If you're a junkie of obscure movies, then you'll recognize this scenario: You're watching a film that isn't very popular among mainstream audiences. It could be that the film wasn't widely distributed or well promoted during its initial release but it nevertheless became a cult classic with a devoted fan base; it could also be that the film just wasn't that good. A few days (or weeks) pass and you'll notice a particular tune bouncing around your head that you can't identify ... until you remember that it's from the obscure film that you saw. This same scenario can also occur with TV shows and video games.
With that in mind, here are ten examples of horror and sci-fi movie, TV and video game themes that got stuck in my head over the years. This list is organized chronologically and most listings have a link to a YouTube video so you can hear these tracks for yourself (and perhaps get them stuck in your head, too). Read on....
1. Dune (1984)
Say what you will about David Lynch's flawed adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel, but one thing is certain: Unlike the countless space operas that were appearing on both the small and big screens during the late 70s and early 80s, Lynch's Dune was the only one that neither looked nor felt like Star Wars. Adding to such distinction was its soundtrack by the rock group Toto, their first and only film score. Of particular note is the opening theme, which establishes the vast scope and dire mood of the story that follows.
2. Wings of Honneamise (1987)
I saw this anime movie shortly after it arrived on VHS in the states. The animation is fantastic, even if the story itself--which tells of humankind's first steps into space on an alternate Earth--isn't particularly great. Ryuichi Sakamoto composed the movie's mesmerizing soundtrack, which reaches its apex with a suite that concludes the film and accompanies the transition into the end credits.
3. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
There have been many, many spoofs of alien invasion films from the 50s, but few are as warped and wicked as Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The opening theme song by The Dickies perfectly captures the manic, over-the-top nature of this unique sci-fi parody.
4. Communion (1989)
For a film that features Christopher Walken having close encounters with probe-happy aliens, Communion isn't quite as interesting as you think it would be. (This is especially tragic in light of Walken's gold watch monologue from Pulp Fiction.) The best thing about this film is its main theme, which was composed by rock legend Eric Clapton.
5. Big O (1999)
Whoever composed the opening theme song of this giant robot anime series must've been psychically channeling Queen, because this sounds so much like something they'd perform.
6. Crimson Rivers (2000)
As a thriller, Crimson Rivers has a lot going for it. It's based on a best-selling novel about a series of brutal murders on a French college campus that are somehow connected to a Nazi experiment in eugenics, and it features the ever-cool Jean Reno as one of the leads. Unfortunately, everything that works is largely undone by director's insistence on cutting out all of the "boring" explanations that give clarity to the plot, resulting in a film that looks great and is paced well but makes little sense. Regardless, the opening theme is memorable even if the solution behind the film's mystery is not.
7. Ginger Snaps (2000)
Ginger Snaps is one of the best werewolf films ever made, and its two sequels are pretty good as well. (However, because the third entry in this franchise is a prequel, I'm a bit frustrated that we'll never see a continuation of the nasty ending seen in Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed.) Many werewolf films have a tragic element to them, and Ginger Snaps is no exception; thus, its mournful theme perfectly complements this frightening tale of teenage lycanthropy and sisterly love.
While the closing credits feature the entire theme, the visuals that accompany the opening credits are just as interesting.
8. Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005)
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects isn't an innovative button-masher of a fighting game, but what sets this superhero slugfest apart is its dark, foreboding (and somewhat surreal) art direction and visual style. Adding heavily to the game's uneasy mood is its soundtrack by Trevor Jones, particularly its "Imperfects Theme" and "Superheroes Theme" tracks.
9. The Broken (2008)
The Broken is the only title on this list that does not have any soundtrack clips available on YouTube. This movie features Sarah Connor Chronicles alumna Lena Headey as a woman who is slowly putting her life back together after a horrible car wreck, a wreck that happened while she was pursuing someone who appeared to be her doppelganger. The closing theme, which is partially played backwards, is a fitting conclusion to a chilling tale of fractured realities and fragmented identities.
10. Skyline (2010)
The only noteworthy things about Skyline are its modestly budgeted special effects and its outrageous ending. To emphasize such a crazy ending is the rocking "Damage Control" track from the film's score, which plays during the end credits.