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Old 9th February 2012, 11:13 AM
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Question How important is the music in Horror Films?

As I've mentioned elsewhere, for my final assignment in my Music Technology course I have to conduct a study about a specialist subject of my choice involving music. I've chosen to do mine about the importance and relevance that music has in horror films.
So, what are your thoughts on this subject?
Would John Carpenters Halloween have worked without his excellent score?
Do films like the The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity prove you don't need music to create a suspenseful atmosphere?
I've already started collecting my research resources and would like to include the opinions of fans like myself, preferably from both sides of the argument so any help with this will be most appreciated.
I will be using screenshots of this thread as part of my final piece of work so if anyone would prefer not to be included then please still post your comments and I will ensure that your name is blanked out of the pics, thanks in advance Rik
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Old 9th February 2012, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rik View Post
As I've mentioned elsewhere, for my final assignment in my Music Technology course I have to conduct a study about a specialist subject of my choice involving music. I've chosen to do mine about the importance and relevance that music has in horror films.
So, what are your thoughts on this subject?
Would John Carpenters Halloween have worked without his excellent score?
Do films like the The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity prove you don't need music to create a suspenseful atmosphere?
I've already started collecting my research resources and would like to include the opinions of fans like myself, preferably from both sides of the argument so any help with this will be most appreciated.
I will be using screenshots of this thread as part of my final piece of work so if anyone would prefer not to be included then please still post your comments and I will ensure that your name is blanked out of the pics, thanks in advance Rik
I think you just have to look at the way the scores to Jaws and Psycho are part of pop culture, to get your answer.

As an effective score allows the director of a horror film to get an audience on the edge of their seats without even showing his "monster".



As for Halloween, one of it's producers, Irwin Yablans has talked about seeing an early cut without the score and feeling it wasn't scary at all.
Yet he then goes on to say when he watched the finished film with an audience, some people were covering their ears because of the creepy score.

Another good example is Suspiria, which is one of the most unique looking films of the genre, yet it's score is equally celebrated among it's fans.

And on a personal note, I once attended a screening of Night of the Living Dead. (Which I had already seen many times before on TV and video) And the one thing I took away from it, was the score. Which I never thought was particular effective before hand, yet I ended up buying 3 or 4 DVDs of the film until I found a copy with the original score in place.
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Old 9th February 2012, 12:29 PM
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Yes, but both TBWP and PA are post modern horror films, and the subgenre they belong to negating the need for "soundtracks" at all, almost like a scary version of Dogme 95 IMO.

music is a large part of creating an atmosphere within cinema...il refer to B Hermann's Hitchcock scores here as an easy example...get it wrong and you scupper the film.....(phenomena) but getting it right usually makes a film a more rounded experience....il use The Exorcist here as the ST reflects the polarising ambience within the film...light/dark, quiet/noisy etc which symbolises the turmoil that the characters and by proxy the audience feels....
well, thats the bits i like anyhow....
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Old 9th February 2012, 06:47 PM
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It's of the utmost importance, for sure. I'd wager that there are even films whose score saves and/or outweighs their respective artistic value, or lack thereof. It can make or break a film, in my opinion, and I think there is a reason why those who collect film scores, like myself, are so obsessive of their culture!
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Old 11th February 2012, 01:31 AM
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Music in horror films is very important IMO.Watching Argento's Deep Red or The Omen (1976) wouldn't have been the same experience for me without the incredible scores.
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Old 11th February 2012, 02:00 AM
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Music is generally important but then take something like I Spit On Your Grave, where the lack of a score/soundtrack actually makes it feel colder and more brutal, I think.
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Old 15th February 2012, 09:46 AM
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Suspiria has some of the most memorable and intense music for a horror film - however, some people I've watched it with said the music ruined the experience, saying it was too loud, too excessive and in the end, just plain annoying/distracting.

I loved the music myself, but for me one of the most effective bits in the film was when there was no music at all. It's when Sara has locked herself in the room and the killer is trying to unlatch the lock with his razor by putting it through the keyhole and lifting the latch. After the assault of the music, this scene with just her whimpers and the scraping of the razor is the scariest moment in the film. And all with no music! However, I don't think it would have been as scary had not there been so much music beforehand...
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Old 15th February 2012, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porcupine View Post
Suspiria has some of the most memorable and intense music for a horror film - however, some people I've watched it with said the music ruined the experience, saying it was too loud, too excessive and in the end, just plain annoying/distracting.

I loved the music myself, but for me one of the most effective bits in the film was when there was no music at all. It's when Sara has locked herself in the room and the killer is trying to unlatch the lock with his razor by putting it through the keyhole and lifting the latch. After the assault of the music, this scene with just her whimpers and the scraping of the razor is the scariest moment in the film. And all with no music! However, I don't think it would have been as scary had not been so much music beforehand...
I wrote an essay on the Suspiria soundtrack when I was at uni. I 100% agree, it is a fantastic score and the music is partly what makes the film so chilling. For me the soundtrack can make or break a film, if done well it should enhance what is going on visually but a poor/ill-fitting soundtrack can distract from what's happening. I'm generally not a fan of hearing pop/rock/metal, etc. in soundtracks. As the blob pointed out about ISOYG and the lack of score, sometimes it can work better without music. It just depends on the film.
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Old 15th February 2012, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for the responses guys! I'm going try and write my assignment from a neutral perspective, which I think may prove difficult because, for me the soundtrack/score is like another character, especially in some of the films already mentioned. You only have to watch the shower scene in Psycho without the music to see that it's far more effective with Bernard Herrman's score, something that Hitch didn't want to happen
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Old 15th February 2012, 02:16 PM
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A film like The Haunting works without music in its scarier scenes.

I find music can operate much the same way as canned laughter in tv comedy, in that it tells you where you should jump / laugh.

If most of todays modern ghost stories dispensed with music and relied on sound effects they would hit the mark a lot more in my opinion.
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