Die Wirkung von Musik und Soundeffekten in Horrofilmen

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Halloween is coming and things are getting scary at HookSounds. Not only do we have prepared a special selection of Halloween music that will make you want to ditch any Halloween festivities to stay home listening to our library. Thriller who?

By now you may be planning and producing your Halloween content to publish around this holiday. Whether you are doing a video or a podcast or simply preparing an in-store playlist, royalty free music and sound effects will definitely be helpful to set the scary mood. After all, what’s Halloween without its sounds? Just like in any movie, the scary ones highly rely on sound effects and music to make the vibe even spookier: screams, a terrifying laugh, and of course the music that anticipates that something bad is about to happen. Let’s be honest, a pumpkin with a face wouldn’t look that scary without an evil soundtrack to accompany it, right? What would it be of “Jaws” without its highly-recognizable tension-building soundtrack? Which, by the way, only has two notes – two very powerful ones. 

Another Halloween classic, “The Exorcist” also has an iconic soundtrack. Even if you’ve not seen this horror classic by William Friedkin, you probably recognize its music, a snippet of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. In fact, it has become such a big part of music history, that the label Waxwork launched a deluxe vinyl reissue of it in 2017. And we can’t talk about Halloween without mentioning Halloween, the movie. Released in 1979 by John Carpenter, who wrote, directed, and composed the film score. The minimal but striking elements of a great scary soundtrack are there, proving that when it comes to Halloween tunes, less is definitely more. 

For sure the 70s marked a moment in both cinema and music history with its iconic soundtracks and movies that, still nowadays, keep on spooking generations. But we cannot not mention some 60s and 80s classics like Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Psycho (1960), Aliens (1986), and, of course, The Shining (1980). Fast forward to the current date, and we must mention Stranger Things and its now-iconic theme song that revived the best of the 80s science-fiction productions. 

As music fans that we are, we have to also acknowledge the power of sound effects, especially when it comes to creating powerful and scary scenes. Picture this: a character is on screen, walking completely alone in a deserted street and you hear nothing but their footsteps. No sound or music around, you start feeling the tension and anticipating that something bad will happen. A few minutes of silence but footsteps and all of a sudden, bam! Jason Voorhees appears a scary looking clown pops out of nowhere or whatever else you can imagine or seen before on screen. A scene like this, so simple in appearance, was carefully crafted through audible elements that play on human emotions, causing you to jump off your seat at the end of it. 

Actually, movie score composers carefully consider how to use familiar sounds in unusual ways to make us feel uncomfortable and tense. Many times these sounds are buried in the movie score or even as subtle sound waves that give us humans an adrenaline rush. For example, infrasound is well-known for creating an unsettling sensation and freaking audiences out. This is a low-frequency sound that cannot be heard but literally unsettles human beings down to our bones. While human ears begin to hear a sound at 20 Hz, Infrasound exists at 19 Hz and below, that is why we can’t actually hear it but still feel it. And, of course, for the sake of horror movies, creators tend to take advantage of them.

Filmmaker Gaspard Noé, who admitted to using sounds that registered at only 27 Hz in his film “Irreversible” (2002), said that even though “you can’t hear it, it makes you shake. In a good theater with a subwoofer, you may be more scared by the sound than by what’s happening on the screen”. The use of these types of sounds makes us part of the films, experimenting with the same feelings that a character might be feeling in the moment. 

Even when the sound is audible, it plays a huge role in storytelling, especially when it comes to content that doesn’t have any visuals. Orson Welles’ “War of the World” is the perfect example of it, as when it was broadcasted on the radio on October 30th of 1939, scared the hell out of the audience. Even though the introduction clearly stated that what was going to be broadcasted was fiction (and it was clarified twice more during the transmission), people were convinced that what was said was true: an alien attack was coming. Not only what was being said was shocking, but the way it was presented, with the narrator’s voice pretending to be a news broadcaster and the live sound effects, helped to create momentum. The sound effects were so basic, that it was actually Ora Nichols, head of the sound effects department at the CBS affiliate in New York, who made the noises for the Martian war machines with children’s toys. Orson Wells later thanked her “for the best job anybody could ever do for anybody” through a handwritten note.

Nowadays, sound effects have clearly developed so much that there is no need to have someone next to you making them in order to make them credible. Here at HookSounds you can find a curated selection of high-quality and royalty-free sound effects for you to use.  

We can clearly agree now on the importance of music and sound effects on horror films and, pretty much, on any type of content. So if you are about to release a video or podcast, be sure to select soundtracks that will both make you look professional but also generate any kind of emotions in the audiences. Beyond Halloween, this is something you should keep in mind no matter what type of content you are producing.