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Musical Madness: Top 10 Horror Movie Songs

Matt-suzaka 21 Comments

One thing that was so great about the horror genre during the 1980s and on into the early 1990s was just how integrated it was into pop culture. This was especially true with the Slasher film genre, with horror characters turned pop icons like Jason Voorhees, Pinhead and, most significantly, Freddy Krueger, whose mainstream popularity was touched by no one at the time. It’s interesting how these characters and films became so acceptable in the mainstream, especially when you consider how reviled and loathed the genre was during that time by mainstream America as a whole.

Maybe it was simply a form of rebellion; the youth of that time wanted horror movies, rock and roll, heavy metal, and rap – all things that would send a shiver crawling down the spine of most parents at the time. This pop culture horror revolution exploded into a phase where it seemed every horror film that had come out had some bad ass song and, if we were lucky, a music video to go along with it. Here are 10 of the absolute awesomest:

Maniac Cop Rap

Artist: Jay Chattaway
Movie: Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

I love William Lustig’s Maniac Cop series with all my blackened heart, and one of my life’s greatest (or saddest) moments was the first time I heard “Maniac Cop Rap” during the closing credit sequence of Maniac Cop 2. The fact that there is a Maniac Cop rap song is incredible in and of itself, but there’s a whole different level of amazing when you actually hear the song itself.

Highlights: The fact that the song’s writer, composer Jay Chattaway, is whiter than the inside of Ed Furlong’s nostrils is inherently funny.

Set him on fire, I shoot him with a uzi, but he’ll show up in your Jacuzzi!” is lyrical poetry in motion.

He’s Back (Man Behind the Mask)

Artist: Alice Cooper
Movie: Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Now, there is clearly one specific horror icon who had all but cornered the horror movie music market, but the Friday series limited foray into the audio realm is about as good as it gets. “He’s Back (Man Behind the Mask)” brought two horror icons together, Jason Voorhees and Shock Rock musician Alice Cooper, for one of the coolest horror movie songs this side of Camp Blood.

Highlights: The pure fact that Alice Cooper, whose stage performances and music was highly influenced by horror, was able to play such a memorable part in one of horrors most beloved franchises.

The music video for the song is pretty awesome, specifically Jason swinging through the movie screen, only to take off his mask and reveal that he is… *GASP* Alice Cooper!

Are You Ready for Freddy?

Artist: The Fat Boys
Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

When it comes to horror movies and music, no film series did it better and more often than The Nightmare series. There are probably close to a dozen songs that were written specifically for a Freddy movie, covering a wide range of popular musical genres. This certainly isn’t a surprise as Freddy was basically the horror poster child for the MTV generation, even appearing on the channel numerous times throughout his run. One of my personal favorites to come from the Freddy stable is “Are You Ready for Freddy?” because, quite frankly, it doesn’t get any better (and sillier) than The Fat Boys jamming with the son of a hundred maniacs.

Highlights: Freddy raps. Nuff said.

“The Ballad of Harry Warden”

Artist: Paul Zaza & John McDermott
Movie: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

While the handholding between the Slasher genre and music is clearly prevalent throughout this list,My Bloody Valentine’s “The Ballad of Harry Warden ” is definitely an anomaly unlike any other. First of all, the film and it’s epic ballad came much earlier in the Slasher cycle, and, more significantly, the song is far from your average horror movie tune.

Highlights: The pure fact that it’s a Folk Song, and a pretty good one at that. Makes me wish John Denver dipped his joint in the horror scene with a jam of his own.

“Fright Night”

Artist: The J. Geils Band
Movie: Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night is, for my money, one of the best vampire movies ever, and nothing encapsulates the fun of Fright Night better than the song of the very same name. This track is simply a jolly good time in the cheesiest of ways, and it’s interesting that “Fright Night” was the last single that The J. Geils Band put out as they were, pound for pound, the most commercially successful musical act on this list. Way to go out on a high note, if you ask me!

Highlights: I love the chorus to this song… it’s insanely hokey, but it brings me back.

