• Horror film scores and the Oscars: A review of data from 1935-2023 (revised)

    Author(s):
    GN Martin (see profile)
    Date:
    2023
    Subject(s):
    Horror films, Motion picture music, Academy Awards (Motion pictures)
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    horror film scores, jump scares, Oscars, sound in horror, anxiety
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/wk5c-6w15
    Abstract:
    Are horror scores different to scores from other film genres? This article presents an analysis and discussion of the features of horror film scores and provides a review of the professional recognition of the genre as indexed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s (AMPAS) nominations and winners for Best Original Score and its variant categories. An analysis of data from 1935 to 2023 shows that 664 films not categorised as musicals have been nominated for the Oscar for best score and 1.65% of these have been horror films. The genre most likely to have won an award is drama with 54 wins. Scores from two horror films have won an Oscar but horror is not the least rewarded genre: Documentary and biopic received no award, with thriller, family, and crime receiving two each. These findings are discussed in the context of the development of film scores, the way in which music is used as a device to support or amplify cinematic objectives, and whether there are features of horror film and horror film scores which distinguish them from other genres. Three possible explanations for the attitudes towards horror scores are discussed: that they are (i) subject to perceived snobbery, (ii) more functional/pedestrian than are scores from other genres, and (iii) more experimental and/or not considered to be conventional musical compositions.
    Notes:
    This a revision of an article submitted for publication.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    Attribution

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