Some of our favorite scary movies owe their biggest cringes or jumps to a well-placed violin screech or haunting chorus. So for the classical fan who wants to make the most out of this Halloween, we’ve gathered 10 spooky movies with great classical music moments or scores. Fair warning: potential spoilers ahead.

Jaws

You voted it #101 on the Classical California Ultimate Playlist and Jennifer Miller says, “I never really thought the film Jaws was scary . . . until I sat on a beach in the dark of night watching the classic Steven Spielberg film on a big screen. The incredibly tense score from John Williams combined with Spielberg’s powerful filmmaking and the crashing of the nearby waves made for an evening I will never forget. It also convinced me I never needed to go shark cage diving.”

Available to stream on Hulu and HBO Max.

Psycho

Hitchcock himself said, “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music.” Bernard Hermann’s tense score (#126 on the Classical California Ultimate Playlist) keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole movie. Although, his iconic violins might make you fall right out of it when it gets to the “shower scene.”

Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu. Streaming on Peakcock Premium.

Black Swan

I don’t know if Tchaikovsky was a horror fan, but his music from Swan Lake makes an ideal backdrop for this balletic tale of obsession (or checking yourself for feathers).

Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Candyman

While we wait for the remake, there are classical sweets for the sweet in the 1992 story about a skeptical grad student investigating a mythical (or maybe not) boogeyman in a Chicago housing project – Philip Glass wrote the score.

Available to stream on Hulu or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

28 Days Later

How’s it going 28 days after the zombie apocalypse? Not great! The infected may consider Fauré nothing more than a snack, but human viewers will spot the In Paradisum from his Requiem in the soundtrack. Bonus for classical fans: a modern take on Ave Maria.

Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Silence of the Lambs

Don’t let one little psychopathic cannibal’s love of the Goldberg Variations (or fava beans) ruin them for you. Bach’s compositions are great dinner music even if you aren’t “having a friend for dinner”.

Available to stream on Netflix and Showtime or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Low on the gore, but not on the creeps, this psychological thriller about a smooth-talker who assumes his new friend’s identity is chock full of classical music – there are selections from Bach’s Italian Concerto and St. Matthew Passion, Beethoven’s Piano Quintet, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater.

Available to stream on Hulu and HBO Max or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

The Hunger

If you like your vampire movies with a side of glam, click on over to The Hunger where Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie are as irresistible as they are blood-thirsty. As they live their best un-dead lives, enjoy the creepy side of Delibes’s Flower Duet, and Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3.

Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

The Shining

Heeeeeeeere’s Bartok! Or rather, here’s his music for strings, percussion and celesta nestled into the tale of a winter gig that’s too-good-to-be-true for a writer who beats his writer’s block by going insane (and nearly takes his family down with him).

Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu.

Shutter Island

After a woman vanishes from a locked room in an asylum on an island, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner (Mark Ruffalo) piece together the clues. Are they on to something? Or are they off their rockers? Enjoy music by John Cage and Mahler as you find out.

Available to stream on Cinemax/Max Go or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Bonus: Fantasia – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

(Disney+)

If you want to ease into spooky season—or introduce a child to a great piece of classical music—I recommend revisiting Fantasia. Paul Dukas’ magical music will have you tapping your toes and Mickey’s misadventure in his sparkling star hat is a classic for a reason. Plus, listeners voted it #250 on the Classical California Ultimate Playlist.

Available to stream on Disney+ or stream on Google Play and YouTube.

Let us know what you think of these films and if there’s anything you’d add to the film festival in the comments below.

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