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Top 10 Fake Horror Movie Scores

Unique story-based scores fit for the most terrifying films that don't exist.

fake horror movie scores
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  • Photo Credit: "Witchcraft Murders" by The Heartwood Institute

In recent years, the rise of horror fandom and the sheer volume of horror film score reissues have brought the music of John Carpenter, Goblin, and a myriad other composers to greater renown. Whereas composers like Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, and Fabio Frizzi were once only known to those who closely watched the credits of Italian gialli and zombie films, the music of these musicians can now be readily acquired in the soundtrack section of most record shops, thanks to the efforts of labels such as Death Waltz Recording Co., Waxwork Records, and others.

An interesting side effect is that there has been a parallel rise of music made by those influenced by the music they've heard in horror films. While there are those such as Montreal's Orgasmo Sonore or London's Zoltan, who respectively homage obscure library music and create music inspired by films such as Tombs of the Blind Dead or Psychomania, there are also those who are creating faux scores to films which don't exist.

Related: Music to Our Ears: The Scariest Movie Scores of All Time

While music for non-existent films has existed for decades in the form of library music—created in anonymity for moods or styles and available for licensing by those who need a quick and easy source of score for their “Heavy Action” or “Half Forgotten Daydreams”—most faux soundtracks can be seen to be a combination of the 1964 Walt Disney Records LP Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House and Brian Eno's 1978 album Music for Films, in that they're imaginary narratives crafted for something which doesn't exist except in the mind of their creator.

The appeal, as stated by Gavin Stoker, the head of the Spun Out of Control label, is simple.

“If I discover—or someone sends me—an album’s worth of instrumental music that is as exciting, thrilling and emotionally engaging as an actual movie score—but instead is sound-tracking an idea or concept existing only in that musician’s head–and I love the music and the concept/inspiration, I’m going to put it out, simple as that,” Stoker writes in an email. “I want other people to discover that musician/ composer’s talent too.”

Related: Every Horror Movie Coming to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video This April

Spun Out of Control has issued quite a few faux soundtracks since the label's first release in February of 2016. Stoker notes that, “Funnily enough, our second ever release—Street Force by Repeated Viewing (aka Alan Sinclair)—paid musical homage to those self-same gritty '70s and '80s flicks. So pretty much from day one, I was discovering like-minded musicians too—as well as a sympathetic cover artist in Eric Lee, who immediately understood the cinematic aesthetic I wanted for Spun Out Of Control’s own first releases.”

The label also deals in actual soundtracks, such as Steve Nolan’s score for the Irish psychological drama Sodium Party, which was Spun Out of Control's first release, but many of the imagined soundtracks Stoker and company have put out have a certain appeal, as the label head further explains.

“It is perhaps easier for a piece of music that’s primarily been developed for someone to listen to be audibly more satisfying and engaging when released in an album format than one that’s been first and foremost designed to serve a director’s vision and visuals,” writes Stoker. “And then has to be teased and shoehorned into an album format. That’s a very generic answer obviously, and there are exceptions and scores that work memorably well even when divorced from the reason they originally came into existence–including the ones Spun Out Of Control has released, naturally.”

With that in mind, here are ten of the finest faux horror scores out there. To keep this list from spiraling out of control in an unending litany, the rules are that these have to be completely imaginary and totally dedicated to one film. Collections of disparate tracks on a theme are out, as are anything paying homage to a film which already exists. As much as Andy Fosberry's Death Ship 2047 haunts me every time I hear it, it's still inspired by Event Horizon.

Related: Honky Tonk of Horrors: The Bloody Past of Bobby Mackey’s Music World

In summation, these are all scores which are purely imaginary. While inspired by the horror genre cinema and composers of yesteryear, these albums and EPs spring directly from the minds of those who made the music. I've also tried to hew closely to releases which actually purport to be an actual soundtrack or score, with bonus points for plot summaries and album art which blur the lines between truth and fiction.

Antoni Maiovvi—Before & After The Bomb (Bandcamp, 2020)

before & after the bomb

“[A] love letter dedicated to 25 years of fascination with all things Horror […] B&ATB twists and turns between action set pieces, genuine tenderness, and unabashed ridiculousness.” While Maiovvi's own description name-checks both Frizzi and Carpenter, it's the Riz Ortolani and Claudio Simonetti vibe which come through strongest here, blending the strange beauty of Cannibal Holocaust and the post-apocalyptic vibes of The New Barbarians to great effect.

Black Mountain Transmitter—The Crypt of Blood: A Halloween TV Special (Lysergic Earwax, 2020)

the crypt of blood

Is this breaking the rules, as it's a soundtrack for Jonathan Raab's novelette, The Crypt of Blood: A Halloween TV Special? Probably. Does that matter? No. Given that “a television station near Denver, Colorado” didn't actually broadcast “a locally produced film adaptation of the Gothic horror novel The Crypt of Blood,” resulting in the cameras capturing “the final living moments of the production’s cast and crew,” this scratchy, Gothic nightmare is effective with or without the novella to guide the plot.

