Halloween represents many things to many people and, for whatever reason you choose to celebrate you can be sure others will be doing the same in their own way. If your chosen form of celebration happens to be a party, then the dressing up and horrific elements of the season take on a whole new meaning. However with every great party, you need great tunes to keep it going. Now last year I compiled a collection of some of my favourite Halloween related tunes to give you all a frightfully good night. This year I have turned to film for my inspiration. So without further ado here is a selection of some of the catchy horror tunes perfect for a good night in.
The Blob (1958)/ Green Slime (1968) Theme
Strange how two movies that focus on extra-terrestrial creatures should have such funky, foot taping main theme tunes. The original Blob (1958) starred a young Steve McQueen, who then aged 28 played an even younger teenage lead character called Steve Andrews. This trend of older actors playing younger characters is kind of a horror tradition, which is continued even today. The Blob’s influence can be seen in other movies such as The Stuff, which uses the notion of an alien substance and takes it into an entirely different direction. The creature from the stars that absorbed anything it could get its gloopy body next to spawned a sequel Beware! The Blob (1972) and a remake in 1988. Nether had the originals amazingly inappropriate yet poppy theme song performed by the The Five Blobs and written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David.
The Green Slime (1968) on the other hand has elements of Armageddon (1998) and Alien (1979) to it, with a team of astronauts stopping a giant asteroid from destroying the planet, but bringing something back with them that quickly mutates into something else. In this case it mutates into one eyed, green skinned, electrical throwing, and tentacle twirling beasts that look like men in suits and add an element of cheese to the presiding. The main theme tune enhances this feeling even more, giving us a great little sci-fi treat.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space Theme (1988)
Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a film that once seen is hardly forgotten. It has a delightful throwback feel to it, feeling like a modern version of the fondly remembered 50s Science Fiction flicks. Directed by Stephen Chiodo, with his two brothers Edward and Stephen working on the production and writing side of the film, it follows a small times response to an alien ship that lands on Earth to get a new food source (ala Peter Jackson’s 1987 film Bad Taste). The main difference from any other alien invader you may have seen before is that these E.T’s look exactly like clowns and even use clown related weapons. Guns which fire out killer popcorn, candy floss that engulfs its victims and a weakness that involves blowing off their red noses are just some of the comedic antics on show. Killer Klowns mixes together comedy slap stick with some nice horror scenes and a sense of great fun, which follows onto the theme tune, written by The Dickies.
Little Shop of Horrors Main Theme (1986)
From Roger Corman quickie, to musical production, then to big screen movie The Little Shop of Horrors has certainly been around the block. It is testament to the idea (originally created by Corman), that it has survived since its birth in the 1960s, to still be remembered fondly today. This musical version of the story (directed by Frank Oz) is one of the most recognized versions, possibly because of its more upbeat ending compared to the original film and the off Broadway musical. The changing of the ending to a more Hollywood horror ending (setting up for a potential sequel that never came) should hardly go against the movie though, as it is crammed packed full of incredible songs and great comedic acting. To pick a song from the list is tricky, with so many sing a long songs included in its 94 (or 103 minutes if it’s the director’s cut) running time. So why not just start it off with the song that sets the tone of the movie.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Theme (1978)
No matter how you pronounce the word tomato, most people can agree that it has never been more vicious, or more humorous than in the 1978 comedy Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Much like the Chiodo brothers this little movie was created by two people John DeBello and David Miller. Its creative use of an everyday food source attacking its consumers and a tongue very firmly stuck in its cheek has helped to make this an underground hit. It is hard not to get a kick out of seeing tomatoes big and small rolling around the streets chasing people. Like Killer Klowns it shares that retro 50s style feel as well as a harmless innocence to the proceedings that make it accessible to old and young alike. The real achievement of the movie has to be how Stephen Peace as Wilbur Finletter managed to keep himself out of the hospital when carrying an opened parachute behind him in most of his scenes! Still funny today, (even if some of the social commentary does not play out as well) it has numerous sequels to its name and at one stage had a cartoon series to. The pompous and over the top main theme has that element of fun that filters through the entire movie.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – This is Halloween Song
Oh Tim Burton. If there is one thing he does well it is working with Johnny Depp. No just kidding (though their collaborations are a lot of fun), what he really manages to do is create Gothically stunning pieces of film, with characters that become alienated from what is considered the norm, but manage to be endearing because of this very trait. Now Burton has made many features like this, but his stop motion feature with Henry Selick The Nightmare Before Christmas really connected with all age groups. Maybe it was the novelty of stop motion, or the storyline that involved two seasonal times combining together to form something really special. Or it could be the charisma of Jack Skellington. Grizzly Bomb has already covered the character of Jack, but he is (along with the rest of the quirky cast) who keeps the audiences glued to the screen. So why not celebrate the joy of Halloween with them with the song that shows the haunting season can be a whole heap of fun!
