By Jim Foote & Josh Krubner
This list was a little bit different from our usual. Jim and I each came up with some VERY different picks, and I put the crowning touch on the number one spot with a some VERY controversial lawyer-speak. We’ll get to all that, let me first explain the rules and how we arrived at what we did. Also, I’m sure most of you reading this article title are immediately hearing themes from The Exorcist or Halloween playing in your heads? Maybe you’ve got Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters bumping on mental repeat? Just keep reading… - Josh
To view the countdown, hit READ MORE.
As Jim explained the idea to me, two very big problems popped up; the first, that all recognizable horror movie themes/soundtracks were comprised of scores and instrumental music. The second snag, the songs that weren’t instrumental theme music were made up of obscure forgotten heavy metal songs created for one nameless horror sequel that flew under the radar and hasn’t been heard of since. Did you know Motorhead did a song for Hellraiser 3? Yea, me either. - Josh
“I want to play a game”
We decided the only way to do this fairly would be to create an agreed upon list of criteria that would classify the song as a fair entry, and then position it to a spot on the list. We also went back and forth not only with our picks, but in creating the rules as well. - Josh
It's one thing for me to go through my collection and recognize the first chord of the whacky dance tune in Friday The 13th Part V. It's another thing entirely to comprise an entire list of songs like these. No one would know what the hell I was talking about. That's why we, instead of releasing two different lists, combines our efforts. We may disagree at certain parts, and did at first in some major ways, which helped us decide some rules first. - Jim
1. Iconic? (Josh)
2. Direct connection to movie/character? (Jim)
3. Repetition: Does it replay? IF so, how often? (Josh)
4. No scores. (Jim)
5. Strictly 100% horror films ONLY. No hybrids. (Josh)
I'll explain my portion and let Jim fill in the blanks on his reasoning. If you think I went into this with a number one in mind, and really wanted the rules to reinforce that point (and a worthy challenger), you’re God damn right! - Josh
1. Iconic - This was my most important criteria. Is the song iconic? Does it evoke the same feeling or emotion one would get when hearing the theme from Halloween, or the familiar lyrics of Ghostbusters?
2. Direct Connection - The song can't just be a random tune played on a tv in the background. We're talking intentional ties to either the specific character, individual film, or entire franchise. - Jim
3. Repetition - Goes with iconic, but is this something we hear more than once? Perhaps across an entire franchise? Is it catchy? Are fans likely to have it playing in their heads, or is it a one and done? - Josh
4. No Scores - If we allowed scores, they would make at the very LEAST, about 80-90% of the list. For that, we had to leave them out of this. - Jim
5. Strictly Horror Movies - this is where we put the Ghostbusters talk to bed. With so many cross genre films, we felt it would distract from the rest of the list. If we did put say Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth in our list, we wouldn't want it next to Ghostbusters or The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. - Josh
Rule 5 came about pretty organically from the both of us during the discussion of Ghostbusters (the song I put on my horror cd), Nightmare Before Christmas, and Shaun of the Dead specifically. The only problem we run into that is a point of contention made by someone on Facebook. Some would call (at least some of) Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, part comedy. That's why this is purely based on our opinions. We urge you all to take a look, tell us what we got wrong/right, etc. - Jim
And with that, let’s hit the list - and my amazing defense for our “number 1” complete with a wager… MADE IN HELL!!!! - Josh
“There’s Room for One More”
Approaching the list making I was coming up with all sorts of obscure and not so great movies with identifying songs accompanying them. Things like Jeepers Creepers jumped out, but do we really want people talking about or encouraging others to see Jeepers Creepers? - Josh
A duo of personal favorites, Lost In The Shadows from The Lost Boys, along with I Still Believe from the same flick (that's where the jacked up Sax player from the top of the article comes from) came up short. I would have put them both on my list, but with a conjoined effort... you're kind of stuck with each other. Hence, the two just receive honorable mentions.
10. Fright Night from Fright Night (J. Geils Band)
Fright Night is a pretty good, under the radar 80s movie that was remade and as per use, pales in comparison to the movie. It's a catchy song and named for the movie/created for the soundtrack. We wrestled with a few things here and there, onto or off the list, but this was the agreed upon "ten spot."
Here, gigantic rock band AC/DC made a song (and entire album) specifically for a horror movie. This flick, though, is an Emilio Estevez/Stephen King vehicle about machines coming to life and killing humans. It's crazy, over-the-top, and fun. It also makes for a terrible drinking game. Take a drink whenever a machine comes to life. Take two when one attacks someone. Finish your drink when it kills someone. It works out fine until the mid-movie montage. - Jim
(DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince)
In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff and a fellow named Will Smith recorded their THIRD hit SINGLE, A Nightmare on My Street. It was intended to be put on the soundtrack for Nightmare part 4, The Dream Master, and hits every single note on our “rules list”…except the most important one. I don't know how I heard this song, or what fever dream/alcohol fueled invented memory convinced me of this, but I had a mental image of it playing in my head and over the credits for the New Line dvd boxset of Nightmares 1-7 released in 1999. Here’s the problem with that:
New Line Cinema, copyright holders of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film franchise, sued DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's record label for copyright infringement, forcing the label to destroy a music video produced for the song. Both sides eventually settled out of court. But as a result, vinyl pressings of the album He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper contain a disclaimer sticker that says, "[This song] is not part of the soundtrack...and is not authorized, licensed, or affiliated with the Nightmare on Elm Street films."
