I set out to create a list of the most memorable horror songs, which slowly morphed into a collection of the most memorable end credit horror songs. And now I suppose it’s a list of the ten most memorable 80s end credit horror songs. But I didn’t set out with that as a guideline. It just sort of happened that way. In looking over this list now, I’m left to wonder why nobody puts much effort into the end credits music these days. Since it’s the last impression the viewer has of a film, why not make it memorable?
That’s what these songs have in common.
Some are genuinely cool while others are downright baffling, but I’ve never forgotten them. Even the head scratchers. For your listening pleasure, I’ve included links to all the songs should you need a refresher. And, as always, I want to hear from you. I couldn’t get them all (sorry, entire Shocker soundtrack), so tell me what would’ve been on your list.
10. Don’t Go In the Woods (H. Kingsley Thurber)
From: Don’t Go in the Woods (1981)
The tried and true slasher enthusiasts among you know why this is included on the list: After 80 minutes of steadily increasing nonsense, James Bryan’s woefully misguided “classic” concludes with a song so absurd it somehow manages to dwarf all that has come before it. It’s one great big “what the fuck” cherry, capping off one seriously goofy sundae.
9. Partytime (.45 Grave)
From: The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
It’s only fitting that THE punk rock zombie film come equipped with a kickass soundtrack. You also have to love the fact that this .45 Grave track kicks to life after everyone in our cast has been annihilated by a nuclear missile. Nothing says “partytime” like nuclear death, according to ROTLD at least.
Please note this video is NSFW as it contains nudity.
8. Fright Night (J. Geils Band)
From: Fright Night (1985)
This is still one of those songs that makes me smile. I remember recording it right off the movie’s end credits onto an old Sony tape deck and listening to it on an endless loop as my parents contemplated my death. What can I say? A fun capper to the best vampire flick of the 80s, you don’t really mind when it’s stuck in your head days after hearing it. At least I don’t.
7. The Legend Lives: Song of Madman Marz (Gary Sales)
From: Madman (1981)
There is no greater joy in life than belting this one out at the top of your lungs. If you don’t derive a certain amount of joy from singing “THE L-E-E-EGEND LIVES BEWARE THE MADMAN MARZ”, then, frankly, you’re not human. Try it. Love it. Do it every day.
6. Dream Warriors (Dokken)
From: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
I always thought Dokken was a little underrated when it came to 80s bands. To this day I continue to rock the Back for the Attack album, and hearing Dream Warriors always takes me back to a time when Freddymania swept the land. Hearing it today also makes me wonder what in the hell ever happened to Craig Wasson, but that’s another story.
5. Pet Semetary (Ramones)
From: Pet Semetary (1989)
I’ll confess — it was this song that turned me into a Ramones fan. I’d never heard of them before this, but after watching Pet Semetary, I was a lifelong fan. I really like the film, but I believe it’s the way this song launches into the end credits that really gives it an extra shot of bad-assery.
4.You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For (Franki Vinci)
From: Sleepaway Camp (1983)
It’s the twist ending that makes everyone remember Sleepaway Camp, but I’m convinced that it’s this song that takes things one step further in burning it into our brains. After one seriously demented climax, we’re treated to one of the most bizarre love songs the genre has ever heard. Love it or hate it, it’s just plain weird, and that’s why it complements the ending so perfectly.
3. Howling (Babel)
From: Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)
It’s either Sybil Danning’s spectacular breasts or Babel’s incredible, new wave ode to lycanthropy that makes you remember Howling II. And while I’ve since come to terms with the fact that I am the film’s sole defender, there is no way you can refute the awesome 80’s power of this one. Babel may not have had much of a career (front man Steve Parsons has gone on to do soundtrack scores) as a New Wave band, but this song truly showcases the “rocking, shocking, new wave of horror.” The way it should be.
2. The Ballard of Harry Warden (John McDermott)
From: My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Any time the original My Bloody Valentine comes up in conversation, the topic inevitably turns to the mysterious little ditty that haunts the end credits. For years, horror fans weren’t sure whom to credit the infectious little ballad to until the recent special edition DVD shed some light on the mystery. And now that we know, we raise a pick axe to John McDermott in salute. There’s nothing like ending on a high note, and Harry Warden’s folk song is almost as memorable as the slasher classic itself.
1. Man Behind the Mask (Alice Cooper)
From: Friday the 13th Part VI, Jason Lives (1986)
Probably the coolest horror song of all time … it’s about Jason freakin’ Voorhees, man! Cool lyrics and a rockin’ Kane Roberts guitar rift are topped with the classic ‘ki,ki,ki,ma,ma,ma’ to give the undying killer his own theme song. How can you not have this sucker on your iPod? And if you can’t get enough of Alice singing about slashers, track down his Tag, You’re It song for a double dose of knife-wielding goodness.
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