Top 5 Most Iconic Horror Movie Theme Songs

Time to get spooky.

5. Rosemary’s Baby (Main Theme)

           Just the right balance of sweet lullaby and creepy discord set the Rosemary’s Baby Main Theme apart from other horror themes. Uncomfortable harmony and jarringly metallic harpsichord notes make it more nightmarish than dreamlike, ending with a hauntingly sad fade that hurts as much as it scares.

4. Friday the 13th (Main Theme)

           Dragging strings overlaid with sharp speed changes and quick-emerging horns seem to announce the inescapable presence of Jason Voorhees, the music as unrelenting as the killer. An unforgettable chorus of “ch-ch-ch-ah-ah-ah” snaps gently behind the tumultuous melody, leaving no room to breathe and nowhere to hide as the orchestra pushes you towards certain doom.

3. The Exorcist (Theme)

           Chaotic and ethereal, the main theme of The Exorcist seems almost cheerful at first – that is, until a more ghostly harmony picks up behind the lead piano and changes the tone to be more uncertain, fearful, and deeply complex. Short, melodious bursts of hopeful chords that are scattered throughout the otherwise dark piece, ending with an electric guitar that betrays power, even in the face of an unknown enemy.  

2. Psycho (Theme)

           The screeching violins that scream over the shower murder scene are undeniably iconic, but the intro to Psycho is just as hair-raising. Fast with an uncomfortable dissonance, the strings in the theme set the tone for the entire movie, never moving into a more comfortable melody. 

1. Halloween (Theme)

           Michael Myers and the piano that accompanies his murders have become synonymous with “horror.” The gentle, upbeat thumps of percussion feel like pounding hearts, while the harsher, less predictable piano chords hit like heavy footsteps in a hallway. The song works beautifully to build tension and unease, making it a truly great horror movie track – and one you can’t listen to without glancing over your shoulder once or twice.

Want more terrifyingly good soundtracks? Listen to more bone-chilling music here.