Written by: Lois Kennedy
Halloween is a time for spooky music, whether you’re scaring trick-or-treaters or entertaining party guests (or both). Instead of the same old clichés like “The Monster Mash”, here is a list pulled straight from the movies. And no, there’s no Rocky Horror Picture Show (though that is one of my favorites). “Goodbye, Horses”—Q Lazzarus & Garvey. You may not recognize the song by the title, but it features memorably in the scene from The Silence of the Lambs when Buffalo Bill is doing his dance. It’s also used in the remake of Maniac.
01 “Indeed You Do”—Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs. This sleepy tune is used in the opening torture scene of Vile. It’s not overtly scary, but lyrics like “Don’t come digging your own grave/’Cause I already made you one” make it stand out.
02 “Red Right Hand”—Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. It’s used in all of the Scream movies; the second movie features an extended version (with even creepier lyrics) on the soundtrack.
02 “Fire at the Pageant”—The Felice Brothers. This odd gem is played over the closing credits of Don’t Blink (if you ask me, it’s the best part of the movie). It concerns a guy coming back from the grave and everyone’s oddly blasé reactions.
03 “Lords of Salem”—Rob Zombie. I cheated a bit with this one, since it’s not featured in a movie. However, this list needed some Zombie, and it shares similar ideas with his film of the same name.
04 “Gyroscope”—Boards of Canada. This one isn’t readily identifiable by the title, but it’s the song used most prominently in Sinister (including over the end credits), with the fast drumbeat and the distorted voice chanting numbers.
05 “Mad World”—Gary Jules featuring Michael Andrews. This depressing ditty about the futility and banality of daily life is used hauntingly in Donnie Darko.
06 “Dirge”—Death in Vegas. It’s played over the end credits of The Last House on the Left (2009). It’s short on lyrics (they’re pretty much “la la la”) but suitably eerie.
07 “The Man Comes Around”—Johnny Cash. Featured in the Dawn of the Dead remake, it perfectly captures the doomsday vibe of the film.
08 “Hip to be Square”—Huey Lewis and the News. Who can forget the scene in American Psycho when Patrick Bateman moonwalks and cheerfully murders his coworker?
09 “The Blue Wrath”—I Monster. This catchy song is featured playfully in Shaun of the Dead in the scene when people act like zombies before they actually become them.
10 “See Me in the Mirror”—Alice Cooper. In the ‘80s, Cooper starred in a disaster called Monster Dog. This unsettling track is the only salvageable thing about it.
11“No You Girls”—Franz Ferdinand. This bouncy melody (can you tell I’m running out of synonyms for song?) is used in My Soul to Take.
12 “Mama Tried”—Merle Haggard and the Strangers. The song itself is nowhere near creepy, but it’s used during a particularly tense moment in The Strangers.
13 “Haunted”—Poe. Written in conjunction with her brother’s scary book House of Leaves, Poe’s song reflects its subjects of being lost and in danger; it was also played over the end credits of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.
14 “Pet Sematary”—The Ramones. The song’s a little corny, but it immediately evokes the movie of the same title.
15 “Unchained Melody”—The Righteous Brothers. This one’s not creepy at any level, nor is the movie it’s used in (Ghost, in case you were born before 1990), but I defy you to name another song that so immediately calls to mind supernatural pottery making.
16 “The Blob”—The Five Blobs. This song is charming and adorbs, but it’s also a warning to beware of the blob.
17 “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Okay, I know I promised no clichés, but it was used highly effectively in The Stand when the camera pans over piles of scientists who were unable to cure the plague.
18 “Chokechain”—Lou Barlow. If you’ve stuck around for the end credits of Session 9, you’ve heard this tune. Maybe it’s just that it’s coming on the tail end of a shocking ending, but the lonely acoustic guitar and unstable narrator are totally unnerving.
No doubt I’ve missed some of your favorites (I purposely left out themes, too), but these are some of mine. If you give ‘em a listen, enjoy, and happy Halloween!