Interesting post by Jeremy Denk on movie monsters and classical music:
Both Lecter and Cullen traffic in blood, and their bloodiest scenes bleed classical music. Yes, we can say, the director is suggesting that classical music is “beauty” against which the horrors of bloodlust are seen more starkly. But if the music is supposed to be the opposite of the bloody scene, isn’t the implication somehow that the beauty of classical music is “bloodless”? Lecter is a soulless monster, and he loves Bach; Cullen is a soulless vampire, who uses Schubert to calm himself while he repairs a wound. Always soulless; always other; always anachronistic; classical music is the preference of monsters. I can see how the age of the music connects to the immortality of the vampire, I can see how the Bach connects to Lecter’s genius, but why must classical music be the language of monsters, of the fringe?
I think there’s a simpler (necessarily generalised) solution to this: classical music is emblematic of old, aristocratic Europe, and it suits US film-makers very well to make their baddies European. It’s a crude geo-political model that is guaranteed to get them whooping in the aisles. The first Die Hard, with its Beethoven leitmotif and recitativo secco underscore every time Alan Rickman opens his mouth, is an obvious template here.
(Thanks, by the way, to Heather Roche for alerting me to this post.)