(Ch)Op-Ed #3: Movie Music Magic Pt. 2 #10-#1

Let’s continue to rank the 20 best non-score, pivotal songs in horror movie history. Since the top 10 is more important than the previous 10, I’ve included links to each scene. How did my list compare to yours? What did I leave out? What is your list? 

Honorable Mention: 

“Something in the Way” by Nirvana (The Batman) 

Robert Pattinson as Batman was an instant turn off from me. But that brooding, haunting version of “Something in the Way” in the trailer and featured throughout the film, is truly iconic. I heard right off the bat that this was the “horror” Batman movie. This was gonna be scary. Alas, it wasn’t. Not horror. This one’s a no brainer. So, let’s get to the list.

10. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler/ “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply (The Strangers: Prey at Night)

Leading off our top ten are two songs from The Strangers: Prey at Night. Both occur at the end of the movie, and both are extremely stylish scenes: the pool scene where the big battle with the strangers takes place; the big flaming car chase that ends the movie. Two classic 80s songs in the right place make a difference. Both scenes gave me chills the first time I saw them. 

9. “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard (The Strangers)

An old song most people might not know, it has that old time quality to it that makes the scene eerie. A song about a mother who can’t get her mischievous son under control, who turns to a life of crime and breaks his mother’s heart, this song plays during a scene in which the strangers stalk She-ven Tyler.  

8. “Dream Warriors” by Dokken (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors)

I think the music video is more iconic than the scene in which it plays, as it’s only briefly heard on the radio that Patricia Arquette uses to try and stay awake, but the titular song is still one for the ages as it perfectly encapsulates the 80’s and the slasher genre. The lyrics “We’re the Dream Warriors, ain’t gonna dream no more,” don’t really make sense, since the point of the dream warriors are to empower the kids in their nightmares against Freddy, NOT stop them from dreaming.

7. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley sang by Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring 2)

One that might make you scratch your head; this song is perfect for the movie. It starts with Patrick Wilson being funny, doing an impression of Elvis. But it quickly turns serious and sentimental as he shoots a look to his loving wife when he says the phrase: “I can’t help falling in love with you.” It then morphs into a montage of the people beginning the investigation and then an adoring Vera Farmiga looking on as he wraps up the song with a sing along with the children. Say what you will about the real-life Warrens, but in this movie, Patrick and Vera are very much in love, care about the girls and helping the family.

6. “Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News (American Psycho)

The thing I like about this entry is that not only does Patrick Bateman go in depth with his critique of the song in the book, but the production actually secured the rights to the song, so they could continue his soliloquy in the movie. So many times (I’m looking at you, Ready Player One) the books actually have all these cool references to movies, or songs, and when it comes to the movie being released, they can’t secure the rights. But this one translates perfectly. Remember Christian Bale prancing around, having diarrhea of the mouth about 80s music, right before he kills Jared Leto? A classic scene. And I think we’ve all wanted to axe Jared Leto at one point in our life.

5. “Summer Breeze” by Type O’Negative (I Know What You Did Last Summer)

One of my favorite bands, Type O’Negative emits a feeling of October. Halloween. Burning leaves. Cold nights. Their cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Summer Breeze” fits perfectly as it plays over the opening credits, the water smashing against the rocks overlooking the ocean. It’s a small fishing town. Isolated. You get the feeling it’s just turning towards the cold season. It sets the mood. These teenagers’ lives are about to change.

4. “Tiptoe Thru the Tulips” by Tiny Tim (Insidious)

You know the scene. It’s an old-time boy from the 30s playing in the house listening to a song from 1929 (although this cover version is from 1968). Only he’s a ghost. And the song is creepy. Rose Byrne searches for him through the house and elicits a handful of scares. 

3. “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Scream)

Every Scream film but Scream 4 features this song, and it has become synonymous with the franchise. It’s one of Nick Cave’s signature songs, being played at nearly every one of his concerts since its release in 1994. If there is a song that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Scream; the playfulness, the spookiness, the haunting lyrics, it is this one. Perhaps not tied to one particular scene, it more or less stands as more of a theme song to the films.

2. The Moon songs (An American Werewolf in London)

Any fan of An American Werewolf in London knows that the soundtrack has songs with moon in its title. Bobby Vinton’s version of “Blue Moon” plays during the opening credits. “Bad Moon Rising” plays before David becomes a wolf. Sam Cooke’s version of “Blue Moon” plays during the transformation. “Moondance” plays during the love scene. A third version of “Blue Moon” by The Marcels play at the end credits. Each iconic. Each memorable for many different reasons. Impossible to distinguish between them. As a Creedence fan, I cannot listen to “Bad Moon Rising” without thinking of poor David.

1. “Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMahon (The Lost Boys)

The one song that haunted me from the very first time I heard it. It’s been covered by many different bands including Aiden, Seasons After, and most recently Marilyn Manson. The song, about rejected youth longing for their family’s acceptance, fits perfectly for The Lost Boys and their Peter Pan tale. What’s even more interesting is the song was written before a frame of the movie had even been shown to composer Gerard McMahon. The song is played in a few different versions throughout the film and stands atop my list of most iconic songs in horror films. Granted, it doesn’t feature a sweaty saxophone player, but it’s still my favorite. 


What say you? 

About RetRo(n) 61 Articles
I like the 80s, slasher films, Italian directors, Evil Ed, Trash and Nancy, Ripley and Private First Class Hudson, retro crap but not SyFy crap, old school skin, Freddy and Savini, Spinell and Coscarelli, Andre Toulon, and last, but not least, Linda Blair.