New Line wanted NO part of it, and I'm a crazy person. I had argued for this one to actually be higher on the list, as it invokes the title character by name, and recreates scenes and lines from a few movies. In its place, we offer up the actual soundtrack featured Freddy's Coming by Fat Boys, a deplorable "rap" song and even worse music video that Freddy does feature in. It's on the soundtrack for Freddy's Dead or Dream Child... who cares. Go listen to "My Street" and just pretend like I have been. - Josh
I'm cutting in and cementing My Street in this spot, not Freddy's Coming. Jazz and The Prince tower over Fat Boys in every respect. The mere fact that there was an actual video suppressed by New Line and a lawsuit was involved is enough to take the FULL number eight spot. - Jim
Let’s try that whole “part IV” soundtrack thing again shall we? Tuesday Knight replaced (let me hold my lunch in here…) “Oscar Winning Actress, Patricia Arquette” as one of the three survivors from Dream Warriors, Kristen Parker. Tuesday offers an older, more mature take on the character and endures much more hardship (spoiler alert, she gets offed by Freddy in the first half horror). She also gives us the memorable ballad playing over the credits, catching the viewer up with Kristen’s flight thus far, “Running From This Nightmare.” She was right on the nose with the line “He hasn’t got me…yet.” - Josh
The Lost Boys is, in my opinion, the best vampire movie ever made. That's right. EVER. You have The Coreys, Pre-Jack Bauer Keifer, Jason Patric (when he wasn't courting Sandra Bullock), and a hot Jami Gertz. Combine that with a song that perfectly captures the feel, tone, and passion of the movie and I'll tell you what, you have yourself one great tune. It was so memorable that they re-recorded it for Lost Boys: The Tribe. Throw a rock (or in this case, type in a YouTube search) and you'll hit a cover. - Jim
That's right, folks. The GOO GOO DOLLS recorded the theme for one of Freddy's flicks. It plays over the opening credits (and even the New Line logo). The music video features the early GGD, complete with long metal hair, watching Freddy's Dead. Naturally they fall asleep and Freddy tries to get them. They wake up in time... not without a little twist. My love for Goo Goo Dolls aside, you get that weird transitional period where it's the early 90s and bands are still going for the late 80s sound, complete with lyrics directly describing a battle against Freddy. It's weird, but it somehow works. Plus, it was legit the only positive thing about that movie I can think of. - Jim
The Friday franchise (no, not Ice Cube) had songs, some very obscure, for almost every one of their movies. But this is IT. This, as far as I'm concerned, IS Jason's theme. The song plays during the end credits, and the entire movie is peppered with Alice Cooper, with at least two (2) other songs. The song is so tied into both the franchise and character of Jason, you could listen to the lyrics and know what the franchise is about. Hell, the song even involves the chi-chi-chi-ha-ha-ha noises. The music video is complete cuckoo bananas. Alice Cooper lets his son go on a date to the movies. At one point, Jason flies on a jungle rope through the screen, only to be revealed as Alice Cooper himself. The movie becomes the music video itself and soon enough, Alice Cooper locks his son and son's date in a giant cage. But, of course Cooper gets taken away by Jason anyway. Like I said, cuckoo bananas. - Jim
This may seem very high to some of you... maybe all of you, but let me state my case. Nick Cave's Red Right Hand was first used in Scream in a smaller way. If you listen to it, it matches the ambiance of the trilogy, more specifically the first of the franchise. Then, throw in the meaning of the "Red Right Hand," within the context of a murdering psychopath. Fits, huh? That wasn't enough, though. It returns in Scream 2, now remixed for the soundtrack. So, now you have a song that is becoming quickly associated with the film(s), someone else has taken it and remixed it. Come Scream 3, and it is re-recorded BY Nick Cave. This time, he adds lyrics specific to the franchise in, "scream once, scream twice, now scream again... now cover that face with your red right hand." Three films. Three different versions. All creepy as fuck. For those three, they GET the number three. - Jim
Before I let Josh take it away, I'll say this. Dream Warriors was MY number one pick. The fact that this is the ONLY horror song I've ever heard loudly sung at bars, done for karaoke, and the most likely song to be known by a non-horror fan... that's why I placed it at number one. Here, it only makestwo. - Jim
A few things here and then a GREAT story;
I realize the top ten is mostly Nightmare dominated. It just worked out that way, using the criteria we did. I didn't plan it. The movies and the songs are also just that good/catchy. Do you remember Michael Myers in many music videos? Me either. Freddy is a goofy team player, and he likes to get down. While Dream Warriors was on MY initial list (number 3 or 4 I think), this was Jim’s number one. In battling for my top spot (we'll get there, don't worry!) we made a friendly wager. I was so convinced I was right, that I risked the 1, 2 (pun intended) spots on it. The wager was to google “what’s the song from Nightmare On Elm Street?” and see which one popped up first. We even tried it with the wording “from Nightmare On Elm Street 3?” and “from Nightmare On Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors”. And what happened is MY reasoning for why Dream Warriors (the song, not the movie) wasn’t my top pick.
