Out of Character: The Music of Horror

Anyone that meets me pretty quickly learns two things: I like horror, and I like musicals. With a growing number of horror/dark musicals actually getting runs in NYC and regional theater, it's starting to feel a lot like I'm not the only one. Gaiman's Coraline is now a well-reviewed Off-Broadway musical, and The Toxic Avenger (based on a Troma film, for goodness sake) is an award winning piece of theater. Even Tony nominated shows, like [title of show], are making blatant references to horror (Die, Vampire, Die).

But what can be a whole lot more amusing is when the image of pure terror or sincere beauty is forever destroyed by crossover work into the other well.

For example, I was aware that Anthony Perkins did theater. I was also very aware that he created one of the most enduring and horrifying characters of film: Norman Bates in Psycho. But I only discovered video evidence of foray into the Loesser musical fantasy (in what is the closest Loesser ever came to something just plain pretty like Lerner and Loewe) called Greenwillow:

Beautiful. And disturbing. The man dressed as his mother and killed a bunch of people on film. And he's singing a lovely song about how a family curse means he'll never be married.

Two more prime examples after the jump:

Bette Davis, aside from being the baddest bitch to ever rule over the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is known for creating powerful characters on screen that linger in the mind long after the reels stop. She also helped create the horror sub-genre known as the Psycho-Biddy film. Basically, she made Grandma scary.

Which is of course why she tried to launch a pop career off of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?:


The epitome of the ruin-your-perception transfer is what I think is perhaps the most misunderstood musical ever composed: Carrie. If you hunt around, you can find a sound board recording of the entire show from opening night. The score is solid. The book is solid. It was the costumes, and casting, and choreography, and set design, and every other technical aspect that caused it to fail.

Just listen:

In conclusion, please release the rights to Carrie the Musical. People want to see and do this show off the strength of those three numbers alone. Just search YouTube - bootleg scores are getting around and college students are being graded on how well they can beat their daughter with a bible to music. You know you want in on that kind of money.

Opening Today: 12 June 2009

Embarassment Avoided: Or, A Winning Night for Robert