For a long time, now, there has been this imaginary line about eight miles wide that has separated the world of horror films and the world of musical movies. Fans on either side would vehemently deny that the two worlds ever could or should exist in the same space at the same time. As a fan of both genres, I always found that a little sad. Now understand, I don’t ever want to see a Glee-esque dance number in the next Halloween film. I don’t want to hear Freddy Kreuger, or any of his colleagues, setting up the next kill with a ballad, but there had to be a place where the two could meet without being completely ridiculous, or at the very least, in a way where the ridiculous could be embraced in all its camp glory. Luckily, there are others out there who have the means, money and desire to see such films exist and here are a few of my favorite horror musicals!
Phantom of the Paradise
A crazed madman whose head has been smashed in a record press, a young ingenue who is trying to get her big break in the theater, a transvestite front man named Beef, and a record producer/club owner who sold his soul to the devil to achieve fame. Put them all together and you have Phantom of the Paradise, a disco/rock retelling of Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux. Sure, it’s pure camp from start to finish, but everyone needs a little camp in their lives and this one has got at least a year’s supply. I don’t want to give too much away because some things just have to be seen to be appreciated but I am including a scene here that will give you an idea of what you’re in for when you sit down to take it in. It was recently given a Blu Ray release and I highly recommend it. Fans of Argento’s Suspiria will recognize Jessica Harper in the cast list, playing the role of Phoenix, the aforementioned ingenue. Take a few minutes to watch the scene, the death at the end is great and it will give you a good feel for the movie.
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Repo: The Genetic Opera
In the future, the human race has experienced an epidemic of organ failures. Thankfully, a company named Geneco is there to save the day. They provide the organs and surgeries to keep your body working just the way it should…as long as you can keep make your payments. If you can’t, well, they send the Repo Man to take back their property. He’s not a surgeon. He’s not really concerned about sewing you back up and making sure you’re going to survive the procedure. He’s just going to take back what belongs to his company and leave you to die. With a rocking soundtrack and a cast that includes everyone from Paris Hilton to Paul Sorvino; Bill Moseley to Anthony Head; and even classical crossover star, Sarah Brightman, Repo: The Genetic Opera is a gorefest you can rock out to!
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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
One of the bloodies musicals ever written for the stage became a box office smash and international film sensation with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter taking point on a cast of stars that includes Alan Rickman, Jamie Campbell Bower and Timothy Spall. Benjamin Barker aka Sweeney Todd is out for revenge against the judge who had him wrongfully transported to Australia (in a time when the continent was used as a prison) so the judge could try to get into Sweeney’s wife’s bed. Sweeney sneaks back into the country and begins to plot his revenge while renting a room over Mrs. Lovett’s failing meat pie shop. To make ends meet, he decides to start up his barber business again, but when he has to kill a former employee who recognizes him, he and Mrs. Lovett hatch a plan to not only lure the judge into Sweeney’s trap, but also to save Mrs. Lovett’s shop. It’s really very simple…just kill a few of his customers from time to time and use their bodies to supply the meat for the pies. It was amazing to watch Johnny embrace this role. It’s a difficult one to play and sing and he does a masterful job.
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The Devil’s Carnival
At only 56 minutes long, The Devil’s Carnival is the shortest offering in the list, but it’s a great one if you have an hour to kill and want a film that is both surreal and thought provoking. The premise is an old one, but done well. Lost souls are faced with the sins they committed in life when they enter the Devil’s Carnival. The cast is almost entirely unknown, but they play their parts well and the movie is one that give you genuine creeps as the characters navigate their way through their own personal hells.
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These are just a few of the great titles available on DVD and Blu Ray at the moment for this entertaining blended genre. Do yourself a favor and give them a try, if you haven’t already. You just might end up a fan like me!