The Strangest Brew: Horror Musicals

by Dan Stout


You know, I've never been much of a musical fan.

Just saying...

Just saying...

The genre simply skates over my head. Song and dance numbers confuse me, and I have trouble understanding why anything is happening. Give me e a film about monsters and murder, however, and I can happily settle in for a marathon.

Of course, when I met the love of my life, it turns out she's a musical theater person. As a result, our Netflix queue looks a little... strange

So I thought I'd put together a list of Horror Musicals, to see just how often these forms overlap. I knew that there were a few creators who favored this genre-blend (Tim Burton and Darren Lynn Bouseman, most notably), but I was surprised by the number of film and stage musicals that drift into terrifying waters. 

To be included, the work must be both true Horror and Musical.
This means that you won't find films which have great soundtracks (Suspiria) or set scenes of bands performing (Green Room). The music must be integrated into the performances, and the Horror elements must be essential to the plot and pervasive. 

Of course, there's still a great deal of wiggle room, so if you have a favorite I've left off or want to make a case for a work to be added or dropped, chime in on the comments and let me know.

The list is broken into five sections:

  • Film
  • Stage to Film Adaptations
  • TV
  • Stage
  • Film to Stage Adaptations

Check out the list, and if there's any that I'm missing, or if you have bits of trivia, etc., let me know in the comments.

 

Horror Musical Films

Mad Monster Party  (1967)
The Wicker Man (1973)
Phantom of the Paradise (
1974)
Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire
(1985) YouTube Clip
Stage Fright (1987) [note: I haven't seen the 1987 version of Stage Fright, and don't know whether it's a musical, or just about a musical.]
Cannibal the Musical! (1993
Nightmare Before Christmas (
1993)
Space Freaks from Planet Mutoid (
1995)
Happiness of the Katakuris (
2001)
Dead and Breakfast (
2004)
The Corpse Bride (
2005)
Poultrygeist  (
2006
Repo: The Genetic Opera (
2008)
Suck  (
2009)  [note: haven't seen this one, either. Not sure if it's a musical or just about a band)
The Devil's Carnival (2012)
Ghastly Love of Johnny X  (
2012)
The Dead Inside (
2012)
Stage Fright (
2014)  
Patch Town  (2014)
Alleluia! Devil's Carnival 2 (
2015)
The Lure (
2017)

Horror Musical Films Adapted from Stage Productions

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986 -- adaptation of the 1982 stage musical)
Phantom of the Opera  (
2004 was the adaptation of the 1986 stage musical)
Sweeney Todd (
2007)

Horror Musicals on TV

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Once More, With Feeling" (2001)
Rocky Horror Picture Show (
2016)

Horror Musical Stage Productions

Carmilla: A Vampire's Tale (1970)
Rocky Horror Show (
1974(In many ways, this is a love letter to all things genre. As I said, I'm not a musical person, but Science Fiction - Double Feature remains one of my favorite songs about horror and sci-fi.)
Phantom of the Opera (multiple versions: 1976 & 1986 each had unique music and book; both were adapted from the novel rather than from the earlier films)
Sweeney Todd (1979)
Possessed: The Dracula Musical (
1987)
Jekyll & Hyde
(1990)  StageAgent
Shockheaded Peter  (1998)
Bat Boy (
2002)
Dracula: The Musical (
2004)
Lestat
(Elton John adapts Anne Rice; 2005)
Lizzie: The Musical (Lizzie Borden)  (2009) Website
Vampire Hospital Waiting Room  (2015)
Biting Broadway:  The First Successful Vampire Musical  (2016 reading, no full production that I know of.) 

Horror Musicals Adapted from Films

Little Shop of Horrors (1982)
Carrie: The Musical  (Campy: 1988  Intense: 2012)  StageAgent
Dance of the Vampires (adaptation of Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers)  (1997) YouTube Clip
Witches of Eastwick (2000) (West End cast had Ian McShane as the Devil)
Evil Dead: The Musical (2004) Website
Silence! The Musical!  (2005) (The Silence of the Lambs parody)
Young Frankenstein (2007)
The Toxic Avenger (2008)
Re-Animator  (2011) (http://www.reanimatorthemusical.com/)  (Directed by Stuart Gordon & featuring George Wendt, of Cheers and House fame.)
Spider Baby: The Musical  (2012) (http://www.gam3rcon.com/spider-baby-the-musical.html)
Friday the 13th: The Musical (2013 workshop production; no staged version that I know of)

Honorable Mention: 
Nightmare Before Christmas (The Beverly Hills Playhouse staged a single scene in 2008, but no official version was ever made. This scene is incredible, though: Pumpkin King )

 

Special Thanks! I had huge help building this list from several horror groups on Facebook. Check out the United Nations of Horror, TV Terror, and Horror, Etc. Facebook groups for lots of kind people willing to share their vast horrorific knowledge.

by Dan Stout