You’ve likely heard César Dávila-Irizarry’s work, whether you know it or not. A piece he recorded while in college at the University of Puerto Rico has become the center of the haunting theme song to the wildly popular series American Horror Story, which makes another season premiere on September 5. He’s also worked as a sound designer on an impressive number of more than 100 television shows.
The Truth About Those Chilling ‘AHS’ Opening Credits Isn’t Scary At All Hint: It’s something you keep in your closet, next to the ghosts. However fans might feel about its various seasons, the “American Horror Story” opening credits never disappoint.
The award-winning work of Kyle Cooper and his Prologue Studio mixes stop-motion with CGI to create a dreamlike procession of the strange and undead. It’s not hard to see how those flickering visuals give us the creeps, and paired with a hair-raising soundtrack, the “AHS” title sequence becomes a perfect nightmare.
But, that song — filmy, discordant — was never supposed to end up in a horror show. It wasn’t even supposed to be scary.
Like the TV shows they introduce, title sequences range from forgettable to sublime. Some are so bland and by-the-numbers (or so long and earnest), viewers simply tune out (or press fast-forward). The best ones, though, keep audiences rapt, building anticipation for what they’re about to watch. They’re also great for branding: In one gestalt stroke, a single visual frame or music riff has the power to instantly recall a show.
American Horror Story theme composer & video editor talk process on season 1 of American Horror Story.