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8 Horror Films That Were Made Into Musicals!

horror musicals

When thinking about genre crossovers, horror and musicals aren’t something you would think would mesh well together. Sometimes you would be right, but quite often musical adaptations of horror films can be quite wonderful. They usually take a sharp turn into comedy (as is the case with Evil Dead: The Musical), but whatever the quality they’re usually still pretty fascinating to behold. I consider myself a pretty intense horror fan, but I have a huge soft spot for musicals, horror or otherwise (A Chorus Line and Hairspray are two of my favorites). Knowing that horror musicals exist just warms my heart. There may not be a plethora of them out there, but there may be more than you think. Here are eight of the most well-known horror musicals!

The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera is actually an adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name, but it was adapted into several films before the musical premiered in 1986 on London’s West End (it didn’t open on Broadway until 1988). The musical is actually one of the most famous musicals ever produced. With over 12,000 performances, it is the longest running Broadway show in history. It was later adapted into a film directed by Joel Schumacher (people hate it, but I actually sort of love it, even if Gerard Butler is completely miscast as the Phantom).

horror musicals

Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in the original 1986 production of The Phantom of the Opera. Photograph: Donald Cooper/Rex Features


Nosferatu

Written by Bernard J. Taylor, the 1994 rock opera musical Nosferatu the Vampire was conceived as a concept studio recording before opening at the Madison Theatre in Peoria, Illinois. It went on to have performances in England but never really hit it mainstream in the States.

horror musicals


Little Shop of Horrors

Probably the second most famous musical on this list, the adaptation of Roger Corman’s killer plant film went on to spawn another film adaptation that was directed by Frank Oz (which notoriously changed the musical’s bleak ending). After premiering off-Broadway in 1982, Little Shop of Horrors ran for 5 years. It didn’t actually make it to Broadway until 2003, when it opened at the Virginia Theatre.

horror musicals

Audrey II devours Audrey; 2006–07 West End production


Carrie

Stephen King’s Carrie may not have been the best choice of source material for a Broadway musical. Carrie is one of the biggest flops in Broadway history. After the first preview at the Virginia Theatre on April 28, 1988, the performance (which starred the film’s Betty Buckley as Carrie’s mother Margaret) was greeted with a mixture of boos and applause. It premiered on May 12th of that same year to scathing reviews. Even though every performance was sold out, most of the financial backers pulled out and the musical was pulled after only 16 previews and 5 performances. Considering it cost $8 million to transfer to Broadway, it’s no wonder it is considered a legendary flop!

horror musicals

The cast of the 1988 Broadway production of “Carrie.”


The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is ripe for a musical, and it’s a glorious one at that. The stage adaptation actually uses plot elements from The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 (with the epilogue pulling from Army of Darkness), poking fun at the films and the horror genre in general with songs like “What the Fuck Was That” and “All the Men In My Life Keep Getting Killed By Kandarian Demons.” If you ever get a chance to see it, make sure you sit in the splatter zone (but buy a poncho)! It’s a crime this show never made it to Broadway.

horror musicals

The case of the original Toronto production of “Evil Dead: The Musical”. CREDIT: STARVOX ENTERTAINMENT


The Toxic Avenger

Once again we have another horror musical that didn’t make it to Broadway, but The Toxic Avenger has been one of the more successful shows of its kind. After premiering in New Brunwick, New Jersey in 2008, the show moved Off-Broadway at the New World Stages in 2009 and ran for 300 performances. It went on a national tour and still gets lots of stage time even today (there were four productions just last year).

horror musicals

Brittany Gray as Sarah and Evan Alexander Smith as Toxic by Paula Wilson in a 2009 production of “The Toxic Avenger” at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall.


Re-Animator

Man, I would kill to see this show. Truthfully, I didn’t know it exist until I started researching for this article, but here we are. The adaptation of Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (which was adapted from an H.P. Lovecraft novella) premiered in Los Angeles back in 2011 to critical acclaim. It went on to appear at various film festivals, including the prestigious Edinburgh Film Festival, in 2012. There haven’t been any tours of the production, but I’m holding out hope for one one day.

horror musicals

Jesse Merlin and Graham Skipper in the original Los Angeles production of “Re-Animator: The Musical” in 2011.


