We all know how critical it is for horror films to have the right music at the right moments in order to achieve the appropriate reaction. Sometimes the proper music is something which, on its own, is a happy and cheerful song. Such songs can be deliberately juxtaposed against violent imagery in a bit of irony, while others can be turned on their heads and twisted into something foreboding. Here are ten examples of happy songs used to great effect in horror movies.
Lord of Illusions – “Magic Moments” by Erasure
The underworld of magic is a disturbing, dangerous place. Lord of Illusions is filled with the kind of bodily horror and dances with the dark side that one can expect in a Clive Barker film. To balance this out with a dose of happiness, the director tapped Erasure to make a cheerful classic even more sugary sweet by covering this track originally made famous by Perry Como. The song plays as Harry D’Amour enters the Magic Castle, providing a jarringly pleasant break from the horror surrounding it. [youtube id=”uA3nOOZnyDQ” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
Halloween series – “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes
“Sandman, I’m so alone. Don’t have nobody to call my own.” Well, those lonesome nights are over, and you’re going to wish they weren’t. This classic received new, creepy life in the Michael Myers franchise. Trick ‘r Treaters are woefully unaware of the terror that awaits them on Halloween night. Mr. Sandman didn’t bring a dream—he brought a nightmare (sorry, couldn’t resist). [youtube id=”oNuX7bs2qAM” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
Insidious – “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim
Let’s face it, this song is kooky to begin with, but that’s part of its charm. It’s the record of choice for a demonic entity lurking in The Further, the astral projection no-man’s land where Dalton is trapped. The cheeriness in Tiny Tim’s warbly high-pitched vocals is a stark contrast to the evil that haunts the film’s family. “Come tiptoe through the tulips with me” now sounds like an invitation no one should answer. [youtube id=”_eQQKVKjifQ” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
American Psycho – “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News
Do you like Huey Lewis and the News? Patrick Bateman sure does, and he wants to provide a thorough explanation for his appreciation of this band just before he slams an axe into Paul Allen’s face. The music blares on his state-of-the-art CD player while he dresses in a raincoat and gingerly shuffles across the floor with his axe. It’s a darkly comic scene, and when Bateman violently unleashes his fury while the catchy song keeps playing in the background, it’s both unnervingly humorous and horrifying. [youtube id=”LB5YkmjalDg” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
Fallen – “Time is On My Side” by The Rolling Stones
A serial killer is executed, and among his final words are the lyrics to this classic rock track. Later, when Detective Hobbes begins to hear these lyrics sung by random people around him, it becomes clear that something supernatural is happening. This song serves as a cue of sorts, used to chilling effect to alert Hobbes (and the viewers) that someone may not be who they seem. [youtube id=”wbMWdIjArg0″ align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
More horrific happiness on the next page!