Love them or hate them, musicals have definitely left their mark not only on the larger film world, but also on the horror genre. While some dark musicals like SWEENEY TODD, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, and REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA are well-known, many other horror musicals remain unknown and highly underappreciated. Check out our list below of 5 lesser known horror musicals. Enjoy, and feel free to sing along!
REEFER MADNESS (2005)
Based on the original 1936 exploitation film, the musical is a smart and highly subversive look at the hilarious misinformation regarding pot and its alleged dangers. The music is phenomenal, the performers are great, and the movie is absolutely key viewing for any legalization supporters.
My fave song: Opening- “Reefer Madness”
THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS (2001)
You know Takashi Miike, that demented Japanese director who made shock films like AUDITION and VISITOR Q? Yeah, that guy also made a musical…a really, really weird musical. Based off a Korean movie, the film focuses on a family who buys a bed and breakfast and then finds they have trouble keeping the guests alive through the night.
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974)
To many horror fans, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE is a classic genre standard, but many younger viewers aren’t familiar with this strange Brian De Palma musical. An amalgam of archetypal horror tales like PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and FAUST, a musician sells his soul to write the ultimate song for the women of his dreams. But an evil record producer steals it, so the musician now haunts his theater, aka The Paradise.
My fave song: Beef’s “Life at Last”
MIDNIGHT BALLAD FOR GHOST THEATER (2006)
This Korean film has yet to be released in the US, but it is well worth the hunt or purchase of a region free DVD player. A young girl is orphaned after her elderly Grandmother disappears at a run down movie theater. After the police give up, the girl continues her hunt to find out what happened to Grandma. She gets a job at the theater and discovers the lavish, yet decrepit movie palace is haunted by many ghosts from throughout film history. This one is a weird mesh of children’s fairytale, film history lesson, and classic ghost story.
Check out the super catchy tune below. Sadly I couldn’t find a version with subtitles, but it is still catchy as hell.
SHOCK TREATMENT (1981)
This is the sequel to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and some people may argue but I think the music in SHOCK TREATMENT far superior to RHPS. I’m not saying it equals the cult phenomena that ROCKY became, but SHOCK TREATMENT has dynamite composition. Though actors and characters reappear from the original film, SHOCK TREATMENT is by no means a direct sequel. In a strangely “reality foretold- style” plot, members of society live on a reality TV show called “Denton USA”, either as main cast members who have their lives constantly documented or fans who live in the audience. Brad and Janet are cast as regulars on the show and have their lives and marriage problems exposed before a live studio audience.
My fave song: “Denton USA!”
Honorable mentions- Also check out STAGE FRIGHT (2014) which is about a slasher at a teen theatre camp. And be sure to see POULTRYGEIST, Troma’s musical satire about the the fast food industry. It’s Troma so expect an excessive amount of campiness, boobs, and body fluids…all enhanced with a toe-tapping soundtrack.