Horror Music History 101

May 23, 2014 at 12:25 am (horror, music)

As long as we’ve existed, humans have been making music and telling horror stories. And, of course, we’ve been combining the two. Cavemen probably sang songs about evisceration by saber-tooth, but unfortunately, we can’t find the songs on YouTube. But songs of horror, murder and mayhem dating back to early medieval history exist, and have been recorded over and over again. The fine tradition of morbid music has persisted through the ages, and thrives today. There’s way more out there than goth and black metal.

This is a list of some of my favorite horror music. I hope you find something new and horrid somewhere in here.

But first, a note about the videos. If I could find the song I wanted with a cool video, that’s the one I linked to. However, some songs have still images, or their videos are lame. If you don’t like it, tough kittie.

Here’s a link to the whole monstrous playlist. There are 68 horror-y songs included. Then I added one more totally irrelevant surprise song, so there would be 69. Heh heh heh, I said “69!”  Individual song and lyrics links inline.

Medieval Mayhem
Life was rough (and often very short) in Medieval Europe. Death was frequently just a heartbeat away, a part of everyday life. Despite that (or maybe because of it) death and damnation were a source of terrifying entertainment, in the form of murder ballads and cautionary songs.

  • Long Lankin
    This creepy murder ballad was recorded by electric folk band Steeleye Span in 1975, but it’s a version of a medieval English ballad. The character of Long Lankin is a classic homicidal boogeyman.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Lyke Wake Dirge
    Native American folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie recorded my favorite version of the Lyke Wake Dirge in 1978, but it’s an ancient English song about the travels of a newly deceased soul through the underworld. In the finest early Christian tradition, it’s filled with hellfire and brimstone.
    Song
    Lyrics

Appalachian Atrocities
The hardy folks of the Appalachian mountains brought the tradition of murder ballads with them from Europe. The songs took on a uniquely American character after a few generations. But they were still totally grim.

  • Knoxville Girl
    There are lots of Appalachian songs with this basic theme: a man loves a woman, but feels compelled to murder her for some reason or another. He usually ends up in jail, or dead. But that doesn’t help his girlfriend much. This is a great version by Roger Alan Wade. (Yes, the same artist who brought you “Butt Ugly Slut.”
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Tom Dooley
    The lyrics say “poor boy, you’re bound to die,” but the poor boy deserves it. This ballad, based on a true story, is another tale of a creep killing a girl. Although in this kickass version by Steve Earle, she’s a perfect stranger to the killer, which somehow makes it worse.
    Song
    Lyrics

Country Carnage
Country musicians brought songs of death and murder from the hills of Appalachia into the radios of hapless music lovers everywhere. Country was way ahead of the curve when it came to American horror music.

  • Long Black Veil
    This is a particularly interesting murder song, because 1) the guy dies and the girl lives, and 2) it’s sung by his freakin’ ghost. Johnny Cash recorded my favorite version. If you’re familiar with Johnny Cash at all, you know that he recorded quite a few dark songs.  In fact, his album “Murder” is full of them.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Bringing Mary Home
    This is a musical version of the classic urban legend “The Phantom Hitchhiker.” Yep, it’s another ghost story. Nobody sang it quite like Mac Wiseman.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Dolores
    Eddie Noack was a strange dude. He wrote a lot of death, murder, and serial killer country songs. This one is particularly cool, due to the twist ending.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Psycho
    This is another song written by Eddie Noack, but Teddy Thompson recorded my favorite version. Lots of other artists have covered this song, including Australian band Beasts of Bourbon, and more recently, Mojo Juju (whom I’m a little in love with). There are seven murders in this song. I counted. And a dead puppy. Somebody set the song to clips of Fritz Lang’s incredibly creepy 1931 movie “M,” which stars baby Peter Lorre as a serial murderer of children.
    Song
    Lyrics

Dead Teenagers
At the same time all that country music weirdness was developing, rock and roll was born kicking and screaming. Sure, early ‘50’s rock tended to be bouncy, happy, and full of odd nonsense syllables. But then a strange side branch was born: the dead teenager song. Said teens usually ended their days in bloody car or motorcycle wrecks. Splatter platters, as they were sometimes called, persisted well into the ‘60’s.

  • Last Kiss
    Sorry, Pearl Jam, I like the original by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers best. I just love the line “something warm was running in my eyes…”
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Teen Angel
    This teen tragedy song by Mark Dinning is unique, because the girl dies of Teh Stoopid. The young couple’s car is stalled on a railroad track, everybody gets out OK—and then the girl runs back to the car to get her boyfriend’s high school ring. Because that’s totally worth getting squashed by a train for, right? This guy sure has a sweet voice, though.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Endless Sleep
    This bluesy, melancholy, rockabilly ballad by Jody Reynolds is easily the creepiest of the teen tragedy songs. Some people argue that it’s not a true dead teenager song, because the boy saves the girl at the end. Jody originally intended for both the lovers to drown in the sea, but the recording label wouldn’t let him do it. Wusses!  Guess what?  Billy Idol recorded  a version of this song too.
    Song
    Lyrics

One-Offs
Okay, now we’re going to shift away from genres to individual bands and musicians who, for some reason or another, came out with one really gruesome or dark song. They may never have recorded another horror song, but they contributed some memorable tunes to the horror music catalog.

