The Horror Connection

By David Maloney

As of this issue, Metal On Loud proudly presents a new section: The Horror Connection, by David Maloney! In this section we will discuss classic horror movies that either were very influential in the metal world, or have a metal soundtrack themselves. Metal and Horror cross into each others territories quite often. Be it in lyrical content, artwork, soundtracks or even stage presence. Enjoy this new section!

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)

Track listing

"Cemetery Gates" - 5:47 (Pantera)
"Tonight We Murder" - 3:56 (Ministry)
"My Misery" - 4:28 (Machine Head)
"Diadems" - 4:17 (Megadeth)
"Instant Larry" - 4:06 (Melvins)
"Fall Guy" - 3:53 (Rollins Band)
"Beaten" - 3:10 (Biohazard)
"Polícia" - 1:46 (Sepultura)
"Hey Man Nice Shot" - 5:20 (Filter)
"1-800 Suicide" - 4:17 (Gravediggaz)

Horror fans that came of age in the 90’s have fond memories of DEMON KNIGHT, a film that wasn’t necessarily planned to be a TALES film but was modified to fit the format. Sort of. The film stars William Sadler as Brayker, a stranger who rolls into town and checks into a crumbling hotel, run by the great CCH Pounder (who later on delivers the best middle-finger salute in film history).

The hotel is a rogue’s gallery of miscreants, grifters, greaseballs and broken souls and they’re played by an equally diverse set of actors like Thomas Hayden Church, Charles Fleischer and of course, the inimitable Dick Miller, all of whom deliver top notch, wonderfully committed turns. While Brayker is setting up shop, a giggling bounty hunter (Billy Zane) appears and enlists the local authorities to help him find the supposedly dastardly drifter. And when he does finally find his quarry, he promptly sheds his skin (not literally, yet), decimates his Cop-panions and reveals his true nature: seems the grinning, faux-bounty hunter is in fact a demonic “collector” sent from Hell to retrieve the last of six keys that will unlock the portal between this world and the underworld. And guess who has the key?

Again, many horror fans of a certain vintage hold DEMON KNIGHT in very high regard and it’s easy to see why. The storyline is borderline epic, the special effects are stunning (the movie is virtual practical make-up FX meltdown), the cast is killer, the script is witty, Jada Pinkett Smith gives a career best performance as a tough heroine who faces down the Devil, the sex and gore firmly push the boundaries of its R rating, director Ernest Dickerson keeps it stylish and Zane…Zane…well, Zane gives the most batshit crazy, super-sonic performance since Nicolas Cage in VAMPIRE’S KISS. The man is a sight to behold and his manic energy keeps the entire thing glued together.

The only problem – and it’s kind of a big problem – is that despite its title and the fun, arch Crypt Keeper framing device, DEMON KNIGHT has almost zero to do with TALES FROM THE CRYPT. There’s no morality tale here. There’s no twist. There’s no bad-behavior-getting-punished-by forces-from-beyond-the-grave-stinger. There’s no sense of danger and the film aint scary at all. Instead what we have here is an enjoyable, campy, theologically-tinted monster mash, well-scripted, professionally acted and briskly paced. In fact, DEMON KNIGHT would fare far better had it been released as a stand-alone film without the baggage and expectations of the TALES title…

 

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

When in doubt, Stephen King relies on disembodied forces - a poltergeist, telekinesis, evil spirits and, in ''Maximum Overdrive,'' an all-out revolt of the machines. The glass-breaking, blood-spattering, flame-spurting melee opens today at Movieland Eighth Street and other theaters.

Mr. King's movie of his own screenplay takes place in Wilmington, N.C., a locale that allows him to indulge almost every dumb-redneck stereotype. (Except one - there's no racial tension.) As the Earth moves into a comet's tail, all of a sudden bank machines swear, vending machines turn soda cans into projectiles, diesel pumps attack garage hands and a heavily traveled drawbridge opens on its own power. Within the first half-hour of the film, dozens of people meet gruesome deaths; there is blood on every fender.

Eventually the action settles at a Dixie Boy truck stop, where survivors of the carnage in town gradually gather. As per formula, there's a noble blond boy (J. C. Quinn, in his baseball uniform), a noble young man (Emilio Estevez), a tough-but-tender hitchhiker (Laura Harrington), a pair of hick newlyweds (John Short and Yeardley Smith), a cigar-puffing truck stop owner (Pat Hingle) and enough stray good old boys to fill any holes in the plot.

From its midway point, the movie might be called ''Attack of the Killer Trucks''; one, a toy store van with a demonic face on its grille, develops as much character as anyone in the cast. The trucks rumble and snort and chase victims off the road as heavy-metal guitar chords from the band AC/DC underline every collision. With bad guys, like a drunken Bible salesman, the vehicles get downright vindictive. Luckily, the truck stop just happens to have a cellar-full of heavy ordnance - the better to create spectacular, flaming explosions - and an underground escape route for the plucky survivors.