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) – Thor – We Accept the Challenge
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare is a movie which is hard to describe. Sure I had a go at breaking down the core elements of this B movie schlock in a VHS Vault article, but the more you watch it, the more you either love it or hate it. The story alone is absolutely bonkers, the acting is awful yet somehow inspiring and the creatures are just, well, beyond description! Sometimes with all this going on it is hard to remember this song has some great hair metal tracks in it to. Thor, the lead singer and lead actor is certainly a character and the reveal of just who he is at the end makes an already crazy movie, even more bonkers. So the best song to celebrate the victory of good over evil has to be the end battle scene song “We Except The Challenge”, so you too can remember the moment when you first saw a grown man in a metal thong fight a devil throwing killer Frisbee monsters in slow motion.
The Toxic Avenger 2 Theme (1989)
Troma are well known by horror fans for their low budget movies which delight in throwing everything into their movies. Not just the kitchen sink, but the entrails, blood and guts of anyone stood near the sink at the time. The Toxic Avenger film is their most famous movie and is also their most famous creation, having a series of sequels after his name as well as of all things an animated series and toy line! Well if Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Swamp Thing can both have cartoons created about them then why not Toxie? Heck at one point Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to star in a rebooted version! It is one of the sequels that we turn to now. The second film is by no means the best, shot back to back with the third it lost some of the anarchic magic of the original film. What it did have though is a ton of great metal music, one of which is the main theme which gets you all pumped up for Melvin’s mutated return to Tromaville.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 – The Dream Warriors (1987) – Dokken – Dream Warriors
What is there to say about Freddy that has not already been said? Well Grizzly Bomb already covered the icon that is Mr Kruegar 2 years ago and since then not much else has changed. He is still regarded as one of the big three horror movie creations (sharing the lime light with his co killers Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers) and the original appearance of Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street still scares people even today. Now Robert England’s portrayal of Freddy has terrified and entertained audiences worldwide, more so than his rapping which has to be said is an acquired taste. So knowing that myself and only a handful of other people on the planet will actually like to hear The Fat Boys “Ready For Freddy” rap I looked for other Elm Street related tunes that can really get a crowd into the swing of things. And so I turned to metal rockers Dokken for that very reason. Not only a metallic tune to accompany A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 film viewing, but also an incredibly fun music video to accompany it, with the band members basically using the power of rock to scare Freddy off. Say of this what you will, but it’s quite a trip and a great way to end of any Halloween movie theme mix tape.
This list is by no means the be all and end all of cinematic horror tunes. There are great instrumental tunes out there for classics horror flicks such as Psycho, Return of the Living Dead, Halloween, Suspiria and many more. There are also a deep reserve of cheesy musical hits that are available at the click of a button on YouTube. So after listening to these horrific hits, why not head over there and share some of your personal favorites on the comments page below.
Images: Paramount Pictures, MGM, Warner Brothers, NAI Entertainment,
Buena Vista Pictures, Synapse Films, Troma Entertainment, New Line Cinema