horror movies: dont just cover your eyes, but your ears, too.
One of the most overlooked aspect of horror movies is the musical score in the background. So many people are focused on what’s going on during the scene, being afraid and who the killer is or what the killer is doing. What people do not notice is that the musical score in the background is actually enhancing the drama and fear.
Take Alfred Hitchcock for example. This man is a pure genius at incorporating music into his films. He knows exactly what music to put in what scene and knows exactly what tune and song will haunt not only the character in the film, but also the audience. With the help of composer Bernard Herrmann, the music almost becomes a character, an integral part of the plot. In his films, it’s almost impossible to separate the score from the film, they are just so intertwined together.
This classic scene from Psycho has one of the most identifiable and memorable scores in film history. This video shows how different the scene would be without the music in the background. While it sounds more brutal and realistic without the music, I find it to be not nearly as suspenseful or spine-tingling without the score. It just doesn’t sound the same without it.
Compare that to the film American Psycho, which uses modern, non-orchestral music; mostly pop and rock from the 80’s. This movie shows that sometimes music doesn’t add anything but confusion to a scene. There’s a total disconnect between audio and visual, which proves that the right music is needed to make a horror movie work. At the same time, though, the rock and pop music creates a surreal experience. While it’s not nearly as frighting watching someone get murdered with an axe to Huey Lewis and the News, it’s a lot….creepier, and horrifying in it’s own way, and it makes the viewer take a step back and really think about what’s going on.
So, the next time you’re sitting on your couch stuffing your face with popcorn and watching a horror movie, put the popcorn down, get up, mute the TV and see what happens. Yeah, you’re still scared, and yeah, it’s still creepy, but the suspense isn’t building nearly as much as it was before. Let’s face it, without the music, horror movies wouldn’t be nearly as fun.