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Friday, May 1, 2009

VoH & DotW Present: Horror's Greatest Hits


Because I'm still in a musical mood, and because Bloody-Disgusting can't have all the B-Sol "best of" lists, tonight I've recruited BJ-C of Day of the Woman, and together we've whipped up a special look at the most memorable tunes ever included in a horror film.

Now, for the purposes of clarification, let us explain what we mean. These would be pre-existing recordings that were included in the soundtracks of horror movies. In other words, we're not talking about scores. And we're not talking about recordings specifically made for a particular film. This list is for songs that were already known long before they appeared on the soundtrack in question.

So without further ado, let's count down the top 15 coolest songs ever to be featured in a horror movie...

15. "Anything, Anything" by Dramarama
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Call us crazy, but there's just something so Reagan-era bad-ass about the scene in NOES 4 when Alice is embracing her power as the Dream Master and prepping to do battle with Freddy as this power-pop gem blares out defiantly. Alice herself said it best: Effing Ay.

14. "Shadows of the Night" by Layton
Dance of the Dead (2008)
Who knew that a high school garage band covering Pat Benatar was the way to put brain-hungry zombies in a calm state? Hundreds of zombies are about to eat the main kids, but the second that guitar riff hits, they're entranced. The kids in Dance of the Dead clearly knew something we don't--because when we think of taming voracious ghouls, we don't think 80's female vocalists.

13. "The Midnight Special" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
"Wanna see something really scary?" Who knew Dan Akroyd could inspire such terror? The opening scene of the cinematic adaptation of Rod Serling's classic TV series starts with two motorists bonding over the down-home splendor of this CCR classic. It's the perfect song to set the complete opposite mood for what comes next...

12. "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House
The Stand (1994)
Most people would point to Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper", but that's rather the obvious choice, don't you think? We prefer to go with this mellow adult contemporary fave, played to such excellent effect in this epic King mini-series adaptation, as an accompaniment to a post-apocalyptic world wiped out by epidemic. Finally--some peace and quiet!

11. "The Banana Boat Song" by Harry Belafonte
Beetlejuice (1987)
Watching Catherine O'Hara play Delia Deetz is amazing enough; watching Catherine O'Hara possessed by Michael Keaton's Beetlejuice and dancing around a dinner table while lip-synching calypso is nearly beyond words. A song written in no way for a horror film lends itself to its most memorable scene. It's still almost impossible for us to hear "Day-O" without thinking of Dick Cavett.

10. "Summer Breeze" by Type O-Negative
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
This brooding, sinister cover of the laid-back 1970s Seals and Croft hit seemed perfectly tailored for a horror movie soundtrack, and lo and behold, it soon turned up in the opening credits of this derivative '90s slasher. Who knew AM Gold could be so evil-sounding? Too bad, the movie was all downhill from here...

9. "Put a Lid On It" by The Squirrel Nut Zippers
Fido (2007)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the world's first dancing zombie. And when it comes time to do a little cha-cha-cha with her undead manservant, Carrie-Anne Moss chooses this nu-swing confection from mid-'90s hot jazzers SNZ--which ironically, wouldn't be recorded for another 40 years after the movie takes place.

8. "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Not only is it the song that one guy at every concert screams for (even if it's not a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert). It's also the song that signifies the end of Rob Zombie's Firefly family. This classic rock staple leads to one of the best endings in horror, as the ruthless family of killers you eventually root for in the end, are gunned down not to the sounds of bullets and screams...but feel-good Southern rock.

7. "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
If you are in London, under zombie attack, and need a song with which to perfectly choreograph a killing scene... well, you could do far worse than this glam rock ditty. It not only has a slamming rhythm, but the irony of the lyrics just can't be beat.

6. "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazarus
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Buffalo Bill is like the love child of Leatherface and Dr. Frank N Furter, with hobbies that include kidnapping fat girls, keeping them in holes and forcing them to lotion their skin. His favorite pastime, however, is tucking his junk and dancing to Q Lazarus' Goodbye Horses. Thus making it the most memorable horror song-and-dance since the Monster Mash.

5. "Blue Moon" by The Marcels
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
They took a timeless Rodgers & Hart classic and butchered it beyond all recognition, but hey, Great American Songbook proclivities aside, this song fits perfectly in a film built completely around moon-themed devices. So well, in fact, that director John Landis saw fit to bookend the movie with it.

4. "Hip to Be Square" by Huey Lewis & The News
American Psycho (2000)
Huey Lewis and the News... are MUCH more than just okay. No one knows that better than Mr. Patrick Bateman, raincoat clad and axe in hand. And no one makes killing cooler than Christian Bale. This scene has given us one of the most sought-after animated gifs since the Rick Roll'd phenomenon, and "Hip to be Square" has become to upperclass apartments what "Duelling Banjos" was to the backwoods.

3. "Party Time" by 45 Grave
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
The original version of this early '80s punk chestnut was a bit faster than the more mainstream-friendly one used to accompany the big pay-off cemetery resurrection scene in ROTLD. But in a soundtrack that is hands down one of the best ever produced for a horror film--if not the best--this is one established favorite that stands out and perfectly sums up the grim, madcap energy of the film.

2. "I Remember You" by Slim Whitman
House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)
This film has its detractors, but that aside, for our money there are few more effective scenes in recent horror cinema than the one in which the murderous deeds of the Firefly family are revealed for all to see as this haunting standard ballad is crooned forth by the yodeling country music wonder Whitman--in its entirety. Surreal. Disturbing. Classic.

1. "When the Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Anyone--including myself--doubting that Zack Snyder's remake of the George Romero masterpiece would be anything other than a disaster, found themselves inserting foot into mouth during this, one of the greatest opening title sequences horror fans have ever been treated to. Sounding as if it were practically written to accompany the zombie apocalypse, Cash's glorious recording assured us all that we were in for a treat.

10 comments:

BJ-C said...

Officially the Bonnie & Clyde of horror blogging.

Ms Harker said...

Great pick with the 'Banana Boat Song'!
Its trashy but I have a soft spot for 'Cry Little Sister' from Lost Boys ;)

Ms Harker
www.musingcontinuum.wordpress.com

Planet of Terror said...

Great list you guys! I was going through it and I was just waiting for the nod to ROTLD and there it was. In my humble opinion, the best soundtrack to a horror movie ever. Rock on!

Pierre Fournier said...

Slim Whitman's I Remember You was also used to great effect in Mars Attacks. I will forever associate the song with exploding heads.

BJ-C said...

*sigh* Why am I Not Catherine O'Hara...

darkcrash said...

Great post guys. Have to second (or third) the praise for the ROTLD soundtrack. The 45 Grave scene is classic. I remember seeing ROTLD at the UA 49th Street theater in Times Square and rocking to the Cramps "Surfin' Dead" during the credits. 'Cause I always stay for the credits.

B-Sol said...

Oh wow, the UA 49th, that takes me back.
And for the record, it was a toss-up between including "Party Time" or "Surfin' Dead" on the list.

Anonymous said...

RayRay - Superlative list. Great choices. Bravo for both Zombie masterpieces.

Justin B. said...

As soon as I saw this post I thought, "Please let 'When the Man Comes Around' be on this list..."

Great minds...

B-Sol said...

Always happy to live up to expectations, Justin!

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