HomeHorror5 Killer Needle Drops from Scary Movies and Series in

    5 Killer Needle Drops from Scary Movies and Series in

    That Halloween Kills needle drop was mean.


    A soundtrack’s needle drops can make or break a horror movie. If it’s good, it can serve as a sneaky sign of things to come (think “Beyond the Sea” in A Quiet Place Part II), or better yet, a well-timed ruse lulling you into a false sense of security before slitting your throat (i.e. “The Christmas Sweater” in Silent Night). If it’s bad, it can take you out of the movie entirely, turning a twist that could have been frightening in another context into the funniest scene of the year (see: “Where is My Mind” in the new camp classic Malignant). 

    Here are five needle drops from horror movies and series released in 2021 that will be stuck in my head for years to come. 

    “Shameika” by Fiona Apple from Candyman

    Shameika wasn’t gentle and she wasn’t my friend
    But she got through to me and I’ll never see her again

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    This is a needle drop you may have missed on your first viewing of Nia DaCosta’s Candyman. But once you notice it, you won’t be able to forget it. 

    When Candyman-obsessed artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) visits the home of snooty art critic Finley Stephens (Rebecca Spence), you can hear this standout track from Fiona Apple’s acclaimed album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, playing softly in the background. Given that the song is about a white person gaining approval and empowerment from a Black person (“Shameika said I had potential”), it feels like an especially pointed choice by DaCosta. After all, the pretentious Stephens is only interested in Anthony after she thinks he can cash in on his trauma-fueled art. She even dares to attempt to summon He Who Shall Not Be Named in Front of a Mirror before being murdered for her misdeed. 

    “Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond from Midnight Mass

    Call the sun in the dead of the night
    And the sun’s gonna rise in the sky
    Touch a man who can’t walk upright
    And that lame man, he’s gonna fly

    If you’ve watched Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass already, you know that Neil Diamond plays a pivotal role in the limited series. Several of the singer-songwriter’s works are used throughout the seven episodes, including this poetic number that plays over a montage in the third installment (“Book III: Proverbs”). 

    What starts as a private dance between an older couple (Kristin Lehman and Henry Thomas as Annie and Ed Flynn) is suddenly overcome by youthful exuberance after witnessing a miracle first-hand. This then turns into a series of shared experiences as we see the rest of Crockett Island flock to church to see the power of the controversial Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) for themselves. It is a joyful sequence that captures what it feels like to have your faith (religious or otherwise) renewed. But Neil’s (ableist upon reflection) lyrics also hinting at the darkness still to come for this misguided shepherd and his flock. 

    “The Calvary Cross” by Richard and Linda Thompson from The Night House

    I was under the Calvary Cross

    The pale-faced lady she said to me
    I’ve watched you with my one green eye
    And I’ll hurt you ’till you need me

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    Early in David Bruckner’s The Night House, grieving widow Beth (a superb Rebecca Hall) is shocked to hear this tragically beautiful track blasting from the bottom floor of her house. The sudden needle drop would be a solid jump scare on its own, especially since both Beth and the audience have been led to believe that she is alone in her lakeside home. But because we know that the Richard and Linda Thompson song is directly connected to her relationship with her late husband (Evan Jonigkeit as Owen), it’s downright foreboding. 

    The repeated use of the song throughout the film leaves you wondering whether Owen really is beckoning his wife from beyond the grave, or if emotionally overwhelmed Beth is just compulsively replaying memories from when he was still alive in an attempt to move through her survivor’s guilt. In the end, it turns out there really is someone watching Beth “with [their] one green eye”. It’s not Owen, nor the “pale-faced” doppelgangers who eventually lead her to a mirror image of the house they used to call home. 

    “Could I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray from Halloween Kills

    When we’re together, it feels so right
    Could I have this dance, for the rest of my life

    A seemingly small moment in one of the biggest horror movies of the year, this needle drop had a lasting impact on me and many other queer folks who came to love Haddonfield residents and Myers House co-owners Big John and Little John (Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald). 

    After getting to know this sweet couple who just wanted to stay in and watch John Cassavetes’ Minnie and Moskowitz and listen to spooky musicon Halloween night, we have to watch them get stalked by none other than The Shape himself. The showdown doesn’t end well for either John, with their eventual deaths some of the most graphic and gory of what is already a pretty brutal film. But their final moment on screen is what really gets you. The now-dead duo is posed together like one of the photos on their mantel as this tragically romantic Anne Murray track plays in the background. 

    Michael Myers, you beautiful, twisted bastard. 

    “She’s Not There” by The Zombies from Titane

    But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
    How would I know, why should I care?
    Please don’t bother tryin’ to find her
    She’s not there

    Julia Ducournau is a true woman of taste. The soundtrack to her first film, cannibal coming-of-age classic Raw, was truly excellent. The scene in which flesh-hungry protagonist Justine dances to “Plus putes que les putes” by French band Orties stands out as one of the best music moments of the last decade. 

    This year, Ducournau released her follow-up, Titane, and with it came a soundtrack filled with bangers in assorted languages, including “Light House” by Future Islands and even “Macarena” by Los del Río. But in my opinion, the best needle drop in the film is one that was also used in the trailer: “She’s Not There” by The Zombies.  

    Playing over a moving scene in which auto-obsessed lead character Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) dances with surrogate father figure Vincent (Vincent Lindon), this spooky ‘60s track really is the film’s unofficial anthem. Like the unnamed subject of The Zombies’ classic, Alexia and Vincent may be physically present, but they are both emotionally unavailable as a result of their respective past traumas. It’s only when they open up to each other that they can finally be “there” for themselves.  

    Categorized: Best of 2021 Editorials News

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