Right now at the Brattle Theatre they are showing a film series called "Dead of Winter: Bloodsucking Freaks". This is a series filled with double features (and the occasional single feature) of vampire movies. As if winter wasn't chilly enough, they bring in some chilling classics to take it even further. Okay, some of the movies aren't really all that scary, but they still all fit in the horror genre even when they do mix it up with some comedy.
Anyway, one of the films that has already been shown as part of this series is the '80s vampire horror comedy, "Fright Night". "Fright Night" has many staples of '80s horror movies within it. The best one, by my summation, is the inclusion of a theme song with lyrics about the movie. This was a trend that many '80s horror movies partook in and that I honestly wish would come back. It's just so fun to hear the plot of the movie you just watched turned into a song at the end credits of a movie. I love it.
This trend was not restricted to horror movies and in fact had its start in another genre as you will see on my top 12 list. So, without further ado, click on the picture included with this article to start browsing through my picks for the top 12 movie theme songs of the '80s! What are your favorites?
'City of Crime'
"City of Crime" by Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks is perhaps the most over the top example of using the plot of a movie in a movie theme song. This song is sung by the characters in the movie themselves! It is not the best song on this list in terms of actually listening to it, but it definitely is a classic example of the '80s movie theme song. Watch the music video on YouTube here.
This is the song that inspired this list and I believe it is also the first '80s horror movie theme song of this nature. It started the whole trend of horror theme songs made by popular artists that have lyrics about the movie. It is not the best song of the bunch or it would be higher on the list, but it is still a fun theme song and it is important for starting the trend. Watch the music video for the song here!
This one is fun to sing. The emotion put into singing the title of the film is just great! When this pops up in the movie, I dare you not to smile! Listen to the song here!
Ah yes, The Dudes of Wrath. You read that right, The Dudes of Wrath. This is the band assembled solely to create the masterful '80s horror theme song known as "Shocker". Yes, you guessed it, this is the theme to Wes Craven's final '80s horror movie, "Shocker". The film stars Peter Berg, who would go on to direct movies such as "Lone Survivor". It also features "X-Files" fan-favorite Mitch Pileggi as the villain! The Dudes of Wrath was a super-group of sorts, featuring members of KISS, Whitesnake, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Mötley Crüe. It also featured a man named Guy Mann-Dude. Seriously. Listen to "Shocker" here!
This was the one that started them all. In 1980, Kenny Loggins created the catchy tune "I'm Alright" for the movie "Caddyshack" and a precedent was set. Without this, there would not be any of the other songs mentioned on this list. Even Kenny Loggins himself continued the trend with songs such as "Footloose" for the movie of the same name and "Danger Zone" for the movie "Top Gun". His later efforts fit better into this list as the lyrics are more about the movie that the song is from, but this one is more important and less likely to be heard on the radio. Listen to the song here!
'Toxic Avenger Theme Song'
"The Toxic Avenger" was the first real hit for Troma Entertainment. Not before nor since has this independent movie studio ever had such success. The movie was popular enough to gain a children's cartoon on TV! Note that "The Toxic Avenger" isn't exactly a kid's movie. Well, because of this success "The Toxic Avenger part II" was an odd film for Troma Entertainment in that it actually had a decent budget. They were able to film the movie in Japan and they even were able to create a theme song just like the big budget blockbuster movies were doing at the time. Listen to this awesome theme song that tells the story of Toxie here!
Danny Elfman, creator of many a score to a Tim Burton film, was also in a band in the '80s. This band, Oingo Boingo, created the title song for the movie "Weird Science". The movie is very '80s and so is the song. It's a perfect match! Watch the music video for this awesomely weird '80s pop creation here!
That's right, The Ramones did a theme song to an '80s movie based on a Stephen King novel! It is very catchy and the lyrics are great! I bet you can't stop yourself from singing along to the chorus. It's a statement that I think most of us can get behind. Sometimes dead IS better! Watch the music video for the song here!
This is the most metal of any of the '80s horror theme songs and is very close to being the best. The title of the song "Dream Warriors" is also the title of the movie it comes from, "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors". The movie was an attempt to save the franchise after the awful first sequel. They brought back the heroine of the first movie, but more importantly, they made sure to jump on the trend of '80s movie theme songs by popular artists. This time, the band was Dokken and the results are rockin' (sorry). Watch the music video for "Dream Warriors" here!
'He's back (The Man Behind The Mask)'
Before Freddy got his '80s movie theme song due, Jason got his! "He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)" is the perfect movie theme song. The lyrics are about how Jason is going to get you and the music even incorporates the famous "ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma" sound from the "Friday The 13th" movies! This song will instantly put you into the mood to watch a "Friday The 13th" film. It's also a surprisingly catchy toe-tapper. Alice Cooper really did this one right. Watch the fun music video here!
'Back in Time'
"Back in Time" by Huey Lewis & The News is a great song first and a movie theme song second. If you didn't listen to the lyrics closely, you would think this is just another '80s pop hit from the band. However, listen to the lyrics and you'll realize it is a clever play on the plot of the movie "Back to the Future". When this song comes on at the end of the film, it is always a joyous occasion! Listen to the song here!
When you need the absolute best '80s movie theme song, who you gonna call? Apparently, Huey Lewis. The creator of the previous song on the list, which came out the year after this one, was contacted to create the theme song for the movie "Ghostbusters". Well, he turned this opportunity down. Then Ray Parker, Jr. came along and created a song that sounds awfully similar to the Huey Lewis & The News song "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. because of this and they settled out of court. Despite the shameful ripping-off of another song, it is undeniable that this song is a winner! The song is so catchy that just about everyone couldn't stop singing it in the '80s. Just watch the classic music video to see what I mean!