  • The Buoys: Timothy
    This 1971 one-hit wonder tells the tale of three men who are trapped in a mine. Only two of them get out, because they totally freakin’ ATE the other guy. Not only is the concept disturbing, but the lyrics are gleefully creepy: “Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you. Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?” Bizarre fact: “Timothy” was written by Rupert Holmes, the guy who wrote “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” (And no. I’m totally not linking to that shit.) “Escape” would have been much improved by some cannibalism.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy
    The great Warren Zevon was no stranger to dark lyrics, but this is probably the most disturbing (and cheerful) of his songs ever to hit the charts. It’s about a young psychopath on a rape and murder spree. This song would later influence Oingo Boingo to write the similarly themed “Only a Lad.”
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Toadies: Possum Kingdom
    Some people think it’s about a serial killer.Others insist it’s about a vampire. Either way, it’s a totally creepy song. Oh yeah, and it inspired me to write a novel!  This is the Toadies’ original music video, and it’s pretty great.
    Song
    Lyrics
    Hilarious analysis of the lyrics
  • Scissor Sisters: I Can’t Decide
    Delightful, snarky neoglam dance band creates cheerfully demented serial killer song? Yes please. If this song doesn’t make you want to dance, you’re possibly dead already. The fan-made video with this version of the song is the cutest thing ever.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Greenskeepers: Lotion
    Extremely talented indie rock/house band The Greenskeepers are evidently big fans of the movie “The Silence of the Lambs,” because they created the coolest movie tie-in song ever. Equal parts hilarious and horrifying, this is another song that lures you to the dance floor. This is the band’s official video. It freakin’ rules.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Normal: Warm Leatherette
    This creepy punk/new wave song was written as an homage to J.G. Ballard’s disturbing sex-and-car-wrecks novel, Crash. There’s something about the mechanical nature of the song that’s just extra-icky.  Be sure to check out Trent Reznor,  Jeordie White, and Peter Murphy’s version. It rocks. And did I mention Laibach’s version? Because it’s awesome.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Freddy Fortune and the Four Gones: Dracula’s Deuce
    This song was actually written for General Mills to advertise their “monster cereals,” Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and BooBerry, back in 1965. It may be the best thing that ever came out of Madison Avenue.
    Song
    Cool stuff

