The Top 10 Music Inspiring Horror Movies In The Public Domain

While hunting for some free entertainment for Halloween, I discovered that there were a surprising number of horror movies that can be legally and freely downloaded because they have fallen into the public domain. I found cheese-filled creature features like The Giant Gila Monster (1959), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1953), and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962), but I also came across a number of films that I realized have been musically inspirational to some big name bands.

Here are the top 10 musically inspiring horror films in the public domain and what they inspired. The IMDB star rating is included so you can determine what to (or not to) download onto your ipod.

10. The Wasp Woman (1960)

The Wasp Woman The owner of a cosmetic factory becomes the test subject for wasp enzymes that are supposed to make her look younger. The drugs have unintended side effects.

IMDB: 3.4 stars

Musical Inspiration: This movie was said to have inspired the Misfits’ song “Queen Wasp” which appeared on Earth A.D, released in 1983.

9. Teenagers from Outer Space (1959)

Teenagers From Outer SpaceAn alien falls in love with an Earth girl and tries to stop the Earth from being used as a food source for giant space lobsters.

IMDB: 3.0 stars

Musical Inspiration: This was said to have inspired the single “Teenagers from Mars”, which was first recorded by the Misfits in 1978. The song was not on a full-length album until Collection I in 1986.

8. Horror Hotel (1960)

Horror HotelA woman researching New England witches finds herself marked for sacrifice by a coven of undead witches.

IMDB: 6.7 stars

Musical Inspiration: Are you tired of the Misfits, yet? Me neither! The song “Horror Hotel” was first released by the Misfits on 3 Hits from Hell in 1981. It would later appear on both Evilive and Collection II.

7. Nosferatu (1922)

NosferatuThis is the silent classic about Count Orlok, a vampire based on Bram Stroker’s “Dracula”. The film never obtained the rights to the novel, making it an unauthorized adaptation.

IMDB: 8.1 stars

Musical Inspiration: Coroner, God Forbid, DJ Krush and others have released tracks called “Nosferatu” over the years.

6. White Zombie (1932)

White ZombieA man convinces a young couple to get married on his plantation in Haiti, and turns the young woman into a zombie with a little help from Bela Lugosi.

IMDB: 6.5 stars

Musical Inspiration: The American metal band White Zombie (1985-1998) took its name from the movie.

5. The House On Haunted Hill (1959)

The house on Haunted HillVincent Price stars as the host of a haunted house party who offers $10,000 if his guests can survive a night. This was remade in 1999, but didn’t do as well as the original.

IMDB: 6.8 stars

Musical Inspiration: The movie inspired the song “House on Haunted Hill” by the Ghastly Ones, a horror-themed California surf band. The track can be found on a compilation called Gothabilly Rockin Necropolis.

4. Carnival of Souls (1962)

Carnival of SoulsA group of teenagers crash their car into a river, and one survivor mysteriously emerges from the water some time later.

IMDB: 7.1 stars

Musical Inspiration: The band Orbital sampled the line “Why can’t anybody hear me?” from this movie in the song “Spare Parts Express”, which was released on Middle of Nowhere in 1999.

3. Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Carnival of SoulsJack Nicholson makes his film debut in this story about a man who must kill to feed his bloodthirsty talking plant.

IMDB: 6.2 stars

Musical Inspiration: In 1982, composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashmaan created an off-Broadway musical based on the movie. At the time, you couldn’t get away from advertising featuring the play if you tried. I still can hear the friggin’ theme song: “Little shop, Little Shop Of Horrors” torturing me in an endless loop whenever I happen across the title of this movie.

2. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

Plan 9 From Outer SpaceAliens land on Earth and unleash “Plan 9” which resurrects the dead as zombies. This was the last film starring Bela Lugosi who died before the film was completed.

IMDB: 3.4 stars

Musical Inspiration: Not only was the Misfits record label named “Plan 9” in tribute to the movie, but the Misfits song “Vampira” was a tribute to Maila “Vampira” Nurmi, one of the stars of the movie. The song “Vampira” first appeared on Walk Among Us in 1982.

1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living DeadSeveral people barricade themselves in a farmhouse to avoid being eaten by the living dead. To me, this is the original zombie movie.

IMDB: 7.9 stars

Musical Inspiration: “Night of the living Dead” was released as a single by the Misfits in 1979 and later appeared on Walk Among Us in 1982.

For more public domain horror movies, be sure to check out the Horror Section of The Internet Archives.

8 thoughts on “The Top 10 Music Inspiring Horror Movies In The Public Domain

  1. I LOVE Horror Hotel! And of course Nosferatu.

    But the best…WHITE ZOMBIE (for obvious reasons).

    Now I want to go watch b/w horror movies, snuggled on the couch with a warm mug of apple cider.

  2. Wow I will have to watch that original “Little Shop of horrors”. I love Jack Nicolson and had always thought that the Rick Moranis version was the original!

    Night of the living dead is also an amazing classic.

    You can go to this website and watch loads of old movies like these

  3. wow i can’t believe some of those classics have fallen into the public domain. This brings up another interesting question…when DO things in general or HOW do they fall into public domain?

  4. I’m glad you guys liked it!

    As for how works fall into the public domain, it goes something like this:

    In 1909, copyright in the US was 28 years, and the copyright had to be renewed to extend copyright another 28 years, with a maximum term of 56 years. If people didn’t register (or re-register) then, the works would fall into the public domain.

    In 1976, the law was changed to the life of the author plus 50 years, effectively eliminating modern works from entering the public domain.

    In 1998 the law was changed to the life of the author plus 70 years thanks to the Mickey Mouse Protection Act which furthered the idea of perpetual copyright.

    But there was a time when copyright had term limits.

  5. Hey, great post! I kind of copied your idea on my blog although a different Vincent Price classic. Regarding copyright terms, a few years ago there were several attempts to push the term to life of the author + 100 years. Bono of U2 was particularly in favor of this, which only reinforced my hatred towards him.

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