You can only play “ Monster Mash” and Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme so many times at your Halloween party before you scare your guests away. Nobody likes a spooky shindig featuring a tired playlist overstuffed with cliche classic horror tracks everyone uses. Don’t worry though, Nerdoween is here to help your ghoulish gala rise above the usual macabre musical malaise this year. We’ve put together a collection of creepy songs from a source you might not have considered before: horror comedies. Some of our favorite frighteningly funny movies have fantastic, fiendish soundtracks of their own. Here are 12— including great title themes and memorable haunting hits—that will keep your Halloween party rocking this year.
1. An American Werewolf in London – “Traveling to East Proctor/Werewolf Theme”
We’re starting with a song from one of the best horror-comedies of all-time, An American Werewolf in London. The film features a great soundtrack of songs with the word “Moon” in them, but we’re going to set the right one for our party with composer Elmer Bernstein’s super creepy werewolf theme song. No one would go to the moors if they heard this playing. (For the record, avoid all moors in October just out of an abundance of caution.)
2. Shaun of the Dead – “The Blue Wrath”
It’s no surprise Edgar Wright found the perfect track for the opening title sequence of his zombie comedy classic Shaun of the Dead. I Monster’s unsettling “The Blue Wrath,” with its jaunty beat and inhuman “la la la la” lyrics, is a as catchy as a virus.
3. Tremors – “Main Title”
You can easily make your Halloween party a musical success by just putting on the entire Tremors score , but our favorite entry on the soundtrack is composer Ernest Troost’s title track. It’s an unnerving song that builds slowly to a dramatic crescendo. It’s so good your guests would never guess it came from a horror movie that is also hysterical.
4. What We Do in the Shadows – “You’re Dead”
This perfect mockumentary about the banal lives of vampires features a tremendous soundtrack, but we’re obsessed with Norma Tanega’s fantastic pop folk song “You’re Dead.” It’s a fun number that is inherently unnerving thanks to its repeated lyrics that scream Halloween. It’s so good the movie’s spinoff FX series also uses it as its theme. And we never, ever skip the opening credits because of it.
5. The Evil Dead – “Ascent & Infection”
We’re following up one of our most dance-able selections with one of our scariest. It’s one of the many great, terrifying tracks from composer Joseph Loduca’s score for the cult classic The Evil Dead. You can’t go wrong with any part of this soundtrack, but the long notes in the middle of this scary synth song genuinely leave us on edge wondering when the nightmare will end.
6. Zombieland – “For Whom The Bell Tolls”
Metallica’s “Sandman” might be a classic Halloween track, but there’s a reason Zombieland went with this song from the band’s 1984 album Ride the Lightning. It’s dark, heavy, and everyone knows church bells are inherently scary. It’s no mystery why “For Whom the Bell Tolls” remains one of the band’s most popular songs ever.
7. Gremlins – “Too Many Gremlins”
Some of these horror-comedy soundtracks, like composer Jerry Goldsmith’s Gremlins soundtrack, are consistently great. That makes it hard to choose just one song from each. Ultimately we went with “Too Many Gremlins” because of its attention-grabbing start. Plus, even though it is unsettling and weird, it has the perfect energy for a party. It also gets bonus points for its title. We will always laugh at the mere thought of an exhausted character looking at the camera, shrugging their shoulders and sighing, “Too many gremlins.”
8. The Cabin in the Woods – “Last”
As with Metallica, you can make an entire kick-ass Halloween playlist simply from Nine Inch Nail’s songs, so we’re pumped Chris Hemsworth’s meta horror-comedy about a group of friends-turned-test-subjects includes this track. If we were trying to escape a killer cabin in the woods “Last” would help us run through a wall.
9. Killer Klowns From Outer Space – “Hidden Klown Ship”
Since our last track runs the risk of creating a Halloween mosh pit we want to calm things down a little without turning down the creepiness. Composer John Massari’s scary score for the wonderfully absurd Killer Klowns From Outer Space is perfect for that. We could have chosen any of his songs, but we went with “Hidden Klown Ship” because it has an operatic feel to it. The song tells its own frightening story.
10. The Frighteners – “Superstar”
The Frighteners with Michael J. Fox is an underrated classic. As is Sonic Youth’s slow, methodical, very disturbing cover of the classic song “Superstar.” It’s impossible to listen to this without shuddering. This is what ghosts plays when you visit an abandoned rock venue. This is included on playlists for Halloween parties in Hell.
11. Creepshow – “Welcome to Creepshow (Main Title)”
Did you know the word “haunting” was created to describe the sound of a piano? Okay, that might not be true, but it should be. But even beyond the off-putting notes of Creepshow‘s main title from John Harrison’s fantastic score are the theme’s classic Halloween shrieks and cries. Everything about this upsets us, which is why we love it so much.
12. Planet Terror – “Cherry´s Dance Of Death”
Our final track, “Cherry’s Dance of Death” from Grindhouse‘s Planet Terror, is a dynamic instrumental number that’s equal parts rock, mariachi, and horror. Written by director Robert Rodriguez and performed by the Mexican rock band Chingon, it’s the perfect song for both a movie where a woman fights zombies with her machine gun leg and your Halloween party.
Like the rest of this playlist, it’s the perfect way to keep your Halloween party rocking better than anyone else’s.
Originally published October 8, 2018.