By now, we’re sure you’ve heard the sad news: Ennio Morricone, one of the most talented, acclaimed and prolific composers in movie history, passed away yesterday at age 91.
Morricone left behind a tremendous legacy — having composed hundreds of movie scores and classical pieces — as well as dozens of laurels including two Oscars, four Golden Globes (three in the US, one in Italy), four Grammys, six BAFTA Awards, eleven of Italy’s prestigious Silver Ribbon awards, and many more. While the Maestro’s name has been a household word among movie fans for decades, his iconic and unforgettable theme to Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly became a pop-culture phenomenon that continues to thrive more than half a century later.
While he has composed amazing music for every genre, Morricone has blessed horror movie fans with a wealth of memorable music. His contributions to John Carpenter’s The Thing are among his most-loved genre works — even though many of his best cues were left out of the finished film (much to the composer’s consternation).
Oddly enough, many of those unused cues found new life thanks to Quentin Tarantino, who incorporated them into The Hateful Eight — which is also the first Tarantino film to include original compositions, winning the composer an Oscar for Best Original Score. Tarantino had previously borrowed Morricone cues for Kill Bill and Death Proof.
Morricone is also closely associated with the films of fellow countryman Dario Argento, and his scores for Argento’s giallo and horror titles are among his finest work — beginning with 1969’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and continuing with The Cat o’Nine Tails, Four Flies on Gray Velvet, and later The Stendhal Syndrome.
Outside of Argento’s catalog, he scored many more giallos, including Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, What Have You Done to Solange?, Black Belly of the Tarantula, and Lucio Fulci’s A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin to name just a handful.
Morricone’s horror credits also include several scores to movies that are otherwise considered creative failures, or at least camp classics — including Exorcist II: The Heretic (excerpts from which also surfaced in The Hateful Eight), Orca, Holocaust 2000 and Tentacles.
Other lesser-known but still noteworthy among his horror scores are Wolf, Autopsy, Spasmo, Nightmare Castle, The Antichrist, Autopsy, Blood Link and Eye of the Cat.
Morricone’s biography is well-documented on countless movie and soundtrack sites, as well as books, videos, documentary retrospectives, and so on. But here, instead of intellectualizing over his body of work, we’d rather let his horror and thriller compositions speak for themselves.
If you enjoy the cues we’ve assembled throughout this article, we hope they send you on a journey of discovery and nostalgia for one of the greatest film composers of all time.