Definitive Horror Music Collection, The (CD)

The Definitive Horror Music CollectionReviewed by Scott A. Johnson

Produced by Silva America

Artists: Bela Bartok, James Bernard, Elmer Bernstein, John Carpenter, Danny Elfman, John Williams, and more

For years, music companies have put out CD compilations of movie themes that promise to be the “ultimate” or “complete” set. And most of them are woefully disappointing. While they contain the themes to great movies, they’re usually performed on synthesizers or are knockoffs that don’t have near the power or beauty of the originals. So when a four-CD set called The Definitive Horror Music Collection landed in my mailbox, I was skeptical to say the least. I looked at the track listings and imagined another crappy set that sounded more like elevator music than a moving score. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the set include some great songs, but they were played by some really impressive musicians.

To begin with, the four CDs play like a lesson in movie history with the earliest tracks going back to 1922’s Nosferatu, continuing to 2009’s Drag Me to Hell. By taking some of the most powerful music (not just themes) from eighty-seven years worth of horror films, this collection gives the reader a real education in influences and advances in the art of scoring a movie. The composer list reads like a who’s who of music with names like Danny Elfman, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, and Pino Donaggio.

It also doesn’t go for the easy market by picking only the popular films. Some of the titles in this collection, I must admit, I’d either forgotten about or had never heard. The music from Duel and Taste the Blood of Dracula are a couple of wonderful surprises, as is the “Twisted Nerve Suite” and “Creation of the Female Monster” from Bride of Frankenstien. The collection does contain some of the old stand-bys that no collection should be without like “Tubular Bells” and “Dance of the Witches” from The Witches of Eastwick, but it also contains treats like John Carpenter’s ultra-cheesy theme to They Live, the theme to Dexter, and a fully realized theme to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also included is the theme to Ghostbusters, which, contrary to popular belief, is not the Ray Parker, Jr. song.

What sets this collection apart from others, besides the incredible choice in music, is the caliber of musicians who play on it. The majority of the tracks are played by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, which means the songs are played with all the beauty of emotion they deserve. Also featured on the collection is London Music Works, which does an excellent job of capturing the mood and feeling of each piece. Other artists on the collection include The Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philharmonia, Michigan Music Works, Gareth Williams, Nick Watson, and Mark Ayres.

In all, the collection is nearly flawless, and I say “nearly” because also included is an instrumental version of “Bad to the Bone” from Christine, which doesn’t sound right unless George Thorogood is playing it. Every other track in the collection is perfect, well executed, and worth the listen.

Track Listing

Disc One

  1. Drag Me to Hell – End Titles
  2. Twilight – Edward at Her Bed (Bella’s Lullaby)
  3. Lät Den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In) – Eli’s Theme
  4. Cloverfield – Roar!
  5. Sunshine – Adagio in D Minor
  6. Zodiac – Graysmith’s Theme
  7. Dexter – Main Title
  8. Pan’s Labyrinth – The Labyrinth
  9. King Kong – King Kong/The Venture Departs/It’s Deserted/Central Park/The Empire State Building/Beauty Killed the Beast
  10. War of the Worlds – Suite
  11. Saw – Hello Zep
  12. 28 Days Later – In the House – In a Heartbeat
  13. The Ring – This Is Going to Hurt
  14. Mummy Returns – Main Theme
  15. Hannibal – Vide Cor Meum

Disc Two

  1. Mummy – The Sand Volcano/Love Theme
  2. Sleepy Hollow – End Titles
  3. Haunting – The Carousel/End Titles
  4. Sixth Sense – Malcolm Is Dead
  5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Theme
  6. Village of the Damned – March of the Children
  7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula – The Storm
  8. Army of Darkness (Evil Dead III) – Prologue/Building the Deathcoaster
  9. Witches of Eastwick – Dance of the Witches
  10. Predator – Main Theme
  11. Hellraiser – Main Title/Resurrection
  12. Hellbound: Hellraiser II – Main Title
  13. They Live – Main Theme
  14. Aliens – Prelude/Ripley’s Rescue
  15. Ghostbusters – Main Theme

Disc Three

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street – Main Theme
  2. Christine – Bad to the Bone
  3. Poltergeist – Main Theme
  4. Thing – Main Theme
  5. Halloween II – Main Theme
  6. The Fog – Main Theme
  7. Dressed to Kill – The Gallery
  8. The Shining – Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta/Excerpt
  9. Dracula – Main Titles/Storm
  10. Phantasm – Maine Theme
  11. Alien – The Nostromo/End Title
  12. Halloween – Main Theme
  13. The Fury – Main Theme
  14. Suspiria – Main Theme
  15. Exorcist II: The Heretic – Regan’s Theme

Disc Four

  1. The Omen – Ave Satani
  2. Young Frankenstein – Transylvanian Lullaby
  3. The Exorcist – Tubular Bells
  4. Duel – The Cafe/Truck Attack
  5. Taste the Blood of Dracula – The Young Lovers/Ride to the Ruined Church
  6. Rosemary’s Baby – Lullaby
  7. Twisted Nerve – Suite
  8. Devil Rides Out – The Power of Evil
  9. Dracula, Prince of Darkness – Suite
  10. The Haunting – The History of Hill House
  11. Dracula – Main Title/Finale
  12. Horrors of the Black Museum – Main Theme
  13. Thing from Another World – Main Theme
  14. Bride of Frankenstein – Creation of the Female Monster
  15. Nosferatu – Overture


5 out of 5

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Scott A. Johnson

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  • The Buz

    My god. I want this so bad. I think I’d have that whole thing on repeat in my car for months straight.