Pull out the costumes, stock up on candy, and break out the scary movies. Halloween is upon us! Of course horror movies are big this time of year, but they also find themselves in several songs. Whether directly about scary movies or just inspired by them, several musicians have channeled their love for the terrifying genre into their music. And no, I’m not just talking about Rob Zombie. While you’re looking through Netflix for the best horror movies out there, here’s a playlist of songs about horror movies.
“Living Dead Girl” – Rob Zombie
You could fill this entire playlist with tracks from the Zombie man, but not only is this one of his best songs, it’s also packed with horror references. The title is taken from a 1982 Jean Rollins film of the same name and the video is a take on the silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. There are also various samples taken from movies, such as Lady Frankenstein and Daughters of Darkness. At least you can always count on this man for great horror inspired songs…not so much for movies though.
“Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol
One of my favorite Idol songs, this one gets its title from the French film Les yeux sans visage aka Eyes Without a Face. Though it starts out as one of the punk rockers more mellow tracks, it still packs a punch with a searing riff from Steve Stevens during the bridge. It’s a ballad where Idol manages to sound haunting, yet longing for his lover. It’s still one of his best tracks and to think it was inspired from this little horror gem. Go watch that movie if you haven’t by the way. It’s unsettling and impressive for a movie of its time.
“Hellraiser” – Motorhead
This song has an interesting history. It was first recorded by Ozzy Osbourne in 1991 for the album No More Tears. It was then re-recorded by Motorhead the following year and repurposed it for the film Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth. Just from listening to the lyrics you can tell producers latched onto the song for the title alone. It doesn’t actually have much to do with the movie, aside from Pinhead appearing in the video. The closest the song comes is during the second verse that talks about waking up in another place and doing something bad for your health, which are themes related to the franchise. But I guess we can let it slide since it is a kick ass song anyway.
“Chain Saw” – The Ramones
The Ramones have shown their love for horror films with tracks like “Pet Sematary,” but this one was influenced by the iconic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Roaring to life with a buzzing chainsaw, the music is upbeat and is made for moshing. You almost forget about the gruesomeness happening in the lyrics as Joey Ramone sings “Texas chain saw massacre/They took my baby away from me/But she’ll never get out of there.” It also shows how the band had the talent to turn anything into a kick ass punk tune.
“Nosferatu” – Blue Oyster Cult
Before Stephanie Meyers gave us sappy, emo vampires, there was the original Dracula. That then spawned the legendary silent film Nosferatu, which BOC recounts in this haunting song. The lyrics tell the story of a lady doomed to fall in love with the vampire only to end with his demise by sunlight. It’s not the only song out there about the famous creature of the night, but it does stay pretty faithful to the nature of the film.
“Human Fly” – The Cramps
With a slick rockabilly, punk rock infused sound, Cramps frontman Lux Interior hisses, stutters, and buzzes his way through this track inspired by the Vincent Price film The Fly. The simple guitar groove creates this b-movie creature creepiness to it – it would be perfect in a 50’s horror film – perfectly cementing the mood for the cool track. If you’ve seen the movie, especially the 1986 remake, you know that this fly in the song doesn’t sound as chilling as the bastardize experiment.
“Fright Night” – J. Geils Band
Acting as the lead track for this excellent vampire flick, the song is a bit hokey. Think of other “spooky” tracks like “Monster Mash” for an idea. The lyrics describe the antagonist as a liar, a gigolo, “a man of many faces,” while trembling synth tries to create a spooky, creepy riff. Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy, especially with the hook simply shouting “Fright night! Whose it gonna be tonight?” but it grows on you after a while and kind of fits the b-movie mood.
“Freddy Krueger” – S.O.D.
This is a pretty straight forward thrash metal track describing the grotesque manipulator of nightmares, Freddy Krueger. The horror icon is described as having flex metal knuckles and maggots crawling throughout his skin and the chorus features gang vocals shouting “he comes for you/what will you do.” With this track it’s plain and simple that you don’t want to mess with Freddy, no matter how many shitty sequels he has. If you’re looking for another Freddy inspired track, you can check out Dokken’s “Dream Warriors,” but it’s kind of crappy.
“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – Alice Cooper
Moving from Freddy to Jason, this song isn’t what I would call one of his best. If anything it’s kind of schlocky, but that just means it’s perfect for a Friday the 13th movie. Recorded for the film Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Cooper lays out the basic premise of the film: Jason comes back to life and starts killing foolish teens. The song even makes sure to use the killer’s infamous “ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma” echo. Oddly enough, the track is very New Wave in nature making it stand out from Cooper’s other songs. Apparently, Children of Bodom covered this song, but it was never released. I bet their version is pretty killer.
“I Walked with a Zombie” – Wednesday 13
Similar to Rob Zombie, Wednesday 13 is another rock artist who bases his work around his love of horror movies. This was inspired by the 1943 flick of the same name. The lyrics even loosely follow the story of a woman who enters a trance like state and is taken to a mysterious island where she tries to find a cure. The video itself features scenes from the famous zombie film Night of the Living Dead. 13 has a ton of songs based on horror movies, but with the upbeat music and the catchy hook, this is his most popular.
“Night of the Living Dead” – The Misfits
There’s something about punk rock and horror that mesh so well together and The Misfits always know how to do it best. Released on their debut album Walk Among Us, the song loosely follows the plot of the movie by talking about not knowing who’s a zombie and seeing them rip apart your loved ones. It’s short, sweet, and sure to give you your zombie fix.
“Evil Dead” – Death
This death metal band pays homage to the first film in the Evil Dead franchise with this chaotic song. Guitars grind and thrash while singer Chuck Schuldiner screams and rages about “spirits within causing terror” and voices speaking out. The lyrics are pretty sparse with vague references to the movie. The only way you know it’s about the horror film is the chorus that yells “evil dead!” over and over again. This isn’t the only time a rock band would use Evil Dead as an influence and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads
The lyrics for this track were largely inspired by Norman Bates from the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Here, David Byrne explores the fractured and shattered mind of a serial killer. How he came up with the song is kind of strange. According to Bryne, this was his attempt at making an Alice Cooper song except in the style of Randy Newman. He felt the result was pretty silly, but it proved to be another hit for the band. Though it’s a great song, I prefer Cage the Elephant’s cover.
“Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath
Even though both the title of the song and the band were taken from the 1969 horror film of the same name, the lyrics have nothing to do with the movie. But you have to give a nod to the movie that would give birth to the best heavy metal band in music history. Also, the song is just fucking terrifying. The lyrics are actually based on a supernatural experience Geezer Butler had. According to him, after painting his apartment black, hanging up several crosses, and reading a book on witchcraft before going to bed, a black figure appeared at the end of his bed. When he went to get the book he discovered it was gone. This remains one of the band’s strongest tracks and the one that gave them their Satanist connections though they were unfounded.
There are a lot of horror inspired songs out there, so which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!