In 2020, we enjoyed the cinematic scores of horrifying classics such as Psycho and more recent terrors like Midsommar. This year I wanted to go back to the original format of “Pumpkin Songs” with a little bit of a WILT twist. Here, we return to popular songs used in horror films, both within the context of scenes and outside of, but with the addition of lyrics. The great musical film directors probably have fun listening and thinking of ways songs can fit with the movie they’re working on. Do we need a slowed down modern cover of a classic 80s ballad? Do we need an old nursery rhyme to become creepy with new context? Does this scene require a ton of synth or an electric guitar? I am here to tell them that I appreciate their work.
While I won’t be describing the beautifully horrific scenes these musical moments happen with, take my word when I say they’re on this list for a reason. Some are performed by the actors in the film. A few are character motifs. Several are tongue-in-cheek moments of humor, juxtaposed against violence. Not only are they good songs, they fit their films well. I mean, just take a look at those lyrics.
- “Coronary” by The Ain’t Rights (cover from Missionary Position) from Green Room (2015). I’m out of luck, there’s no time left.
- “Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria” by Johann Sebastian Bach featured in “Apéritif” from Hannibal (2013 – 2015).
- “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler from Urban Legend (1998). (Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit terrified.
- “Li’l Red Riding Hood” by Bowling for Soup from Cursed (2004). I don’t think little big girls should / Go walkin’ in these spooky ol’ woods alone.
- “Beautiful Stranger” by Briana Evigan & Ogre from The Devil’s Carnival (2012). How familiar the danger.
- “We’ve Only Just Begun” by Carpenters from In the Mouth of Madness (1994). Watching the signs along the way.
- “Killing Inside” by Cavalera Conspiracy from The Devil’s Candy (2015). Look in my eyes / They come to murder, murder now.
- “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” by Cobra Starship from Snakes on a Plane (2006). I can see the venom in their eyes.
- “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills & Nash from Annihilation (2018). They are one person.
- “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child featured in a trailer for Candyman (2021). You actin’ kinda shady.
- “I Fink U Freeky” by Die Antwood featured in a trailer for Freaky (2020). I fink u freeky and I like you a lot.
- “Dream Warriors” by Dokken from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). I’m standing in the night alone.
- “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan from Zodiac (2007). Down through all eternity / The crying of humanity.
- “People Are Strange” by The Doors from The Lost Boys (1987). Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted.
- “Hotline Bling” by Drake featured in “She Gets Revenge” from American Horror Story (2011 – ) You used to call me on my cell phone / Late night when you need my love.
- “Run Rabbit Run” by Flanagan and Allen from Get Out (2017). Bang, bang, bang, bang goes the farmer’s gun.
- “You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For (Angela’s Theme)” by Frank Vinci from Sleepaway Camp (1983). No other boy can love you more / You’re the only girl I adore.
- “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver from Final Destination (2000). I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky.
- “Not Pretty Enough” by Kasey Chambers from The Loved Ones (2009). I make believe it’s real.
- “New in Town” by Little Boots from Jennifer’s Body (2009). No I don’t have a penny but I’ll show you a real good time.
- “Gently Johnny” by Magnet from The Wicker Man (1973). She says to me do you want to try?
- “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana from Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021). I thought you died alone / A long long time ago.
- “You’re Dead” by Norma Tanega featured as the theme for What We Do in the Shadows (2018 – ) Run fast don’t stand in the sun.
- “Rev. 22:20” by Puscifer from Underworld (2003). Even he would martyr his mama to ride to hell between those thighs.
- “Let Him Burn” by The Relentless from American Satan (2017). Only actions can speak the truth.
- “Get You Home” by Shwayze (Paul Oakenfold Remix) from Sorority Row (2009). She was a waitress, wait! She was an actress / Actin’ like a starlet, in fact she was a harlot.
- “Dentist!” by Steve Martin, Michelle Weeks, Tichina Arnold, and Tisha Campbell from Little Shop of Horrors (1986). And I get off on the pain I inflict.
- “American Girl” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Yeah, and if she had to die tryin’ / She had one little promise / She was gonna keep.
- “A Little Wicked” by Valerie Broussard featured in “Chapter Ten: The Witching Hour” from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 – 2020). No one calls you honey, when you’re sitting on a throne.
- “Moondance” by Van Morrison from An American Werewolf in London (1981). A fantabulous night to make romance / ‘Neath the cover of October skies.
- “Cherry Pie” by Warrant from The Final Girls (2015). I scream, you scream, we all scream for her.
The great thing about horror movies is A) Every year we get new ones and B) They constantly re-conceptualize popular music. Maybe you loved that song before, but now it will remind you of that poor victim being chopped to pieces in the woods. The perfect song can accent, heighten, or bookend a film. So why not give them love too?
If you feel like there’s a song missing, it may be on one of the previous Pumpkin Songs. You can find all available tracks on this Spotify playlist. Put it on during October or at your Halloween party and see how many people recognize that one song from that one horror movie. Just don’t listen while you’re home alone.
Welcome to OcTerror.