There is not a day in my life that goes by without music. I listen to it constantly. I grew up in the ’80s, and I’m still an old school metalhead to this day (I currently co-host a metal podcast called Thrash It Out). I’ve dabbled in playing guitar and bass over the years, but the closest I’ve come to any sort of musicianship is creating theme music for my podcasts and book trailers.
My lack of musicianship has only made me appreciate music more though, because it’s like magic to me. It’s something I am so intimately familiar with, yet unable to create the way I can create stories.
But music is a huge part of my writing, as I’m almost always listening to something while I create. For the most part I like soundtracks, because I often get distracted if I’m listening to music with vocals. Being a lifelong gamer, I’ll often listen to game soundtracks, and there are a plethora of amazing ones out there (which I’ll talk more about another time). But when I really need to be inspired, when I need to bring the scares, my writing music has to be a horror movie soundtrack.
The 1970s and ’80s were a particularly great time for horror movie soundtracks, in many ways because of the melding of classical, synth and rock styles. Horror movies seemed to be a place where composers could really experiment, and that’s a big reason why some of the mos iconic themes and soundtracks came out of that era. And today, we’re going to talk about an absolute gem of a score–the Creepshow soundtrack.
Creepshow was a 1982 movie created by two icons of horror–Stephen King and George Romero. King wrote the screenplay for the anthology of tales (and starred in one), while Romero directed the film. Add in the fact that special effects mastermind Tom Savini handled the blood, gore and monsters, and you can see why Creepshow was destined to become a classic. it was the perfect homage to 1950s horror comics.
I’ll do a DIEmonds in the Rough post on Creepshow another time, because today I want to talk about John Harrison and his amazing score for Creepshow. Harrison is manily known for being a director and producer, having helmed films like Tales From the Darkside, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Book of Blood. But he scored a few movies in his day, including Creepshow, which I think is his most inspired work.
In addition to crafting an iconic piano-led theme for the movie, Harrison gave each individual story in Creepshow a feel all its own. From the terrifying, high-pitched “Father’s Day” score, to the sad and goofy “Jordy Verrill” theme to “make your skin crawl” theme from “They’re Creeping Up on You,” each piece of this soundtrack brings to mind very specific scenes. As opposed to someone like John Carpenter, who often used synthesizers to build the low end of a score, Harrison does the low work with the piano and uses the synths to bring higher-pitched tension. In many ways the synth takes the place of violins, which would not have fit this film nearly as well. As I listened through it recently, I replayed the entire movie in my head, and hearing the themes brought back all the scares as well. It’s so good.
You can get the entire expanded Creepshow soundtrack on Amazon right now. In addition to the digital version, there are some great vinyl versions as well. And if you’re a Prime member, you can stream most of the soundtrack in Amazon Music. Any way you get it, this one is worth your time and makes excellent writing music.