It’s Halloween and that gives us a great excuse to write about music in scary films (and eat anything containing sugar). Some of the songs are downright creepy in their own right, some were corrupted by the film. Here’s our top 10:
1) “Jeepers Creepers” in Jeepers Creepers (2001)
A whole film franchise was created around this weird little number, composed in 1938 by Harry Warren with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Essentially there’s a monstrous demon called “The Creeper” who potters around eating its victim’s organs. At one point he devours someone’s eyes then goes around wearing them, hence the use of the lyrics “where’d you get those eyes”. Shudder.
2) “Mr. Sandman” in Halloween II (1981) and Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
This song by Pat Bullard and The Chordettes first premiered in 1954 and was later used during the closing credits of 1981’s Halloween II. To refresh our memories, the track was used (almost) twenty years later in the opening scene of the follow-up film Halloween H20. It’s overt cheerfulness is an unnerving juxtaposition with the brutal killings it precedes.
3) “Bad Things” in True Blood (2008-2014)
Ok so this isn’t from a movie but we couldn’t help ourselves. The opening line “when you came in the air went out” is so wonderfully spine-tingeling it had to be on the list. Country music singer Jace Everett wrote the song for his self-titled debut album released in 2006, and two years later it became the theme song for HBO’s Vampire series True Blood.
4) “Don’t Fear The Reaper” in Scream (1996)
Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 hit was covered by the mysteriously named singer-songwriter ‘Gus’ (who, we discovered, is in fact called Anthony Penaloza) for the 1996 horror classic Scream. We don’t know about you, but if there was a knife-wielding mask-wearing nutcase running round our town we would definitelyfear the reaper.
5) “Goodbye Horses” in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Right, let’s move onto cross-dressing killers who like to dress up in human skin. Q Lazzarus’ 1998 one-hit wonder “Goodbye Horses” plays in the background as said killer “Buffalo Bill” performs a weird dance wearing a woman’s scalp on his head (and sporting a mangina). Despite being in the novel, the scene was not originally included in the script but Ted Levine, the actor portraying Buffalo Bill, bravely insisted it be included as he felt it essential in defining the character.
6) “Don’t Stop Me Now” in Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A bit of light relief now with Queen’s iconic 1978 hit “Don’t Stop Me Now” in zombie comedy film Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg & co are stuck in a pub with hoards of the un-dead outside when suddenly this track comes on the jukebox. What follows is a shambolic attempt to kill a zombie with pool cues, darts, and other pub paraphernalia.
7) “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” in Insidious (2010)
With his distinctive high falsetto/vibrato voice and ukelele, Tiny Tim’s 1968 song is a whole world of weirdness in itself. Paired with horror film Insidious and a scene with a spooky dancing ghost boy, you’ve got yourself a match made in creepy heaven.
8) “Hip To Be Square” in American Psycho (2000)
This song is actually referred to in the Bret Easton Ellis book American Psycho that the film is based upon. In the movie (and book) scene Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) goes on a lengthy rant about Huey Lewis and the News’ career whilst poor old Paul Allen (Jared Leto) sits listening, completely unoblivious to the fact he’s about to get his face caved in with an axe. Interestingly, the song had to be removed from the official soundtrack because it had only been licensed for the film.
9) “Rocky Mountain High” in Final Destination (2000)
Throughout Final Destination, John Denver’s 1972 track “Rocky Mountain High” is used literally as a musical grim reaper, foreshadowing each death that occurs. Even creepier is the real life context of the song as Denver was killed in a plane crash in 1997, and the film’s plot revolves around the same type of accident.
10) “I Put A Spell On You” in Hocus Pocus (1993)
Bette Middler’s cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 classic for Hocus Pocus is probably one of the best things well, ever. Alongside fellow witches and backing singers Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, Midler struts her stuff and proves that Hocus Pocus is basically the best Halloween movie of all time.
Enjoyed this post? Check out Killer Tracks: Music Supervisors Discuss Working on TV’s Most Popular Horror Shows