Mr. King has an eye for the hints of violence in ordinary objects, from electric knives to lawn mowers to a Mack truck with a menacing canine above its grille. An ice-cream truck, blood-stained, patrols decimated small-town streets tinkling out the song ''King of the Road.''

Yet by making the machines' malevolence so all-encompassing -so amoral - Mr. King loses the fillip of retribution in better horror films. For the most part, he has taken a promising notion - our dependence on our machines - and turned it into one long car-crunch movie, wheezing from setups to crackups. A cheap cold war twist in the final subtitles doesn't make ''Maximum Overdrive'' any less mechanical.

Black Roses

Track Listing

1 Dance on Fire - Free Black Roses (3:47)
2 Soldiers of the Night - Free Masi / Black Roses (3:46)
3 I'm No Stanger - Bang Tango Bang Tango (4:07)
4 Rock Invasion - Free Masi / Black Roses (4:27)
5 Paradise (We're on Our Way) - Free Black Roses (4:05)
6 Me Against the World - Gene Allen / Lizzy Borden (4:36)
7 Take It Off - David Michael Phillips / King Kobra (3:55)
8 King of Kool - David Michael Phillips / David Michael Phillips (3:26)
9 Streetlife - Warrior Tempest (3:47)
10 D.I.E - Hallows Eve (3:25)

One of the more interesting ideas to come out of the heavy metal scene was this soundtrack to the film of the same name. A makeshift band was created out of heavy metal session musicians to perform as Black Roses, the satanic rock band that tries to steal the minds of teenagers in the film. Drummer Carmine Appice put together the group and makes an appearance in the film, but his input is far below what he has done with Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne in the past. The four songs attributed to this combo are two dull party songs, a call to arms for angry teenagers ("Soldiers of the Night"), and a requisite power ballad "Paradise (We're on Our Way)." Although the ballad is oddly listenable, the other Black Roses tracks are quite terrible. Strangely enough, the song that the band plays the most in the film, "Me Against The World," is a Lizzy Borden song. It is also the highlight of the album; a memorable heavy metal anthem among some very average power metal. Tempest comes the closest to the standard set by Borden with their "Streetlife Warrior," but not beating a standard set by an underground shock metal band is actually pretty sad. Overall, this is music that fans of mid-'80s power metal might want to search for, but most others will probably want to avoid this soundtrack.

Trick Or Treat (1986)

Track Listing

Performed by FASTWAY:

"Trick or Treat" - 2:47
"After Midnight" - 3:39
"Don't Stop the Fight" - 4:21
"Stand Up" - 4:04
"Tear Down the Walls" - 2:07
"Get Tough" - 3:30
"Hold on to the Night" - 3:22
"Heft" - 5:19
"If You Could See" - 4:34

Hell-o metal head horror horror hounds. As Alice Cooper once said… Horror is his second love next to heavy metal and the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. I would think Dee Snider, GWAR and several others would claim the same point of view. What do you get when you cross Brainscan, Christine and the eighties trial of seminal metal band, Judas Priest, (supposedly) secretly incorporating deadly subliminal messages into their song Better Than you Better Than Me? Take all of the above, add Metal God Ozzy Osbourne and legendary KISS Bass player/ Vocalist Gene Simmons… throw in the infamously loved holiday (especially among Horror fans) known for rising spirits and the walking dead and you have, Trick Or Treat.

The film is also a tribute to some of the best eighties bands of the era (some of which are still going strong today). Being a fan of this era, I knew this film was going to intrigue me as a kid with Ozzy and Gene on the cover. During the opening sequence, the first poster we are subjected to hanging on the lead character’s wall is Anthrax… Which are still one of my all time favorite metal outfits to this day. There are also surprisingly enough Ozzy… and Motley Crue (Shout at the Devil, of course).

Our lead headbanger, Eddie, has trouble at school making friends, especially with the jocks. He likes a popular girl that he feels would not give him the time of day. Besides, she is going out with the antagonizing no neck. Eddie looks up to a rock idol that once graced the halls of his own high school named Sammi Curr.

Sammi tragically dies in a hotel fire and Eddie’s world begins to crumble before his eyes. He has one very witty and intelligent sidekick… and his music, that’s about it. To Eddie, that’s all he needs to get by (besides the girl that he will never have). He tries to talk to Leslie in the midst of her pranking boyfriend’s antics and his prep squad behind him every step of the way. She seems to have some interest, yet seems to bash him at the same time. Eddie is distraught over the death of Sammi and confides in his local deejay amigo, “Nuke (played by Gene Simmons).” The metal spinning Disc Jockey gives him Sammi Curr’s last album (“the only print in the world”) that is to be played at midnight on Halloween over the air via copied cassette. Eddie takes it home and this is where all Hell breaks loose… ROCK N’ ROLL!

