WIP Playlist: Horror Thesis

Like a lot of writers, I make an inspiration playlist for each of my major projects. I’m really happy with the one I’ve made for my horror thesis. There’s classical, goth, and Park Chan-Wook, which fits the tone of my story perfectly. Since I want to use this blog to share more of my actual writing/projects, I’ve decided to share my playlist to give a feel of the story!

Swan Lake Suite (piano cover) – Pyotr Tchaikovsky 

Piano is a major motif in the story and for the main piece that my protagonist, Alice, practices throughout, I decided on the famous theme from “Swan Lake” because that story famously deals with doubles in Odette and her counterpart Odile. Also, this was a song that I once played at a piano recital when I was younger.

Mrs. Potato Head – Melanie Martinez 

My thesis deals with plastic surgery, and this happens to be my favorite song on Cry Baby!

Song to the Moon (piano cover) – Antonin Dvorak 

Alice’s sister Irene also plays piano and is more accomplished than her. For her song, I chose a piece from the Czech opera Rusalka. In Slavic folklore, a rusalka is the spirit of a young woman who died by drowning–which also is the fate that befalls Irene.

A Strange Device? – Emilie Autumn 

And now we leave classical piano for some goth/industrial electric violin. Emilie Autumn’s work has a lot of asylum/medical motifs, which fits the medical horror of my story as well.

Body – Mother Mother 


I love the sudden, screeching, frenzied energy of this song and the lyrics are perfect for the body horror of the story, in which Alice gradually loses control of her own body.

Rah! Rah! Replica – Bikini Kill

Irene’s ghost comes back to haunt her would-be replacement, and death has brought a personality change. That change is reflected in the sneering, ironic punk rock guitars of Riot Grrrl. I just might quote this song in my WIP itself.

Duet – Phillip Glass (Stoker OST) 

I really enjoyed Park Chan-Wook’s English-language debut, Stoker, as well as its soundtrack. The piano debut between India Stoker and her uncle was an early inspiration for my thesis, so I decided to include it.

If I Didn’t Have Your Love – Leonard Cohen 

This song represents Alice’s father, Dr. Chen. I chose this song because it’s romantic and really quite sweet, but can easily also read as obsessive and sinister.

Shall We Play Maid? – The Handmaiden OST 

Asian genre film was a huge influence on my project, hence more Park Chan-Wook. I wanted instrumentals to represent all the surgeries, which also serve as nightmare sequences when Alice is sedated. I liked this piece because of its slow, creepy buildup and how it has both piano and strings (which make me think of the surgeon’s knife), and because it’s very Hitchcockian/Bernard Hermann.

She’s Lost Control – Joy Division 

I really like the Ian Curtis biopic CONTROL and Joy Division’s gothic lyrics, and Alice loses more and more control as the story goes on.

Orfeo et Eurydice – Christoph Willibald Gluck 

I played a very simple version of this song at a recital when I was really little. Thematically, this fits Dr. Chen and his attempts to bring his preferred daughter back from the dead.

Severed Crossed Fingers – St. Vincent 

This song fits the climax perfectly: there’s a lot of body horror and acknowledgment of trauma, but also catharsis and release.

Sum of Our Parts – Mary Lambert 

Alice’s main arc comes from realizing that her body is hers and that it–and she–is enough. She is more than her scars and her imperfections and the sum of her parts. This song perfectly encompassed all of that.


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