If you are planning a musical Halloween themed party, or if you just know that between socializing with guests and answering the door you won’t be able to concentrate on a serious horror movie, then musical Halloween movies are a great way to add to the festivities without having to watch every moment. I warn you now these movies for the most part are not intended to be scary, are not necessarily for children and in some cases they are just plain weird. In order of release:
Hillbillys In A Haunted House (1967) – I must admit I had never heard of this movie until I began seeking out Halloween musicals. Some of the the reviews at the website Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061765/) are just so hilarious, I had to see the film for this reason alone. The film features performances by Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing (as Boots Malone), Don Hall and Merle Haggard. The film stars Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, and Lon Chaney. Three country singers are forced to spend the night in a haunted house that is being used by an organization that is against MOTHER and is seeking a top secret formula for rocket fuel. Although it may be the worst musical/horror movie, it does have the distinction of being the first (that I’ve found anyway).
Trick or Treat (1986) – Rock idol, Sammie Curr (Tony Fields) dies in a hotel fire and Eddie, Sammie’s biggest fan is naturally devastated. A D.J. (Gene Simmons) gives the teen Sammie’s unreleased last album which somehow gives him the ability to make contact with the dead singer. The film also features Ozzy Osborne as a reverend who despises rock music. Music for the soundtrack is performed by Fastway and features some great songs.
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Like it or not, a list of Halloween movies with music is not complete without the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This cult classic features Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Meatloaf, Barry Bostwick, and Patricia Quinn. A newly engaged couple who car broke down are forced to take refuge at the home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a scientist with evil motives. In 1980 it received the Hall of Fame award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films and in 2016 is was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
Young Frankenstein (1974) – This movie is not considered a musical but it does have some great performances with music by Irving Berlin “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” “Ave Maria” by Franz Shubert and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Directed by Mel Brooks with Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Mary Feldman, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, and Gene Hackman. A young neurosurgeon who has spent his life living down the legacy of his infamous grandfather, Dr. Victor von Frankenstein inherits the castle where his grandfather constructed the body of the monster. In 1976 this film won Best Director, Best Horror Film, Best Make-Up, Best Set Direction and Best Supporting Actor (Marty Feldman) awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.
Alice Cooper – Welcome to my Nightmare (1975) – This is not exactly a movie, it’s a concert film but it is creepy. The concert is hosted by Vincent Price and does have skeletons, a giant spider’s web and a big furry Cyclops. Alice Cooper’s standards are featured: “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Only Women Bleed,” and “School’s Out.”
Thriller (1983) – Michael Jackson was attempting to make a short movie, but most people still consider it to be a video. Whatever the category this is a great piece of film winning a People’s Choice award in 1984. The piece is a little over 14 minutes long starring Michael Jackson, Ola Ray and a host of zombies and ghouls.
Nudist Colony of the Dead (1991) The movie stars Judge Rhinehole as Forrest J. Ackermann who orders the shut down of the Sunny Buttocks Nudist Colony. The members of the camp enter into a suicide pact vowing to return for vengeance. Despite of the title, there is not very much nudity. If you’re easily offended, don’t get this movie because it does poke fun at just about everybody. Zombies, razzing and a musical too!
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) This animated Tim Burton classic is the story of Jack Skellington, “The Pumpkin King” of HalloweenTown who stumbles upon ChristmasTown while seeking a break from the routine of his life. His attempt to combine the traditions of the two holidays provides entertainment. In 1994 it received the Saturn Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films for Best Fantasy Film and Best Music.
Alfred Packer: The Musical also known as Cannibal: The Musical (1996): This is film attempt by Trey Parker, the writer of music for SouthPark. It is inspired by the true story of Alfred Packer, an American prospector who was tried for murder and convicted of cannibalism after a failed mining expedition of which he was the sole survivor.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2016) Based on the hit Broadway Musical, this movie stars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Small, and Sacha Baron Cohen among others. The movie won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Art Direction in 2016. After fifteen years in exile for a crime he didn’t commit, Benjamin Barker returns to London seeking vengeance for the death of his wife and the loss of his young daughter.
It is truly hard to find movies that have a Halloween feel and great music. I think there is a real calling for this type of film. The film industry should be made aware that there is a purpose and an audience for these productions.