As horror becomes more mainstream, our bellowed genre is more prominent in films and television than ever. Major studios are now pushing horror movies as potential blockbusters, and the success of shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story have just about every network racing to create the next great chiller. It might surprise you to know, however, that horror has been making forays into live theater, a seemingly unlikely platform, for years.
Related Article: Remember When “Carrie” Was a Broadway Musical?
You might have heard about Silence! and/or Evil Dead: The Musical, but did you know there are plays based on Saw, Re-Animator, and American Psycho? They exist—and there are even more you probably didn’t know about. Have a read and let us know what you think in the Comments section!
Have you seen any of these horror movie-inspired plays/musicals? Which one of these adaptations do you find most intriguing? Let’s discuss!
SILENCE! The Musical based on Silence of the Lambs (1991, Directed by Jonathan Demme)
Comic geniuses and talented musical duo Jon and Al Kaplan are the masterminds of this Silence of the Lambs-inspired play. Check out one of the production’s best-known numbers, Put the Fucking Lotion in the Basket (performed by LEGOS!) below.
Overview: SILENCE! The Musical tells the story of rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling as she matches wits with the deliciously brilliant but insane cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in order to catch the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. Clarice faces her own demons—and a troupe of singing and dancing lambs—while racing against the clock to unlock Lecter’s clues before the hapless Catherine Martin is killed and skinned by Buffalo Bill.
Featuring a book by Tony Award nominee Hunter Bell ([title of show] on Broadway) and music and lyrics by Jon and Al Kaplan, SILENCE! The Musical has left a trail of shattered box-office records in its wake. From killing-it at its award-winning 2005 New York International Fringe Festival debut, and then slaying-it for two years during its subsequent off-Broadway run—SILENCE! The Musical has butchered up critics and audiences alike with laughter and glee. Hailed by the New York Times as “Hilarious! Subversively funny, deliriously tasty . . . it makes those naughty ditties in The Book of Mormon seem like trunk songs dropped from The Sound of Music,” and “lewd, lyrical and laugh-your-butt-off musical parody” by the New York Daily News, San Francisco are in for a tasty, tuneful, musical treat. (Source)
The Exorcist based on The Exorcist (1973, Directed by William Friedkin)
Forbes recently announced a stage adaptation of The Exorcist would be coming to London’s Phoenix Theatre. This isn’t the first time what is widely considered the scariest movie ever made has been adapted for the stage. The video below includes clips from a Los Angeles production of The Exorcist, one that starred Richard Chamberlain and Brooke Shield.
Overview: Winner of two Academy Awards, and widely considered the scariest movie of all time, the film adaptation of The Exorcist sparked unprecedented worldwide controversy when it was released in cinemas in 1973.
Forty-five years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel terrified an entire generation, The Exorcist is unleashed onto the West End stage for the very first time in a uniquely theatrical experience directed by award-winning film and theatre Director Sean Mathias (Bent, No Man’s Land). (Source)
Carrie: The Musical based on Carrie (1976, Directed by Brian De Palma)
Believe it or not, the first musical adaptation of Carrie, based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, hit Broadway way back in 1988. Major productions recently ran in London and Los Angeles in 2015, and Malibu High School performed a version of the play in 2016. Check out some recent news coverage for Carrie: The Musical below.
Overview: Carrie: The Musical is a musical with a book by Lawrence D. Cohen, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and music by Michael Gore. Adapted from Stephen King’s novel Carrie, it focuses on an awkward teenage girl with telekinetic powers whose lonely life is dominated by an oppressive religious fanatic mother. When she is humiliated by her classmates at the high school prom, she wreaks havoc on everyone and everything in her path. (Source)
Evil Dead: The Musical based on Evil Dead (1981, Directed by Sam Raimi)
Evil Dead: The Musical has become popular and infamous due to the fact that gore gushes off stage and into the audience! The first few rows give new meaning to the term “Splash Zone”. The most recent production just wrapped a residence in Vegas, but a one-night show is scheduled for the Maverick Theater in Fullerton, CA on Aug. 19, 2017. See what the experience is like in the video below.