Not-Quite Horror Bands
The world is full of bands who don’t identify as horror acts, but stillrecord a suspicious amount of horror songs. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Hasil Adkins: No More Hot Dogs
    Pronounced “Hassle,” not “Haysil,” this was a guy who had a decidedly morbid turn of mind. He had an unsettling habit of writing songs about decapitation. Of course, he also wrote a lot of songs about chickens and having loud sex. He’s widely considered to be one of the godfathers of psychobilly. He was a direct influence on The Cramps.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Roky Erickson: I Walked with a Zombie
    Roky Erickson started out his musical career in the ‘60’s with his acid rock band “The 13th Floor Elevators” (which you should definitely check out). When he moved on to a solo career, he started writing songs that reflected his deep love of classic horror movies. His song “Burn the Flames” is famous for being part of the epic soundtrack of “Return of the Living Dead.”
    Song
    Lyrics: “I walked with a zombie last night.” Yep, that’s all there is.
  • Tom Lehrer: I Hold Your Hand in Mine
    If you’ve heard of Tom L, you probably know him for the Elements song. But the musical math professor with the wicked sense of humor also has a huge morbid streak. He had a habit of writing songs about murder, mayhem, and social diseases, along with his satire and humor. This sweet song has always been one of my favorites.
    Song
    Lyrics (and chords!)
  • Tom Waits: Don’t Go Into That Barn
    Tom Waits is known for quirky, unusual, heartfelt music, and the flexibility of his style is truly amazing. Every now and then, he writes and records something really creepy. This is one of my favorite TW songs. Also check out the bizarre “The Black Rider.”
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Nick Cave: Curse of Millhaven
    Nobody does creepy quite like Nick Cave. Everybody thinks of “Red Right Hand,” but this is my favorite of NC’s horror songs. It’s a little self-contained horror story! I love it so much that it inspired me to write a novel about a teenage girl serial killer. The song is from the 1996 album “Murder Ballads,” which is nothing but awesome from start to finish. Not to mention gory and deeply disturbing.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Shriekback: Nemesis
    This amazing ‘80’s band wasn’t horror-themed, but they definitely had a dark side. I love everything about this song. The lyrics are unforgettable. Weird trivia: their instrumental song “Coelacanth” was used in the 1986 movie “Manhunter,” based on Thomas Harris’s book Red Dragon. (Shriekback really seemed to have at thing for weird fish.)
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Ludo: Lake Pontchartrain
    I love Ludo. Their strangely dramatic brand of indie rock is always entertaining. But they have a tendency to write and record horror songs, which makes me love them even more. This one is a fantastic story of crawfish cultists and ancient lake gods. What’s not to like about that? Also check out “Skeletons On Parade.” Oh, right, and they recorded what I consider to be perhaps the creepiest song in the world. We’ll talk about that later. Go away, I’m hiding under the bed.
    Song and lyrics
  • The Cramps: Surfin’ Dead
    The Cramps ruled. Like their slogan said, they made “Bad Music for Bad People.” Like Hasil Adkins, they wrote songs about sex and chicken, but their love of classic horror movies frequently popped up in their music. This song was written for the 1985 classic movie “Return of the Living Dead.” For me, The Cramps were that band. The band whose music told me I wasn’t alone, there were other freaks like me out there, and being a freak wasn’t just OK, it was AWESOME. I love them so much that I have a tattoo of a surfin’ skeleton on my arm, as well as the title of one of my very favorite Cramps songs.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi’s Dead
    This post-punk band is widely considered to be the very first goth rockers, and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” to be the first goth song. Whether you believe that or not, Bauhaus is played in goth clubs to this day. Despite their spooky music and dark reputation, very few of their songs could be considered horror-themed. But this one is.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Christian Death: Zodiac (He’s Still Out There)
    Gothic godparents Christian Death have been around forever, and they’re still rocking. Their influence carried over to many bands who would follow in their dark footsteps, including metal artists.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Damned: Grimly Fiendish
    A lot of people say The Damned was a goth band, but they were really too eclectic to pin down. They had a gothic flair, and they were inspired by showy acts like Screaming Lord Sutch. They would inspire many, many goth bands to come.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • House of Freaks: Sun Gone Down
    House of Freaks was a unique Southern Gothic band made up of two guys: Brian Harvey (guitar) and Johnny Hott (drums). In the late 1980’s, they made some of the best music out there. Although they weren’t a horror band per se, Brian H’s lyrics frequently veered into macabre territory. This is my very favorite of their songs, but their whole catalog is worth checking out.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Jill Tracy: Evil Night Together
    Jill Tracy is considered to be “dark cabaret,” but her songs frequently delve into horror. Her sultry voice and lovely melodies are a great contrast to her frequently morbid lyrics.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Ministry: Stigmata
    Ministry has been through a lot of changes over the years, going from synth-pop to hard-edged industrial. This is my favorite Ministry song. It was featured in the 1990 science fiction/horror movie “Hardware.” Although the song is about a toxic relationship, the dark lyrics and unsettling music give it a horror feel. Or if that’s not horror-y enough for you, listen to their earlier song, “Everyday is Halloween.”
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers: Something In the Water
    These guys are pretty much unclassifiable. Yeah, they come from Kentucky, but they’re sure as hell not country. Some of their music is alternative bluegrass, but then they come out with something like the carnie-punk album “Pandelirium.” They really can’t be described, so go listen to them. This song is a bit of a rarity—environmental horror music. And by the way, see them live if you possibly can. They are insane in concert.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Handsome Family: Cold, Cold, Cold
    If you’ve heard of the Handsome Family, it’s probably because their wonderful song “Far From Any Road” was used as the theme music for HBO’s kickass Southern Gothic crime show “True Detective.” But they’ve been making terrific “alternative roots” music for years. They tend toward gothiness, and they’ve come out with a few flat-out horror songs, like this ghost story.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Meteors: Slow Down, You Graverobbing Bastard
    Oh, how I love the Meteors! They’re a British psychobilly band, formed back in 1980, but still rocking hard. Some people call The Meteors the first psychobilly band. I don’t know if that’s true, but they’re one of the best.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • The Tiger Lillies: Killer
    Ah, the Tiger Lillies. I suppose you could call them a full-blown horror act. They certainly write enough of it, and their traveling show “Shockheaded Peter” was wall-to-wall horror, with a good dose of dark humor thrown in. But they write almost as much music about lowlifes, circus freaks, fallen women, and blasphemy as they do about scary stuff. Whatever they are, they’re incredible. I never miss them when they’re in town.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Aurelio Voltaire: Brains!
    If you’re gothy at all, you’ve probably heard of Voltaire. Aside from being the most gorgeous man on the planet, he’s a versatile and talented musician. He’s often classified as “Dark Cabaret,” but the truth is, his musical style varies often enough to make him unclassifiable. He frequently writes songs with humorous horror themes, like this one, which was made for the awesome TV cartoon “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.” Surprise! It’s about a brain-eating meteor, not zombies.
    Song and Lyrics
  • Jonathan Coulton: Skullcrusher Mountain
    Everybody’s favorite geek rocker has a fondness for horror. His song “Re: Your Brains” has become an anthem for zombie walks everywhere. And let’s not forget the ‘80’s horror movie tribute song “Creepy Doll.” This lyrical tune about a mad scientist and his unwilling guest is one of my very favorites. Bonus: Hilarious Machinima video!
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Unknown Hinson: The Trunk of My Cadillac Car
    Unknown Hinson is an insanely talented musician and voice actor. You may know him as the voice of Earley Cuyler on “Squidbillies,” but you should know him for his music. He satirizes the Southern lowlife stereotype to sometimes painful perfection. You never know what he’s going to sing about. It might be the difficulty of being a hillbilly vampire, shapechanging during sex, or serial killers, as in this sweet homage to mid-50’s pop. And did I mention he’s one of the best freakin’ guitarists out there? Whenever he says “gonna pick one,” expect a kickass riff.
    Song
    Lyrics

Horror Bands and Musicians
Starting in the mid-50’s, some acts started gravitating toward the dark side.  The phenomenon of horror acts wasn’t common, but they kept popping up a few at a time. Now we have a fine array of ghastliness to choose from.

  • Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell On You
    You might think that the first shock rock horror musician was Alice Cooper. You would be totally wrong, dude. The first shock rocker was Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.Starting in the mid-‘50’s, this guy was getting wheeled onstage in a coffin, wearing outrageous costumes, littering the stage with creepy props, and howling his lyrics like a madman. All shock rockers who followed owe a big debt to Screamin’ Jay.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Screaming Lord Sutch: All Black and Hairy
    SLS was a severely entertaining guy. He wrote songs about amorous monsters, Jack the Ripper, murder in the graveyard, and Dracula’s daughter. He was also the founder of the British political party “The Official Monster Raving Loony Party”
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Alice Cooper: The Ballad of Dwight Frye
    Alice is THE MAN. Still the reigning king of horror rock. There’s pretty much no way you’ve never heard “Welcome to my Nightmare.” This man has made a career singing songs about homicidal maniacs, serial killers, Hell, horrifying spider demons, and necrophilia. Oh yeah, and raunchy sex. One of his most common themes is the fear of insanity. This one is intensely creepy. I fell violently in love with Alice when I was about 13, and I never got over it.
    Song and Lyrics
    Alice Cooper on the Muppet Show
  • Rob Zombie: Dragula
    Let’s face it, Rob Zombie is the bastard child of Alice Cooper. I don’t mean that in a bad way—RZ has frequently cited Alice Cooper and one of his greatest influences. With his band White Zombie and later on his own, his songs are frequently inspired by classic horror films. When he started making his own movies, he made music for them too. RZ is just generally a delightful, talented, morbid guy. Who really likes werewolves.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Marilyn Manson: Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
    Marilyn is an odd duck. An odd gothic duck. Some of his music is about horror, but a lot of it isn’t. However, his entire persona and presentation is totally horror (with some kinky sex thrown in for good measure.) I personally love his music. “Mechanical Animals” and “Golden Age of Grotesque” are two of my all-time favorite albums. I really love this cover of the Eurythmics’ classic. The song was a little creepy to start with, and MM makes it downright scary. And the video is a freakin’ work of art.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Horrorpops: Ghoul
    The Horrorpops are the most adorable, hard-rockin’ psychobilly horror band out there. Between Patricia Day’s howling vocals and Kim Nekroman’s driving bass, their music is impossible to resist. Their stage show is not to be missed! And they’re from Denmark, which is somehow utterly cool.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Nekromatix: Gargoyles Over Copenhagen
    The Nekromantix are the boy version of the Horrorpops. OK, Kim Necroman, bassist for the Horrorpops, is the lead singer of the Nekromantix. And he’s also married to Patricia Day. So I guess you could say that the Necromantix and the Horrorpops are, uh, married psychobilly horror bands? The Necromantix have a more muscular sound than the HPs, but their love of horror is equally yoked. And this is a fantastic video!
    Song
    Lyrics
  • E.J. Wells: Hearsedriver
    E.J. Wells is a spookabilly musician out of Ohio, who writes Weird West songs about evil, supernatural doings in the desert, as well as cheerfully macabre tales of funeral homes and lonely graveyards. He’s also really hot. (Damn, did I say that out loud?) Oh, and he wrote a song about my car…
    Song
  • Ghoultown: Fistful of Demons
    Ghoultown is a somewhat unique band. They combine Weird West horror themes with ass-kicking rock and roll. They appear to be a band of cowboy desperados belched forth from hell to explode our collective eardrums with loud, disturbing horror tales from the old West. Obviously, I love them.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Calabrese: Voices of the Dead
    Hey lookit! More psychobilly! What, I’m obsessed. I love these guys. Their sound is just so raw. Their subject matter is always delightfully morbid, and their videos kick ass. Love!
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Cult of the Psychic Fetus: Dead Bride
    These guys were one of the first gothabilly bands. I love their garage sound, snarling vocals, and truly messed up lyrics. I want this song played at my funeral.
    Song
  • Deadbolt: Voodoo Trucker
    Deadbolt really defies description. Their sound is completely unique. They combine surf guitar with weirdly chanted lyrics. They describe themselves as “Voodoobilly.” They are, in fact, extremely fond of witch doctors and haunted tikis. I’m totally hooked.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Psycho Charger: I Eat the Dead
    Getting sick of the gothabilly yet? TOO BAD, it’s my favorite thing, right up there with puppies and cupcakes! These guys are pioneers in the field. They  have a huge catalog of amazing, creepy, wonderful songs. And the video for this one? Fantastic.
    Song
  • Sons of Perdition: The Legend of Saw Jones
    There is really no describing the Sons of Perdition. I’ve heard them called “Death Country” or “Dirge Country,” but that doesn’t begin to cover it. They are just freakin’ WEIRD, in the best possible way.  They’re storytellers. Frontman Zebulon Whately draws on the most horrible bits of Old West history, and his own demented imagination, to create music that’s truly unique.
    Song
    Lyrics