“Big Trouble In Little China”

Artist: John Carpenter and the Coupe DeVilles
Movie: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China is all that and a bag of chips, and the level of insanity that the film brings to the table is certainly matched by the pure madness of the song, aptly titled, “Big Trouble in Little China.” This song and the music video that come with it are a true testament to the amount of THC in Carpenter’s bloodstream, and the best part is he brought both Tommy “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” Lee Wallace and Nick “Michael Myers” Castle (aka Adam Sandler?!) along for this acid trip of a ride. It’s truly wonderful.

Highlights: Everything.

“Just Another Victim”

Artist: Helmet & House of Pain
Movie: Judgment Night (1993)

Though not quite a horror film, Judgment Night’s Cabrini-green inspired setting and maniacal performance from Dennis Leary give it just enough horror cred to be included on this list. And let’s face it, even if it didn’t have the cred, it would be tough for me not to include one of the most badassiest songs from one of the most badassiest soundtracks ever released. As a film, Judgment Night was decent, but as a soundtrack, well, Judgment Night was a revelation, and “Just Another Victim” is easily one of the best songs from one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.

Highlights: The pairing of Helmet and House of Pain is about as perfect as it gets, and I’ll be damned if it still doesn’t get me pumped!

“Hellraiser”

Artist: Motorhead
Movie: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

In comparison to the first two Hellraiser movies, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is a total pile of hot Lemmy mole; regardless I still have a real soft spot for the movie. Clearly the series was going in a more pop culture inspired Slasher film direction (aka the Nightmare route), which is something that obviously doesn’t work well with subject matter as dark as Hellraiser’s. Regardless, if not for this slightly disappointing turn the series made, we never would have gotten ourselves Motorhead’s “Hellraiser.”

Highlights: In the video, Lemmy plays poker against Pinhead and, as one would expect, Lemmy wins!

“Dream Warriors”

Artist: Dokken
Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

If there’s a high water mark of the horror music genre, I think many would agree it’s with Dokken’s “Dream Warriors,” which, incidentally, comes from a real high water mark in the Nightmare franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Besides being a great song, “Dream Warriors” also has the distinct honor of starting the musical ball rolling for the Nightmare franchise in its subsequent sequels.

Highlights: Another great music video which I especially love for how it blends the band’s performance with actual scenes from the movie itself.

Falsetto powerful enough to bring Fred Krueger to his knees.

“Pet Sematary”

Artist: Ramones
Movie: Pet Sematary (1989)

It might not be as beloved or as well-known as “Dream Warriors,” but the Ramones’ “Pet Sematary” remains one of my all time favorite horror movie inspired songs. The haunting music and Joey Ramones’ monotone vocals are just so perfect and a great departure from the upbeat sound the band was better known for.

Highlights: It’s the Ramones. Discussion over.

As I said in the opening, these are ten of the awesomest horror movie songs ever made, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous great, and not so great, songs to choose from out there, and I will most definitely be revisiting this subject in the future.

However, until that day comes, I would love to hear what songs on this list you love, hate or are there any that you enjoy that I didn’t list?! Please, share your thoughts in the comments; I’d love to hear how other genre fans feel about this subject!

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      1. Dread World January 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        All great choices, although the less I hear Freddy rap the better. The music in the original ‘Last House On the Left’ was just so surreal…and the fact hat it was composed and performed by Krug himself David Hess makes it even more so.

        • Mattsuzaka January 12, 2013 at 11:47 pm

          Ha ha, yeah, Freddy’s rap skills leave a lot to be desired! It’s pretty hysterical that it ever happened, though!

          I’m a big Last House fan, and Hess’ music in that film was really great and perfectly reflects that time period. Glad you dug my list!

      2. cKHAVIKk January 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        What about “Darkest Side of the Night” from Friday the 13th, Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan and “I Still Believe” by Tim Cappello from The Lost Boys?

        • Devon Olson January 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

          The actual band that wrote “I still Believe” is the Call circa 1986.

        • Mattsuzaka January 13, 2013 at 12:04 am

          Ha ha, The Call, a lot less muscle and a whole lot more jean jacket!

        • Mattsuzaka January 13, 2013 at 12:02 am

          I dig “Darkest Side of the Night,” but not quite as much as the rest of the songs on my list. Like I said, I would certainly revisit this subject matter in the future, and that’s one that might certainly come into play in a round 2 type situation.

