ByAngela Gricar, writer at
❤ Coffee, horror, podcasts, theatre, celeb books | Big butt, bigger heart | Twitter: @angela_gricar | Welcome to my quarter-life crisis ☯
Angela Gricar

Musical films have been a beloved genre since The Jazz Singer stunned American audiences in 1927. Lucky for us, technology has come a long way from Vitaphone sound-on-disc systems. Many of these movies have been inspired by theater as dozens of productions jump from stage to cinema — Hollywood adores Broadway.

With the success of Chicago, which won Best Picture in 2003, a resurgence in the genre has spurred other adaptations: The Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls, The Producers, Rent, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, Les Misérables, Into the Woods, The Last Five Years, to name a few. However, the reversal is a common occurrence as movies have projected themselves from the big screen to center stage.

Going along with this truly terrifying time of year (Halloween that is, but I'll also accept "election season" as an answer) there are even horror-themed movies that have made a name for themselves in theater. Some are plays, others are musicals. Whether you're a fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors (or perhaps a darker tone is more your style), here's a handful of movie-to-musical adaptations for your consideration.

6. Edward Scissorhands

Secret Sacred Theatre 2014
Secret Sacred Theatre 2014

Surprisingly enough, there have been two stage versions of Tim Burton's 1990 fantasy film. The first was a stunning contemporary dance piece by Matthew Bourne with no discourse whatsoever. Though the storytelling is simplified with music and dance, it is no less engrossing. The second version to slice-and-dice its way across the stage was aptly titled Edward Scissorhands: The Stage Adaptation. Producers of the show wished for audiences to reminisce "about lost innocence, pure love and the power of evil." This was only a limited test production, sadly.

Watch Bourne's choreography for the "ice scene" below: chills. Let this serve as a reminder for just how unbelievable Danny Elfman's scores are.

5. Evil Dead

Ryan Ward and Laura Tremblay / Photo by David Hou
Ryan Ward and Laura Tremblay / Photo by David Hou

The 1981 shudder-inducing horror flick is considered by many to be a cult classic, so naturally many sequels (good and bad) have been spawned since then. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them all is the absolutely phenomenal remake, Evil Dead (shout-out to Fede Alvarez who also killed it with Don't Breathe).

Did you know about the bloody, beautifully campy musical? Yes, a song-and-dance stage production of this exists and there's a good chance it could be showing at a theater near you this Halloween season. Kitschy, hilarious, and gory beyond belief. Heads will roll — literally. What more could you ask for?

P.S. There's even a splatter zone for the non-faint of heart. Wear white.

4. Carrie

Emily Lopez as Carrie / Photo by Jason Niedle
Emily Lopez as Carrie / Photo by Jason Niedle

Speaking of splatter zones, I guess our girl Carrie here didn't get the memo.

Stephen King's original book is chilling, the 1976 movie is a staple horror classic, and the 2013 remake with Chloë Grace Moretz wasn't half bad. How about the infamous 1988 musical? Well that was regarded as one of the biggest flops ever produced. However, several theater companies have taken on this once-mocked show since then and revamped it to give Carrie the respect she deserves. If you're a fan of Stephen King or her story, it's worth a watch.

Frightening fact: Broadway vet, Barbara Cook, found herself nearly decapitated on opening night by a set piece. She promptly resigned, and who can blame her? I'm curious who filled her shoes and stepped up to the guillotine. I mean stage.

3. King Kong

Esther Hannaford as Ann Darrow / Photo by James Morgan
Esther Hannaford as Ann Darrow / Photo by James Morgan

The images alone are enough to blow you out of the water as you find yourself transported to Skull Island. A team of puppeteers created this magnificent beast — a work of art, truly. At one ton and 20 feet tall, he's one hell of a centerpiece.

This 2013 Australian born-and-bred musical was more than a hop, skip, and a boat ride away from the majority of us. That ship has set sail as the production has its sights set on Broadway with Tony, Drama Desk, and Pulitzer Prize-winning individuals already signed on. Fitting with the 1933 classic film, the soundtrack is filled with revamped Broadway classic songs from that decade.

Here's a sneak peak of the mechanics behind the silverback "monster."

2. Heathers

Photo by Chad Batka / Vivacity Media Group
Photo by Chad Batka / Vivacity Media Group

Yet another cult classic movie-turned-musical. This one is a black comedy but not quite as dark as the film its based on. What's the damage, you ask? Reviews are mixed, which is said for nearly every musical, so don't let that dissuade you.

It's quirky and silly and perhaps doesn't hold a candle to the movie. To that I say: the cheesier, the better. Makes for a fun few hours of campy theater. If you feel so compelled, give the film a (re)watch this Halloween season. It's just as quotable as Mean Girls, but instead of word vomit, it's got more of an up-chuck factor.

1. Young Frankenstein

Photo by Brett Beiner
Photo by Brett Beiner

That's right, there's a stage version of Young Frankenstein, otherwise known as The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein. After all, who among us could separate the man from the monster? This is, of course, based on the 1974 classic horror comedy that Brooks co-wrote with Gene Wilder, may he rest in peace. For the musical adaptation, Brooks paired up with Thomas Meehan (Annie, Hairspray, The Producers) to write the book. Brooks also wrote the music and lyrics. Whether you're a fan of this film or his legacy of comedic gold, it's electrifying.

Are any of these showing near you? Check


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