One thing that you should know about me is that I am a huge musical geek (who unfortunately can’t sing) and my favourite types of musicals are often ones that are twisted, dark and creepy. I mean what is better than a film that not only scares you but you can also sing along with? So in honour of the Evil Dead musical playing in London and the fact that I am still in the Halloween spirit I give you my Top 5 Horror Musicals, complete with my favourite song from each:
5) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Now this film is a personal favorite of mine, I’ve been to the midnight screenings (which I highly recommend), I have most of the soundtrack on my Ipod and I even had a poster of the movie in my dorm room (I told you I’m a musical geek). But the reason why this film is not at the top of this list is because the films context is more shocking then scary. The film has a few horrific scenes (like when the guest have Meatloaf for dinner) but the horror of this picture show is often overlapped with humor. The film is basically a satire of the B-movie horror genre popular in drive-ins of the 1950’s mixed in with a raunchy re-telling of Frankenstein. The film is a classic because it set the stage for any outrageous and outlandish horror musical film that would follow. Now, I know a few of you might be a little disappointed by me for not choosing “Time Warp” as my favorite song and while it is great I am going to have to go with “Hot Patootie” as my pick. I am a huge fan of Meatloaf and this song because it is just a great representation of good old fashion rock and roll music and its just fun to listen too.
4) Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Now this film is musical, campy, cannibalism goodness at its best. Like the Rocky Horror Picture Show this films take some of it cues from classic horror and sci-fi B films and just adds some catchy songs to them. Now the film is not necessarily the scariest film on this list but what it lacks in terror it more then makes up for in tunes. This is not to say that the film does not have some bloody scenes, I mean it is about Hannibal Lecture reincarnated as a plant but I go back to this film for the music and not for the manslaughter (not that I do not enjoy seeing Rick Marinas chop up people for plant food). But if you ask me the most terrifying performance in this film is not the plant but Steve Martin as a sadistic dentist who loves his job solely for the fact that he can inflict pain and torture on people for profit (while high on laughing gas). So for that reason my personal favorite song from this picture is “Dentist!”, performed by the great Steve Martin. Believe me after listening to it, you will be brushing your teeth praying you will never have to visit your dentist again.
3) Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
This film is the most recent on this list and it’s one that represents both the musical and slasher film genre to the extreme. Most of the films plot and dialog is driven through song (like a traditional Opera) but this is not your grandma’s Opera, oh no, this film is an orgy of blood, guts and gore set to heavy rock. The film takes place in a future where people are in constant need of organ transplants and they get them for an evil corporation (is there any other kind?) and if they cannot pay for them on time they are cut right out of them by the Repo Man. The films visuals are very disturbing and certainly not aimed to those with a weak stomach, but the plot is really intense especially with the Repo mans dulling personalities playing throughout the film (Loving father vs Sadistic Killer). I recommend this film to any horror fan that likes some tuneage with their torture. Now for my favorite Song from this film is “Legal Assassin” sung by the character of Nathan (aka the Repo! Man) as he grapples over his guilt for not only being the Repo Man but also with the death of his wife. Now unfortunately, I could only post a clip of the song not the scene but I think the power of this song will speak for itself.
2) The Wicker Man (1973)
So what do you get when you put Scottish folk music to a thriller worthy of Alfred Hitchcock well my friends you would get The Wicker Man (and no, not the crappy Nic Cage remake). The film is about a detective (who is a devoted celibate Christian) who goes to a scottish island to locate a missing girl. The island is inhabited with pagans and music is a big part of their culture and religion and often Howie (the detective) will hear the town’s people chant and sing forms of traditional style folk songs. These songs add layers of suspense, beauty, humor and terror to the films plot. Now like any good thriller the suspense of the entire film leads up to one terrifying and shocking climax at the end (one that I will not give away, sorry). This film is a must see to those who prefer a thriller horror movie to a gory slasher film. My favorite song of the film would have to be “Gently Johnny” which is song sung as the Inn Keepers daughter takes the virginity of a young man who has come to age (this is her role on the island). Now the song is not scary in its context but it serves as a plot devise to plant the seeds of impure thoughts into the head of the detective. Plus, I should mention that the scariest part of this song is that once you hear it, it will never leave your head so listen with caution!!!
1) Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Now I am sure there are a lot of people out there who have not seen this film and if you are one of them I suggests you go out and find a copy. This film is a cult classic, especially in my hometown of Winnipeg where the film and its soundtrack found the biggest success. The film is directors Brain De Palma’s (Carrie and Scarface) twisted adaptation of Phantom of the Opera and the soundtrack is written by Paul Williams. The story is pretty complicated but in a nutshell it is about a music writer (the Phantom) who terrorizes the concert hall (The Paradise) of an evil record producer who stole his masterpiece. The film is visually stunning and often disturbing (it is a De Palma film after all) and the music is to die for. The soundtrack combines different genres of rock and satirizes many famous musicians such as Elvis, The Beach Boys and Gary Glitter. My personal favorite song from this film is “Somebody Super like You” performed by the group The Undeads. I love this song because it is the perfect representation of the shock rock music scene that was forming in the 70’s (Alice Cooper and Kiss) and I love the lyrics about creating the perfect rock god. As a side note I also enjoy how the set of this number plays as homage to the German Silent horror classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (for us film geeks).