The sacred art of the Horror Musical is a difficult thing to pull off. It’s understandably pretty difficult to build suspense when you have to break into a song and dance number every couple of minutes. Well, today we’re going to be looking at ten films that create the balance flawlessly, well maybe not flawlessly, but all of these movies deserve a revisit and are worth the time of any horror or musical fan.
10. Stage Fright (2014)
This film is the most recent entry on the list but it still has left quite the impact. Stage Fright has been described as Scream meets Glee and that’s sounds about right. We open the film with Minnie Driver who plays a Broadway singer who is murdered by a masked killer. Ten years later, her daughter and son work at a summer camp with a bunch of kids who sing songs claiming that they’re all gay but “not in that way”. The camp is then stalked by a similar masked killer. Oh yeah, Meat Loaf is also in it, for whatever it’s worth.
9. Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)
Basically this film is about Jesus Christ coming back to earth only to be accosted by hoards of bloodsucking vampires. You would think that a movie titled Jesus Christ Vampire hunter would be offensive, but it’s far too silly to be insulting and if you are offended you’re just an idiot. This is defiantly a “so bad it’s good” type of film but it’s still worth a watch.
8. The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
The Happiness of the Katakuris is a dreamlike horror-comedy in the farce tradition, which includes claymation sequences, dance numbers, a karaoke-style sing-along scene, and several fantasy sequences. Directed by Japan’s prolific shock auteur Takashi Miike, the film is a gleefully morbid story about a family of oddballs who open an inn in the mountains. Love it or hate it, such a feat of highly manic cinematic imagination simply must be seen.
7. Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
Cannibal! The Musical (also known as Alferd Packer: The Musical) was written, directed, produced, co-scored by and starred Trey Parker before gaining fame with South Park alongside his pal Matt Stone who also stars in and produced the film. It’s loosely based on a factual story and the distasteful details of a trip from Utah to Colorado that left five travelers dead and partially eaten. The DVD contains a “Drunken Director’s Commentary” where Stone and Parker get drunk as they watch the film. If you’re a South Park fan then you should definitely give this a watch.
6. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
Poultrygeist follows a group of folks inside a New Jersey fried chicken joint that is being attacked by chicken-possessed zombie demons. Does that sound absurd? Well, it is, and it’s completely awesome! The film may be persistently tasteless and juvenile, but it’s charm overrides anything negative you could say about it.
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical came to the big screen courtesy of the hit-or-miss director Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen and Alan Rickman. Resentful at having been mistakenly imprisoned and determined to seek retribution against his accusers due to the harsh fate that befell his wife and daughter while he was incarcerated, ex-convict Sweeny Todd (Depp) returns to his hometown and opens a barber shop. He then starts treating his costumes to extremely close shaves…if you know what we mean. Johnny Depp actually performed all his vocals himself, and while his voice wasn’t that great, it suited its purpose. This is grand-scale studio-work at its most captivating.
4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
This low-budget freak show/cult classic follows the misadventures of Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) and Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) inside a strange mansion that they come across on a rainy night. The film is pure queer celebration that manages to concoct a peculiar cocktail of sincerity and reckless abandon. Love it or hate, you’ll likely never forget it.
3. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Probably the most popular entry on the list. Little Shop of Horrors follows a florist shop worker who raises a vicious, raunchy plant that feeds on human blood. Watching Rick Moranis as Seymour, the nerdy florist getting tormented by the vulgar plant is always a hoot. Ellen Greene as Audrey, the sweet and ditsy object of Seymour’s affections was also the object of all of our affection. The film also features one of the best sadist vs. masochist comedic portrayals of all time with Steve Martin as a dentist who takes a little much pleasure in causing pain to his patients and Bill Murray as his patient who is hilariously into that sort of thing. A true classic.
2. Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
This horror-rock opera musical directed by Darren Lynn Bousman is based on the 2002 play, The Necromerchant’s Debt and the 2002 musical of the same name. The film follows a dystopia Earth that has been overwhelmed by unfathomable and widespread organ failures, and as a result scientists begin planning an extensive organ harvest. This film is an orgy of blood, gore, and guts set to heavy rock. The films visuals are very unsettling and certainly not aimed to those with a weak stomach. Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley and, yes, even Paris Hilton all pull their weight.
1. Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Initially, Brian De Palma’s horror musical foray was a box office failure and was panned by critics but it has since acquired a huge cult following. In a nutshell, the story is about a music writer (the Phantom) who terrorizes the concert hall (The Paradise) of an evil record producer who stole his masterpiece. This film has everything a cult classic needs: unconventional plotting, strange characters (watch out for Gerrit Graham as Beef), wacky costumes and a rocking soundtrack. If you don’t enjoy this movie then it’s safe to say that you’re not a fan of horror musicals in general.
While we didn’t discuss in detail how impressive all the actual musical numbers and soundtracks are, we encourage all of you to hop on Netflix and gives these films a try.