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Creepy Tunes: My 7 Favorite Macabre TV Theme Songs

by Waylon Jordan
TV Theme Songs

I’m feeling nostalgic this morning. What can I say? As we approach the one year anniversary of when massive lockdowns began across the globe, I needed a little escape and I found it when a friend posted a YouTube video filled with TV theme songs from those bygone days when I didn’t have bills to pay and Covid-19 had never been uttered.

There’s something special about a theme song. It’s built into those nostalgia driven parts of the brain and conjures up memories of long ago nights with the lights turned down low, your face illuminated only by the radiant light of the TV screen.

You, no doubt, have your own favorites, but I thought I’d share a few of mine–in no particular order–on this Spring-like Monday morning in Texas. Be sure to tell me your favorites in the comments below!

TV Theme Songs from my Favorite Spooky Shows!

The Munsters

Of course, there’s always been a debate as to whether The Munsters or The Addams Family was the better/spookier horror sitcom, and while I’ve never much gotten into that debate, myself, I will gladly go toe-to-toe over the theme songs. For me, The Munsters, with its brash brassy drive mixed and a surf-rock infused guitar line, is the clear winner. It’s not that I don’t love the theme to The Addams Family–it’s on this list below–I just think that The Munsters edged out their counterpart in the theme song category.

I’m including two versions here, btw. One is the theme you’ve no doubt heard a million times. The other includes the theme song’s lyrics because I think a lot of folks have never heard them!

The Addams Family

See? I wasn’t going to leave them out. I love this family and this show, and it has, perhaps one of the most compulsively demanding theme songs of all time. I mean, try to listen to it and not snap your fingers. I saw the live musical based on these characters and an entire theater filled with people dressed in their finery for a night on the town snapped right along just like they would sitting at home in their living rooms.

The X-Files

Speaking of compulsive: What is it about this music that automatically makes me look up to the sky. It’s like I hear it and I just know the aliens are about to land…and I’m good with that. I want to believe.

By the way, do you remember this theme starting a whole trend in music? Who still has their Pure Moods Volume 1 CD?!

Beetlejuice: The Animated Series

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! I love Danny Elfman’s theme to the Beetlejuice animated series so much that I’d face a whole herd of sandworms to listen to it. Also, this weird show took the film’s premise to a whole new level and I love it for all of its odd sensibilities.

The Twilight Zone

Now, here’s an interesting tale. This series had multiple themes written over the years, some of them by composers whose names you might know, some whose names are not so famous. The theme most associated with this iconic TV series, actually wasn’t the original. It’s the one we all hum when we think about it and it was composed by Marius Constant, a Romanian-born French composer famous mostly for his ballet music in the classical world.

Constant’s theme was written when studio execs decided they wanted a different vibe from the first season’s theme as they moved forward. That original theme was composed by none other than Bernard Herrmann, the man who would later compose the score for Psycho as well as The Alfred Hitchcock HourTaxi Driver, and Endless Night to name just a few. His theme for the show is below.

American Horror Story

Love it or hate it, this show has one of the creepiest theme songs ever scored for television. There’s something so beautifully disjointed and jarring about this theme. It makes you uncomfortable and rattles the nerves and that’s exactly why it’s on this list! As creepy TV theme songs go, this is one of the best.

Tales from the Crypt

Another theme that somehow managed to capture whimsy and horror and distill it into one piece of music. That’s not entirely surprising, however. This music was also composed by Danny Elfman, and if you go back and listen to the Beetlejuice theme side-by-side with this one, you’ll notice distinct similarities.

Honorable Mention: Tales from the Darkside

Honestly, it’s the opening narration as much as the music itself that really gets under my skin:

“Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But… there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit… a Darkside.”

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