Horror Movies Adapted Into Broadway And Off-Broadway Musicals
The horror genre is full of over-the-top characters, wildly imaginative visuals, and characters who feel capital E emotions. Doesn't that just scream Broadway? Big-time musical theater is focused on getting as many butts in seats as possible, something that horror is known for in the film industry. However, the horror genre hasn't had as much success on the Great White Way. That doesn't mean there aren't a handful of amazing Broadway and off-Broadway adaptations of horror movies.
For this collection of horror movies that have been adapted into musicals, we're going to be loose with the term "horror." Sidling up next to bizarro musicals like Human Centipede: The Musical and Evil Dead are camp classics like Heathers and The Toxic Avenger - because what are movies about killer teenagers and vengeance-seeking mad mutants but a form of horror?
Not all of these musical adaptations of horror movies have been entirely successful, but these are all weird enough that we wish we could see them all.
- Photo: Warner Bros.141 VOTES
Does any character lend themselves to the Broadway treatment more than Beetlejuice? Heck, does any feature film lend itself to a Broadway adaptation more than Beetlejuice? The production design alone is begging to be recreated on a huge stage in the middle of New York City.
The musical shifts the focus away from the Maitlands and moves it to Lydia Deetz, the death-obsessed beating heart of the story, and adds in songs like "Dead Mom" and "The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing." As much as the musical is indebted to Tim Burton's film and the sound of Danny Elfman's score, it's very much a modern look at the realities of death that's also funny. It's impossible to watch Beetlejuice and not think about the original film, but there's nothing wrong with a double dose of the ghost with the most.
Signature Tune: "The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing"
- Photo: Paramount Pictures235 VOTES
Forget everything that you know about Clue - well, almost everything - and get ready to experience a musical murder mystery unlike anything else. The show is less of an adaptation of the great film and more of an adaptation of the classic board game.
The coolest thing about the Clue musical is that it includes the audience in the mystery, which makes the show more of an interactive experience than something that you're just sitting back and taking in. The social aspect of the musical isn't just something to set Clue apart from other shows - it makes sure that every night is a different show.
Signature Tune: "She Hasn't Got a Clue"
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Roger Corman knows when he has a hit. Little Shop of Horrors has been a cult classic since it was released in 1960, spawning multiple colorizations, a remake in 1986, a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon, and of course, a musical.
First produced in 1982, Little Shop of Horrors comes to you straight from the duo that provided music and lyrics for some of the most iconic Disney films of the '90s. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken created memorial songs for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, and with all the anthropomorphized creatures in those three movies alone, it makes sense they were able to make a musical about a man-eating plant into a must-see piece of theater. More so than any other musical on this list, Little Shop of Horrors is proof that blood and guts pair perfectly with Broadway sensibilities.
Signature Tune: "Skid Row (Downtown)"
- Photo: New World Pictures433 VOTES
Musicals are all about bright colors, big songs, and emotional moments that crack the theater wide open. It makes perfect sense that Heathers would make its way to the Great White Way in the 2010s. Not only is the nostalgia factor always at a major high for this delightfully nasty '80s gem, but if any movie about teen murder was going to have a song-and-dance number, we can see it being Heathers.
The vibe of this musical is definitely campy, so it makes sense that a revival of sorts (the show closed in 2014) took place during Season 3 of Riverdale. Hopefully, fans of snarky teen killers will get a chance to see this on the stage again someday.
Signature Tune: "Seventeen"
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Kandarian demons, a book stitched in skin and written in blood, and a guy with a chain saw for a hand - what about that doesn't scream off-Broadway musical? Combining the plots of the first two Evil Dead films, Evil Dead: The Musical leans into the camp sensibilities of this cult-classic series.
The songs are silly and self-referential, but if you're not into the Rocky Horror of it all, you can still enjoy the gore that carries over from the film to the stage. The musical's website notes that the first three rows of the audience are in the "Splatter Zone," so if you get a chance to see this long-running show, you might want to bring a plastic sheet. If all of that still sounds like too much of a live experience, then you're in luck - the whole thing is on YouTube.
Signature Tune: "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Kandarian Demons"
- Photo: 20th Century Fox634 VOTES
Many musical adaptations of horror films have very little to do with the original creative team behind those movies, but not Young Frankenstein. This beloved horror-comedy was adapted from the screen to the stage by Mel Brooks and his frequent collaborator Thomas Meehan (Annie, Spaceballs), so it's not just a version of the story being told by excited fans. This is the real deal.
Brooks has always excelled at playing to the cheap seats with his dialogue as well as his song and dance numbers, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this musical is laser-focused on squeezing laughs out of the audience while hitting all of those sweet little nostalgia points.
Young Frankenstein is a perfect film, so it's not like it needed to be adapted for Broadway, but in an interview with The New Zealand Herald, Brooks explained he likes adapting his work to Broadway because it's still possible to build word of mouth in the theater, something that you can't do in this ruthless era of filmmaking. He said:
I never had trouble getting films made. But when things got rough, I got involved on Broadway because there is a modicum of art still alive there. The movies today are a big, tough, cut-and-dried business. A movie opens on a Friday and it either makes its money or it doesn't. They don't let films build word of mouth anymore. Broadway is like it was 50 years ago. You can get the money for a show, you can take the show out of town and try it out. The only reason I made a movie of the musical version of The Producers was so we'd have a record of it.
Signature Tune: "Transylvania Mania"