History of Music in Horror Films Essay

2098 Words Oct 10th, 2012 9 Pages
A history of the sound in horror films
Horror films are known for their ability to scare audiences, to get the audience’s hearts racing, their blood rushing. A good horror film will cause viewers to be on the edge of their seats and having their perception of reality distorted as they attempt to understand the unraveling plot of the horror film. The tone of the film aides in the amount of suspense that a horror film produces, since a much darker film will create a more suspenseful atmosphere than one that is more focused on campy monster makeup. But the tone of a film is determined by the sound of the film, or in other words, the score. Sound or music in a horror film, or the lack thereof, make the intense scenes and without the addition
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The tones and sounds created centered around a central melody that was known as the “monster’s music”. This consistent score motif was characterized by harmonic, loud, crashing cords that featured minor seconds and more drawn-out tones.
This theme of monster music and a large emphasis on the final battle between good and evil continued throughout most film and saw a resurgence in the late 70s and early 80s with slasher films. Nightmare on Elm Street was one of the first slasher films to have a distinct theme that played throughout the movie whenever there was a conflict between the slasher, Freddy Krueger and the final girl. These songs were also some of the first to mirror the action on-screen and create a strong symbolic tie between the direction given by the director and the composing of the music.
During the final confrontation, Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street descends into the basement and to mimic Nancy’s movement the composer, Charles Bernstein, by having descending notes that follow Nancy’s movement into where we are led to believe Freddy resides. Without this ominous feel, the movie would lack most of its punch. This is a grand example of one lackluster, albeit classic, horror film that is somewhat saved by a stupendous score. The famous stalking trope for horror

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