Overview: Evil Dead: The Musical is a Canadian rock musical stage play based on the cult classic film series. First performed on stage in 2003 at the Tranzac club in Toronto, Ontario, the show instantly became a hit and eventually moved on to an off-Broadway run in 2006. Many regional productions of the show have been performed all over the world. Critics praised the show and one critic for The New York Times said the musical “wants to be the next The Rocky Horror Show, and it just may succeed”. (Source)
American Psycho: The Musical based on American Psycho (2000, Directed by Mary Harron)
How this one has been riding under the radar is a mystery to me! Check out some bits of American Psycho: The Musical, as recently performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Overview: American Psycho is a musical with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik and a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. It is based on the controversial 1991 novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, which also inspired a 2000 film of the same name, which starred Christian Bale. Set in Manhattan during the Wall Street boom of the late 1980s, American Psycho is about the daily life of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy young investment banker who is also a serial killer.
The musical received its world premiere at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2013, directed by Rupert Goold and starred Doctor Who actor Matt Smith. A Broadway production began preview performances on 24 March 2016, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, directed by Goold and starring Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman. (Source)
Stephen King’s The Shining, A Play based on The Shining (1980, Directed by Stanley Kubrick)
In 2014, The Benson Theater in Omaha, NE ran the world premiere of Stephen King’s The Shining, A Play, directed by Jason Levering from a script penned by Levering and Aaron Sailors. Check out the uber-creepy trailer below.
Overview: “The Shining” was first released in 1977. It was Stephen King’s third novel and his first hardcover bestseller, and it was the book that cemented King as one of the leading authors in the horror industry. Mr. King originally conceived “The Shining” as a play – a tragedy in five acts – but it instead evolved into a novel with five parts. The story follows the gradual dismantling and eventual fall of the Torrance family at the hands of a sinister supernatural force, and it is rife with the intense drama and startling violence often found in Greek tragedies. (Source)
King Kong: The Musical based on King Kong (1933, Directed by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack)
In 1933’s King Kong, intrepid and greedy explorers bring the gargantuan ape to New York, where they make the terrible mistake of putting the creature on stage. Kong was brought back to the stage, quite literally, when an Australian theaters troop adapted and produced King Kong: The Musical. The production will arrive on US shores in 2018. Have a look-see at some of it below.
Overview: King Kong is a musical with music by Marius de Vries, lyrics by Michael Mitnick and Craig Lucas, a book by Lucas and additional musical and lyrical contributions by 3D, Sarah McLachlan, Guy Garvey, Justice and The Avalanches. It is based on the 1933 film of the same name. The original production was mounted in Australia in 2013. A Broadway production is planned for 2018. (Source)
The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein based on Young Frankenstein (1974, Directed by Mel Brooks)
If ever there was a horror comedy born to be adapted into a stage musical, it’s Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein! Check out some highlights from the show’s Broadway run in the video below.
Overview: Young Frankenstein, officially known as The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein, is a musical with a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan and music and lyrics by Brooks. It is based on the 1974 comedy film of the same name written by Brooks and Gene Wilder and directed by Brooks, who has described it as his best film. It is a parody of the horror film genre, especially the 1931 Universal Pictures adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its 1939 sequel, Son of Frankenstein.
After tryouts in Seattle, Washington and four weeks of previews, the musical opened on Broadway on November 8, 2007, to mixed reviews. The Broadway production closed on January 4, 2009, after 30 previews and 484 performances. A U.S. tour started on September 29, 2009, in Providence, Rhode Island. (Source)
Re-Animator: The Musical based on Re-Animator (1985, Directed by Stuart Gordon)
Re-Animator: The Musical has been making rounds and racking up awards for over half a decade now, with 6 LA Weekly Theatre Awards including Best Musical, Best Musical Ensemble, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Original Music, Best Adaptation, and Best Blood Effects. Check out some clips below:
Overview: Book by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon and William J. Norris, Music and Lyrics by Mark Nutter, Adapted from the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Based on the film H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator produced by Brian Yuzna. Musical director: Peter Adams, Choreography by Cynthia Carle, directed by Stuart Gordon, Produced by Dean Schramm and Stuart Gordon. “RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL” was developed and premiered at the Steve Allen Theater under the Artistic Direction of Amit Itelman. (Source)
Saw!: The Musical based on Saw (2004, Directed by James Wan)
A recent parody, SAW!: The Musical, written and directed by Emily Twardy and Brandon Bednarek, was performed March 27th, 2017 at Buffalo High School in the Performing Arts Center. You can see the production in its entirety below.