"Listen to this!" A friend pressed the ringer on his BlackBerry, and it played the theme to The Omen, "Ave Satani" by Jerry Goldsmith, which he'd assigned to a particularly heinous client of his. Another friend had, for a time, assigned a relative the unforgettable score from Halloween as composed by writer/director John Carpenter himself. And I'm sure somewhere there is someone with the theme from The Exorcist, which was written by Mike Oldfield.
Ringtones aside, there's no denying that a deft soundtrack or score can ratchet up the tension in any movie, especially one that uses droning noises and other disturbing, almost subliminal effects that can slip past the viewer and straight into our brain. Some of my favorite spooky soundtracks sure to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end include the above, naturally, but there are a few that need some love as well.
The original themes for Hellraiser were done by the experimental, esoteric British band Coil, and once you listen to their CDs The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser (The Consequences of Raising Hell) and "Unnatural History II (Smiling in the Face of Perversity)", you can see why the execs (allegedly) put the kibosh on using Coil's music for the movie. Coil's music is generally a wonderfully beautiful and creepy affair, but listening to the soundtrack on its own is enough to make me wanna run for the hills.
Goblin (aka The Goblins) are another excellent source of extremely creepy movie music; Dario Argento frequently collaborated with them on movies like Suspirira, Tenebre, Deep Red, and Phenomena. Their creepy panting and grunting prog rock is certainly enough to make a dance school full of witches with the occasional room full of razorwire totally plausible. They also contributed to Dawn of the Dead (Argento worked on the film as a script consultant, film editor, and composer) and Shaun of the Dead.
For my money, Goblin/The Goblins and Coil are at the top of my list when it comes to adding that extra frisson of terror to my movie-going experience? What are yours?