Quite a few horror movies have turned into veritable franchises, with many sequels (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th leap instantly to mind). But even though television cannot reproduce many of the scares that movies can, there have been plenty of television shows that are just as loved and appreciated as some movies. Often, it doesn’t take more than a few notes of the theme music to bring back the memories.
Leading off, we submit for your approval:
For its first two seasons, The Twilight Zone used theme music written by legendary film composer Bernard (North by Northwest, Psycho) Hermann. The theme music we all know and love was written by composer Marius Constant; it’s a combination of his “Etrange No. 3 and “Milieu No. 2”. The voice-over is by the show’s creator, Rod Serling.
The other one that everyone knows is:
Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March for a Marionette” was one of Hitchcock’s favorite musical selections. Gounod is a French composer best known in classical music for his opera Faust. The “Funeral March” was intended to be part of a suite; but he never got around to writing the rest of it.
One more famous anthology series from that era:
A lot of the music for the show, including the theme, was the work of Dominic Frontiere (who also served as a Production Executive). He’s also responsible for the themes from “Rat Patrol” and “The Invaders”, and is well known in certain circles as a top jazz accordionist and composer of “exotica”.
Actor Vic Perrin provided the “Control Voice”. It was one of his many roles in a TV career that stretched from the late 1940s to the 1980s. And he even got to appear on screen quite a bit.
And one not-as-famous anthology series:
This version of the theme, by Gil Mellé, was used in the show’s first two seasons; Eddie Sauter wrote the theme for the last season. Mellé was a top jazz composer whose credits cover some 125 movies and TV shows. He was also an accomplished painter and sculptor, who did album cover art for Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Sonny Rollins. This one’s noteworthy for being the first main theme composed entirely for electronic instruments.
If you were at home in the daytime in the late 1960s, you could watch this show:
This is one of Bob Cobert’s many TV themes; his biggest and best known works are the scores for the miniseries “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance”.
One of Cobert’s TV scores was for a movie that launched its own series:
The aforementioned Gil Mellé wrote this theme music.
There are plenty of shows that feature supernatural elements without being “scary”, like this one:
The theme is by Dave Grusin, who has been making music for over 50 years. Other TV themes by him include “St. Elsewhere”, which actually made it to #15 on the Billboard charts. He’s also got a pile of Grammys and an Oscar for his music.
Next time: Syndication and nerf herders….