Who can forget John Carpenter’s haunting score to Halloween? Harry Manfredini’s “ki ki ki, ma ma ma” creeping around Jason’s kills? Or John Williams’ music-in-the-place-of-shark theme that made Jaws so terrifying? Well, not every horror movie budget allows for such things as scores. Sometimes, though, the filmmakers require a different sort of musical interlude. Sometimes, you need that perfect rock, folk or hip hop song written specifically for your movie (sometimes spoiling large segments of it) that will inevitably play over the closing credits, but by God, it must be there! These are the 12 strangest songs composed specifically for horror movies in the history of the genre.
12) “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” by The Class of ’99 from The Faculty
What better way to get teenagers interested in your horror movie than by getting guys from Alice In Chains, Rage Against The Machine, Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros to cover one of the classic school rebellion songs of all time? While classic rock fans heartily object to the inclusion of this song in The Faculty, Robert Rodriguez’s flick about aliens taking over a small high school (starring Jon Stewart), it’s still kind of rad that the greatest supergroup of the ’90s was put together solely to cover two Pink Floyd songs.
11) “The Blob Theme” by Burt Bacharach & The Five Blobs
This swinging little number was composed by none other than renowned songwriter and future guy-who-would-be-in-Austin Powers Burt Bacharach, and performed by a fake group called The Five Blobs. It really sums up a movie about a mysterious blob from space killing hundreds of people in a catchy fashion. Fun!
10) “Happy Birthday to Me” by Molly-Ann Leikin
[Start the video at 0:45 if you want to skip the film’s twist ending.] Sometimes you want a hard rocking song to close out your movie, but sometimes you want some weird folksy version of a classic tune like “Happy Birthday” to depress you even more after the twist ending of Happy Birthday to Me.
9) “Pet Sematary” by The Ramones
Hearing punk rock progenitors The Ramones sing a song for an odd little Stephen King story adaptation starring Herman Munster and the kid from Kindergarten Cop might sound a bit strange, but then again, so does pretty much every song they were putting out around 1989. It’s no better or worse than the equally slow and depressing “I Believe In Miracles.”
8) “Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told” by Lon Chaney from Spider Baby
Sung by star Lon Chaney, this incredibly weird song seemingly fits in well with this incredibly weird movie until you realize that it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the film itself. It talks about vampires and monsters and all kinds of classic horror concepts, but the movie stars creepy kids and Sid Haig as a retarded pinhead alleged rapist. Thanks a lot for getting our hopes up, Chaney.
7) “The Ballad of Harry Warden” by John McDermott from My Bloody Valentine
We’re guessing that in a real world situation where a crazy miner comes back from the dead to kill again on a major holiday (or does he?), this Paul Zaza-penned tune (he’s the guy that did Porky’s) would be the kind of thing music you’d get on the documentary of the real life murders, as opposed to some hard-rocking hair metal and corporate hip hop. Singer John McDermott presents a smoky account of Harry Warden’s crimes or lack thereof and leaves it up to the audience to decide. Or something. We got bored and listed to Lady Gaga’s “Disco Stick” again in the time it took for the song to play. We’re at least 60% sure that song’s about sex. This one’s about a miner.
6) “Are You Ready For Freddy” by The Fat Boys from Nightmare on Elm Street 4
We bet you thought The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “Nightmare On My Street” would make the list didn’t you? No way, punk. We’re only dealing with official songs officially made for official moviea and Wikipedia tells us that’s not the case with NOMS. So, to fill it’s place we’ve got this masterpiece of hip hop starring the beat-boxing Fat Boys who have recently inherited their uncle Fred’s house on Elm Street. So what if it ignores even the most basic details of the film franchise, you still get to watch them get terrorized by the boogieman himself, who also busts a few rhymes himself. Horrifying indeed!
5) “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” by Alice Cooper from Friday the 13th Part VI
Alice Cooper may have been the most obvious choice for horror movie theme songsters, but it wasn’t until 1986 when the godfather of goth-glam got his slimy paws on the theme to an actual slasher movie. Ol’ Alice did not disappoint; the song’s pretty fantastic, but even better in the video in which a group of teenagers (one of whom argues with his dad, played by Cooper, in the beginning) watch Friday Part VI on a screen in what appears to be a junkyard until Jason jumps through the freaking screen to kill them all! Wait, it’s actually Alice and he’s there to sing for them? It’s probably still better than the sixth freaking Jason movie.
4) “Vampire Hookers” by ???
No one’s quite sure who sang or performed the theme to Vampire Hookers (and by that, we mean that a rudimentary Google and YouTube search couldn’t come up with any answers), but how can you not love a good ol’ honky tonk song that professes “They’re vampire hookers and blood is not all they suck”? Seriously you guys, that’s inspired writing. We’d like to see anyone else come up with a double entendre like that west of AC/DC!
3) “Maniac Cop Rap” by Jay Chattaway from Maniac Cop 2
“The Maniac Cop Rap” is one of those theme songs that takes you completely by surprise. Here, you’ve just watched a movie about a cop betrayed by cops who’s decided to kill cops, while making friends with a serial killer and breaking into the jail that once held him and led to his “death.” It’s a goofy movie, but the ending is somewhat intense with a Carrie-like twist at the very end — you’d expect to hear somber chords stirring up from the grave of Officer Matt Cordell. I stead you get the thumping sounds of a 1990 rap song explaining to you just how dangerous the Maniac Cop can be: “Set him on fire, I shoot him with an Uzi / but he’ll show up in your Jacuzzi.”
2) “Ben” by Michael Jackson
We can see the marketing meeting now. “Okay, we’ve got the sequel to this rat movie coming out, who can we get to sing a sappy, highly emotional ballad to said rat?” The gig almost went to Donny Osmond, but, instead, the world was treated to a young Michael Jackson’s rendition of “Ben” in what would become not only a number one record in the United States and Australia, but also went on to be covered by Crispin Glover in his remake of Willard, which was the movie that Ben was a sequel to. Make sense? It probably shouldn’t.
1)”Shocker” by The Dudes Of Wrath
Did you think Class of ’99 was going to be the only supergroup on this list? Not a chance. The Dudes Of Wrath consisted of KISS’ Paul Stanley and producer Desmond Child on vocals, Def Leppard’s guitarist Vivian Campbell and Guy Mann-Dude on guitar, Whitesnake’s Rudy Srazo on bass and Tommy Lee from Motley Crue on drums. It was group born to perform a song called “Shocker.” The chorus goes something like this “Shocker ! Shocker! We’re led like lambs to the slaughter / Shocker! Shocker! / We’re in the fire and it just gets hotter!” That’s followed by a verse that seemingly has nothing to do with the rest of the song: “We will have the power / We will have the glory / In our shining hour /
We will write our own story / We will have our own world/ We will have it our way / Standing like a tower / The sun will shine on our day.” You get the idea. Just listen to the song and try not to get your face rocked off.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.