Dec 10 2012

Four Unlikely Tunes Made Creepy By Movies and Television

Published by at 10:03 am under Lists,Movies,Television

A few years ago, I was talking to a distant relative of mine who was a doctor. He was helping me understand the different kinds of amnesia and how it works since I was working on a screenplay wherein the protagonist loses his memory from his accident. One of the interesting things I remember about our conversation was this floating theory that music can possibly help people regain their memories. In a recent documentary called “Alive Inside” featured in numerous news outlets, it has been reported that an Alzheimer’s patient regained lost memories by the sound of his favorite songs. It’s hard to explain this on a purely scientific and technical basis, but I’m sure a lot of people could see why this is possible. It’s similar to how we feel like a kid again and remember so much fond memories whenever we hear a particular song of our past.

While music can revive good memories of our past, it can also bring back ones that are best forgotten. When I was a child, my cousin pulled a horrible prank by locking me in a dark room late at night for twenty minutes. I was shaken and all I had to accompany me was the bellowing chimes that echoed from my family’s old Grandfather clock. To this day, I still get that eerie feeling crawling up my spine whenever I hear the chimes of a Grandfather clock especially if its during the night time. It’s weird how before that incident, the chimes didn’t scare or at the very least bother me at all. When you think about, music is like an imprint or an identification number that helps us locate our memories.

Similarly, there are also times when we remember a particular scene from a movie, show, or video game simply because we hear the soundtrack while we go about our everyday lives. Just like how one song from Huey Lewis and The News called “Hip To Be Square” paints a vivid picture of Christian Bale dancing before shoving an axe on Jared Leto from the film “American Psycho.” Anyway, here is a list of tracks that doesn’t sound creepy on its own, but is now popular as such because of their appearance as soundtracks in various media. Let me know if you guys have suggestions as well!

1. Love Rollercoaster by Ohio Players  (Tanning Scene from Final Destination 3)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaz73KCiKaM

Okay, I know that I shouldn’t take Final Destination 3 seriously and people think the series is complete crap. However, I appreciate it for what it really is. It’s not a horror movie, because it’s more of a dark comedy. I seriously look forward to every film, knowing I’ll discover more ways on how one could die in a freak accident. Despite a plethora of deaths, there are always a couple of memorable ones that deserve a perfect “10.” Whenever my friends and I hear the song “Love Rollercoaster” by Ohio Players, the tanning scene from Final Destination 3 almost always comes to the top of our heads. Often times, I would laugh at the death scenes in Final Destination films, but I have to admit, this scene was pretty disturbing since we were watching this film as young teenage girls who might have thought of getting a tan sometime in the near future. Plus, slowly burning to death plus being pierced by shards of glass? No, thanks. At least the others died in an instant.

After watching this scene though, as ridiculous as it sounds, there will always be a little tingle of hesitation at the tip of our spines. If for some weird coincidence Love Rollercoaster was playing in the Tanning Salon, you can definitely count me out.

Granted, Love Rollercoaster has been plagued with an urban legend of its own because people claimed that there is a woman heard screaming in the middle of the track. Legend says that there was a woman murdered in their studio during the recording of the track. However, I knew this was pretty much crap and it didn’t really affect how I viewed the song before I saw Final Destination 3. Anyway on its own, the song is an upbeat tune using the term roller coaster as a metaphor for the ups and downs  of a romantic relationship. Yet, I have a feeling we will think of an entirely different kind of pain whenever we hear this song.

2. Twisted Nerve by Bernard Hermann (Originally from the 1968 film Twisted Nerve, then recently from Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill and Tate Langdon from American Horror Story)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JsaNjEMdA4

It’s hard to choose a particular scene for Twisted Nerve since it was used in a lot of popular media, but I chose to show the scene where it was originally taken from. However, the track is most notable for its appearance on Kill Bill, but most recently it resurfaced as the theme song for Tate Langdon in the television show American Horror Story. Despite being unable to pin point a particular scene, this tune definitely evokes an eerie vibe even if it has a cheerful sound of it. If you’ve noticed, all of the films and shows I mentioned has murderous if not psychotic characters. I won’t be surprised if I’ll be hearing this track in another horror film or television show.

On its own, one might think that this tune could be a great accompaniment during an afternoon walk in the park. However, after watching mass murderers like Martin Durnley and Tate Langdon casually whistle this tune as their anthem, you might have to think twice before you take that walk around the park.

3. Whole World in His Hands by Unknown (Steve Buscemi’s scene from Con Air)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFFJhO90VN8

In all honesty, all Children’s songs or the like have the unfair advantage or potential of being creepy. My father once told me to stop singing the Children’s song “Hush, Little Baby,” one time because it was such a “serial killer song.” I remember watching Buscemi’s scenes and I kept thinking “Oh, please don’t kill this little girl because Buscemi totally has that whole serial killer vibe down.

It’s funny how I used to sing this song with my friends when we were all little tots in kindergarten. Now that I’m older, people totally give you a weird stare if they hear you singing this song. They might not have seen Con Air, but if you sing it in the same eerie way Steve Buscemi does, then you might just get yourself a handful of stares instead of a clap or two.

4. Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus (Buffalo Bill’s scene from Silence of  the Lambs)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydXNfifKQU0

This was actually the song that inspired me to write this article. One of my favorite films of all time is Silence of The Lambs, and I could never forget that moment when I first saw Buffalo Bill dancing to Goodbye Horses. This was really disturbing and it messes with your head, as I tried to comprehend how a human being could do such a heinous thing. Whenever I hear the song, the first thing I think about is Buffalo Bill dancing with the scalp of a woman’s head. Forget the lyrics, Silence of the Lambs has undeniably immortalized this track as one of the top anthems for serial killers in popular culture.