    A totally amazing animated short by the Sons of Perdition
  • Wednesday 13: Haddonfield
    I’ve loved Wednesday 13 since his Murderdolls days. And you should definitely check out the Murderdolls’ catalog. But I like his solo work even better. The man is hardcore into classic horror. And he has a romantic streak. Well, sometimes. I love his voice, I love his lyrics, I basically love everything about him. (Yes, I do have a crush.) This song, based on John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” is a personal favorite.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Misfits: Hunting Humans
    Horror punk godfathers the Misfits should be on every horror lover’s playlist. Their music was wildly innovative at the time, and their live shows were beyond fun. Sadly, I’ve met people who wear the iconic Misfits skull t-shirt, but have never heard their music. Don’t be one of those d-bags, dude! There’s no excuse, there are about a zillion Misfits videos on YouTube.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Alien Sex Fiend: Now I’m Feeling Zombified
    ASF are a semi-electronic/industrial, sorta-goth, kinda deathy band. They’ve been around since the early ‘80’s, and they’re always entertaining. Their music is a staple in goth clubs.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • 45 Grave: Partytime
    This band was one of the first wave of ‘80’s horrorpunk. I love their combination of punk vocals with hair metal guitars. Most people know this song from the movie “Return of the Living Dead,” but what they don’t know is that the ROTLD version was retooled for the movie. The original version was a deeply disturbing story about a murdered child. Pick your favorite, kids! And be sure to check out the rest of their music, because it’s all epic.
    Song (Zombie version)
    Lyrics
    Song (Original version)
    Lyrics
  • Cannibal Corpse: As Deep as the Knife Will Go
    You knew it was going to happen. We’ve ventured into death metal territory. There are about a kajillion death metal bands, and they come in an amazing array of flavors. English black metal. German melodic death metal.  Norwegian black metal. Danish Satanic metal. Norwegian black metal with a side of Satan. Deathcore. (Which is not the same thing as death metal.) And so on. I didn’t include many of them here because I’m not that into the music, so I don’t know a lot about it. But feel free to educate me. I eagerly await your comments. In the meantime, here’s a song from a death metal band that I do, in fact, adore.
    Song and Lyrics
    Super torture porny video by deathgrind band Cattle Decapitation. You have been warned.
  • Slipknot: Sulfur
    It’s hard not to love Slipknot. Their music is weird, original, and surprisingly melodic. Their lyrics are cryptic and stunningly creepy. I have to admit, though, that I loved their earlier freaky mask days. They’re nice looking lads and all, but they need to lay off the emo power ballads! This is NOT an emo power ballad.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Stallagh: Projekt Terror
    I have no idea what genre Stallagh is. Noise death metal? Is that a thing? Their music is made up of the (real) screams of mental patients, the crying of children, and other horrible and traumatic sounds. It would be incredible in a horror movie, but if I listen to it for too long, I feel like my brain is melting. They remind me of Wolf Eyes, another rather terrifying band I actually like a lot.
    Song (REALLY REALLY disturbing video—real dead people)
  • Gwar: Madness at the Core of Time
    Gwar was really more of an event than a band. Their ridiculously awesome metal costumes were the Best Thing Ever. When you stopped to listen to their lyrics, they were frequently snarky and satirical. And you’ve got to love a band that drenches their audience in blood. RIP Oderus Urungus.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Zombie Girl: Creature of the Night
    This electronic/industrial band is loads of fun, and their goth/electro grooves are compulsively danceable. Renee Cooper’s “scary little girl” voice is a kick.
    Song
  • The Deep Eynde: She Likes Skulls
    Hey look! Another horrorpunk band! I love the lyrics of this song in particular, but everything they do is kind of awesome.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Send More Paramedics: Zombie Crew
    You’ve probably noticed that I’ve mentioned several songs from “Return of the Living Dead.” Well, here’s a band named for a famous line from ROTD! And they rock hard.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Gravediggaz: Diary of a Madman
    Horrorcore rap kicked off in the ‘80’s. I absolutely loved it. It hit the crest of its popularity in the mid-90’s, with bands like Gravediggaz, Flatlinerz, and Twiztid coming out with deeply disturbing hip-hop tracks like this one. I wish the genre had maintained its momentum.
    Song
    Lyrics
  • Insane Clown Posse: Halloween on Military Street
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, some of you hate ICP. But I know some of you love them! I admit it, I kinda love them too. Like it or not, they’re the direct heirs of Horrorcore. Oh, and by the way, FBI? Whatever you think of Juggalos, they’re not a gang. So stop being jackasses. This song is disgusting and hilarious.
    Song and Lyrics
    Fuck you AND the moon!
  • AND FINALLY, THE CREEPIEST SONG IN THE WORLD!
    Ludo: The Horror of our Love
    Okay, that’s just my opinion. Everybody has different ideas about what is creepy. But the gorgeous, poetic, yet totally horrifying lyrics of this song, combined with the beautiful melody, just totally, utterly creep my shizzle out
    Song and Lyrics

