Although Horror-movie-wise, I am usually more scared of ghost-stories, I love me a good monster in a movie. Now, the problem is obviously that it’s hard to come up with a good monster that not only is creepy, has an interesting backstory (or at least hints at an interesting backstory) and hasn’t been regurgitated hundreds of times before. There is also the big messy problem of over-exposure that a lot of directors and their monster-specialists do and that hurts the ultimate result. There’s a pretty nifty movie about a mermaid/siren called “She Creature” (yeah, that’s unintentionally tacky) which has – SPOILER ALERT – a beautiful mermaid morphing into her true form at the end of the movie and half-way through she looks really terrifying and then turns into an overly ambitious, fake-looking weirdo-monster that was supposedly the wet-dream of the mask-designer. Less is more with monsters.
Anyways, after this mini-rant (there will probably be more to come), let’s see what kind of monster-songs I picked to scare you out of your minds!
1. Dead Man’s Bones – My body’s a zombie for you
To be clear here, I could have featured a Dead Man’s Bones-song in each list but didn’t want to overdo it, even though I love this apparently one-off project of Zach Shields and Ryan Gosling. This song is one of my favourite love-songs and it’s a lot of fun to sing.
Now, zombies are a weird phenomenon. What initially started as a mainly hoodoo-myth of people controlling other people or even the dead, turned into the Romero-thing where they apparently were forbidden to run (I still think that running zombies are more scary and as Romero is not the father of the zombie-myth, I will refuse to take his definition as as dogma). I guess the zombie is interesting because it covers a lot of fears for us: The fear of dying, of rotting, of losing control over your mind, of cannibalism and deadly viruses. A zombie is a whole carnival of phobias. Most zombie-movies unfortunately don’t really deal with those as successfully as I’d like them to but now and then, a convincing, chilling piece makes it and even manages to turn the old cliches around. If you want to see a very disturbing but amazing zombie-inspired movie, I really recommend “The Signal” to you which deals more with…well, not gonna spoil that one.
2. TV on the Radio – Wolf like Me
Now, the werewolf is a less complicated monster because it only deals with the mind vs. body-dichotomy that church and some stupid philosophers established. Man fears the animal inside and the possibility that he can’t control it, hence ruining good shirts and trousers every time he rips them apart as he turns into a wolf. It’s less sexual than the blood-sucking vampire, although the fact that apparently, a werewolf’s bite spreads the virus could lean into the same direction. In the 16th century, there was a man called Peter Stumpp who killed and ate people and apparently led to the first rush of werewolf-hunting in Europe because as today, people still can’t believe that a human being would be capable of such atrocities.
Man, people were and still are naive as hell.
3. The Slackers – The Mummy
To be honest, I never watched one movie about a mummy that was scary. There is something about the whole wrapped-up-in-linen-thing that turns the undead into something slightly stupid looking. But the way mummies were prepared back in the days…that’s actually weird and fascinating. I loved to hear about the whole procedure where they pulled the brain out of the nostrils with a hook. Kid’s love that stuff. I’ve been to a museum in London once and saw an actual fish-mummy which to this day is one of my coolest things I’ve ever seen. It was a tiny fish wrapped in gauze…
4. Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla
I think one of the reasons why monster-movies are not that scary is the fact that you need a ton of convincing special effects to make it believable. Now, Ray Harryhausen was a master of his art and his work in the movie “The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms” (1953) was something I saw as a very young kid but could still remember years later because it looked so cool and realistic.
The Japanese “Godzilla”-movies on the other hand…well. But hey, they were very entertaining and made for some awesome spoofs.
5. Com Truise – Smily Cyclops
Another one of Harryhausen’s creatures was the cyclops in “The 7th Voyage of Sindbad”. I never really found the detail of the one eye scary (I’d say it is less scary than a two-eyed giant because of the disadvantages in vision with only one eye) but the fact that that guy ate people. I had this one dream as a kid where a giant would eat my friends and squash one in his hands. Who cares about one freaking eye when it’s attached to a giant?