William Garvey, the writer of this song, wrote that: “the song is about transcendence over those who see the world as only earthly and finite. The horses represent the five senses from Hindu philosophy (The Bhagavad Gita) and the ability to lift one’s perception above these physical limitations and to see beyond this limited Earthly perspective.” Clearly, this song didn’t intend to convey such a haunting feeling to its listeners when it was written. There was also an extended version of the song released because Lazzarus wanted to capitalize on the success of Silence of the Lambs.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Do you guys know of any other songs that were made creepy because of their use in media? Let me know if you do.





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27 responses so far

  • mjlaxnmd

    Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle With You” from Reservoir Dogs. I’m old enough to have heard the song before the movie but now anytime that I hear any part of that song, I’m instantly squirming uncomfortably and thinking about a dudes ear being cut off.

  • Don

    Recent song for this list would be “Orinoco Flow” – Enya from the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can still remember Stellan Skarsgård slowly approaching Daniel Craig. Too bad that scene was rather short.

  • http://www.mandyatlarge.com Mandy

    “Singing in the Rain” in A Clockwork Orange…

  • Don

    And also, “We’ve Only Just Begun” – The Carpenters. From the movie 1408. That movie changed that song for me.

  • igorficas

    “Singing In the Rain” sung by Alex in A Clockwork Orange was one that came to my mind right away. I can’t hear that song without equating it to a little ulta-violence.

  • Joe

    You really need to proof-read your articles before you post them.

    “Anyway, here’s a list of a couple of tracks that doesn’t sound creepy on its own” is one example of why.

    Anyway, Blue Velvet is the first song that comes to mind (admittedly, after Singin’ in the Rain).

  • J5

    Not necessarily creepy, but turning The Farmer in the Dell into a sort of precursor to an Omar Little robbery in The Wire was awesome.

  • Steve

    I can’t even recall the name of the tune, but the classical music piece playing when Hannibal Lecter makes his escape at the end of “Silence…” evokes that scene.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    @Don

    Orinoco Flow! Yes, that totally slipped my mind. I loved how they used that in the movie.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    Thanks for pointing that out Joe!

    I forgot to mention that, like Children’s songs, Classical pieces can easily be creepy too. Perfect examples are what you guys mentioned Silence of the Lambs and Clockwork Orange.

  • Barbara

    The two that immediately spring to mind for me are “Time is On My Side” from Fallen and “Jeepers Creepers” from Jeepers Creepers. I love the Stones but ever since I watched that move *shudders*

  • Mark Jr

    Steelers Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle With You was definitely the first thing to cross my mind when I read this article’s title.

    Given a bit further thought, Walking on Sunshine always reminds me Fry and his dog. Damn that episode.

  • Cory

    “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard from The Strangers.
    When the couple is hiding in the garage and that song just starts playing on the record player it’s just so damn creepy.

  • http://saraclemens.com Sara Clemens

    Great idea for an article. I agree totally with Don; “We’ve Only Just Begun” from 1408 was the first song I thought of while reading.

    The short story it’s based on is way scarier, but 1408 is a decent Stephen King adaptation and that song is one of the scariest things about it. I listen to it no longer than I have to.

  • trashcanman

    Stephen King is pretty effective at using song lyrics in his stories too. “You Can’t Always Get What you Want” was in Road Work and “Angel of the Morning” was in The Langoliers, for example. Afterwards, it often changes the way I look at the song or feel when I hear it.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    Thanks Sara! I watched 1408 and I found it “okay.” I’ll probably start reading the short story.

    Btw, speaking of Stephen King, I read one of his recent books… “Under The Dome” and I was really disappointed. Great writing, but the story did not surprise me at all.

    Oh, here’s an honorable mention: “Lakme (Act 1): Flower Duet.” Once you guys hear it, you’ll know you’ve heard this from numerous creepy or sexually charged scenes lol

  • Wite Boy

    Insidious had the (pretty much already creepy) Tiny Tim songs…

  • http://saraclemens.com Sara Clemens

    Great one, Benny (re: Flower Duet)! That doesn’t carry especially negative connotations for me since I’ve also heard it in so many “nice scenes.” And I feel like it was in a million car and perfume ads in the 90s.

  • J5

    “‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ from 1408 was the first song I thought of while reading.”

    That song will always have a special place in my heart, as Chubbs (aka Carl Weathers) sings it in Happy Gilmore.

    100% non-creepy. (For me any way)

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    Sara, I think you’re right. It’s probably one of the most overused classical pieces in film and television.

    I wanted to include “Paint it, Black” by The Rolling Stones for Twisted Metal Black. I didn’t include it because the song was about death to begin with and TMB is a video game. However, after playing TMB, every time I hear that song… all those horrific imagery from the game comes to mind. Before the game, I never had any creepy feelings about “Paint it, Black” even if it was written about death.

  • monstrinho

    Pretty much anything by the Doors makes me think of Apocalypse Now.

  • Joe

    M I C

    K E Y

    M O U S E

    Mickey Mouse
    (Mickey Mouse!)

    Mickey Mouse
    (Mickey Mouse!)

  • FNG

    John Murphy’s In the house, in a heartbeat. From 28 days later…

    they used it in the Louis Vuitton Ad campaign…. L’invitation Au Voyage…

    all I can think about is zombies…

  • kittobxt

    tiptoe through the tulips

  • Alex

    The fact that this list doesn’t include “Stuck In The Middle With You” because of the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs is a damn shame.

  • Casey

    What about when Johnny Cash “When The On Comes Around” at the beginning of the remake of Dawn Of The Dead, when it’s showing news footage of zombies at the white house and what not. That song will never be the same to me after that.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    @Casey

    Hell yeah, I forgot about that. That song definitely reminds me of zombies all the time.

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