13 Kickass Horror Soundtracks To Amplify Your Halloween
Horror movies and heavy metal will always make good coffin-fellows. Both are obsessed with evil, morbidity, and the dark depths of the human soul. Both provide safe pocket universes in which to exorcise negative emotions and indulge in darkest fantasies. And both continue to make shitloads of money to the confusion and disdain of a mainstream culture that paints them as trash.
That said, horror soundtracks that really bring the riffs are somewhat few and far between. In general, horror films go for creepy original scores over heavy rock songs; even some of the soundtracks of specifically metal-themed horror films are without a single gang vocal (The Gate is literally about a heavy metal record that opens a portal to Hell, but the soundtrack is sadly soft). That said, those movies that go all in on rock usually provide listeners with a killer cross-section of their release years’ heaviest tunes.
Here are ten horror soundtracks that’ll put a little raw power behind your Halloween. Blare them out of your front door to weed out the wimpy trick-or-treaters.
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
DO YOU WANNA PARTY? IT’S PARTY TIME. The soundtrack to Return Of The Living Dead, the ultimate punk rock zombie flick is a cornucopia of death rock, hardcore, and early goth music, including tracks by The Cramps, TSOL, and 45 Grave. Weirdo tunes by Roky Erickson and the Tall Boys fill out an album primarily about messing around in graveyards and eating brains. Not the hardest-hitting horror soundtrack, but easily one of the most fun.
Trick Or Treat (1986)
The king of all heavy metal horror movies, Trick Or Treat is about a troubled young headbanger resurrecting the electric ghost of his favorite frontman Sammi Curr. The movie also features some classic metal cameos — Ozzy plays a televangelist, and Gene Simmons stars as a metal DJ named Nuke (man, they really thought we were simpletons back in the day…). But the headline act of the film is the original soundtrack by Fastaway, the hair metal band formed by Motorhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clark, that provides an interesting look into what kind of heavy metal was considered both dangerous and palatable back in 1986.
Zombie Nightmare (1987)
On the much, much lower budget side of things is Zombie Nightmare, which features Christian metal frontman/bodybuilder Jon Mikl Thor as a baseball player who gets brought back from the dead to slay his killers (who include Wayne’s World’s Tia Carrere as a slinky bad girl). Far better than the film itself is the soundtrack, which contains tracks by old-school metal acts like Motorhead, Girlschool, Fist, Virgin Steele, and more.
Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
Between us, the first full-length film from HBO’s Tales From The Crypt is one of the unsung gems of ‘90s horror, and features awesome early performances by Jada Pinkett Smith and Billy Zane. But the film is far outshined by its soundtrack, full of brawling music by bands like Biohazard, Rollins Band, Filter, Melvins, and more. These might seem like obvious soundtrack pics, but in 1995, when grunge was king and hair metal’s corpse was beginning to stink up the room, a tracklist this heavy was daring.
Remember when Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider wrote Strangeland, a movie about a body modification-obsessed sadist kidnapping young women and sewing their mouths shut? No? Well, it happened! And in a display of surprising relevancy for the king of hair metal shock rockers, Snider loaded the soundtrack with a mixture of then-popular nu-metal artists (Snot, Coal Chamber, Hed PE) and weirdo underground acts (Crisis, Bile). A solidly aggro album from a sadly underrated little film.
Idle Hands (1999)
Ah, Idle Hands, the horror movie equivalent of a pair of JNCOs with a canvas Elemental Skateboards belt. This film about a slacker so lazy his hand gets possessed by the Devil featured tons of young talent like Seth Green, Devon Sawa, and Jessica Alba. Similarly, the soundtrack features a rogues gallery of punk and metal groundbreakers like Static-X, The Offspring, Unwritten Law, and even Two, Rob Halford’s industrial metal side project featuring John 5 of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie fame. A film and soundtrack that present an interesting portrait of one confusing-ass period in history.
Dracula 2000 (2000)
As a film, Dracula 2000 is hard to rewatch given its performances by Gerard Butler as the Count and pop star Vitamin C as one of his helpless victims (remember her? Graduation?). But the soundtrack is a solid collection of nu-metal heavyweights like System Of A Down, Linkin Park, and Powerman 5000; as well as uncommonly spooky tracks by harder acts like Pantera and Slayer. The OST doesn’t quite make up for the cinematic injustice done to his highborn nocturnal majesty Count Dracula, but it’s a start.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
An interesting take on a classic horror trope, Ginger Snaps tells the stories of two misfit sisters trying to cope with change…after one of them’s bitten by a werewolf. Though the main characters are morbid goths, the soundtrack goes super aggressive on cuts by bands like Soulfly, Machine Head, and Glassjaw. Maybe this choice was an intentional werewolf metaphor, with furious music emerging from a thoughtful, emotional movie…or maybe not.
House Of 1,000 Corpses (2003)
Well, yeah, obviously. Sure, the House Of 1,000 Corpses soundtrack is basically just an extra Rob Zombie album, given how many songs by the director it features. But the inclusion of a spunky Ramones track and old-timey hits by Helen Kane and Slim Whitman make it a more bizarre experience than your average Zombie studio release. The cover of Brick House at the end featuring Lionel Richie and Trina…look, we all make mistakes.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Though the score for the first Resident Evil film was co-composed by Marilyn Manson, it’s the soundtrack for the second film in the series that goes loudest. Featuring a mixture of massive headliners like Rob Zombie and Deftones alongside (then) up-and-comers like Killswitch Engage, HIM, and Lacuna Coil, the Apocalypse soundtrack officially allied the Resident Evil films with the gamer metalhead crowd. Listen closely to this album and you can hear energy drink sponsorships being signed in the background.
Green Room (2015)
Woof, buckle up. Green Room’s harrowing tale of a punk rock band fighting a gang of vicious skinheads is scathing in its violence, and the soundtrack ain’t much gentler. The OST features hardcore and death metal tracks from acts like Corpus Rottus, Battletorn, Midnight, and Hochstredder, while the film itself also contains songs by Slayer, Fear, Napalm Death, and Poison Idea. Get ready for the machete.
One of the more recent entries on this list, Deathgasm is as heavy a horror movie as it gets, featuring two extreme corpsepaint-wearing metalheads who unleash an army of demons with an evil doom song. The soundtrack also does a great job of giving listeners a solid cross-section of modern and classic underground metal, including tracks by Emperor, Bulletbelt, Skull Fist, Lair of the Minotaur, and Denver pizza-thrashers Axeslasher. Whether you’re putting on the movie or just blasting the soundtracks, make sure to have a few beers on hand for this one.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Three words: I STILL BELIEVE!
WORDS: Chris Krovatin
FEATURED IMAGE: Jonathan Amaya
The legendary shock rocker has new talent in his band.
Intergalactic shock rockers GWAR will be touring extensively in the U.S. and Canada.