The power of music can take us anywhere, especially when it comes to our cinematic experiences. As a musical dunce, I’ll never be able to comprehend the vast lingo associated with a lot of horror’s fantastic scores and composers. Unlike some of my more knowledgeable colleagues, I remain uneducated in the finer art of film scores past and present, aside from the basic function of merely identifying them. What I do know, however, is music created out of sheer gratuitous, guiltily pleasurable listening and there is no decade that rocks that stance harder than the horror films of the 1990’s.
This particular decade is a time where full album soundtracks accompany the films we treasure with songs most of us can’t help but indulge in while cringing throughout most. A film’s score was essential back then, obviously, but it was title tracks and tacky music videos of the 90’s that caught our eyes and ears. From one-hit-wonders to bands we still love, this list of 10 Guilty Pleasure Soundtracks Of The 90’s To Binge And Cringe demands you pull out your bulky CD cases as it takes a nostalgic tour of the moody, grungy, alternative, pop-punk, metal, mainstream scene of horror.
10. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
It’s not every day that the final girl is also the film’s… pop vocalist. Danny Cannon’s I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is one of those guilty watches, but the soundtrack itself is almost absolutely sinful. Like most college spring breaks of the past, it’s shameless, carefree, immature adult horror in all its glory.
Tracks like Swirl 360’s “Hey Now Now”, Deetah’s “Relax”, Bijou Phillips’ “Polite”, Reel Tight’s “(Do You) Wanna Ride”, and Imogen Heap’s “Getting Scared” flow in a contemporary wave of laidback techno progression. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’s soundtrack is surprising in many ways, but the overall upbeat tone is just as zany and ridiculous as its premise. CJ Bolland’s “Sugar Is Sweeter” and Orgy’s “Blue Monday” add an alternative mix of heavy beats while Jennifer Love Hewitt herself adds the real sweetness with her single for the film, “How Do I Deal”.
P.S. There is a “How Do I Deal” music video.
P.P.S. It does include cheesy, unfitting scenes from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
9. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn takes a hard bite out of western-style music with its soundtrack. Twangy, bluesy songs like “Texas Funeral” by Jon Wayne, “Dark Night” by The Blasters, “Foolish Heart” by The Mavericks, “After Dark” by Tito & Tarantula, “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “Willie The Wimp (And His Cadillac Coffin)” by Stevie Ray Vaughan, add atmosphere and sexuality to this red hot vampire tale.
ZZ Top puts a stake in the list with their blood-sucking track, “She’s Just Killing Me”. In traditional, old school fashion, the music video featuring a post-From Dusk Till Dawn Seth Gecko, played by George Clooney, and Santanico Pandemonium, played by Selma Hayek, is a delightfully nefarious extra worth watching.
8. The Craft (1996)
Girl power comes with a price and a sweet contemporary soundtrack in Andrew Fleming’s The Craft. The film explores teenage isolation with a female-driven agenda empowering feelings of independence and self-worth. Calling the corners of womanhood, this witchy coming-of-age story invokes slow-burn crooner singles like “Tomorrow Never Knows” by Our Lady Peace, “All This and Nothing” by Sponge, “I Have The Touch” by Heather Nova, and “Sick Child” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
“Dangerous Type” by Letters To Cleo and Love Spit Love’s “How Soon Is Now?” bind The Craft to the 90’s era of capricious cover songs, but add a layer of maturity and depth to the film’s natural spirit. Didn’t we all fall in love with the goth group of gals (and their style) making their way across the quad while Kay Hanley belted out the lyrics “She’s a lot like you… the dangerous type“? I know I did.
7. Disturbing Behavior (1998)
If this one doesn’t immediately make you want to bust out your chain wallets and, boots, you might be a Blue Ribbon shithead. David Nutter’s Disturbing Behavior is one of the less popular teens-in-peril 90’s flicks, but that is ironically part of its charm. Portraying the living hells of high school, the impossible balance of fitting in and being yourself, the soundtrack scratches our inner itch to resist and riot.
“Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger is the star student of this paranoia-suppressive soundtrack followed up with “Every Little Thing Counts” by Janus Stark and “Sometimes” by Driver. Addict’s “Monster Side” seductively introduces Katie Holmes (who could forget that slow-motion truck bed move?) and “Got You Were I Want You” by The Flys is just too good not to place in the opening and closing scenes of the film. Disturbing Behavior’s rebellious appreciation reflects its 90’s nonconforming crowd. F.O.S.’ “Blown” and Hutt’s “Hole In My Soul” round out this mix of alternative grunge fit to trash your ears and your mind.
6. Idle Hands (1999)
Horror films of the 90’s are notorious for a few things and taking advantage of social stereotypes is one of them. Rodman Flender’s Idle Hands puts the ‘stoner’ in the limelight, his goofball buddies at his side, the hot chick in the hot seat, and the rival creep in 80’s metal nostalgia. If the devil is looking for an ideal possession playground, he need only follow the tunes of the decade’s misspent youth.
The psychedelic soundtrack matches the film’s slacker wit and dirtbag mix with tracks like “Enthused” by Blink-182, “Midtrip” by Zebrahead, “My Girlfriend’s Dead” by The Vandals, “Mama Said Knock You Out” by The Waking Hours, “Push It” by Static-X, “Second Solution” by The Living End, “Bleeding Boy” by Disappointment Incorporated, “Cailin” by Unwritten Law, and, appropriately, Mötley Crüe’s “Shout At The Devil”. It’s a solid way to jam out to Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” and even gets down with The Offspring’s “Beheaded”, both making an appearance in Idle Hands to shake things up and tear them down with hysterical, terrifying flair.
