Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Songs That Need a Soundtrack: Ideas for Songs in Your Next Horror Movie

Recently I wrote a strange piece by the name of “Run,Chicken Run: How a Storyboard Comes Off a Soundboard” for The Liberal Dead that detailed the formation of a movie plot by assembling scenes based on individual songs. It was partially written to give spotlight to different ways in which people might use the creative process to get off their butts and write screenplays. Not that I’ve followed through and written anything, but there’s something cathartic about getting an idea down on paper… or internet… or whatever place we choose to jot down our ideas. The world is our notepad.

In keeping with the spirit of that article I wanted to pen a short list of songs that should absolutely be used in film soundtracks. Think of this as a crib sheet of ideas from which to draw full length scripts. Not that you’ll ever get the rights to use them, but if we can dream screenplays then we can dream the soundtracks that go with them. No harm, no foul (until the SOPA police takeaway our blogging license).

This is by no means a complete list of anything. It’s really just a few songs I think would sound bloody great in a film. I’ve given a little bit about the scene that might be the visual to the audio track. Have fun and by all means leave comments about your favorite songs/scene combos. Maybe someone can help make your ideas manifest in celluloid form (yes, celluloid).

Il cielo in una stanza by Mina and the Mike Patton’s cover there of

vs. Patton

When I hear this song I instantly think of gialli. It begs to be the used in the opening scene of a Martino film, but to my knowledge was never actualized in film. Compliment the Mina version (there are other versions I assure you) with the Patton redux released on his Mondo Cane album and you have a nice pairing of songs that may be the same but have different presence. I would use them in the same film; both versions to accentuate different aspects of a character or perhaps to tie two separate murders together.

Sweet Soul Sister by The Cult

80’s hair metal is totally dead although I say the Cult is on the very border of metal and hard rock with the drug habit of a metal album. I’ve had visions of using this song in a werewolf picture, Jekyll and Hyde or a Paul Naschy/Horrors Rises from the Tomb ghost from the grave picture. It’s all in that opening organ solo that transitions into an 80’s rock song that you’d sure as hell find somewhere in horror circa 1988.

Patterns of Evil by Electric Wizard

Say hello to good old fashion 70’s drudge metal done with a modern twinge. Before there was thrash there were bands that played thick riffs that scraped your ear drum with an emery board. Patterns of Evil is as good a selection as any Electric Wizard song as their distinctive twist on old metal riffage yields a plethora of useable soundtrack material. Patterns of Evil is perfect for “bringing out the baddy” or the moment where your evil seduces whomever needs seducing.  Return Trip and Black Mass would also be excellent selections for a soundtrack. If you are unfamiliar with Electric Wizard I can assure you you’ll enjoy the album art even if you don’t adore the music.

The Call of Ktulu/Hanger 18 combo by Metallica and Megadeth respectively

Megadeth - Hanger 18

I would love to see a filmmaker get the license to use these two songs in conjunction. Given the similar/same riff in both songs it would tie scenes together nicely in the same way that the Mina/Mike Patton usage of Il cielo in una stanza might do. I’ve often thought that given the subject matter in each song, a film that ties those two subjects together might just work. Think of the old ones meets alien life forms in whatever way you want to smash them together. I’ve mused about  a trilogy of films with this underlying theme, but I’m afraid the funding might as well come from making one film a proven genre and the use the profits from that to make the twelve apostle movies (in other words in Ed Woodian/Plan 9 fashion).

What? By Rob Zombie

Sure, Rob could use his own music in his own god damn movies if he so chooses, but this one needs to be latched on to by Heir indy filmmaker. It definitely makes a film gyrate. If you wanna know how to use this song just look at any Rob Zombie movie. He uses his own songs in his own pictures constantly and to great effect. His songs are best used in transitions between darker scenes; Save the original score for truly haunting sequences and pop in “What?” when you’re getting ready to build up your audience to a creatively violent death scene. Might work in a driving sequence or in a drug binge.

The Haunting of Julia score by Richard Loncraine

Sure it was used in a movie in the 70’s that nobody has bothered to transfer to DVD (unless on the down low) but this soundtrack has that Rosemary’s Baby creep out, dream sound that will spook up your movie. Synthesizer, piano and the movie friggin’ stars Rosemary Woodhouse… or Mia Farrow as you probably know her better. I am a fan of using soundtracks of classic films over and over. Tarantino does it to great effect as has Eli Roth. Did you see what the Treevenge folks did with the theme from Cannibal Holocasut? Genius! Just go back and watch the movie and listen to the score for the effect this song would have on a ghost story. It’ll make your melancholy character tie the noose just a little bit tighter and pull on the heart strings of your audience.

Lifeless Dead by Mad Season

Layne Staley is dead, but his voice is all over the post-grunge era. Mad Season was Staley’s other project alongside Alice in Chains. While it never reached the success of Chains, Mad Season left its mark on more than a few 90’s X’ers. This particular song has a stellar amount of reverb on the guitars that gives the listener the feeling of an echoing tomb or castle. Maybe perfect for the teenager in a haunted (name your location) film. When you want a scene to sound big, you can turn to Mad Season.

Bodom Beach Terror by Children of Bodom

I’m not gonna lie. I love this song. It’s just a fun metal song with some nice organ music, some killer solos that might as well be performed on a synthesizer but I assure you are played on a delicious flying V guitar. This song demands a soundtrack entry. The title alone should guide you to the best placement for these songs. I could see it in movie like Creature of the Black Lagoon, your favorite shark flick (no CGI please) or the latest incarnation of Blood Beach or Horror at Party Beach. When your thinking surf’s up you should be thinking of this song. Incidentally the name of the song and band are derived from the Lake Bodom murders. Double your horror, double your fun.  I urge you to enjoy the Hate Crew Deathroll album if you’re a metal/horror lover.

Our Town by Iris DeMent

I first heard this song on the popular local college radio station in Hackettstown, NJ, WNTI out of Centenary College. I had just woken up and heard this strange twangy almost off key country music asking me to “say goodbye to our town”. The song stuck with me and pretty much every time I see a movie that’s based on the outskirts of town or in the country that is about to experience an alien invasion or demonic possession I think Iris Dement. It’s got that old time “end of days” feel mixed with a sentimental nostalgia that might hit you square between the pectorals.

I Get It and Delivery by Chevelle


You want an extraterrestrial showdown song that will take the Pepsi challenge with the song “Uprising” by Muse or even “Battle without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasu Hotei? I give you “I Get It’. With thundering bass and bombastic choral interlude this song demands a battle test. Aliens would be nice maybe even Godzi… but I’ve said too much. You could probably fit this one into any battle scene in any movie, but the overall library of Chevelle songs have a sci fi/horror feel. They even have an album called Sci Fi Crimes. I bet they’re fan boys just like you and me. Pair the song with a lesser known offering from Chevelle “Delivery” that might act as a good chase song or “getting our weapons ready to kick the monsters ass” song.  Your monster will thank you later. No, it won’t. It will be dead.


  1. Great article. And while I agree with all your choices (especially Hangar 18), I think a song off "Songs In The Key Of Murder" should have been included too :-) haha... my money's on "Murder 4 Fun" or "It's Murda!"

  2. The first time I ever heard Night of the Vampire by Roky Ericson my first thought was "this would be the perfect song to play over the closing credits of a vampire movie." Just so you know, I may steal this idea and do a similar post on SOC. Don;t worry, I'll give you credit.

  3. I cant wait to read it Nathan. I love that Roky song! I may make this a more regular feature.