Related: What the Horror Genre Says About Survival Mentality

Bryce Miller—City Depths (Spun Out of Control, 2016)

city depths

Composed to capture the experience of “a sense of uneasy stillness as the moon casts everything in darkness and shadow […] through ambient textures and pulsing beats,” Miller's City Depths comes with a recommendation to listen via headphones while exploring the streets at night. It's an effective way to drive home the ambient sounds the composer has created, but will have you wondering just what lurks around every turn or hides in the shadows of the homes you pass.

Carpenter Brut—Leather Teeth (No Quarter, 2018)

leather teeth

The soundtrack to a leather metal version of Phantom of the Paradise, wherein a high school science geek is disfigured and, in order to win the attention of a girl, transforms himself into the lead singer of Leather Patrol. Equal parts Street Trash and Judas Priest, all run through the French filter of Carpenter Brut, Leather Teeth feels like synthwave gone mad, with the added bonus of two actual songs–“Cheerleader Effect” and “Beware the Beast”–which absolutely feel like lost soundtrack cuts circa 1987.

The Heartwood Institute—Witchcraft Murders (Library of the Occult, 2021)

witchcraft murders

While Jonathan Sharp's hauntronica project has been releasing music since 2015 with a slew of releases covering faux soundtracks, new scores inspired by films like Witchcraft '70, and even an album inspired by '70s pop festivals, The Heartwood Institute's latest album, Witchcraft Murders, has rightly been hailed as one of their best. The Radiophonic Workshop-inspired exploration of two mid-1940s unexplained murders will unsettle and disturb you as you fall down a rabbit hole of mystery regarding the cases of the Hagley Wood wych elm and the murder of Charles Walton.

Related: Freelan and Flora: The Musical Ghosts of the Stanley Hotel

Repeated Viewing—The Beach House (Lunaris Records, 2019)

the beach house

Picking one release from Glasgow's Alan Sinclair is difficult, given the myriad of choices one has. There are the giallo-inspired sounds of The Horror of Bexteth Hill, Frozen Existence's Italian horror, the Bigfoot murders of Nature's Revenge, and even the grindhouse action of Street Force and Street Force II. However, it's the 2019 LP The Beach House which sees Sinclair crafting a sound almost completely unlike anything else in the Repeated Viewing catalog, with a pervasive tension which never abates.

Slasher Dave—The Horrors of Hell House (Bellyache Records, 2020)

the horrors of hellhouse

While technically an EP, Slasher Dave's The Horrors of Hell House takes the musician's John Carpenter-homaging sound and adds a strong element of Detroit techno to the mix. Hitting far harder than most of Slasher Dave's work, tracks like “Dance on Fire” feel like horror synth by way of the Faint. It's a potent collection of bangers, feeling as though Devil's Night is riding through the city on wheels of fire.

Related: 5 Spooky Musical Curses

Slasher Film Festival Strategy—Crimson Throne (Foreign Sounds, 2013)

crimson throne

The story of Space Shuttle Ambition—whose crew was to be the first to terraform Mars as part of Operation Crimson Throne—and their disappearance 18 days after landing on the red planet is the simplest and most-affecting of all the titles listed here. There's something in the quiet mystery of Christopher Ashley's music which I find myself returning to time and time again. The final track, “Day 18,” featuring a digital voice sending out a distress call from the surface of Mars, leaves me saddened and terrified even after eight years of listening.

Sospetto—Segni Misteriosi, Con Il Sangue Dipinto Sul Muro (Cineploit, 2012)

sospetto

The debut release from Germany's Christian Rzechak is also one of the first releases on Italy's Cineploit label, marking a collaboration which would continue over the course of Sospetto's four albums. While the musician would dip his toes into Argento-esque witch sounds, '80s cop thrillers, and even German sci-fi over the course of four albums, it's on this initial outing that Sospetto shines the most. Here, Rzechak perfectly mimics Ennio Morricone's scores for the likes of L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo or Il Gatto A Nove Code, while also finding new senses of wonder.

Related: The Scariest Movies Debuting at the SXSW Film Festival

Terrortron—Necrophiliac Among the Living Dead (Bandcamp, 2016)

necrophiliac among the living dead

Sleazy sounds to slake unnatural urges! A veritable army of the undead rises from the grave, hungering for human flesh, while mortician Jessica has a hidden hunger of her own. Erotic horror movies are always pretty gross—looking at you, Porno Holocaustbut there's something about the blending of horror synths with the cheesily louche sounds of adult films which makes Terrortron's 2016 album work. Given that the plot of both genres tend to involve a lot of messy fluids flying about with a minimum of plot, it oughtn't be that surprising that combing the scores works out pretty well.