Horror movies and heavy music go together brilliantly, it’s a fact. Like peanut butter and chocolate the two mediums complement each other in a great way, with many notable metal musicians being very outspoken about their love of all things scary on screen.
From the old school shock rock of Alice Cooper and Kiss to modern metal giants like Rob Zombie, the theatrics and dark topics found in the horror genre have provided fertile ground for musicians to draw inspiration from for decades. This kinship has also lead to a great amount of crossover between horror and metal, the aforementioned Rob Zombie and his film career being the most obvious example of this. Other prominent metal figures dabble in the horror genre as well though with the likes of Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and his Fear Festevil showcasing his expansive collection of horror memorabilia or Phil Anselmo (Pantera/Down) and his Housecore Horror nights mixing a full blown metal concert with movie screenings.
As Halloween rapidly approaches the next few days are when many of us will be diving into our horror collections. If you’ve ever screamed “Slayer!” at an inappropriate time then here are five films you might want to check out.
1) Halloween (2007) Dir: Rob Zombie
Let’s get the obvious pick out the way first. Zombie’s 2007 remake of the legendary film was is a solid if slightly bloated watch. While the movie is a very ‘love it or hate it’ affair the added insight into Michael Myers past combined with buckets and buckets of gore make it a solid addition into any Halloween horror marathon. Zombie was able to inject a decent amount of his signature foul mouthed humour into the film and while many at the time questioned the need for the film to be remade (even John Carpenter himself recently voiced his dislike for the film) it’s the best of the classic slasher reboots by a long mile.
2) Cradle of Fear (2001) Dir: Alex Chandon
This obscure straight to video release is an anthology film which tells the story of an imprisoned serial killer who gets back at those who caught him through his demonic son. So far so B movie standard, what makes this gore fest stand out is that the murderous daddy’s boy is played by none other than Dani Filth, the banshee like front-man of British black metallers Cradle of Filth. Cradle of Fear is a decent watch, the anthology template is a great throwback to 80’s horror and shocks and scares come at a decent pace across the four stories. While Filth won’t win any Oscars for his role fans of the band will probably get a kick out of seeing him bring his onstage character to life. This isn’t an easy film to track down due to some weird distribution and release issues but it’s worth the hunt for anyone who ever considered buying an offensive Cradle of Filth shirt to annoy their parents.
3) Queen of the Damned (2002) Dir: Michael Rymer
Let me be clear in saying that Queen of the Damned is not a brilliant horror film by any means. What it is however is a hugely entertaining watch for anyone who grew up with Nu Metal and the awful fashion choices that came along with it. Based loosely of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles the movie opens with the vampire Lestat who is awoken from his slumber by the down tuned power of Nu Metal and decides to form his own band. What follows is a hilarious yarn that features an extraordinary amount of dyed hair, leather and facial piercings. Queen of the Damned can only really be recommended as a film to watch with a few friends and laugh over with the alcoholic beverage of your choice. The film does have some strong links with the Metal world however as Korn front-man Jonathan Davis handled a lot of the soundtrack duties, writing the original songs for Lestat to rock out to. Other notable metal stars like Marilyn Manson and David Draiman (Disturbed) also feature on the soundtrack. In fact metal isn’t the only music genre getting represented in Queen of the Damned as rap star Aaliyah played the title role and the film was release just six months after her tragic death.
4) Green Room (2015) Dir: Jeremy Saulnier
Perhaps more openly punk than metal Green Room is a brutal and brilliant movie with a set up so obvious it’s surprising a horror movie hadn’t covered it before. Starring the late Anton Yelchin and everyone’s favourite star ship captain Patrick Stewart, Green Room follows struggling punk band the Ain’t Rights as they undergo a less than successful tour across the states. A lack of money and petrol quickly become the least of the bands’ worries as they witness a murder at a white supremacist club and are forced into a fight for their lives.
Green Room is a brilliant watch which combines excellent film making, visceral fight scenes and a rumbling heavy soundtrack featuring the likes of Fear and Slayer. The concept makes it a riveting watch for anyone who has ever played in a band, a familiar scenario of taking whatever gig you can find in an effort to get your music heard and ideally get paid for it. The love for the punk genre is clear in almost every aspect of Green Room, from some great musical references to the way that the soundtrack is woven into the background of the film and not just pushed to the forefront like other films with a heavier OST.
Green Room is an easy movie to recommend if you love heavy music or not. Those of us who have blasted Misfits or Dead Kennedy’s in our time will just found some extra nuggets of brilliance in the film that make it essential viewing.
5) Deathgasm ( 2015) Dir: Jason Lei Howden
Deathgasm is without a shadow of a doubt the ultimate horror film for Metal Heads. This New Zealand film oozes so much love for heavy music that it’s almost impossible not to want to throw up the horns or bang your head at some point during the hilarious gore fest.
Part coming of age story and part Evil Dead, Deathgasm follows outcast Brodie as he and his pariah friends form a metal band in a quest to produce the most brutal music on the plant. Early on they stumble across some sheet music straight from the bowels of hell and unwittingly unleash a demonic plague on their small Kiwi town. Madness ensues as the plucky head bangers slice and dice their way through hordes of demons to try and put things right all the while referencing just how Metal their predicament is.
Deathgasm is a fantastic watch. It’s clearly written by someone who grew up with a love of metal and horror and it really feels like the kind of movie made purely for a sixteen year old with a love of denim and band patches.
What makes Deathgasm great however is that it’s so well written and earnestly presented even people who hate heavy music will get a kick out of the gory shenanigans on screen. I personally love this film and could write about it for ages, suffice to say if you haven’t seen it already Halloween is a great time to correct that mistake.
Horror and Metal make amazing bedfellows and 2016 has been a great year for both so far. This Halloween is a perfect time to crack open a few beers, blast some records and enjoy a few of these films. Just don’t be surprised if you scare off the trick or treaters.