Composer: Jerry Goldsmith
Description: In addition to Poltergeist being one of the great horror films, the soundtrack for Poltergeist is considered to be a hallmark in the genre; it is arguably as effective as the scores for Bernard Hermann’s Psycho, John Carpenter’s Halloween, and John Williams’ Jaws in its ability to play a key role in the viewer’s experience, queuing them up for oncoming events.
This score is ideal for writers working on ‘haunted house’ pieces. Why? Because its effectiveness comes in melding the American family unit, portrayed in a pleasant theme, and the paranormal slowly taking control over them, portrayed by discordant strings and glissandoing tones which are key to the score. The soundtrack builds along with the film, meaning it is carefully crafted and suspenseful rather instead of being overtly horrific from the start (which is what you get from most modern film scores). That point is critical for writers as the writing process is slow; it takes time to write every word and time to think of what the next sentence needs to cover. Due to that, albums that go too quickly into the fray can be distracting–but this one’s pace is just right.