The Silence of the Lambs

When a horror film wins five Academy Awards, you sort of have to adapt it into a musical. That’s exactly what Jon and Al Kaplan did when they wrote the music and lyrics for Silence! The Musical, an adaptation of Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s book (lots of books turned movies turned musicals here, huh?) The Silence of the Lambs. Once again it takes the comedic route (look out for Dr. Lecter’s solo “If I Could Smell Her Cunt”), but it pays off in spades. After premiering at the New York Fringe Festival in 2005 (where it won the award for Outstanding Musical), it went on to land a spot on Time’s Top 10 Plays and Musicals of 2011 list. That’s no small feat for a show that began as an internet musical!

horror musicals

Jenn Harris and Brent Barrett in the cast of “Silence! The Musical” in 2011 when it was at Theater 80. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Have you seen any of the above musicals? If so, which is your favorite? Which horror film would you like to see adapted into a musical? Let us know in the comments below!



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COMMENTS

38 Comments
  • Rylee

    What, no love for American Psycho the Musical?

  • zomnombie

    The Fly

  • Josh Blitzenbrox Myers

    Young Frankenstein the musical is killer

  • Rohan Sorensen

    I’ve seen Evil Dead the musical twice, and both times were fantastic! 100% recommend to go see it if you get the chance.

    • It’s SO GOOD. I listen to the soundtrack all the time!

    • Meatwad

      I took 3 other friends to the ED musical in Toronto and we had a blast! We all wore white and got soak with the ‘red stuff’ at the end. People stood up and clapped at us cheering when we left the front row. Some of the actors came and said hi at the bar which was nice. Great times 😀

  • Michael Bates

    Toxic Avenger was brilliant, and the audience reaction was over the top. Sad this did not hit Broadway because the staging at the New World Stage was very well done.

  • RatSalade

    Cannibal! The Musical

    • RedLucy86

      Shpadoinkle!

  • Fracassi

    OMG! You can’t give Hannibal Lector Windex! He is going to escape in record time.

  • J Jett

    i think i’m one of the only gay men who hates musicals! LOL. i just hate them. i find them corny and i can’t get into them….yet i absolutely love the film musical GREASE! lol. that’s the only musical i have ever loved and yet it’s corny! yes, i’m weird. 🙂

    • Maybe try a serious musical? Or one that’s intentionally funny? Evil Dead fits the latter bill. But you are not the only gay man who hates musicals lol. I’ve met plenty. They just make me happy. Showtunes are my music of choice.

      • J Jett

        Trace, i’m not sure if this is considered a musical or not (it has music performances all throughout the film) but i love “THE ROSE” with Bette Midler. that movie makes me cry every time but it’s an amazing performance from Bette.

    • Oh and also, watch A Chorus Line. It’s wonderful. But you don’t like Hairspray??? That’s like the happiest musical ever. If you like Grease (the movie is better than the show, by the way) you should like Hairspray.

      • Saturn

        Me no likee happy movies.
        Blurgh – give me a downer musical about Auschwitz any day.

        Of course I jest, but I wonder if any of the bigger Hollywood studios or Broadway would actually dare to do it….

        I think not!

        Probably for the best…..

        Suggestions for other bad taste musicals?

        I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.
        CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.
        A SERBIAN FILM.

        They could all work with killer sing-a-long choruses!

        “Look at the turtle – what are they doing”

        “I can see Mertyl – looks like stewing!”

        Ahem. I never said I was Andrew Llyod Webber….

        • I would be all for a Cannibal Holocaust musical. The turtle number should be from the animal’s perspective: “An Innocent Turtle’s Lament”.

          • Saturn

            I’d like a prequel to Cannibal Holocaust dealing with the shitty day the turtle had had up until,,,,,well, you know…

      • J Jett

        Trace, HAIRSPRAY is kind of ok-ish/watchable-ish but i’d always choose the original John Waters film. i much prefer POLYESTER and/or FEMALE TROUBLE (i know neither are musicals but they are both John Waters films!).

        oh wait, i just remembered. i actually love Michelle Pfeiffer singing “Cool Rider” in GREASE 2! lol. i know it’s one of the worst things ever but i actually know most, if not all, of the songs from GREASE 2 (as well as all the songs from GREASE). i’m a sick man, i admit it. 🙂

    • Saturn

      Well I myself am not gay – but we are kindred spirits – I generally can’t stand musicals either!
      Although I did love the Evil Dead one, and a short one called Camp Blood – IIRC wasn’t Poultrygeist:Night Of The Chicken Dead a musical too, it’s been years since I watched that – it was definitely one of Troma’s better movies.
      I really should dig it out and give it another spin at some stage.

