In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music In Horror.

Okay, here’s a post I’ve had in my brain for a dog’s age. I imagine my procrastination was due to it being a lot of work, but with Halloween coming around, this was as perfect a time as any.

We all know how important music is in a film. Not only the score, but also the songs which, when done right, become intrinsically linked with their visual accompaniment forever. Over the years, there have been filmmakers like Coppola, Scorsese & Tarantino among others that have turned this practice into an art form. Horror films are no different and here below are my ten favourite examples that have stuck with me though the years.

Hip To Be Square by Huey Lewis & The News; American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho is a film I’ve learned to appreciate a bit more over time, after disliking it on my first watch. After reading the book, I think I was turned off by director Mary Harron’s more sensationalist interpretation of the subject matter. However, one thing I was very happy with was that they kept Patrick Bateman’s obsession with music. In the book, there are entire chapters of him rambling on about his love for certain artists and this was carried over into the film adaptation. All are given mention, the best of which being when Bateman dispatches his rival Paul Allen to the tune of Huey Lewis.

Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus; The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Ted Levine put the exclamation point on his creepy portrayal of Buffalo Bill by performing his little hide-the-salami dance towards the end of The Silence of the Lambs.

This eighties pop song made an impression on me, as it clearly did on director Kevin Smith as he later riffed on it in Clerks 2.

Peep Show by Miranda Sex Garden; Hideaway (1995)

The best thing about featuring songs in films is you often discover new bands as a result. Hideaway had a few things going for it, but what I liked the most was the awesome music in it. A British band called Miranda Sex Garden had a few songs in Hideaway, including the one below.

I not only picked up the soundtrack shortly after, but also the band’s album Fairytales of Slavery. It’s fantastic and something I still revisit every once in a while.

Superstition by Stevie Wonder; The Thing (1982)

There was no better way to break up Ennio Morricone’s fantastic score than with this hit from the seventies.

I love that sequence. There’s not a wasted frame. Even something as simple as a shadow on a wall can spark debate among cinephiles when dealing with a film as perfect as The Thing is.

You’re No Good by Linda Ronstadt & Dedicated to the One I Love by The Shirelles; House (1986)

Everyone has those songs from your past that, brought on by some unknown trigger, regularly resurface in your mind. I'm guessing that watching the shit out of House as a kid is the reason why these two ditties are still clanging around in the old noggin.

Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers Band; The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Coming from a musical background, it is no surprise that Rob Zombie has a knack for putting the right track (the Love Hurts sequence in Halloween not withstanding) in the right place. The track below, inserted over the opening credits of The Devil’s Rejects, coincidentally the only one of Zombie’s works I actually like, synchs up perfectly and is likely one of the best homages to seventies horror ever lensed.

I also can't forget to mention Zombie's epic use of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird at the end, either.

New Born by Muse; Haute Tension (2003)

Like Miranda Sex Garden, Muse was another band I discovered due to my love of horror films. In amongst the screeching score of Haute Tension was this song.

I initially thought it was Radiohead – and I wasn’t the only one, as two other people I later showed the film to asked the same thing – but since I was familiar with their work I figured it couldn’t be. It turned out to be a British band called Muse and I’ve since picked up a few of their albums. Every time I put on Origin of Symmetry, of which New Born is the opening track, it’s like I’m back at The Uptown in 2003. Haute Tension was one of the last films to ever screen there before it regrettably closed down forever. It had its revenge though.

Cry Little Sister by Gerard McMann; The Lost Boys (1987)

Oh boy, did I love this song when I was a teen.

I think this soundtrack was the first CD I ever owned and that was because I’d worn out my cassette tape.

Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes; Halloween II (1981)

The follow-up to John Carpenter’s classic Halloween opens up with this song.

Halloween II was the soundtrack I listened to the most growing up. I remember lending it to a friend and him being a little freaked out. Not by the music so much as him realizing that this was the kind of music to which I listened to unwind.

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival; An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Director John Landis decided to add to the already abundant quirk of his film by having all the songs share the common theme of the moon. Probably more memorable than CCR’s sequence is of course what goes on during Van Morrison’s Moondance, but in the interest of keeping this post PG, the former is below.

The reason the music of An American Werewolf In London ended up being number one was a matter of frequency. The radio at my work is always tuned to classic rock and I hear those two aforementioned tracks on a weekly basis. I can be typing along at my desk and then suddenly find myself transported to the English moors. That’s the power of a perfectly placed song in a movie.

Certain videos sourced from YouTube users MortimerVonKraus, Arcturo767, NightHeCameHomeFilm2, JoFission, Kanitarium, ScottYancy, 90sHorrorRealm & AmyDarcy088Channel.

1 comment:

Cinema Du Meep said...

The Music is truly used to good effect in House. I love that little movie. And who doesn't want William Katt hair?