YOUR MOVIE LISTS: Movies Scored by James Horner
Oscar-winning composer James Horner has died. Horner passed away tragically on June 22, 2015, the victim of a small plane crash. He was 61.
Horner composed music for countless movies over the years, many of them in the horror and science fiction genre. According to IMDB, Horner composed scores for 156 movies beginning in 1978. He won two Oscars, both for TITANIC(1997), as he won for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, “My Heart Will Go On.”
We remember Horner today with a look at the movies he scored. It’s a partial list, with the genre films listed in bold.
THE WATCHER (1978) – James Horner’s first movie score.
THE LADY IN RED (1979) – Gangster film about John Dillinger starring Robert Conrad as Dillinger and Pamela Sue Martin as the Lady in Red. Horner actually scored this film before THE WATCHER, but THE WATCHER was released first.
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) – classic low-budget 1980s horror movie starring Doug McClure in a tale about mutated sea monsters who kill men and rape women. This is the first movie scored by Horner that I ever saw.
BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980) – STAR WARS wannabe/clone/ripoff starring Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, George Peppard, John Saxon, and Sybil Danning.
THE HAND (1981) – Horror movie about a severed hand that comes back to life and goes on a murder spree. Starring Michael Caine. With a screenplay by Oliver Stone!
WOLFEN (1981) – Stylish horror movie starring Albert Finney about Native American wolf spirits. Based on the Whitley Strieber novel.
DEADLY BLESSING (1981) – Wes Craven horror film starring Sharon Stone.
STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) – Probably my favorite James Horner score. It’s certainly the film where I first noticed his music. The music he wrote for the space battle scenes between Kirk and Khan are particularly effective, in this superior STAR TREK film, the second and arguably the best in the series.
48 HRS (1982) –Action/comedy by writer/director Walter Hill was Eddie Murphy’s feature film debut. Co-starring Nick Nolte.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983) – Very stylish horror/fantasy based on the Ray Bradbury novel. Bradbury also wrote the screenplay. Starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce. Not as effective or chilling as it should have been, perhaps because it was a Walt Disney release.
KRULL (1983) – science fiction fantasy by director Peter Yates.
BRAINSTORM (1983) – Science fiction thriller directed by Douglas Trumbull and starring Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood. Wood’s final movie.
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) – The third film in the STAR TREK movie series, directed by Leonard Nimoy, about the search for the reborn Spock after his death at the end of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. Not bad, but not nearly as good as it predecessor.
COMMANDO (1985) – Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner is a guilty pleasure. Contains some of Arnold’s best movie lines.
ALIENS (1986) – Probably my second favorite James Horner music score in this ambitious, entertaining sequel by writer/director James Cameron. With Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, a conniving Paul Reiser, a whiny Bill Paxton, and an army of vicious aliens.
THE NAME OF THE ROSE (1986) – Well-made period piece thriller with Sean Connery as William of Baskerville, a monk investigating a series of murders. Featuring a young Christian Slater.
RED HEAT (1988) –Arnold Schwarzenegger teams with James Belushi in this buddy action flick by director Walter Hill.
FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) – If you build it, they will come. Iconic baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, and James Earl Jones.
GLORY (1989) – Civil war drama starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman.
ANOTHER 48 HRS (1990) – Forgettable sequel with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, once more directed by Walter Hill.
THE ROCKETEER (1991) – Amiable adventure yarn set during World War II about a secret jetpack, the young man who uses it, and the Nazis spy who wants it. Timothy Dalton makes a nice baddie.
PATRIOT GAMES (1992) – Harrison Ford takes over as CIA analyst Jack Ryan in this Tom Clancy tale.
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1994) – Ford returns as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
BRAVEHEART (1995) – Mel Gibson steals the show as Scottish rebel William Wallace. Gibson also directed.
APOLLO 13 (1995) – Superior movie by director Ron Howard about the ill-fated Apollo 13 moon mission, based on the book by Jim Lovell. Phenomenal cast includes Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. Another memorable score by James Horner, one of my favorites.
RANSOM (1996) – Action thriller starring Mel Gibson about a father who takes the law into his own hands after his son was kidnapped. The sort of movie Liam Neeson would have starred in if this had been made ten years later.
THE DEVIL’S OWN (1997) – muddled thriller starring Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt. Pitt’s not who he seems, and Ford finds out.
TITANIC (1997) – The biggie, the iconic James Cameron movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Horner won two Oscars for this movie, for original score and for best song.
DEEP IMPACT (1998) – science fiction disaster film about a meteor about to wipe out Earth stars Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, and Morgan Freeman as the President of the United States.
THE MASK OF ZORRO (1998) –Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins in this so-so tale of Zorro.
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1998) – Disney remake of the classic giant ape movie features topnotch special effects by make-up wizard Rick Baker. Starring Charlize Theron and Bill Paxton.
THE PERFECT STORM (2000) – Nonfiction sea tale starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001) – Russell Crowe steals the show as brilliant mathematician John Nash, directed by Ron Howard. Co-starring Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris
THE FORGOTTEN (2004) –Decent horror movie starring Julianne Moore about false memories and sinister enemies.
FLIGHTPLAN (2005) – thriller with Jodie Foster dealing with bad guys on a plane.
THE LEGEND OF ZORRO (2005) – Antonio Banderas returns as Zorro.
AVATAR (2009) – James Cameron classic that put 3D movies back on the map. Superior film with yet another memorable James Horner score. With Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012) – Inferior Spider-Man reboot, made way too soon after the Tobey Maguire series which only ended five years earlier. Andrew Garfield as Spidey— meh.
James Horner wrote the music for so many of the movies I’ve watched over my lifetime. Often writing scores for multiple films per year, Horner provided music for more movies than are listed here, as again, this is just a partial list.
Sadly, his life was cut short while he was still very active in his career. His musical talents will be greatly missed.
James Horner. August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015. Age – 61.
Thanks for reading.