Total Eclipse Of The Needle Drop- Bonnie Tyler’s Treat To Horror

First and foremost, in this house we listen to the full seven minute and two second version of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”; not the four minute and thirty second version. 

I’m not shy about my love for “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” and it is in my Top 3 of karaoke songs (along with Alice Cooper’s “Poison” and “Tequila” by The Champs). Apparently I’m not the only one because, according to a survey in the UK, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” was the most popular song to sing in the shower.

The single off of Bonnie Tyler’s album Faster Than The Speed Of Night became her highest charting single, reaching No. 1 in several countries.  Critics responded positively to the song, noting its “desperately lovelorn” sound coming from the “dreamy” sound of the piano and the “wonderfully gritty” sound of Tyler’s powerful voice.

It seems pretty fitting that the ballad would end up in horror movies because it was at least partially written to be involved in a vampire love story musical. Yes, I’m serious. As songwriter Jim Steinman looked back on his work on the vampire musical Dance Of The Vampire (an adaptation of the 1967 film) he recalled,

“With ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song. Its original title was ‘Vampires in Love’ because I was working on a musical of `Nosferatu,’ the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark.”

While none of the movies in this discussion are vampire movies, there’s two slashers and a zombie movie, so still plenty of fun to be had. 

The opening scene of 1998’s Urban Legend has been making people check their back seats with the same frequency that 2003’s Final Destination 2 has been making drivers change lanes behind logging trucks. Riding in on the wave of post-Scream slasher movies, the opening scene of Urban Legend rivals Drew Barrymore getting viciously repeatedly stabbed in Scream. Directed by Jamie Blanks and written by Silvio Horta, Urban Legend played the meta card talking about urban legends rather than slashers past. 

Natasha Gregson Wagner and the killer in Urban Legend

Driving late at night in the pouring rain, Michelle (Natasha Gregson Wagner) is tired and low on gas. Trying to stay awake, she pops a tape in the car’s cassette player and on comes “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”. After stopping at the desolate gas station, she freaks out when a stuttering Brad Dourif tries frantically to warn her about something but her fight or flight instincts kick in and she flees back to her car. She speeds away as Dourif screams at the taillights, “SOMEONE’S IN THE BACKSEAT!”

The cassette picks back up on the player and “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” continues. In a similar meta-sort-of-fourth-wall-break as Randy (played by Jamie Kennedy) watching Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and talking to the TV telling her to, “Look behind you. Turn around, Jamie,” Michelle is singing along “Turn around, bright eyes,” as a figure in a puffy winter coat rises from her backseat, wielding an axe and ready to swing.  

Damian Maffei and Lewis Pullman in The Strangers: Prey At Night

The tonal jump from The Strangers (2008) to The Strangers: Prey At Night (2018) is such a fun thing and there’s no denying that. My feelings towards the first movie are not very strong but the sequel has become one of my favorite slashers. Directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. The fact that the killers are going out of their way to make sure there’s 80’s music playing during their kills is such a fun and almost bonkers touch. It’s a fucking vibe and I love that. It’s why I love House Of 1,000 Corpses so much because Baby takes the second to turn on the radio so they’re dancing around to “Brick House” as they’re dismembering Rainn Wilson. The juxtaIf you’ve been with me in the warehouse when I have control of the music, you’ve probably heard this soundtrack because I play it a LOT. I love the score by Andrian Johnston and the choice of 80’s songs.

During one of the kill scenes, “Man In The Mask” (played by Damian Maffei) takes a moment to cycle through radio stations to find a song before he makes a kill, landing on Kim Wilde’s “Cambodia” before stabbing someone in the throat. He doesn’t have to be THAT extra but it adds to the creepy vibe because it’s so odd and really it’s him teasing his prey. 

When Luke (Lewis Pullman) tries to elude the killers by the pool, one of the killers flips a switch and the pool is illuminated by neon palm trees and “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” begins playing from the loud speakers. Luke stabs the Pinup masked killer (Lea Enslin) and taunts the Man In The Mask which leads to one of the top fights/chase scenes of the year as the two of them fall into the pool as the music rises and falls as they rise and fall above the water line. 

Lastly, we have the movie where I was quite literally rolling with laughter by the end of it- 2014’s Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead (sounds like a damn video game title, doesn’t it?) Directed by Tommy Wirkola and written by Geir Vegar Hoel (who plays Martin) and Stig Frode Henriksen (who plays Glenn), the sequel picks up immediately where the first movie cuts to black and the credits roll and the action and humor just keep coming. 

The sequel follows Martin as he now has to fight his infected zombie arm as well as more resurrected Nazi zombies. One of the powers of his newly reanimated arm is the power to reanimate others. 

After the grand fight of zombies and our heroes go their separate ways, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” begins to play as Martin drives up the coast. He rolls up to a cemetery and digs up the grave of his dead girlfriend, Hanna (Charlotte Frogner). After a moment of reacclimation, their faces meet and Martin passionately kisses the blackened and rotting face of his girlfriend. Cut to a dramatic hand fling against the fogging window a la Titanic as Bonnie Tyler’s emotionally charged voice booms over them. 

According to Wirkola in the director’s commentary, they did film inside of the back of the truck as the necrophilic sex scene was happening and maggots were included. Whether or not those clips will ever see the light of day remains unknown but the grotesque curiosity remains. 

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