When the average Joe hears the word "musical," certain thoughts come to mind, such as jazz hands, glittery bow ties, perfectly choreographed romances and sweeping ball gowns. • At Halloween time, of course, those things simply won't cut it. But if you're a musical junkie like me, you're looking for more seasonally appropriate shows. Here are some perfectly haunting musical choices to add to your Halloween playlist, incorporating murder, self-mutilation, addiction, prostitution, cross-dressing, cannibalism and Lucifer himself. (Warning: Jazz hands may still be waving.)
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Just over three decades into the future, an international organ-failure epidemic is afoot. People are dropping like flies, and society has reverted to the Dark Ages. Out of the tragedy, a savior emerges: GeneCo, a biological technology company that sells organ transplants, complete with financing. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted down by the infamous Repo Men, a.k.a. the Legal Assassins. In a society where body parts are purchased and switched out like jewelry by the "scalpel sluts" and where a special brand of anesthesia is the drug of choice for anyone who is anybody, a terminally ill 17-year-old searches in vain for her cure and discovers there's a reason family secrets are meant to stay hidden. A mixture of The Phantom of the Opera and the Saw franchise, Repo! is not your parent's musical.
Best song: Zydrate Anatomy
The Devil's Carnival
Three postmortem sinners find themselves eternally reliving iconic fables in a singing and dancing afterlife. Hell is a circus full of sleazy and immortal professional carnies, each personifying a different fairy tale. Even though the plot is based on childishly innocent stories, it's important to realize the film is made by the same lovable psychopaths responsible for Repo! The Genetic Opera. That should be a tipoff that catchy songs and beautiful costumes (there are quite a number) do not offset a high and gory body count.
Best song: Trust me
Johnny Depp sizzles as the handsome, loving husband and father Benjamin Barker, who is driven mad by grief after his beautiful young wife is raped and presumed dead at the hands of the most powerful man in London. Barker is wrongly accused of the crime, and after years of being locked up, he vows revenge on the society that has been oh-so-cruel to him. Under a new identity (Sweeney Todd), he opens a barbershop above a sleazy restaurant and uses his convenient position to put razor-sharp knives to people's throats, drawing no suspicion of sinister motives. Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant as the love struck Mrs. Lovett who *SPOILER* uses the corpses as the special ingredient in her meat pies. Two other Harry Potter actors, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall, star as villains with absolutely no redeeming qualities. What's better than a Slytherin reunion featuring Johnny Depp? Seeing Depp in a striped Victorian-era swimsuit.
Best song: Worst Pies in London
Rocky Horror Picture Show
All you faux-hipsters out there who only know what Rocky Horror is because you rented The Perks of Being a Wallflower just to see Logan Lerman, stop reading. Just kidding (sort of). It would be crazy to bring up Halloween-appropriate musicals without this film. A cult classic since way before we were born, Rocky Horror Picture Show documents newly engaged Janet and Brad as they take shelter from a storm in a mysterious mansion. Even the biggest fans (I don't put myself in that category) don't deny the massive cheesiness and camp populating this film, but that's the fun of it.
Best song: Time Warp