6. The Chameleons – Swamp Thing
I think Alan Moore did a nice re-imagination of “The Swamp Thing-comics in the 80s and it’s a great basis for environmental concerns but also alienation from society. Personally, the fact that ST never really was a villain but a tragic modern-day version of The Beast (as in “The beauty and…”), I never found it very compelling. I want evil things cowering under my bed, no green, slightly smelly mess that has emotional issues. I had enough of that after the infamous broccoli-soup-poisoning incident a couple of years ago…
7. Motörhead – Boogeyman
Now THAT! Is an amazing monster. The boogeyman works because nearly every culture has one, the dark is a fear that most kids experienced and most adults somewhat still harbor. What’s lying in the shadows, what’s hiding in the closet? One of the most compelling things about the boogeyman is the fact that it has no real defined form, so it is whatever scares you the most. It is every noise in the dark, every motion in the corner of your eye, every feeling of being watched. It’s the ultimate fear.
8. Ozzy Osbourne – Hellraiser
I know that Motörhead did this song too but Zakk Wylde kills it on the Ozzy-version. Now, Clive Barker is one of the greatest horror writers (gory as hell, lots of social commentary and his monsters are the greatest) and despite the “Hellraiser”-series having gone downhill since the third movie (there’s been a cenobite that threw with CDs, I am not making this up), the concept of the Cenobites itself is pretty brilliant. One of my favourite Barker-stories, though, is actually “In the Hills, the Cities” which will never be made into a movie because it’s impossible (the visuals described in the story are astonishing, horrifying and simply insane).
Oh, and in case you don’t believe me about the worst Cenobites ever…
Oh my god, there is a make-up-tutorial for that one on youtube. Why the hell would you want to be dressed up as the shittiest cenobite ever? Also, this reminds me of that one scene in “Shaun of the Dead”.
9. Rocky Horror Picture Show – Over at the Frankenstein Place
I remember inadvertently watching “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as a kid and not getting any of it. I just thought it was weird and even a little boring. A couple of years later, in the midst of my puberty-ridden-teenage-years I discovered it again and fell in love because it was so weird, theatrical and absurd (and because I was a late bloomer, I totally ignored all the sexual contents and I still don’t know how I did that because this musical is pretty much all sexual content). I could sing along and I remember that a class-mate once grabbed my walkman (yep, back in the days it was still a walkman) to see what I was listening to…he was disturbed to say the least because all he listened to was Hip Hop and well, racy musicals are not really something for everyone.
10. Laura Veirs – ” King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O”
Another monster that I don’t find particularly scary but I remember that I felt really bad for King Kong when he died in the end and I guess that’s the true meaning of the whole story – we can hope that humanity never finds all the wonders still hidden in the world because we sure will exploit and kill them.
By the way, this song is from Veir’s album “Tumble Bee”, a collection of children’s songs .
11. Bat for Lashes – Siren Song
I might not think that giant apes and lizards are scary movie monsters but sirens are a whole other deal. There is a terror in luring people into their deaths that I loved since I read my first Irish folk tales where fairies and spectres are not the cute little Disney-creatures but almost always have something sinister in mind. The siren is especially daunting because it basically takes your wits and controls you, so it can feed on you. At the same time, it is so powerful and beautiful that it defies the notion of the ugly woman as the witch, ghoul, spirit and medusa to scare men to death.
12. John Martyn – Fairy Tale Lullaby
I have no idea where people got the idea from that fairies are sweet and adorable. Even in “Peter Pan”, Tinkerbell is a horrible psycho and wants to kill Wendy (seriously, she convinces the lost boys that Wendy is a dangerous bird so they shoot her which they actually do!). In folktales, fairies are – even though sometimes helpful – mostly vindictive, dangerous and just mean. They take human children and replace them with their own (changelings, as they are called), they lure people into the dark, they steal, they are nasty. And yet, they hardly ever feature in any good horror movies (there’s one called “The other Daughter” with Kevin Costner which is not bad and there is obviously the fairies in “Pan’s Labyrinth” but they are good creatures there, so that doesn’t count). Don’t believe the hype, people, Tinkerbell would cut your throat if you gave her the opportunity!
13. Gnarls Barkley – The Boogie Monster
As weird as Cee-Lo Green might appear as a person (that dude had a freaking bird on his shoulder during his show “The Voice” once), he is one of the freaks that music needs. Zappa would have loved that guy. It took me some time to realize that not Danger Mouse but Cee-Lo adds the true genius to Gnarls Barkley (after I found out that everything that Danger Mouse produces/does sounds pretty much the same).
Welp, that ends my not too long list of monster songs, so let me say goodbye with one of the greatest and creepiest movie-monsters of all time:
What other horrific song choices did I list up?