HORROR movies, like any other genre, are products of their time. So, naturally, their soundtracks are going to reflect the popular music of the day. This can be a good thing…. or a devastating handicap when the popular music of the day is disco and breakdancing. Yet, many horror flicks of the 1980s managed to get it right. The soundtrack to Halloween is expertly menacing, as were the soundtracks to Dario Argento’s films (thanks in no small part to Goblin). Perhaps one day we’ll look at the ones that did things right, but today we’re looking at the ones who did things oh so terribly wrong.
Graduation Day (1981)
“Everybody Wants to be the Winner”
I don’t know who sings this opening song, but I can only assume it’s a coked up Leo Sayer. Granted, I’m not a horror movie expert, but I think I’m correct in assuming the opening sequence of a horror film shouldn’t incite peals of mocking laughter. I could be wrong.
Friday the 13th: Part 3 (1982)
An excellent song to breakdance to, I’m sure; however, it seems utterly ridiculous as the opening theme to a slasher movie. The rather disturbing head on a table juxtaposed with a beat-box jam is downright laughable. This would have been right at home as the theme to Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, not a horror movie. I suppose you could make the argument that the Friday the 13th films weren’t exactly serious horror films. Whatever the case, this breakdancing opener is still a laugh.
The House on Sorority Row (1983)
Music by 4 Out Of 5 Doctors
The band in the following video clip is “4 Out of 5 Doctors”, who play several songs throughout the film. When you watch this clip, be sure to pay attention to the part where the 3 girls are checking out a “cute” guy who winks at them – this may very well be cinema’s finest moment.
This dude is sporting what was commonly referred to as the “butt cut”. This scene is just priceless – I want to give this dude a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
4 Out of 5 Doctors actually released a few albums, and were Billboard’s “best new band” one month. In an interview with PM Magazine, the band stated their debut record took five years to craft – each day methodically perfecting the ultimate album.
Hmmm…. not quite. They were also the house band in another horror flick, The Boogieman (1980).
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)
“We Live To Rock” by Jon Mikl Thor
You’ve heard the phrase “so bad it’s good.” Well, this is “so bad it’s a blight upon all mankind.” Bodybuilder turned heavy-metal train-wreck, Thor, takes metal music to the absolute bottom of the barrel. Picture the worst songs by Quiet Riot, Ratt, and Twisted Sister all rolled into one. Oddly enough, Thor’s music ends up being the only thing remotely horrifying in the entire film.
The Pod People (1983)
“Burning Rubber Tires”
Repetitive, woefully generic, and best of all, the lyrics are incomprehensible. This would have been terrible on a record, but this embarrassing mess is being filmed, and the results are beyond cringeworthy. The moment at the end when the supposed rock star signals “It Stinks” has become something of an iconic moment among B-movie nerds. Most of the notoriety of “Hear the Engines Roll Now” is owed to Mystery Science Theatre 3000 who parodied it brilliantly.
For those wanting to read the lyrics (and I’m assuming that’s literally everyone reading this article), here they are in their entirety. You’re welcome.
With a fickle mind we kick the nickel beer
Steady as a goat, we’re flying over trout.
Ghetto down the highway at the speed of light;
All I want to feel now is the wind in my eyes.
Sack of monkeys in my pocket
My sister’s ready to go.
Hear the engine roar now
Idiot control now
Hideous control now
Ninny on the road now.
Minnie in control, wheel’s on fire, burning rubber tires.
Leer at jelly rolls now
Hiddy let’s it go now
Ninny inches po down
Pityin’ a po’ boy
Hear the engines roar, bees on pie, burning rubber tires.