Changing leaves. Shorter days. An extra chill in the air. We blink and suddenly fall is upon us, ushering in the horror fan’s favorite time of year. The countdown to Halloween has begun, inviting us to revel in all the film, TV and video game goodness that comes with it.
For better or sometimes delightfully worse, we’re served up a smorgasbord of scares in daily doses, culminating in the ultimate feast of fright-filled fare. And when you’re a horror fan working in our industry, it’s often the music that ratchets up the fear factor in an unmistakable way.
What are ALIBI’s picks for horror-themed flick, series or games you may want to add to your Halloween binge-list? We turned to team members Tim Hare, Joseph Miller and ALIBI founder Jonathan Parks to share the scoop on their all-time horror favs and why they love them so much…
FILM: “An American Werewolf in London” (1981) – Tim Hare
Halloween is one of my favorite times of year, and though I am too old to trick-or-treat, I go out of my way to drive past creative home decorations, watch horror movies and listen to spooky music. The music of Danny Elfman or John Carpenter (known as a director, lesser known as a composer) immediately invokes the sounds and atmosphere of All Hallows Eve. “Danse Macabre” is one of the oldest compositions I can think of that sends chills up your spine with sights of witches dancing in your head, but – with that said – the track that makes me think of Halloween the most is “Blue Moon.”
That’s right! Every Halloween, I watch
I remember when I first saw it. I was home sick, and my mom rented it for me on VHS. I watched it during the day and was still terrified when the wolf attacked Jack (played by Griffin Dunne). The movie thrilled, chilled and always stuck with me. It’s scary, tragic, funny and has some great, well-known songs used in a unique way to create tension and horror.
It’s a relatively short film with some surreal dream sequences and lots of comedy, written and directed by John Landis, who also directed “Animal House,” Blues Brothers, “Coming to America” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. If you’ve never seen it, I can’t recommend it enough, and you’ll never hear “Blue Moon” the same way again!
SERIES: “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” (2015) – Joseph Miller
I didn't grow up watching HBO. Maybe my family didn't want to splurge on premium cable, or they wanted to keep Sunday nights for the family (bingeing wasn't an option then). So after finally touching the HBO waters as an adult – and having completed the required viewing of “The Sopranos,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” etc. –
Although I wasn't too interested in entering the true-crime realm, I gave it a try, and THE MUSIC was the first thing that I noticed, as it kept me engaged from the start through the very last credits of the mini-series. I'd like to think this really started the ominous true-crime trend, or at the least catapulted the genre to what it is recognized as now.
Tonally, the very refreshing use of textures like zithers, saws and extremely well-done organic-horror "beats" scored specifically to picture was like nothing I've heard before. The motifs designed for each character, arch and twist were subtle yet cohesive. I'd have to say some of the best use of music was when it was actually intentionally not used (the closing scene, specifically).
If you haven't seen this series, I might not recommend what my roommate and I did, which was to begin watching around 8 p.m. one weeknight and finish (completely enthralled) the entire thing around 2 a.m. that same night. The end – one of the biggest plot twists I've seen since “The Sixth Sense – definitely kept me up tossing through the night... along with the eerie, but glistening melodies from throughout the show humming in my head.
If that's not enough reason to check out the project and its original music score, the more-than-perfect title sequence song licensed from music supervisor Sue Jacobs was masterfully selected and presented without the need to ever skip through.
VIDEO GAME: “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” (2017) – Jonathan Parks
The combination of the disturbingly dissonant music and sound design and dark graphics immediately sets the distressing tone that you can feel to your core. With many of the games in this series, I wasn’t able to play alone for more than 30-40 minutes at a time without needing a relaxation break. It truly was the peak of entertainment horror until it topped itself by releasing Biohazard in virtual reality.
Being fully immersed in the Resident Evil world at this level is nearly heart attack inducing. Most of the games in this series contain more moments of not knowing when something will happen than wall-to-wall action. You must solve puzzles while also maintaining constant emotional preparedness for a moment’s notice battle with the next monster to slice through the ominous visual and sonic atmosphere.
As a huge fan of horror films – classic ‘80s originals, the campy sequels to those originals, psychological horror, comedy horror, low budget schlocky horror and everything in between – no form of audiovisual entertainment has ever