Horror. Comics. Off-beat.

Music We Love: The Tunes of the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise

I wanted take a minute to state how much I appreciate the internet when it comes to the music from the movies we grew up watching. Pre-internet, say in the early 90s, there were not a ton of kids in my junior high who still cared about Nightmare on Elm Street or Freddy, and even less that still cared about Dokken. So horror movies, and especially the tunes within the films were a personal thing for me that my friends kinda didn’t really care about. Once the internet was in full swing though, I learned that I’m not the only person in the world that worships Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything” and that there is a whole cult of people that do. So, fuck yeah.

Admittedly, growing up I did not pay much mind to scores for the movies I watched. The actual songs, yes. But the score faded into the movie and was just part of the experience. Certainly, I knew some themes songs were particularly badass or that John Carpenter’s scoring was specifically excellent, but otherwise…I just wanted some metal. In fact, it was not until around 10 years or so ago that I remember watching a film for the first time and thinking, shit, this score is awesome. The movie was Deep Red. I wasn’t really familiar with Goblin as an entity, but that would soon change. And I would begin to really appreciate the scoring to these movies I’d seen a ton of times.

Because I didn’t spend a ton of time paying attention to the score, I never really thought much about the music in the original 1984 Nightmare on Elm Street. Sure, there’s the 213 song in the credits, but that’s about it. Part 2 has some jams in it, but the music was not something that really connected to me. I mean, there is of course the song during the scene, but outside of the film, it’s not something I was itching to throw on my own boombox. Side note: apparently the full version of “Touch Me (All Night Long”) is almost ten fucking minutes long?!

With regard to Part 3, it’s extremely frustrating that there are not more songs in Dream Warriors. It’s a movie that begs for an entire Dokken-provided soundtrack album. But, I’m not gonna complain too much because we did get the heavy metal horror anthem to end all heavy metal horror anthems. And one of the greatest movie videos to boot. Joanna and I saw Dokken back in 2007. We went specifically to see Pretty Boy Floyd, one of my favorite bands ever, and they were opening for Dokken. PBF’s set was killer. Dokken, though…I felt kinda bad for thinking about how bad Don sounded. It really brought the whole thing down, but we hung out for a bit. I enjoy Dokken’s output in general, but I really wanted to hear “Dream Warriors”, so we decided to stick around at least until they played it. After three songs, Don mentions they are gonna play a song that they normally don’t play live even though it’s one of their biggest hits and “Dream Warriors” kicks in. I am extremely glad they played it and cannot fathom going to a Dokken show and them NOT playing it!

And the Dream Master soundtrack album. It bugs me that, from where I sit, the standout songs from the film are not on the album. The album itself is fine, but the above-mentioned Dramarama song is conspicuously absent. Am I wrong in thinking that those kickboxing scenes where the song plays are crucial parts of the film?

The Sinead O’Connor tune that Deb works out to is also missing. From what I can tell, the version from the film, which features MC Lyte (essential), is available on the CD single for the regular version of the song. So it’s out there, but it needs to be on the soundtrack album. The Dream Master version doesn’t even appear to be on Spotify, which is annoying. And where the fuck is Tuesday Knight’s “Nightmare”? The movie’s theme song is not on the soundtrack album? That makes zero sense to me. But still, if we’re talking NOES tunes, “Dream Warriors” might be the best overall movie-related song, but Dream Master has the most rock per capita. So many of the scenes, particularly the kill scenes, are intrinsically linked to the songs that accompany them. And, of course, “Are You Ready for Freddy?” by the Fat Boys. Why is that not on the official soundtrack?

The Dream Child soundtrack album is less frustrating in that it includes almost all the songs from the movie, though the songs are mostly not as good or memorable as Part 4. The hip hop songs are mostly mediocre, save for the Schoolly D track. Even Kool Moe Dee sounds boring here. The problem is that, while none of them are out and out bad, they are as by-the-numbers as rap/hip hop could get in 1989. A lot of the artists on deck here are ones I’ve always listened to outside of the movie anyway, like Bruce Dickinson and WASP. Their inclusion doesn’t add much here, but the songs themselves are, as usual, good.

Where Dream Child’s songs are ones I like outside of the context of the movie, though immemorable within, Freddy’s Dead’s cuts are the opposite. With few exceptions, most of the songs from The Final Nightmare soundtrack are not ones I have any interest in, except I dig them in the actual movie. You could also make the argument that NOES 3 through 5, both the films and their soundtracks, were the heavy metal trilogy of the franchise, while Freddy’s Dead, especially the soundtrack, was the (for lack of a better word) “grunge” entry. Admittedly, I was pretty floored when I eventually figured out that some of the film’s seminal tunes were provided by Nic Cage’s City of Angel’s Goo Goo Dolls. While these songs aren’t really ones that would have me hunting down records, they are so good in their respective placements in the film, and miles and miles better than “Iris”. Honestly though, thanks to having kids, the main thing I think of when I think of the Goo Goo Dolls is this. Chubb Rock’s standard “Treat ‘Em Right”, it’s a classic. Iggy Pop’s contribution is a perfect closer to the franchise—back when they thought or were trying to convince us that Freddy was, in fact, dead. While it’s good for the film though, it’s not really one of Iggy’s best tracks.

Freddy vs Jason. Well, I have no nostalgic connection to the songs from this movie. They are about as 2003 as you can. For the sake of this piece, I queued the soundtrack up on Spotify and, despite knowing that I didn’t really care for most of the bands—just not my thing—I tried to give it a whirl. It didn’t pan out, but I’m sure there’s an audience out there that loves the fuck out of this soundtrack.

On that note, I’m out.

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Categorised in: Movies, movies we love, Music, music we love, Uncategorized

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