Just recently, I finally got the chance to sit down and watch the 2010 documentary, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, a lengthy four hour film that painstakingly details each and everyone of Freddy Krueger’s silver screen murders. Although, I’m not the sort of horror fan fixated on why each actor was cast as each victim, the part that spoke the most to my tenured relationship to the sweatered menace, was that late 80s, early 90s period when Krueger became this kid-friendly horror mascot. I remember toys for kids, video games, and merchandise we’re all being strewn across stores. And it’s great to watch the film crew shuffle awkwardly in their chair when discussing how a homicidal child molester became a pop phenom.
But Kruger wasn’t the only killer to get pop songs, though he did get a LOT. Famed killers like Jason Vorhees and Scream's ghostfaced killers have all made video appearances. However in comparison to the mid-80's to early 2000's, it seems like videos have fallen out of love with these iconic murders and are no longer interested in providing a good scare. So, for that very reason here’s a trip down memory Elm Street lane, with ten music videos made as advertisements for horror movies featuring songs made for evil outings and tunes to get murdered by. Rap, metal, punk, pop, no matter the genre, let’s come together and appreciate how often music was willing to feature pop stars and hair rockers running around haunted houses, terrorized by cinema’s cherished murderers.
Alice Cooper – “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
So here’s the pitch: Alice Cooper Jr. is asking Alice Cooper Sr. to borrow the car for a movie date, which Cooper Sr. denies because “It’s a lovely night.” This would seem like a set-up for some supernatural encounter at the cinema, a la "Thriller", but the couple actually get to the theatre fine, to see Friday the 13th Part VI, which I’m sure was the best date movie in 1986. The surprise comes during the movie, when Jason Voorhees Tarzan-swings through the screen and into the real world. But wait! It’s not Jason Voorhees at all! It’s Alice Cooper! Who lands in front of the happy couple and smashes a bottle on his head, because it’s been a whole second since he’s done something shocking.
After actually getting to watch the movie for a little, Cooper hijacks the whole production again, prompting his son and date to leave the theatre. The two don’t get very far before Jason (Pretty sure it's Jason this time) imprisons them in a bamboo cage. Suddenly there are backup dancers, horse statues, harpies, and other items on the off-the-deep-end bingo card. I guess Cooper being the kid’s dad is supposed to be a twist ending, but it’s way funnier to watch the video knowing that the couple do ‘no thanks’ gestures when ol’ leatherclad dad is snarling on the screen.
The Ramones – “Pet Sematary” for, well take a guess
Stephen King and The Ramones are two strange peas in a weird ass pod. A bit of history for you guys: the band and the writer were both big fans of the other and have referenced each other in numerous of their works. And while King would write the introduction in the tribute album, We’re a Happy Family, the two entities were never closer together than in the theme for 1989’s Pet Sematary. As a Ramones song, it’s wrenchingly cornball and sappy. For a promotional tie-in to a movie, it’s weirdly specific, since the chorus’ “I don’t want to live my life again” only makes sense if you know what the film is about a native burial ground that revives the dead.
Video-wise, it’s pretty characteristic. The Ramones just stand in a grave playing, not giving a shit, while goths and kid-goths run circles around them. The best is the black and white b-roll that earnestly looks like a camera pointed at them as they walk through a cemetery, pointing at headstones, trees, squirrels, whatever they may have thought was interesting.
J. Geils Band – “Fright Night” for, well, you know
If you’re hoping to see the band popular for “Freeze Frame” get the willies from Chris Sarandon, you have come to the right, if not only, place. Beginning with what I’m sure is a scene drawn from reality, the entire band sleeps on one bed surrounded by candles which begins an odd dance routine that entails hiding under the covers. This song is the sort of piece that, by its very creation, pushes a horror-comedy closer to its comedy genetics. This song is difficult to take seriously, no matter which way you cut it. Especially not the bit that includes the Looney Tunes gag with monster feet near the end.
Dokken – “Dream Warriors” for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
The pitch: a crazy young Patricia Arquette as Kristen -an Elm Street survivor being conditioned by the first film’s Nancy Thompson to take on Freddy- is building a shrine to Dokken for lord knows why. She then slips into bed and the inevitable nightmare begins. The popsicle stick shrine becomes Freddy’s manor and the signature white dressed jump-rope girls appear while Kristen wanders inside. But this time, Freddy isn’t the only gangly ghoul inside the house, Dokken’s there too! The band then plays bone-covered instruments and look dead serious while singing about ‘dream warriors.’ Kristen first spots the drummer Mick Brown, at least a miniature version of him, playing inside of Freddy’s furnace. She’s then confronted by two more bandmates in a hallway, who scare her awake. Eventually, she returns to the dream world and look, its Dokken shredding a guitar solo! Soon after Dokken battle Freddy Kruger, weaponizing their terrible song. Freddy then wakes up, saying, “What a nightmare, who were those guys?” revealing that even Freddy Krueger has bad dreams about Dokken like the rest of us.