      GREASE is a movie that will always have a sentimental place in my heart – as it’s a movie I remember my mum watching many,many times over the years when I was younger (she’s still around – so not sentiment that she’s not) – she doesn’t watch it as extensively these days, but if it’s on TV it will be playing in the background.

      • Creepshow

        Haha Poultrygeist! I still get that movie thrown in my face by the people I made watch it. The babies made me turn it off.

        • J Jett

          Creepshow, i just watched A MONSTER CALLS last night and it had me balling my eyes out (towards the end)! i can relate to what the boy went through (with his mom) as well as the guilt he felt about wanting his pain (w/ mom) to be over. it was a good movie yet a tad more depressing than i thought it would be. oh and you’re 10000% right that WTF was up with Sigourney’s atrocious “English” accent??? LOL. her acting performance was excellent but yeah, her accent (if one can call it that) was so bad that it kept taking me out of the movie/the scene.

          • Creepshow

            I figured you would relate to it. I hear ya about the depressing aspect of it. There was not a speck of humor sprinkled in at ALL. Alot of parents brought their young children to see it (apparently they missed the reviews stating it’s not a kids movie). I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theater as far as adults go.

            SPOILERS:
            What I got out of the end (with the mom’s book) was, I think the monster helped the boy’s mother too when she lost her dad. Although they didn’t mention much about him, but you knew he wasn’t around anymore.

          • J Jett

            did you notice the picture on the wall(?) showing the mom and Liam Neeson (who obviously voiced the monster) indicating that Neeson’s character was her dad/the boy’s grandpa. i wonder if that was just a “wink wink…it’s Liam Niason”. and can you explain Sigourney’s “accent”? lol. she’s normally perfect in movies.

          • Creepshow

            I did notice that. They showed that picture twice. It was also shown at the end, in the room his Grandmother made for him at her house. It was a clever nod, that had me thinking the same thing.

            And about the accent, I’ll just write it off. Because Sigourney can really do no wrong.

          • Man, I am normally a sucker for a good tear-jerker but I was not crazy about A Monster Calls. It thought it was fine…but it just didn’t strike a cord with me the same way it did with so many others. 3/5 for me.

      • J Jett

        Saturn, i wish they’d release the EVIL DEAD musical on dvd (i know it’s not the same experience as seeing it live but at least it’s something!). 🙂

        • Saturn

          A legitimate release on dvd/blu-ray would be awesome (and I’d definitely buy it) – but I’d assume that it may be available *cough cough* online somewhere.

        • Phantom DJ

          You can get a copy of Evil Dead the Musical on dvd. Go to a horror or comic book convention. I got my copy at a comic book convention

    • You’re homosexual card has been revoked! I kid. 🙂 While I love musicals one of my straight friends loves them wayyyy more. Cliches exist for a reason but mostly don’t hold much water.

      • J Jett

        Zachary, LOL! 🙂

  • lgb

    I’ve got the soundtrack to the Carrie Musical. The sad part is some of the songs are actually good, the opening number “Carrie” “The World According to Kris” and “And Eve Was Weak” Are genuinely great songs. It’s a shame the show didn’t go well

  • Lee W Dalgleish

    I saw the Toxic Avenger musical in London as it transferred here last year for a limited run. It was brilliant. Really funny and the songs were great too. Phantom is a classic and one that should definitely be seen in the West End.

  • Zombie_Kitty

    Unfortunately I haven’t coz they rarely come to the UK, but I would love to see Evil Dead: The Musical. Graham and Jesse also attended Frightfest last year in London and, at one point, performed a song from Re-Animator The Musical. It was awesome 🙂

  • So sad. I’ve been dying to see either Evil dead or Re-animator live. There was actually a local production of Carrie not too long ago. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for what is supposed to be intentionally bad.

  • 1EyeJack

    I can’t comment on the original production of Carrie, but I did see the revamped version last year and really enjoyed it.
    Also worth mentioning the the broadway production of American Psycho.

  • Lazare Lazaro

    Saw the Toxic Avenger in London and loved very much. Funny and tuneful!

  • Hedwig

    ” Suspiria – the musical” get going Goblin….

  • Joshua N

    Evil Dead made for one of the best stage shows I’ve ever seen.
    Excellent set design, genuinely funny and clever song writing, and a bombastic, boom-stick ballet finale that covers you in blood and brings it all home.
    If this comes to your town do NOT miss it.

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