a beating heart or someone’s breathing. This usually happens when there is a single victim chased by a monster. This effect makes the audience part of the action.

Silence can also work as a sound effect in some scenes; it can be used when there is a need to create tension in a scene. Examples of these sound effects in horror films include humming crickets, wind, thunder, rain, etc.

At we have a library of sound effects with thousands of audios for you to explore for your next horror production. All SFXs cost $ 3.00 and the possibilities are endless. Some great examples of Sound Effects for horror movies are:

magic vampire horror death

wind int whistling horror

birds active crickets chirps

kite always crashes windy


There is also a sound effect known as “ambient sound” which is basically a sound (usually looped sequences) used to create background noise for a scene. In looking for Horror Tracks and selecting the loops only option you will find several ideal tracks in loop to create this kind of atmosphere. Some examples are:


Horror Bed 3 Loop

Horror Film Score Loop

Midnight Loop 1 Long

Heavy Dark Strings LOOP

Freezing Terror (Loop 01)


Finding the perfect horror music for your videos themusicase

Finding the ideal horror song for your video

Having the appropriate horror music for your video is critical to the quality of your production. Finding the ideal horror music for your project will depend on the theme and atmosphere that you will want to insert into your production. In our library you find hundreds of songs for the most diverse projects.


A genuine thriller is a film that relentlessly pursues a single-minded goal – to provide thrills and keep the audience cliff-hanging at the ‘edge of their seats’ as the plot builds towards a climax. Listening to Thriller Chasing, available on our library, you’ll get this exactly feeling.


Senses of fear, panic, alarm, and dread for the audience. These are the main features of Horror Movies. These films are often unsettling and rely on scaring the audience through a portrayal of their worst fears and nightmares. Horror films usually center on the arrival of an evil force, person, or event. Entity (Horror) – No Choir, Halloween Parade Dark Horror Soundtrack and Silent Town Dark Horror Soundtrack are perfect examples of ideal soundtracks for horror videos and movies.


The horror genre has gained a new hit in recent years. With influences from “Nosferatu” and even “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, monster movies are a subgenre of horror films that are very successful nowadays, with prominence for the zombie movies. On TMC you will find the perfect track to create a sound symbol for your monster movie, such as: Zombie Attack, Monster Machine and Baby Monster.

Whether producing a short horror video for Youtube or making a great production for international distribution, finding the right track to give the gritty tone to your movie is critical to your success. Now that you know how easy it is to find the right music for your next horror movie and video on TMC, start exploring our library and improve your projects with hundreds of possibilities.

Bonus Tip: Watch Martin Scorsese Teaching Filmmaking at Masterclass.

Author: Chance Bulger

Writer, blogger based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Yann Keerim
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