          As for “I Still Believe,” trust me when I say no one appreciates the amazing moment when Cappello breaks out the sax for a little greased up pelvic thrusting in The Lost Boys than I do. However, it doesn’t quite fit my criteria because all of the songs listed were made specifically for their respective films and were, in one way or another, about them, too. Now, whenever the day comes when I do a list of best musical performances in a horror flick (and I will), then Cappello will be at the top of my list!

          Thanks for the feedback!

        • DirtyGirl January 13, 2013 at 3:11 am

          The whole soundtrack for Lost Boys is good, but my favourite song on it is Cry Little Sister.

        • Mattsuzaka January 13, 2013 at 3:24 am

          I couldn’t agree more.

      3. Riley January 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        I love Ozzy Osborn’s “Hellraiser” but it’s not about the movie even though I always connect the two. Also the Fresh Prince has a great Nightmare on Elm Street rap too.

        • Mattsuzaka January 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm

          Thanks for the comment, Riley! Ozzy’s “Hellraiser” is actually the same song as the one that Motorhead did. I’m fairly certain that Lemmy and Ozzy wrote the song together before Ozzy recorded it, which is kind of cool.

          I have heard the Fresh Prince song, too, and that one is interesting because there were all sorts of legal issues between New Line and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. There was even a video made for the song, but it only played like two or three times and was yanked from the airwaves because of the legal issues. Pretty crazy stuff!

      4. bc January 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

        What about bauhaus stigmata martyr from night of the demon? Or the dance scene from the 80′s film trick or treat?

        • Mattsuzaka January 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm

          My criteria for this particular list was songs that were written specifically for a horror movie, and Stigmata Martyr is a song that was used for a scene in the movie, and likely featured in the OST, as opposed to being written for it. Don’t get me wrong…. I absolutely love Stigmata Martyr, and that dance sequence in Night of the Demons is easily one of the best moments in the movie, but it doesn’t fit in with this list in particular. However, I already have a list of more than a dozen or so movie dance sequences, which is something I love in movies, and that scene will most certainly be featured on that list.

          The same thing can be said for the Trick or Treat school concert scene. The scene itself doesn’t fit my criteria for this list, but when the time comes for me to do a best musical performances list then, well, that one would be perfect. I will say that Fastway’s song “Trick or Treat” does fall into my criteria of what this list is all about as it’s a song written specifically for a movie and is, in one way or another, about the film. However, this time it simply didn’t make the cut. I love the music in Trick or Treat and absolutely love the movie itself, but the songs I listed here I love a little more. Like I mentioned in the post, I will likely revisit this subject matter, and Fastway would certainly become a contender at that point!

          Thanks for the comment, bc.

        • Lori OQuinn January 15, 2013 at 12:32 am

          the dance scene from american horror story asylum “the name game” just came to mind….quite unexpected and amusing.

        • Mattsuzaka January 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm

          I haven’t seen American Horror Story yet, Lori, but the first season is on Netflix now, so I plan on catching up with it soon. I look forward to the episode when I get to the second season, though! Thanks for the feedback.

      5. Marco February 19, 2013 at 6:47 pm

        ”Tokyo convertible” Chrystal Bernard and Kimberly McArthur in Slumber party massacre 2.

      6. cg September 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        tiptoe through the tulips- insidious

      7. Nathan Forester November 1, 2013 at 3:27 am

        I was wondering if Make Love Till We Die from Return Of The Living Dead would be on here even though it doesn’t have a video.

      8. Andre Cuttle August 5, 2014 at 2:18 am

        Bring Your Daughter to The Slaughter – Written and recorded by Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) for the Nightmare on Elm Street 4 soundtrack. Later rerecorded by iron Maiden and turned into a hit

      9. JasonKrueget August 5, 2014 at 2:23 am

        Wow.Dream Warrior?Really.That was the death bell for the Nightmare series.Actually any movie after 2 sucked!

      10. Tia August 5, 2014 at 3:04 am

        A great song to mention is Marilyn Manson’s ” Long Road outta Hell” on the Spawn soundtrack …. Another one by him on a weird ass movie is ” Apple of Sodom” from the movie ” Lonely Highway” the song is creepy the movie just bizarre

      11. Matt-suzaka February 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm

        No, thank YOU!