“Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus ▴ The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
“Goodbye Horses” will to be forever be synonymous with serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. It’s also the perfect choice for karaoke where you can really get into character – simply strip naked, tuck away your bits and then give it your best sexual desirability dance. Or “…Baby One More Time.” Up to you.
“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds ▴ Scream (1996)
Wes Craven’s Scream was an unexpected smasher of a slasher that redefined the horror genre completely. Its most iconic song “Red Right Hand” was a shoo-in on the soundtrack for its all-out ominous vibe, sharing a similar storyline about a spooky figure who wreaks bloody havoc and will “appear out of nowhere but he ain’t what he seems.”
“I Want Your (Hands on Me)” by Sinéad O’Connor ▴ A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
This underrated song by Sinéad O’Connor appears twice in this surprisingly watchable surreal sequel. A big downer for Debbie in this A Nightmare on Elm Street death scene as she is unlucky enough to be turned into a cockroach and crushed by Krueger. Lucky for us the song plays in the end credits too.
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival ▴ An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The definite werewolf transformation sequence ever made is set up nicely with these jaunty lyrics that basically spell out what’s about to happen. There is a bad moon rising and we’re told, “don’t go around tonight, well, it’s bound to take your life…” It was even the scene that inspired Michael Jackson to make “Thriller.”
“In Dreams” by Roy Orbison ▴ Blue Velvet (1986)
This surrealist scene is a total nightmare, albeit a beautifully composed one, complete with a dreamy Orbison ballad. You can’t help but empathise with poor Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) remembering those times when you should’ve just gone home but stayed out way past your bedtime and ended up with a bunch of absolute loons.
“Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donavan ▴ Zodiac (2007)
“Hurdy Gurdy Man” by the Scotsman Donovan is a hippy-dippy tune about a hurdy-gurdy player and his roly-poly pal “singing songs of love,” (a hurdy-gurdy is an odd bagpipe/violin type instrument). Juxtaposed with the mindless murder on screen in that Zodiac scene the tonality of the tune changes in our minds forever.
“Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim ▴ Insidious (2010)
Could this be the scariest song ever? There’s something so sinister about the singer “waiting by the window” to go “tiptoeing through the tulips.” Or is there? The song was originally intended to be a romantic one, but its presence in Insidious has turned it into music you’d imagine demons like sharpen their claws to.