In a world where Dark Lords, threatening creatures, and witches reside, visual storytelling calls for the right kind of goosebump-raising musical accompaniment. Star Wars soundtracks have plenty of that, a fact that inspired StarWars.com to gather some of the creepiest cuts in the catalog. The following selections prove to be perfect ear candy for a Halloween playlist…
Arguably one of legendary composer John Williams’ greatest achievements, “The Imperial March” signals the arrival of doom like nothing else. For many, the song’s ominous string intro and menacing horns instantly conjure up images of Darth Vader. Epically anthemic with a driving, military feel, it’s also the audible embodiment of the looming, tyrannical rule of the Empire. The piece debuted in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, most prominently when Vader first appears in the film, gathering together his fleet of Star Destroyers. Not only do the theme’s strains pop up throughout the rest of the movie’s score, you can hear nods to “The Imperial March” in most of the films in the Skywalker Saga and in countless other Star Wars creations. It continues oozing its way into the pop culture consciousness, so don’t be surprised if it booms over the loudspeaker at a sporting event. Play it at a Halloween party, and the tune’s familiarity can likely help set a galactic, gloomy mood.
When Emperor Palpatine steps foot on the second Death Star in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, this eerie theme accompanies him. Although it may be lower in musical energy than “The Imperial March,” “The Emperor” sets its own frightening tone that perfectly reflects the cold, ruthless quality of its namesake. The composition exclusively features minor chords and bypasses typical progressions, which fosters a thick air of unpredictable evil. The haunting male choir evokes darkness and the song’s crescendo builds terrifying tension. Elements of “The Emperor” return as leitmotifs in other Star Wars media. Kudos to Williams for composing a ghoulish gift that keeps on giving.
A real pulse pounder dedicated to a certain sinister cyborg, this Williams composition screams of anxiety and impending jeopardy. Portions of the piece land in several Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith scenes. It truly compliments the over-the-top rumble between General Grievous and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet Utapau. Grievous is known for his wildly intense attack mode, and this track expertly illustrates that trait. The speedy, underlying percussion, punchy brass, and screeching strings stay in step with Grievous and his four-armed, windmill lightsaber assault, lightning-fast movements, and terrifying, spider-like crawl.
Debuting on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker soundtrack, the “Anthem of Evil” theme encapsulates the film’s dark side activity, especially the spine-tingling essence of the gloomy and inherently evil planet Exegol. After all, Exegol is where Emperor Palpatine and the Sith Eternal plot the creation of a Sith Empire. Appropriately enough, “Anthem of Evil” shares some commonality with Williams’ earlier work, “The Emperor.” Out of the gate, the album track similarly makes use of a ghostly choir whose performance is equal parts scary and somber. At the cut’s one-minute mark, the voices gradually increase in volume like a specter rising out of a grave. Later, the orchestration kicks in full throttle, depicting the malicious intent of Palpatine’s powerfully wicked regime. While “Anthem of Evil” enhances the bad guy business in The Rise of Skywalker, it could easily serve a dual purpose as the background music in a Halloween haunted house.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars composer Kevin Kiner scored this one especially for the villainous Asajj Ventress, the Dathomirian Sith assassin known for her twin red-bladed sabers. In episode 12 of Season 3, Count Dooku betrays Ventress by ordering her termination. She survives, making her way to Dathomir, where she reunites with Mother Talzin, leader of the Force-sensitive Nightsister witches. The piece plays as the coven tends to the injured Ventress by casting a spell, evoking traumatic flashbacks in her mind. With its pulsating percussion, low voice choir, and haunting string lines, “Ventress the Nightsister” succeeds in whipping up a witchy brew of mystery and foreboding.
In Chapter 10 of The Mandalorian, Mando crash lands the Razor Crest at the bottom of an icy cavern after attempting to evade a pair of pursuing X-wings. As Din Djarin surveys the wreckage amid the falling snow and jagged, frozen terrain, composer Ludwig Göransson provides a chilling, musical mood fit for a horror film. Cymbals replicate the sound of blustering winds and strings help heighten the nail-biting premonition that something bad awaits. And that terror eventually arrives later in the form of a massive, white ice spider looking to protect its eggs.
A spine-tingling collaboration between Ludwig Göransson and Joseph Shirley, “Rebirth” is the first piece of music appearing in The Book of Boba Fett. Chapter 1 begins inside Jabba’s palace, and a low, droning synthesizer hums as the camera pans through the shadowy, empty confines. We soon see Boba Fett healing in a bacta tank. After he experiences quick flashbacks of the planet Kamino and mourning his fallen father in the Geonosis arena, Boba’s memory takes him to the belly of the sarlacc. The bounty hunter’s near-death struggle inside the creature is ghastly and gruesome. “Rebirth” grows louder with piercing strings, industrial-sounding accents, and percussive fills, which bolster the grisly stress of the situation. When Fett emerges from beneath the Tatooine sands, the all-out orchestration and male choir accompaniment blend brooding darkness with triumph.
Jon Waterhouse can’t get enough of that Star Wars stuff, and his passion comes to life in his work. A comic book author, Jon’s storytelling can be found in the Star Wars Adventures series by IDW Publishing. Additionally, he’s an award-winning journalist, screenwriter, radio show host, and performer whose byline has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Esquire, BlackBook, Paste, CNN.com, and MTV.com.
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