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Review: Evil Dead: The Musical

August 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm (comedy, horror, music) (, , )

In my ongoing quest for the Mother of the Year award, I took my 13-year-old and 16-year-old sons to see “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Balagan Theatre in Seattle. Everybody who’s heard anything about this musical knows that they throw a lot of stage blood around. We were delighted at this prospect. In fact, we paid a little extra to sit in the front row, known as the “Mega-Splatter Zone.” We’re huge fans of the Evil Dead movies. (Yes, I even liked the remake. Shut up.) We’d been listening to the soundtrack from the musical on YouTube and loving it. We were pumped! And we weren’t disappointed.

The Balagan Theatre is small but cozy. When I handed my tickets to a young man in green camo, he eyed my boys and said “You do know about the adult content in this show, right?”

“Oh yes,” I replied. “They’ve seen the movies.”

The camo kid started to look worried. “Well, it’s not gore,” he said. “There’s, um…”

“Yes?” I smiled at him brightly.

“Sex jokes,” he muttered.

What? Sex jokes? What an awful thought! Everyone knows teenage boys don’t like sex jokes! “Thanks for the warning,” I said, trying not to laugh at his “Ermahgerd I said ‘sex’ to somebody’s mom” face. I figured that years of exposure to “South Park” and “Family Guy” had prepared my boys for whatever ED:TM could dish out. Erm… more on that later.

We wandered in and settled into our front-row seats. There was a huge, 3-foot-tall Necronomicon in front of the very basic “cabin in the woods” set. Interesting. The theater had put together a wonderful playlist. We rocked out to Rob Zombie, Sweet, Alice Cooper, and the Ramones. The lights dimmed at last, and…the first few chords of “Sweet Transvestite” blasted from the speakers! WTF? We had no idea, but we loved it. A dude in manties and a corset came out and ROCKED that song. He had an amazing voice—almost what the old folks (not me dammit) call an Irish tenor. Strong, silvery, and flexible. He ended the song by tossing a cup of “blood” on us. Yep, we were in for it now.

It all started out innocently enough. The cast sang the ridiculously chipper opening song, “Cabin in the Woods,” accompanied by a giant bunny and a very rude squirrel. The sets were super lo-fi—a cutout car carried by the singing cast members. It went perfectly with the utterly silly vibe of the show. We were hooked.

The acting was fun. Everybody was on their toes, and the jokes flew. Yep, a lot of them were dopey sex jokes, of the type you’d find in your average American Pie-like movie. Nothing that would cause my little angels to go blind or anything. There were plenty of nods to (and outright quotes from) the first two Evil Dead movies. Plenty of geek fodder for the fanboys and girls out there. Things started to get really silly when Ash’s perky little sister got felt up through the window by an evil tree. This was a rocking bit of physical comedy that just got funnier as it went along.

Things went on as they do in Evil Dead movies, and pretty soon people were turning into Candarian demons, and inanimate objects were talking to the cast. My favorite was a Candarian demon moose head who launched into the delightful song “Join Us.” It was a terrific production number, and by the time it was over, I was ready to show up at my local Candarian demon recruiting office.

The songs were all terrific. (Check them out here.) With the exception of “Frankie,” who later played Good Old Reliable Jake, none of the cast members had really exceptional voices, but it just didn’t matter. They were so enthusiastic and the material was so funny that it all worked. The actor who played Ash did a splendid job of morphing from a meek-seeming housewares employee to one-handed, chainsaw-wielding, boomstick-toting badass.

Around the middle of the play, we found out just how rude it was going to get. Anyone who’s seen the movies knows that the trees in the Evil Dead franchise have a taste for human flesh, and I don’t mean for dinner. They like to sex up hapless wanderers in the woods. I wondered exactly how the production was going to handle THAT.

Well, they handled it with taste and sensitivity. The horny trees were portrayed by a couple of guys in tree suits, with 18-inch rubber dongs hanging off of them. (Proving that this guy was wrong.) Not only did they rock out with their–well, you know, but they used their equipment to gesture, and even communicate. By the time one of the trees was gently bonking Ash on the head to get his attention, we were howling.

About the blood. Whenever a character was hurt or killed, “blood” would spurt from him or her via tube, or sometimes just a squeeze bottle wielded by the victim, which was hilarious. They ratcheted up the gore in the second half of the play. we’re talking super-soakers here. One poor sap got dragged up from the audience and had a bucket of blood poured over his head. The boys and I were sitting pretty in our white (now red) t-shirts and clear plastic safety glasses. Our attire seemed to amuse some of the cast members, who singled us out for extra bloodspray. We left the theater dripping but happy.

