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35 Greatest Horror Soundtracks: Modern Masters, Gatekeepers Choose

Composers, reissue-labels and synth-savvy musicians pick best in fright

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21. 'Exorcist II: The Heretic' (Ennio Morricone, 1977)

Chances are you don't recall a single scene from the sequel to William Friedkin's domestic horror classic The Exorcist. With neither Friedkin nor original writer William Peter Blatty onboard, and Linda Blair reprising her role as Regan MacNeil but refusing to don demon paint again, new director John Boorman had his work cut out for him. A box office disaster that's regarded as one of the worst films of all time, its lone saving grace is that they budgeted for Ennio Morricone. In one of his first forays into big budget Hollywood, the Maestro handed in one of his weirdest, eeriest scores. There's the Afro-Cuban tribal thunder of "Pazuzu," the prog-rock stomp of "Magic and Ecstasy" as well as the ethereal voice and orchestra of "Regan's Theme (Floating Sound)," which Morricone would revisit nearly 40 years later for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. "Night Flight" – a mash-up of ritualistic Haitian drumming, strings, moaning and a children's choir – might sound cluttered on paper, but Morricone blends it into a horror film confection of the skin-prickling and sublime.

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