5. Bride of Chucky (1998)
You never expect a film about to talking children’s dolls to be so vicious, but Ronny Yu’s Bride of Chucky takes the wedding cake. With a thin veil of dark humor and twisted clutch of murder and mayhem, this soundtrack dares you to headbang proudly with one fist in the air. This installment of the Child’s Play universe happily marries its mean edge to its metal music.
Embodied by more hard-core songs like “See You In Hell” by Monster Magnet, “Human Disease” by Slayer, “Love You To Death” by Type O Negative, “Blood Stained” by Judas Priest, “Boogie King” by Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, “Bled For Days” by Static-X, the crazy hit “The Son of X-51” by Powerman 5000, and the somber single “Crazy” by Kidneythieves, Bride of Chucky keeps its music list cleverly taut and tongue-in-cheek. Chucky pumps to White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ‘65”, and the most memorable music moment, Tiffany’s introduction, slices its way to the screen with Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” (which is oddly not included on the official soundtrack). If those two are not on your horror playlist, they damn well should be.
4. Practical Magic (1998)
Keeping a temporary poles on the horror genre and the hard-core music that usually accompanies terror, Griffin Dunne’s Practical Magic remedies our need to slow down and become one with the universe. The spellbinding soundtrack channels the film’s soft, natural, and dark tones with slow, powerful feminine singles like Lisa Hall’s “Is This Real?”, Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”, Michelle Lewis’ “Nowhere and Everywhere”, Bran Van 3000’s “Everywhere”, and Faith Hill’s “This Kiss”.
The most magical part of Practical Magic is the reemergence of The White Witch herself, Stevie Nicks. Her melodic “Crystal” and “If You Ever Did Believe”, featuring Sheryl Crowe (and a Practical Magic-specific music video!) bring us back to the days of the early 90’s contempo-gothic period, one we still strive to emulate today.
3. The Crow (1994)
Sorrow plays to a different tune in the 90’s. Lamenting the loss of a lover graduates from long, slow ballads to deep, dark anthems and no other soundtrack represents the decade’s emotional evolution quite like Alex Proya’s The Crow. This moody soundtrack bears the fruits of heartbreak in melancholic 90’s rock fashion.
Featuring tracks like Nine Inch Nails’ “Dead Souls”, Violent Femmes’ “Color Me Once”, The Cure’s “Burn”, Stone Temple Pilots’ “Big Empty”, Rage Against the Machine’s “Darkness”, Pantera’s “The Badge”, and Machines of Loving Grace’s “Golgotha Tenemet Blues”, it’s everything our gothic souls could want. Helmet’s righteous “Milquetoast” adds an angsty underground stamp to the list complete with a music video featuring scenes from The Crow. While these poetic singles won’t be able to bring back the one you love, they’re able to aid in some pretty heavy brooding.
2. The Faculty (1998)
This choice is a supremely individual guilty pleasure as Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty is not only one of my personal favorite horror movies of all time, but Josh Hartnett’s intro to the film while “Helpless” by D Generation plays crosses my mind at least once a day (sometimes twice). Teenage alienation takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to this hip, self-aware, sci-fi high school horror flick. All of the stereotypical students of Harrington High march to the beat of their own drum, as The Faculty assembles in a real killer soundtrack.
Tracks like “The Kids Aren’t Alright” by The Offspring, “I’m Eighteen” by Creed, Soul Asylum’s cover of “School’s Out”, “Haunting Me” by Stabbing Westward, “Medication” by Garbage, and “It’s Over Now” by Neve celebrate wasted youth, misguided adolescence, and fear of the future. It’s one of those albums that flows with the narrative and uses its anthems to amplify the scary realities of growing up, whether you’re a host to an alien parasite or not. The best part? You guessed it! There’s a The Faculty scene-based music video for The Class of ‘99’s cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.
I know, I know. Bad taste… but, I mean, it was high school.
1. Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997), and Scream 3 (2000)
It’s no big reveal in saying that Wes Craven’s Scream franchise paved the way for a new era of horror tropes, dynamics, and relevancy. It’s a staple slasher series that revived the genre, positioning it to a cooler level of the industry with its witty dialogue, meta fan service, beloved characters, and its razor-sharp soundtracks. The songs used throughout the franchise are hip and memorable, the ultimate unofficial theme song being Nick Cave & The Bad Seed’s “Red Right Hand”.
From Scream’s “Youth of America” by Birdbrain, “Whisper To A Scream” by Soho, and The Last Hard Men’s cover of “Schools Out”, to Scream 2’s “She Said” by Collective Soul, “Dear Lover” by The Foo Fighters, and “Suburban Life” by Kottonmouth Kings, all the way to Scream 3’s (Yes, I know its not a 90’s soundtrack, but it’s on the cusp and gets a nod due to ultimate slasher trilogy merit) “Wait and Bleed” by Slipknot, “Spiders” by System of a Down, and “Crawl” by Staind, the franchise does not miss a beat when it comes to identifying with its modern audience. The combination of old-school and New Age 90’s rock maintains its edgy confidence and smart style.
Plus, there’s Master P’s “Scream” from Scream 2, and subsequent Ghostface themed music video, and “What If” by Creed…another track that comes complete with a fun Scream 3 music video. It’s a guilty listen that still manages to make its way into my work commute playlist.
I know what you’re thinking: They just don’t make them like they used to. The music videos, at least. What are some of your favorite horror soundtracks? Which of these memorable 90’s songs do you still listen to? Let us know over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!