Would I recommend this show to everybody? Hell no! If you’re young and tender, or just easily offended by stupid sex jokes, don’t go. If you don’t have a very silly sense of humor, it’s probably not for you. But if you’re an Evil Dead fan who appreciates good music and nonstop laughs, catch ED:TM anywhere you can! It continues to tour the country with a variety of companies, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Now if only “Re-Animator: The Musical” would come to town…

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Movie review (horror): “Malevolence” (2004)

August 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm (horror, movies)

I’m not sure why it took me so long to see this movie. It’s been a cult favorite since it came out. This stalk-and-slash is well made, with good acting and an interesting backstory.

A group of bank robbers botches the job. Two of them head straight for the creepy abandoned house that is their rendezvous point. Another robber blows a car tire and carjacks a woman and her daughter for their van. For some bizarre reason, he takes them with him to the old house.

The movie bogs down in the middle somewhat, as the angst-ridden “good” bank robber and his bitchy girlfriend talk and argue about the robbery. Things pick up a bit after the local psycho starts picking off the robbers.

This was a pretty solid movie, but I’m not sure I get the cult status. The acting was good, not great. The gore is good, not great. The main characters make a number of unbelievably stupid mistakes, which always irritates the living hell out of me. The backstory around the wacko killer is actually more interesting than the story unfolding in front of you.

I was happy to hear that a prequel, “Bereavement,” is going to be out on DVD in a few days. It centers around the killer and how he became what he is, which is what I really cared about anyway.

If you’re a slasher fan, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It definitely has its fun moments.

Rated R. Not for kids–older teen gorehounds are probably OK.

Three stars. And I’m looking forward to “Bereavement!”

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Movie review (horror): The Orphan Killer (2011)

August 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm (horror, movies)

YES MA”AM! Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! This is a low-budget, totally independent horror film that rocks harder than its kickass mostly-metal soundtrack.

The movie starts out as a straight-up homage to 80’s slashers. The plot is classic: the parents of two small children are killed in a senseless, brutal robbery. The kids, a little girl and a little boy, are sent to a Catholic orphanage. There’s something wrong with the little boy from the get-go–he’s violent and unpredictable. When he beats another kid nearly to death, the nuns separate him from his sister, torture him for the sake of his soul, and make him wear a monster mask all the time to keep the other kids away from him.

(Well sure, that’s over the top. But that’s what 80’s style horror is all about.) Years later, the sister is a teacher at the same Catholic school, which is no longer an orphanage. Everybody seems to have forgotten about the psycho brother, who’s still lurking around. Well, over the years, he’s come to blame his sister for his awful treatment at the hands of the nuns. He starts hacking his way through the school staff, working his way to his sister.

I should point out that the acting and direction in this movie are quite good, and the gore is delightful. The blood is a particularly spectacular color of red, and there’s plenty of it. All practical effects, and all very good. Okay, the occasional severed head is clearly a model, but they’re GOOD models. The level of gore is up there with some of my favorite French extreme movies. For some reason, the direction of the murder scenes made me think of “Frontiers.”

The movie takes an odd turn when the brother finally captures the sister. It gets a little torture porny, with the sister suspended by barbed wire around her wrists while being creatively carved by her brother. Surprisingly, the brother talks to her–he’d spent most of the movie grunting, but he waxes eloquent when he has his sister in his grasp.

She however,  turns out to be a seriously tough cookie. The fun really rolls when she starts kicking butt.

This movie is tense, well-paced, and relentless. I want to see more from writer/director Matt Farnsworth, who also plays a role in the movie. I wish more filmmakers, independent and otherwise, would put as much passion and energy into their movies.

Four stars!

Although unrated, this is definitely not for kids. May be OK for older teen horror enthusiasts, but keep it away from the younger set.

“The Orphan Killer” is a fine example of what talented people can do with a little money and inspiration.

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Movie review (horror): “Little Deaths” (2011)

August 3, 2011 at 11:09 pm (horror, movies)

This brand-new Brit anthology movie bills itself as “erotic horror.” It’s more like “watch this and you’ll never want to have sex again” horror.

The first of the three stories, “House and Home,” is predictable in the extreme. It’s also pretty distasteful. The “sex” is rape, and involves humiliation and copious bodily fluids. I could see the end of the story coming (so to speak) a mile away. The acting was terrific, but the script was so stale it was painful.

The second story, “Mutant Tool,” has an awesome title! It’s also desperately silly. The story involves a mutant person with a gigantic two-and-a-half foot frankendick that excretes the best hallucinogenic drug in the world. Said mutant is being held captive by an evil Nazi-ish doctor, who keeps the mutant chained up with its dick in a bucket and feeds it blenderized kidneys. Okay, I could get behind that, I guess. But a ridiculous “twist” ending that makes no sense pretty much ruins the whole thing. Oh, and there’s nothing the least bit erotic about this episode either. It’s just really, really squickie. Bleah!

