Movie soundtracks are just as important as the quality of the script, acting and directing. As such, using the perfect song at the right time can leave a lasting impact on audiences. However, unlike other genres, the songs used in horror films often turn the innocent into terrifying and give beloved tunes a nightmarish quality. As a follow-up to CBR’s 10 Innocent Songs Ruined by Horror Movies, here are ten more songs that the genre left a delightfully twisted mark on.
“867-5309/Jenny” – Jennifer’s Body
Tommy Tutone’s one-hit-wonder made a splash upon its release in 1981. Not only did it top Billboard charts, but it also led to thousands of people dialing the phone number and, of course, asking for Jenny. While a generally uplifting tune about scoring a woman’s number, 2009’s Jennifer’s Body used “867-5309/Jenny” to chilling effect. After linking up with the struggling Indie rock band Low Shoulder, Jennifer (Megan Fox) follows them into the woods, where they sacrifice her to the Devil for a shot at fame. As Jennifer desperately cries for help, the band breaks out into a rendition of “867-5309” in a terrifying yet comedic play on her name. However, it’s not the end of Jennifer, who finds new life as a boy-eating demon.
“American Girl” – The Silence of the Lambs
Three decades after its 1991 release, The Silence of the Lambs remains one of horror’s most disturbing and beloved films. While Buffalo Bill’s infamous dance to Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” is certainly memorable, the film opens with Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith) jamming to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” in her car. Little does she know that Buffalo Bill is watching her approach with night vision goggles. It’s after this that he lures her into his van and brings her back to his basement and little dog Precious, kicking off Silence of the Lambs‘ main story. While nothing scary actually happens when “American Girl” plays, the anticipation of the horror to come makes the song synonymous with the film.
The Moon Songs – An American Werewolf in London
John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London is a beloved horror-comedy with werewolf transformations that still hold up more than four decades later. Given the film’s comedic nature, it couldn’t resist using a trio of songs that doubled as lycanthropy puns. An American Werewolf in London follows two American backpackers after they are attacked by a werewolf while traveling abroad in England. During the supernatural tale, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s highly-covered “Blue Moon,” Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” all play to great effect while hammering home the whole werewolf versus full moon predicament.
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Halloween
In 1978, director John Carpenter revolutionized the slasher subgenre with his enduring classic Halloween. While the main Halloween theme remains a genre favorite, it’s not the only soundtrack addition that terrified audiences. After Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) chillingly informs the cemetery caretaker that Michael Myers “came home,” the scene transitions to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Annie (Nancy Kyes) sneaking cigarettes on the drive home from school. Unbeknownst to them, Michael lurks behind them in a car as Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” plays softly over the radio. While it’s a subtle moment, the song foreshadows Laurie and her friends’ fateful run-in with Michael to come.
“School’s Out” – Scream
While many associate Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” with Wes Craven’s Scream franchise (and for good reason), one could argue “School’s Out” was expertly used to comedic effect. In 1996’s Scream, the principal cancels school with Ghostface’s murder spree picking up in Woodsboro. Shortly after, Ghostface takes advantage of the empty school and kills the principal, played by the legendary Henry Winkler. After, Alice Cooper’s hit 1972 song plays in irony, highlighting Scream‘s comedic and meta take on the slasher genre.
“Free Bird” – The Devil’s Rejects
A follow-up to Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects sees Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig and Bill Moseley reprise their roles as the deranged Firefly family as they go on the run from Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe). In true Rob Zombie fashion, the events that follow are brutal, gruesome and often darkly funny. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” closes the film with a literal bang as the Fireflys engage in a bloody Bonnie and Clyde-style sequence.
“Tusk” – Tusk
Kevin Smith’s Tusk is a divisive film in the horror community. However, whether audiences hate to love it or love to hate it, the use of Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 song “Tusk” is the perfect fit for the dark horror-comedy. With genre regulars like Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment, Tusk follows Wallace (Long), an eager and arrogant podcaster who travels deep into Canada to interview a reclusive old man (Michael Parks) with a troubling obsession with walruses. The story that follows is truly bizarre and genuinely complemented by “Tusk’s” roaring drum beat.
“We Belong Together” – Christine
In 1983, horror master Stephen King published Christine, the story of a possessed car that corrupts its new, teenage owner Arnie. That same year, John Carpenter adapted the novel for the big screen. Much like his book counterpart, when Keith Gordon’s Arnie gets the hots for Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), Christine — Arnie’s 1958 Plymouth Fury — isn’t happy. In a terrifying moment of jealousy, Christine’s supernatural abilities startle Leigh, causing her to choke. As the girl struggles with the locked door handles, Robert & Johnny’s “We Belong Together” plays over the radio. While Arnie ultimately saves Leigh, the song is a chilling reminder of Christine’s growing power and jealousy.
“Mr. Sandman” – Halloween II
After the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, a sequel released in 1981 that saw Michael Myers resume his killing spree across Haddonfield in pursuit of his final girl and now-sister Laurie Strode. While Halloween spurred chills with “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” Halloween II became synonymous with The Chordettes’ rendition of “Mr. Sandman.” The catchy, upbeat town created a disturbing juxtaposition to Michael’s approach. While Halloween II might be “Mr. Sandman’s” most notable outing, it’s not the only time the film has been used in horror. Bates Motel, the modern prequel to Psycho, also used the song to its benefit in Season 2’s “Gone but Not Forgotten.”
“Run Rabbit Run” – Get Out
Comedian/actor Jordan Peele carved out quite the name for himself in horror with 2017’s Get Out. The film follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a Black man who follows his white girlfriend to her hometown to meet her parents. However, it’s not long before he realizes that the family — and the surrounding suburb — hides a dark secret. Ripe with social commentary and metaphors about racism and the disparity of media and law enforcement’s treatment of missing Black and white people, Get Out opens with a truly chilling scene. Andre (LaKeith Stanfield) is attacked and abducted by a passing car. Throughout the sequence, Flanagan and Allen’s “Run Rabit Run” plays from the car radio, acting a disturbing yet perfect bit of foreshadowing. Considering much of Peele’s films include modern R&B and hip-hop, “Run Rabit Run’s” old-timey vibe creates a sinister contrast.
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