Sampling gets spooky as Synchtank’s Kriss Thakrar breaks down some of the scariest horror movie samples in songs.
For some reason, at the end of October we feel compelled to sit down and watch movies that scare us senseless. For those who don’t quite have the time or inclination to watch a full horror movie, we’ve put together the scariest samples of horror movies for you to enjoy.
Courtesy of WhoSampled, we’ve done a deep dive into the history of horror to find 13 of the scariest samples. From slasher films to psychological thrillers and gangster rap to art rock, the world of horror sampling knows no limits.
So, get your popcorn, light a candle and be prepared to get scared. Some of these horror samples are genuinely unsettling. Don’t tell us we didn’t warn you…
1) Night of the Demon (1957) – “Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush
“It’s in the trees! It’s coming!!!”
When I was a child I heard this terrifying opening and has it stuck with me ever since. In what is probably the most listened to of our horror samples, Kate Bush digs into the saence in Night of the Demon for “Hounds of Love”. Produced in 1986, this is one of the earliest samples we have here, beating out many of the earliest hip-hop artists to the horror sample game. Kate Bush knows nothing is more terrifying than falling in love, except maybe watching Night of the Demon alone. Hence why it makes such a perfect opening for this classic song.
2) Dead Calm (1989) – “What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4)” by DJ Shadow
You might know the first part of this song from Endtroducing….., featuring a great sample from John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness and Twin Peaks. What you might not have known is that this track comes from a previous album with five other sample rich segments, featuring samples from sci-fi and horror films like Westworld and Altered States. We’ve gone with part 4 and it’s sample of Dead Calm, spending a solid minute of spooky echoes from aboard a sinking ship before dropping a classic DJ shadow trip hop beat.
3) Halloween (1978) – “Murder Ink” by Dr Dre feat. Hittman and Ms. Roq
Possibly one of the more terrifying tracks on this list, it’s hard to tell whether it’s the murderous tone or the chilling sample of the Halloween theme. It’s a classic horror sample that’s been utlised by many producers from Jay Dilla to Tech N9ne. The original Halloween spawned a whole franchise and is one of the classic Halloween horrors. It’s no surprise that one of the greatest horror films getting sampled by one of the greatest producers leads to tremendously terrifying results.
4) Dawn of the Dead (1978) – “Hip Albatross” by Gorillaz
Not the most well known Gorillaz song but you can never knock Damon Albarn’s virtual band for not pushing boundaries. This deep cut from the rough cuts album G Sides would be a chilled and relaxed affair if it weren’t for the Dawn of the Dead sample running throughout it. The contrast between a super laid back track and people screaming from a zombie attack in the background is exactly what you need for Halloween if you’re looking for some nonchalant horror.
5) The Exorcist (1978) – “Stoned Raiders” by Cypress Hill
Horror films don’t get more iconic than The Exorcist and what better way to spook up a track than by sampling the famous exorcism scene. That’s exactly what Cypress Hill have done with “Stoned Raiders”, going all out on the horror theme with eerie theremins and piano. 10/10 for commitment to spookiness.
6) Psycho (1960) – “No Angels” by Bastille ft. Ella Eyre
Who would have thought a mashup up between The XX and TLC would make a fitting tribute to one of the all time great psychological horrors. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho changed the game for the horror genre in 1960 and is delicately sampled at the start of this “Angels”/”No Scrubs” mashup. It’s not the scariest record but the dialogue samples give it a nice edge to bring a different tone than any of the originals could on their own. Perhaps what’s most terrifying is that you may never listen to the original “No Scrubs” in the same way again.
7) The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – “Get Off My P.P.” by Action Bronson
Action Bronson is a star but everyone has to start somewhere. In a life before Warner, Action Bronson released a whole album devoted to Silence of the Lambs. Dr Lecter is the rappers debut album and inevitably what would be the foundation for a stellar career. What better way to wrap up the album than with Dr Hannibal Lecter’s most famous line, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Extra points for bringing a love of cooking and horror together in a single sample!
8) Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – “Terror Dome” by SZA
If “Terror Dome” sounds terrifying to you then you’re in for a treat. The first minute of this relatively unheard SZA song is devoted to Mia Farrow’s anxiety inducing performance in Rosemary’s Baby. This film is jam packed with paranoia and “Terror Dome” is an eerie salute to this underrated horror classic.
9) Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – “Are You Ready for Freddy” by The Fat Boys
Another iconic classic, Nightmare on Elm Street has resulted in an abundance of interpolations. Classic lines of dialogue like, “One two, he’s coming for you” and, “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep,” have been repurposed time and time again by the likes of Will Smith, DMX, Kanye West and more. However, it’s fitting to give this spot to the most on the nose sample with Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready for Freddy.” They even made a whole music video that recreated the film. If you though “Thriller” was the staple of 80s horror music videos, think again.
10) Poltergeist (1982) – “Th’yre Here Aahha” by Aphex Twin (as AFX)
Horror samples don’t exactly make for mainstream hits, which is why we’re seeing so many of them on deep cuts. If you want to dive deep into an artist’s catalog, it doesn’t get musch deeper than this. Aphex Twin is a legendary electronic producer and DJ, but his low key alter ego AFX produced a song devoted to a classic Poltegeist line. “Th’yre Here Aahha” is an eerie high tempo track made to keep you up at night. Whilst he’s been known for some incredible ambient music, don’t try falling asleep to this one.
11) Frankenstein (1931) (and more) – “The Illest Villains” by Madvillain
If there’s anyone who’s going to have a collection section for horror, it’s going to be Madlib. Madvillainy, the album released under his MF Doom collaboration, Madvillain, follows the story of two villains and has left an influential mark on the world of hip-hop. Whilst one sample might be enough for some, it’s hardly enough for a Madlib production, let alone a collaboration with MF Doom.
“The Illest Villains” is stacked with horror samples, featuring dialogue from Franketstein, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula (Christopher Lee’s portrayal) and I Was a Teenage Werewolf. If Madvillainy doesn’t satisfy your horror cravings then I’m afraid nothing will.
12) Scream (1996) – “Scary Movies” by Bad Meets Evil
Eminem is hardly one to shy away from a bit of horrorcore and it’s a theme you can find throughout his catalog. For Eminem fans looking for a little bit more, Bad Meets Evil is Eminem’s collaboration with Royce da 5’9” (of course, Eminem is the “evil”). “Scary Movies” opens with a sample of the classic phone call from Scream and ended up becoming a perfect fit for the soundtrack of the Scream spoof Scary Movie. There are plenty of screams here and no horror/music list would be complete without a bit of Slim Shady.
13) The City of the Dead (1960) – “Dragula” by Rob Zombie
When it comes to horror and music, one man has bought into the Halloween theme unlike no other. In fact, Rob Zombie has made a whole career for himself. Therefore, no better artist could wrap up this list. There are a few songs we could have picked here but we’ve gone with his classic “Dragula” which samples The City of the Dead, making that another classic performance from Christopher Lee on this list.
So that wraps up our collection of horror samples. From all of us at Synchtank, Happy Halloween!