The horror business is, of course, a broad and polytheistic church: a rowdy congregation of splatters, slashers, giallos, J-horrors and melts. The range of music available on horror scores is similarly kaleidoscopic – funk, electro, EBM, folk, ambient and weirdo electronics have all been used to revolt, unsettle, or scare the LDs out of the unwitting viewer. Yes, you’re never too far away from a brooding analogue synth, but the subculture of horror soundtracks is immensely rich and full of surprises. You can see why people devote hundreds of hours – and thousands of dollars – to hoarding (and, increasingly, reissuing) this stuff.
The following list runs the gamut from curios to blockbusters, from fan-assembled bootlegs to charting LPs. Cult classics and video nasties are amply represented: for every Carpenter and Craven flick, there’s a Surf Nazis Must Die or Slumber Party Massacre. Bear in mind however that this is a list of original soundtracks, which eliminates classics such as The Shining, The Exorcist and, err, The Return of the Living Dead.
Kwaidan, Kobayashi’s set of impressionistic supernatural vignettes (at the time, the most expensive film made in Japanese cinema history), is surely one of his greatest efforts – a savage, curdled version of Japanese folk music, strangled out of an abused biwa. Notes are plucked and spat with force, with found sound and moments of yawning space accentuating the unease.