The last story, “Bitch,” is brilliant. It’s about a gentle young man who’s in an abusive relationship with a really, really nasty young woman. He is sub to her dom in the playroom, which he doesn’t really enjoy, but he’s madly in love with her, and desperate to keep her. (This is NOT a happy, “Secretary” type situation!) When she’s not sexually humiliating him, she’s just generally treating him like crap. Finally, she goes too far, viciously breaking his heart. She has a single weakness, an extreme phobia, and he uses that to plot his horrific revenge. This segment isn’t easy to watch (none of them are), but it’s by far the best of the three. Again, not erotic. Just disturbing.

Three stars; almost all of them for “Bitch.” I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anybody but grownup hardcore horror fans.

And, um, don’t watch it with your sweetie on date night. It may be weeks before you get lucky again!

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Movie review (horror): Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

July 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm (dark comedy, horror, movies)

I don’t know how or why I managed to wait so long to see this movie. But I freakin’ loved it.

It really is a rock opera. There is almost no talking. I loved the music–it was varied and always interesting. I didn’t know Paul Sorvino had such an amazing voice! Anthony Stuart Head (of Buffy fame) kicked some major butt as the Repossesser.

What’s being repossessed are internal organs, so obviously, this movie is pretty gory. They don’t pull their punches on the splatter, and it’s high-quality stuff.

The story was interesting and it played out well. It sucked me completely in. I’ve watched it 3 times so far, and I’ve seen new details every time.

Rated R
5 stars!
Really, really bloody. Not for younger teens.

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Movie review (horror): Red Riding Hood (2011)

July 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm (horror, movies)

I know, I know, most of the serious horror fans I know thought this movie blew cheese. But it was actually a lot better than I expected.

I love Amanda Seyfried, and I love Gary Oldman. They were both terrific. To be clear, although most of the cast was very young, this was NOT a Twilight ripoff. The tone was very dark, and nothing supernatural sparkled.

The werewolf was a CG creation, but he was really cool-looking. Kind of a demonic Black Dog sort of fellow. I figured out who the werewolf really was before the reveal, but that’s OK. I watch so much of this stuff it’s hard to surprise me.

I couldn’t help but compare this movie to “The Company of Wolves,” which blows the doors off of “Red Riding Hood.” This movie was nowhere as deep or twisted. But I will say that I loved the sets. They were weird, not quite of this world, and totally immersive. I haven’t seen a village set quite that cool since Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

Not enough blood. Werewolf movies should have tons of blood.

Rated PG-13
3 1/2 stars
Okay for young teens who aren’t easily spooked

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Movie review (horror): The Violent Kind (2010)

July 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm (horror, movies)

I so totally wanted to like this movie. Outlaw bikers vs. evil, possibly undead rockabillies? Yays! But it fell short of its potential.

There were a lot of good things here. Good characterization, good direction. The head rockabilly guy was exceptionally fun and evil.

I absolutely love what was implied in this movie. I’m not going to say what–don’t want to spoil it. But there’s such a thing as being too obscure. I don’t need (or even like) to have a movie spelled out for me like a kids’ book, but on the other hand, it’s nice to know WTF is going on.

The main plot element is revealed about halfway through the film, but it just isn’t developed enough. I was fascinated with that weird twist, and I wanted more. Never got it.

I’m not going to either recommend this movie, or discourage you from seeing it. If you’re a horror fan, you may enjoy it. Just don’t expect a coherent narrative. While “The Violent Kind” kept my attention, it also kind of bummed me out, because it could have been so much better.

Very good gore, BTW. All practical effects.

Rated R
3 stars
Pretty nasty stuff. Definitely not for kids or younger teens.

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Movie review (horror): Cold Prey (2006)

July 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm (horror, movies)

This Norwegian horror flick is basically an American-style slasher, with better characterization. I had high hopes going into the film, but nothing really tripped my trigger. There were good performances by the young actors, but the deaths weren’t particularly interesting. Any slasher film fan will figure out who the killer is in the first 15 minutes.

If I want to watch pretty young Norwegians die horribly, I’ll go watch “Dead Snow” again.

rated R
3 stars
Okay for teenage slasher fans, but they’ll probably get bored.

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Movie review: (horror) “Dead Tone” (2007)

December 13, 2010 at 9:44 pm (horror, movies)

OH THE PAIN. I rented this movie because Rutger Hauer was in it, and because the cute zombie kid from the awesome and wondeful “American Zombie” was in it. They couldn’t begin to save this steaming pile.

To be fair, it totally wasn’t Rutger’s fault. He didn’t have anything to do. He had less than 10 minutes of screen time, where he’d show up too late at the scene of a murder, look stoic, and say something like “Damn.” They didn’t give him anything to work with.

Dumb slasher flix I can handle. Incoherent slasher flick with awful acting and super-bad dialog, not so much. I gave it two stars instead of one for some halfway decent gore. But baby, you can get gore anywhere. Don’t waste your time looking for it here.

-Rated R
-2 out of 5 stars
-Maybe OK for older teens, but they should rent “My Bloody Valentine” instead.

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