Dream Warriors is a great song (and a better movie). If you, like me, and 15 other people, attend a 2015 Dokken concert, they're likely to call out, “hey, you guys remember the third Freddy Krueger movie? Here’s the song we made for it!” But there’s another better Dokken song that DOMINATES the conversation and the google search results. It’s second only to my number one pick.
Into the Fire – Dokken’s first or second biggest hit plays TWICE during the movie, and not just in the background, but as part of the scene/deliberately put on by Kristen trying to stay awake (while drinking diet caffeine free pepsi…cause Patricia Arquette made poor decisions even then). - Josh
(It's true. The hell was she thinking? Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi. You had ONE JOB ARQUETTE!) - Jim
As the criteria went, the song with repetition is Fire and not Warriors. Despite a kickass music video featuring shots from the movie, and Freddy himself interacting with the band, the song doesn't even play once during the movie. It plays over the credits and I'm sure closed out an excited theater to an eerie new hit. – Josh
You're either going to LOVE or hate this choice, but I can damn sure defend it.
In talking about the list with Jim and a few friends initially on Facebook, I immediately staked my claim that this would be number one (assuming the Halloween theme wasn't gonna be in the running). I was met with, “that’s not a song, it’s spoken dialog.”
Determined to make my case, I began some serious research and presenting a case for the defense. Here is what I came up using both the agreed upon rules, definition of “song”, and my old friend, wikimotherfuckingpedia.
My first line of contention/defense was the claim that this wasn't a song, it was “spoken dialog." In Nightmare parts 1 and 3, Nancy and Tina/Nancy and Kristen, speak the words flatly, in quoting the “song." They make mention of the little girls singing the song/the song being sung in their dreams. This shows me that the little girls were “singing” and Nancy and co were “reciting words.” The song is also called “an old nursery rhyme to keep the boogeyman away.”
Upon wiki-ing the whole nursery rhyme thing, I found out that the “song” is actually a twisted take on One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. Sadly, I didn't know that previously, likely because I don't even know the words to Shoe past that point, and haven't heard anyone say it since 1989. Wiki clarified that nursery rhymes can be spoken/written word, or songs or lullabies.
My next argument was none other than Pitch Perfect. Stay with me on this one. In the Pitch Perfect universe, Anna Kendrick performs Cups as an “original song,” and in the sequel, the new girl does this with Jesse J’s Flashlight. In universe, these are fictional/original songs made up on the fly, sung acapella. Being as both of these were “acca-cepted”, the little ghost girls are therefore “acapella singing” the ol One, Two. Don't judge me, I have a 12 year old sister who was 9 when the first movie came out, and I've had girlfriends drag me to these things. If it wins me an argument, it’s worth it! - Josh
Okay, this is where I step in. Jim, that is. Looking back, I wish I would've made the rule it had to be a well defined, commercially released song. I didn't, and he manipulated that gosh darn loophole. Then, to my surprise (and dismay), I lost the "Google bet." To me, it's not a song. No matter his weird "acca-arguments," (see, i can do that too, jackass), if he doesn't exploit the loophole, this doesn't stand. However, if you look for the definition of a nursery rhyme, it reads: a simple traditional song or poem for children. So, as per the rules... and the bet I lost... this is your number one. God damn it. - Jim
The next point was to take it the rules, and take it to the rules I did!
1. (Josh rule) Iconic? – it doesn't get much more iconic than a song synonymous not just with one movie or one character, but an entire franchise/the Halloween season. It plays over the loudspeakers at Six Flags during Fright Fest, and I’ve heard it “in season” while buying cheap horror movies at FYE. People who don't know the name “Nancy Thompson,” know the words to the “Freddy Song” to scare a sibling/small child.
2. (Jim rule) Direct connection to either movie or character – again, this connects directly to EVERY movie in the franchise and the title character by name/plot synopsis. The only possible contenders I could have seen would have been the Halloween Theme or Ghostbusters and neither made it onto our list due to Rules 4 and 5.
3. (Josh rule) Repetition: How often does it play/do we hear it directly or about it? – it repeats multiple times per movie, in each movie, is spoken as regular dialog, and plays over most of the credits.
4. (Jim rule) No scores. (If we included scores, all the regular music would probably get knocked out.) – It sadly knocks out the accompanying “dreamscape theme,” aka my favorite movie score ever, but the words and haunting melody stay in contention.
5. (Josh rule) Strictly full, 100% horror movies. - definitely a horror movie. There isn't much more frightening than little ghost girls and a sing-song nursery rhyme about death – and not one of the standard nursery rhymes about death but hiding it behind innocence. This one tells you flat out, FREDDY’S COMING FOR YOU!
So there went my mic drop. Google agreed. What say the rest of you? – Josh