Hard rock and heavy metal scared the hell out of many parents in the ’80s. Demonic album cover imagery was a common marketing plan. Ritualistic fake-blood-and-fire-fueled stunts were performed onstage as part of some bands’ concerts. Pentagrams turned up on everything from headbands and kickdrums. There was no shortage of song lyrics about the devil, or even controversies involving supposedly satanic hidden messages on albums.
So heavy-rock and horror movies were destined to intertwine. By the end of the ’80s, that mix happened often enough a subgenre of metal-tinged fright flicks even emerged: rocksploitation.
With Halloween creeping up again, Metal Edge has compiled together a list of great ’80s hard-rock and metal songs from horror movies. Scroll down to see who made the cut, if you dare …
W.A.S.P., “Scream Until You Like It” (1987)
Who better to do a horror theme song than everyone’s favorite sawblade-codpiece and raw-meat-throwing band, W.A.S.P.? W.A.S.P. contributed metallic boogie “Scream Until You Like It” to Ghoulies II. Frontman Blackie Lawless sets the track off immediately with a blood curdling scream. W.A.S.P. released “Scream Until You Like” on a Blackie and ghoulies adorned picture disc, along with a live version of the song, which also appeared on W.A.S.P.’s Live… In The Raw LP. Ghoulies II was the 1987 sequel to the original Ghoulies from ’85, which starred Michael Des Barres, former singer of Detective, a hard-rock band that was on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Records label in the ’70s, as a satanic cult leader.
The Dudes of Wrath, “Shocker” (1989)
Few ’80s horror tracks featured as much star-power as the title song from Shocker. The exquisitely named supergroup Dudes of Wrath involved: Kiss frontman Paul Stanley and songwriting ace Desmond Child on vocals; Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee; Whitesnake/Ozzy bassist Rudy Sarzo; and on guitars, Vivian Campbell of Whitesnake/Dio fame and Michael Angelo Band shredder Guy Mann-Dude. Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and muscle-bound Alice Cooper guitarist Kane Roberts sang backing vocals. Shocker was an electric-chair themed tale and the latest from A Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven. Besides three Dudes of Wrath cuts, other Shocker standouts included Megadeth’s Alice Cooper cover, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and Dangerous Toys’ sinister rocker, “Demon Bell.”
Alice Cooper, “Teenage Frankenstein” (1986)
Speaking of Alice Cooper, the Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives soundtrack contained an unholy trinity of tunes from the shock-rock pioneer. There was “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” a synth-tastic theme song for hockey-goalie-mask-clad baddie Jason Voorhees.” Power-pop lark “Hard Rock Summer” too. But our Jason Lives pick is “Teenage Frankenstein,” a winking hard-rock anthem. Both “Teenage Frankenstein” and “He’s Back” also appeared on ’86 Cooper studio album Constrictor, released about a month after Jason Lives hit theaters. Fun fact: Back then, foxy future Winger frontman Kip Winger was still Coop’s bassist.
Fastway, “Trick or Treat” (1986)
Cameo from Gene Simmons as a radio DJ? Ozzy Osbourne playing an anti-metal preacher? A kickass soundtrack by Fastway, a band featuring Motörhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clark and Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley? The 1986 rocksploitation gem Trick or Treat checks a lot of boxes for ’80s rock fans. Original pressings of the soundtrack often go for $50 or more these days, and for good reason. There’s some scorching bluesy metal on there, with Dave King – yep, the future front man of Irish punk band Flogging Molly – tearing it up on vocals. Soundtrack highlights for Trick or Treat, a film with a plot about a dead rock star who haunts a teen fan, include “After Midnight, “Stand Up” and the stomping title track. Fastway collaborated on Trick or Treat with composer Christopher King, now known for his work on films like Hellraiser, Ghost Rider and Spider-Man 3.
Dokken, “Dream Warriors” (1987)
Bow down and kneel before the eternal lord of ’80s hard-rock/heavy-metal songs. Dokken’s haunting hard-charger was the perfect theme song for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the third installment of the Freddy Krueger saga. The band wrote the song after getting a copy of the script to tie-in lyrics. Dokken’s Tooth and Nail track “Into the Fire” is repurposed into the film, too. The now classic “Dream Warrior” music video opens with Patricia Arquette, the soon to be movie-star making her feature film debut in Elm Street 3, cutting up a photo of Don Dokken, severing the singer right below his conch-belt as guitarist George Lynch plays an arpeggiated intro. When it’s time for his solo, Lynch busts through a wall to wail on a skeleton-shaped guitar.
Along with the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Dream Warriors is regarded as one of the series’ finest, with Wes Craven collaborating on a script with director Chuck Russell, Bruce Wagner and future The Walking Dead TV series developer Frank Darabont. Nightmare on Elm Street 4 would seek to replicate the success of “Dream Warriors” by assembling a rock-centric soundtrack featuring bands like Sea Hags, Love/Hate and an excellent Vinnie Vincent Invasion power-ballad, “Love Kills.”