10. The Time Warp
What would the list be without a number from the greatest horror musical of them all. Just a fun, anthemic song that epitomizes what The Rocky Horror Picture Show is all about, and why it has gained such an infectious fan following. Plus, I just love Magenta's Marlene Dietrich impression.
9. Black Sabbath
The title song of Black Sabbath's self-titled first album is a genuinely terrifying song. Just listening to Ozzy wail, "Oh no, no, please, God help me!" gives me goosebumps. A sinister song that was probably partly to blame for legions of parents freaking out over their kids listening to this band.
How could I not include Michael Jackson's pop ode to zombie culture? Plus, the video was even directed by John Landis. Big-time extra points for the rockin' appearance of the one and only Vincent Price, delivering perhaps the greatest rap of all time. "The funk of 40,000 years," indeed. V-Price could spit mad lyrics, yo.
7. Werewolves of London
God bless Warren Zevon. This staple of 1980s classic rock radio is the kind of song you just can't get out of your head. Plus, you've got major references to Lon Chaney Jr. and Sr., and the title itself is Universal-inspired. I'll never give up hope of one day seeing a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vick's. Hopefully, his hair will be perfect.
6. The Thing That Should Not Be
Metallica be some horror freaks, with a particular obsession with the work of H.P. Lovecraft. And this song is their magnum opus to the Cthulhu mythos, creepy as hell and grim in the extreme. In fact, I recommend you check out this excellent fan video created for the song--pointed out to me by the Vault's resident Lovecraft expert, RayRay.
Rumor has it that Ivan Reitman wanted Huey Lewis & The News to record the title song for his movie, but when they turned him down, he brought in smooth jazz crooner Ray Parker Jr. and got him to basically record a Huey Lewis-style song. Whatever the case may be, there is probably no one born between 1970 and 1980 who doesn't know all the lyrics by heart...
4. Surfin' Dead
God damn, but this is a great song by The Cramps, featured prominently in the soundtrack to The Return of the Living Dead. In fact, that flick is filled to the brim with rockin' horror tunes, so I figured I'd limit it to just one. In reality, I could probably fill this entire list with them if I wanted to.
3. Don't Fear the Reaper
Such bleak subject matter for such a mellow-sounding song! Blue Oyster Cult's biggest hit pops up in the original Halloween, and of course was also the opening theme to the miniseries of Stephen King's The Stand. Forty-thousand men and women every day...
2. The Monster Mash
So corny, but so much damn fun. Who doesn't love Bobby "Boris" Pickett's iconic novelty smash of the 1960s. A surf-tinged tune that conjures up all the innocent fun of the "monster kid" era. I can play this one for my kids 20 times in a row, and they'll still keep asking for it. In fact, it would've been very easy to slap this one up at number one. But I had to be brutally honest with myself and pick my true favorite...
1. This Is Halloween
It figures that Danny Elfman, formerly of Oingo Boingo, would come up with this deliciously eery theme song for Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The song is a perfect homage to childhood terrors, and sets the scene excellently for Burton's unique vision. This one always reminds me of what it's like to be a kid hiding under the covers from vampires... Plus, Marilyn Manson also did an awesome cover of it!
Some inevitable runners-up:
- "I Put a Spell on You" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus
- "Love Song for a Vampire" by Annie Lennox
- "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo
- "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails
- "Nature Trail to Hell" by Weird Al Yankovic
- "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson
- "Summer Breeze" by Type O-Negative
- "Mad Monster Party" by Ethel Ennis