The Fat Boys – “Are You Ready For Freddy?” for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
The three Fat Boys arrive at Freddy’s house on mopeds, dressed in matching striped Krueger-chic sweaters. Now, I’m not certain this is in the series’ canon, but the video seems to insinuate that Freddy Krueger is Prince Markie Dee’s uncle. And in a move pulled from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the three chubby buddies must spend one night at a house to inherit the Elm Street property. Cue clips from the movie, running around the moonlit cut up house from the menacing Krueger, while rapping about how scary this all seems to be. And for that matter, Freddy also takes a stab at this rap thing. “Young ones, old ones, yo mamas too and if you don't watch out, I'm gonna thrill you too…. You see my name is Freddy and I'm here to say I'll wrap you up and take you all away!” Nice one Freddy.
Goo Goo Dolls – “I’m Awake Now” for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Ohhh we’re not done with Freddy Krueger music videos yet. Just hanging around, the ol’ Goo Goo boys decide to watch an unspecified Nightmare on Elm Street movie on TV, which couldn’t have been too captivating because all three immediately fall asleep. They come to in a fairly pleasant and ornate Elgin theatre, launching what could be described as an inattentive game of cat and mouse with Freddy Krueger.
Not too frightened by Krueger, the band still make time to watch clips from the movie (where, in an odd parallel, Alice Cooper makes an appearance again), plus goofing around and eating popcorn. Before too long, Krueger interrupts and the two-thirds, too long haired band awakens to realize it was all a dream. Except Freddy’s hat, sweater and claws are neatly piled on the couch. So, you know, “or was it?”
Bush – “Mouth” for An American Werewolf in Paris
I really apologize for having to remind you An American Werewolf in Paris was a thing, but hey, at least it’s an excuse to watch a… Bush… video. Okay, that’s not so great either. Anyways, in the video we see Gavin Rossdale being picked up by then-werewolf Julie Delpy although it’s weird because I don’t think this video takes place in France, nevermind Europe. On a side note, if Rossdale had stuck around that diner a few more seconds, he would have gotten to see the television play clips from the movie that shows Delpy’s true form: a crappy CGI fuzzball.
The two ride out in a convertible to a middle-of-the-desert fun fair. There, Bush stands around playing their song about how ‘nothing hurts like your mouth.’ Get it? That could refer to a kiss, or it could mean having your flesh violently torn out by a lycanthrope! Cleverness abound. The video ends with Delpy transforming into the Cheshire Cat from American McGee’s Alice and Rossdale just walking away like nothing happened.
Jennifer Love Hewitt – “How Do I Deal” from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Here we have a tone deaf Jennifer Love Hewitt singing a vanilla love song in a well lit prop department filled with old cars, cameras, and drapes. The most obvious out of place item in the room is the projected footage of Jennifer and her peers screaming in terror, which runs in the background for most of the video. I think the greatest insult to viewers is that the song’s title asks ‘how do I deal with love, heartbreak, emotions,’ when you should probably be asking ‘how do I deal with a cloaked man with a hook who is systematically killing off all of my friends?’
LL Cool J – “Deepest Bluest” for Deep Blue Sea
Here is LL Cool J’s theme to the movie that dared to ask the question, what if Jaws was a evil genius. The impressive thing about LL’s song is how it's lowkey a devotional to his wet dream about being a shark. The only part where he isn’t directly talking about the vicious Selachimorphas (yeah, bet you've never seen that word before) is a bit where he explains how he; LL Cool J, already dressed like a blacksmith from a S&M commercial became a shark himself, which isn’t even what the movie was about.
Creed – “What If” for Scream 3
Man I miss David Arquette’s Dewey voice. It’s what we open in on the biggest tease of a music video of all time. The premise here is each member of Creed, despite knowing there’s a killer on the loose, splits up with scantily clad groupies around a film lot, thereby tempting the horror gods that be, to incur the wrath of Scream’s ghostfaced killer.
After watching each Creed crew bite it, it then turns out that…they're still alive!. The murder spree was just the band pranking around, spoiling each of their steamy, coordinated dates. No member of Creed is killed in this video. But that doesn’t mean the killer isn’t lurking around, he just decides to pounce on Dewey instead. Life just isn’t fair sometimes.