"Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a gothic rock song written by the band Bauhaus. The song was the band's first single, released in August 1979, and is often considered to be the first gothic rock record released. It did not enter the UK charts. The b-side features the song "Boys" and some versions also include an early demo recording of what would be their next single, "Dark Entries". It was released on CD in 1988 and was compiled on the 1998 album, Crackle - The Best of Bauhaus. The original sleeve art was taken from a still of the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The authors listed on the single are David Haskins, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash.
- "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
- "Dark Entries" (demo)
The song is over nine minutes in length and was recorded "live in the studio" in a single take. David J, the band's bassist, claims on his website to have written the lyrics. The singing does not start (in the studio version) until several minutes into the track. The dub-influenced guitar sound was achieved by using partial barre chords and leaving the top E and B strings open.
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded during a six-hour session at Beck Studios in Wellingborough on 26 January 1979. Four more songs were recorded ("Boys", "Harry", "Bite My Hip" and the unreleased "Some Faces") but not used; only "Harry" surfaced in 1982 as a single B-side to "Kick In The Eye".
The song "Boys" was re-recorded at Beck Studios in spring 1979. "Bite My Hip" was an early version of "Lagartija Nick".
The song was featured in the 1983 Tony Scott cult vampire film The Hunger, with Bauhaus portraying a band in a nightclub, playing it during the opening credits and introduction. A 7" promotional record featuring an edited version of the song was released to theaters playing the film.
It was also played throughout the film Dead Man's Curve/The Curve, and featured in the French film, Sombre. The song is played in the film Good Luck Chuck as an introduction for when the Goth girl is on screen and it is on the soundtrack.
The song was used as the intro music for the late 1990s Saturday Night Live skit "Goth Talk", which had Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon as two goth students. This song was also in an episode in the fifth season of Smallville, the vampire/Halloween-themed "Thirst". The song was also in an episode of One Tree Hill.
Comedian and musician Bill Bailey parodied the song on his DVD Cosmic Jam as part of a medley in which he and his band, the Stan Ellis Experiment performed Cockney Rock style versions of popular songs - this particular segment of the medley included lyrical changes such as "E ad a girl's name".
The song was played almost in its entirety during the horror film The Collector during a scene in which the older daughter was attempting to have sex with her boyfriend before they were both viciously murdered.
The song was played in the opening scene of the Supernatural television series in season 6, episode 5, "Live Free or Twi-Hard". The episode is vampire-themed, poking particular fun at the Twilight film series and its romanticism of vampires.
The original 12" release was on white vinyl and limited to 5,000 copies. Various re-releases included the following:
- black vinyl with black-on-white sleeve
- blue vinyl with blue-on-white sleeve
- clear vinyl with brown-on-white sleeve
- green vinyl with green-on-white sleeve
- pink vinyl with pink-on-white sleeve
- red vinyl with red-on-white sleeve
- glow-in-the-dark picture disk with clear plastic sleeve