Best Songs in Horror

Ever since my ears absorbed The Rolling Stones classic, Paint it Black, playing throughout the Kevin Bacon horror, Stir of Echoes, I’ve never been able to separate the two. There was an uneasiness that the song helped to create in the film as if it was perfectly written solely for the psychological horror about a man who sees ghosts. So, I started to think of other songs which have been featured in horror movies over the years and I decided to compile a list of my favorites.

1.) Paint it Black–Stir of Echoes

Paint it Black is obviously at the top of my list due to its creepy and catchy beat and I often feel an uneasiness mixed with joy whenever I hear it. No matter what I am doing during the moment when the tune comes on the radio, I can’t help but envision the tragic scene in Stir of Echoes where the young woman is raped and murdered while the song blares in the background over her cries. The film succeeded in using the song effectively throughout, as it plays a very vital role in part of the story. The song was also featured in the 2004 made-for-TV remake of Salem’s Lot, starring Rob Lowe, in the end of the movie when the character is trying to be revived by doctors. Hmm, there’s just something about the rock classic that embodies death and sorrow and I absolutely love it; it’s perfect for every horror movie.

2.) Hey Man, Nice Shot–Demon Knight

Every time I hear Hey Man, Nice shot by Filter, I can’t help but picture the bald beauty, Billy Zane, as he chases William Sadler down a dark highway on a mission to get what’s rightfully his. The song helped to set the tone for the rest of the movie which delivers gore and camp perfectly well. Zane is amazing as the big bad demon who torments the group of stranded individuals while simultaneously providing humor for the frightened audience. Oh Billy Zane, if only you were still as you were during the time. I miss you, man.

3.) Bad Moon Rising–American Werewolf in London

Bad Moon Rising, by the Creedance Clearwater Revival, is not the song that plays during David’s transformation into the beast but I can’t help but picture this scene whenever the song plays on the radio. The song fits perfectly with the entire movie, detailing David’s inevitable doom, while maintaining an upbeat and fun tempo. Whenever I hear the song, my eyes automatically stare up at the moon and wonder if anyone is going through the agony of transforming into a werewolf. Just kidding, I know they don’t exist. Wink, wink.

4.) Sweet Dreams–House on Haunted Hill

Marilyn Manson is a friggin creep and I absolutely love him for it. All of his songs seriously make me want to get up and punch someone in the face…or think about the suitable scene in a horror movie for which it could coincide with. His version of Sweet Dreams is amazeballs because not only is it super creepy, it has the uncanny ability to transfer you into a haunting atmosphere. I love this song by itself but I think it can pretty much fit into several different horror movies, just like Manson can as well.

5.) Burnin’ For You–Let Me In

What song is more fitting for a horror movie than a love song by Blue Oyster Cult? The song, Burnin’ For You, not only appears in a brutal horror about a vampire; the song is featured in an intense scene where the character tries capturing a young man from the backseat of his car so he can eventually drain and kill him. Perfect. I absolutely loved the scene where Abby’s keeper attempts to kidnap a young boy–because of the song, which seemed as though it wouldn’t have worked for the part. But, it did work. The song is somewhat relaxing and simple, one that put the young boy at ease. Then, he’s unexpectedly attacked  and everything comes crashing down around him. In my opinion, the placement of the song made the scene ten times better because it only made it more unnerving to watch.

6.)Mr. Sandman–Halloween and Halloween: H20

Oh, Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream. This soothing melody definitely seems totally out of place in a slasher about a faceless serial killer hell bent on killing his sister. Only, it works amazingly well in the movie, making the atmosphere even more uneasy. Whenever I hear this song, I don’t think of happy thoughts or of going to sleep and finding love–I think of Jamie Lee Curtis fighting for her life from the shape who will never stop coming after her.

7.) Jeepers Creepers–Jeepers Creepers

 The interesting thing about Jeepers Creepers was the way that director, Victor Salva, used a song to create a story. The song, Jeepers Creepers, plays a large role in the movie about an unstoppable creature who feasts on humans for 23 days, every 23 years. The creeper playfully hums the song while he’s working away on people’s body parts and the song represents danger whenever you hear it. My favorite scene in the film is when the two siblings, Trish and Darry, are driving along the highway while being followed by a patrol car. Trish surfs through the radio stations and skips over a tune–but not before Darry can turn it back on, revealing the song to be Jeepers Creepers. Terrified, Darry explains to his sister what the song represents while the two are completely oblivious to the massacre going on in the car behind them. Genius. RIP Darry.

8.) Don’t Stop Me Now–Shaun of the Dead

 Shaun of the Dead is one of the best horror parodies ever to be made. The film is clever in so many ways, one being the use of music, particularly the scene at the Winchester Pub. When a zombie comes out of nowhere and the group must fight it, they accidentally push it and it lands against a juke box, simultaneously pressing a button to play Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. The entire scene is choreographed perfectly to match up with the beats and melodies of the song, making it a HILARIOUS and creative way to kill a zombie.
9.) One Thing Leads to Another–The House of the Devil

 Ti West’s The House of the Devil is shot so beautifully, making the audience feel as if they are back in the eighties. Not only does the movie look like an eighties horror, it FEELS like an eighties horror due to the added element of eighties music. My second favorite scene, other than the A.J. Bowen gun scene, is the part where Samantha turns up her walkman and dances her ass off to The Fixx. The song lowers the tension and makes the audience feel as if everything is going to be okay, at least for a short while. The music succeeds in making the movie feel like a legitimate old school horror and I love it oh so very much.
10.)Free Bird–The Devil’s Rejects

If you don’t like The Devil’s Rejects, something is wrong with you. The awesome follow up to Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses successfully takes the movie in a whole new and improved direction. One of the best things about Zombie’s films is the music that he chooses to play throughout and The Devil’s Rejects has an amazing soundtrack. The best scene is clearly the final shootout between Otis, Baby, and Spaulding against the Po Po while Skynyrd roars in the background. The song represents everything that the Firefly family are—a bird you cannot change.

What are you favorite songs featured in a horror movie?


  1. Jenny Krueger

    Awesome songs you have there, Amanda. I love how music can make that certain scene in the movie extra creepy. There's no surprise that music is a big part of my life. πŸ™‚

  2. Thomas

    I love the songs that pop up during party scenes in slasher movies. "Modern Man" by Four out of Five Doctors in House on Sorority Row, "New Year's Evil" in New Year's Evil, "Rainbow Eyes" and "I'm Back" in Rocktober Blood, "The Long Way" (I think that's the title) in The Prowler. I also love the way Zombie Nightmare kicks off with "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead.

  3. Aaron

    Too many to name at the moment. David Bowie's "Cat People" in CAT PEOPLE is one that comes to mind. Loved "Free Bird" in DEVIL'S REJECTS but prefer the use of Allman Brothers's "Midnight Rider" during the opening credits. Something about Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams" works so well in movies, horror or otherwise. It's just one of those songs. Also, loved the use of "Paint it Black" at the end of DEVIL'S ADVOCATE.

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