Horror Musicals: The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Screaming

It’s me, The Void. I’m stealing the Mother’s place this fine day to give you my ranking of the beautiful blending of my favorite genres: horror and musical. Yes, we’re talking horror musicals. This came to me when I heard of Stephen Sondheim’s passing, which shattered my heart into a million little pieces. May his memory be a blessing.

In this ranking, I am focusing on the stage and having movie adaptations weigh in as needed. A lot of these have no movie adaptations. I am excluding strictly movie musicals, therefore musicals like Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Devil’s Carnival are not on this list (though I respect and admire Terrance Zdunich’s writing quite a bit). I felt it wasn’t fair against these beasts of musicals, as most of these have made it to the Broadway caliber. Nonetheless, let’s slash our ways through this, shall we?

Number 9: Jekyll ANd Hyde

Before you ask, yes, that IS David Hasselhoff. Jekyll and Hyde is the stage musical adaptation of the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and while it is blaring with the rock and has the iconic “Confrontation” which has the lead singing from two perspectives at once, the cheesiness level cuts the epic down to quite a low level. It’s easy to find the taped version of this musical if you’re in desperate need to see Hasselhoff deliver some epic bars, but overall, it’s not exactly my personal favorites

My favorite song is “Confrontation,” as it generated a hilarious TikTok meme and it is as epic as it sounds.

Number 8: Carrie the Musical

Poor, poor Carrie. This poor musical is cursed for failure for whatever reason, and it all lies in how its produced. The original debut was way too much and the revival was way too little, leading to it flopping on both occasions. However, the tunes are actually really well written and it is a faithful adaptation. There is a fairly impressive LA production that did do it right, but used a gymnasium instead of a traditional stage, so I believe if Carrie the Musical will never be successful on Broadway–and that is okay.

My favorite moment is “The Destruction,” as the song is a beautiful depiction of Carrie’s inner monologue and her seemingly instantaneous snap. My favorite interpretation is Keaton Whittaker’s version. Meanwhile, if you wanna see some killer stage effects, you can check out the LA version here.

Number 7: Evil Dead the Musical

Yes, there is an off-broadway adaptation of Evil Dead II. It is all kinds of cheesy and hilarious, which is the only thing you should expect given its source material. There is disco, there is showtunes and Ash takes the stage with grace. This is in the same league as the Starkid musicals and could be improv if we didn’t know any better. It’s a fun one that graces local theaters often, so definitely check this one out if you are in the mood for a good laugh.

The best song is probably “It’s Time” in which there is disco dancing and Ash sings about balls. Who could ask for anything more? Check out a rendition from 2017 here.

Number 6: Heathers

Yes, I do admit I’m stretching a bit with this one. JD is technically a serial killer and Westerberg High does seem like a living hell, so I let it pass. The 1989 film Heathers is one of my favorites, so it is natural that I fell in love with the musical adaptation. While there are some misses on the soundtrack, especially the West End version, there are some GEMS that make me laugh out loud and want to dance to a musical full of depravity. It’s a pretty loyal adaptation as well, with a few changes to character dynamics to tie it together for group numbers.

“Lifeboat,” “Dead Girl Walking,” and “My Dead Gay Son” are the shining stars in this musical, but I honestly love all the songs and only skip “Big Fun” as it can be a bit annoying halfway through. However, my favorite moment in this musical is not a song but rather this iconic moment from the original off-broadway production.

Number 5: Beetlejuice

Now onto the Broadway baddies. Beetlejuice is a recent musical adaptation which trended on TikTok as well, specifically “Say My Name.” It’s a faithful adaptation that does not leave out the original movie’s musical moments. Ont top of it, the Original Broadway Cast Recording is amazing and not one to miss if you love soundtracks. It contains wildly good performances and was met with great critical reviews and is a fan favorite–so much so it was saved from getting booted and will stay on Broadway for an additional season.

My favorite song on this is actually a rather emotional one and that is “Dead Mom.” You can see the original Broadway Lydia perform that one here, but have some tissues.

Number 4: Phantom of the Opera

Remember when I said that we might be ignoring some movie adaptations? All respects to Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson, but maybe stick with a filmed Broadway version to spare your ears. Phantom of the Opera may not seem to some as a horror musical, however, its source material is strictly horror. This is a classic and some regard it the best of all time. My personal preferences disagree heavily, however I do respect this musical, hence it holding the number four spot. If you do decide to suffere through the movie adaptation, brace yourself for Gerald Butler, who should’ve never sang opera ever for the public.

While I don’t like the musical as a whole and do think the title track is a cheesy rock-opera mess, I have to give credit to “Think of Me” and most definitely to “All I Ask of You,” which is easily the most romantic song ever written. I will actually link the movie version of that one, because it is gorgeous.

Number 3: Little Shop of Horrors

I love, love, LOVE this musical. It has laughs, it’s dark and has BOPS for a soundtrack. The music is in fact written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who wrote most of the music during the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s. “Somewhere That’s Green” is the same melody as “Part of Your World,” so there is proof it’s all good to plagiarize yourself. The movie adaptation is one of the best cult films out there, so you can do no wrong checking it out in any medium. I do recommend checking out the director’s cut as it is chock full of crazy good special effects and matches the play’s ending.

My favorite song from this is “Now (It’s Just the Gas),” which never made its film debut. You can, however, check out a version with Jake Gyllenhaal and Taran Killam here, which is simply brilliant.

Number 2: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of fleet street

horror musicals

Now this–this is my favorite Broadway musical. However, the movie adaptation doesn’t do it justice therefore it does not earn the coveted crown. Sweeney Todd is a masterpiece through and through with Sondheim behind the pen. Many consider this Sondheim’s greatest musical (myself included) and it will be known as one of the best musicals of all time. It plays out like an opera, with gorgeous, terrifying and hilarious moments flowing through. It’s a hoot, and I cannot recommend it more. I don’t hate the movie adaptation either, but some songs are missing/edited and it just doesn’t feel the same.

“Pretty Women,” “Epiphany” and “A Little Priest” is a phenomenal stretch of songs that closes out the first act and lives in my head rent free. However, Angela Lansbury is my favorite part so here is her “Worst Pies in London” in its full glory.

Honorable Mention

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Cats. I mean this image says a thousand words.

Number 1: Rocky Horror Picture Show

horror musicals

Now here is the real number one, both tremendous in stage and screen: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We are talking iconic images, characters, songs, dances, and species–this is the horror musical of all horror musicals. Richard O’Brien has a brilliant mind that brought this groundbreaking musicals to stages and eventually formed it into the cult film to end all cult films. On top of all of it, Tim Curry stands proud in his six inch heels, serving as an icon for many and sexy beast to all. It’s iconic, that’s all I have to say. The horror musical of all horror musicals.

“Hot Patootie” can be played on the radio while “Sweet Transvestite” has us shivering with antici…pation. However, for me, “Planet Schmanet Janet” tops my list. You can see Frank-N-Furter harass Janet here if you’re looking for something to get used to, if ya know what I mean.

The final act

So there is it is, the ranking of the horror musicals. Did you agree with some of these picks and have you heard of most of them? Who knew showtunes could be horrific? Anyways, the Mother will be back next week as well as I will be back this Saturday with Christmas horror movies out the wazoo. Thanks for spelunking with us, this is the Void detaching and signing off.

If you wanted to see a bit more on horror musicals, you can blast to the past with my September Spooky Season picks here.

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