Sammi speaks to Eddie by spinning the record in reverse. He guides Eddie down the path of revenge as Sammi does all of the sinister work himself, all while watching over Eddie’s biddings. He wanted to get the bullies back, but Sammi demanded it and the group of jocks eventually think he has gone from plain weird to all out evil.

The reason I have compared this to John Carpenter’s Christine and Brainscan is because after meeting his favorite dead idol, he becomes obsessed. He begins to act strange around his mother and his best friend begins to worry. He gradually almost becomes one with Curr, his living dead guitar and vocal god with a rebellious attitude and a lot of anger. Just as Arnie was with his 1957 car, the (adored girl,) record and revenge begin to corrupt his mind. Eventually, (such as Trixter, in Brainscan) Sammi shows himself and begins to suck Eddie’s soul, one note and backwards command at a time.

The visual effects are a combination of computer generated and a slight touch of practical and animitronic monsters. Special Effects master Kevin Yagher played a small roll as the guitar player from Sammi’s metal outfit between helming the demonic puppet. The gore score is not too high, but amusing all the same. There is a hot scene spiritual stripping and walkman induced orgasm, until it gets dangerously out of hand.

I was also a metal head in high school, but I had a good share of close friends. I’ve honestly never seen a kid get such a bad reputation just for being somewhat different, unless he brutally brutally begged for punishment. Other topics of the industry, such as censorship and the banning of metal or performances are present. You can tell the film makers did their homework during the mid eighties’ time of media scrutiny. One aspect I thought was absolutely awesome was the part that Ozzy Osbourne played. He ironically portrayed an angry holy roller that would stop at nothing to see these wretched heavy metal albums destroyed and kept away from youthful ears. I thought this was very humorous on Ozzy’s part, since his own music has been accused and attacked for (years for) being the “solution for suicide (as in Suicide Solution)” for many angst ridden teens. Ozzy took a stab at the other side of the spectrum and almost poked fun at himself, which takes balls that only Ozzy has. It was rumored that Gene Simmons was originally asked to play the role of Sammi, but passed because a shock Deejay had always been his dream role if he were to ever act.

Overall, this is a fun film for the metal head out there. It can get slightly cheesy at times, but hey, it’s the eighties and the subject matter (eh-hem, to all of you that believe in the nonsensical embedding of backwards Satanic messages) is quite funny in itself. Pink Floyd and Venom have actual reversed messages in their music, but none of which tell the listener to harm another human being.

For those of you itching with curiosity, Venom’s record, Welcome to Hell says, “I will return” when played backwards (during the end of side two). Pink Floyd’s The Wall states, “congratulations, you have found the hidden message.” No harm in these cases. Please keep in mind skeptics, this is why Judas Priest won the case in the eighties. This redundant tactic does not hold water.

The (somewhat) metal blasting flick, on the other hand, is a fun little ride through the skull of a teenage head banger and the spirit of his fallen idol. If you’re looking for major shock or gore, it isn’t present in this film. Although a fun and monstrously demonic (and sexy, as far as Leslie is concerned) time is to be had by all. The music provided for Eddie’s band is by a no-name eighties group that resembles the likings of popular genre band Cinderella (Night Songs album/ era) and and assortment of other eighties influences. All in all, I’d say give it a try for amusement’s sake. Even for the non-metal head, it’s a fun film. I love what it stands for and the “message” it tries to get across. I give this film, Trick Or Treat, TWO (METALLIC THRASHING MAD) HORNS UP.

Dee Snider's Strangeland (1998)

Track Listing

Dee Snider - Inconclusion
Sevendust - Breathe
Megadeth - A Secret Place
Pantera - Where You Come From
Anthrax - P & V Snot - Absent
dayinthelife - Street Justice
Coal Chamber - Not Living
Bile - In League
Marilyn Manson - Sweet Tooth
Soulfly - Eye For An Eye
(həd)P.E. - Serpent Boy (Radio Edit)
Kid Rock - Fuck Off featuring Eminem
The Clay People - Awake
System Of A Down - Marmalade
Nashville Pussy - I'm The Man
Crisis - Captain Howdy
Twisted Sister - Heroes Are Hard To Find

The 1990s were awash with post-modern slasher fare featuring castaways from DAWSON’S CREEK who were either exhibiting signs of disturbing behavior, screaming about urban legends or claiming to know what you did last summer. When the most intriguing horror film to emerge from this period involved a power-hungry leprechaun kidnapping a princess in order to become ruler of the planet Dominia, only to be thwarted by a bumbling brigade of space marines headed by a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Mittenhand, suffice it to say that many felt that the heydays of horror were long gone.

Salvation for the genre would ironically come not from one of the heralded masters of horror, like George A. Romero or John Carpenter, but from Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider whose bold and revolutionary film STRANGELAND had a resounding message for the aforementioned WB-esque trite on behalf of horror fans around the world – we’re not gonna take it anymore!

STRANGELAND is about a schizophrenic sadist by the name of Captain Howdy (played by Snider) who uses teen chat rooms to lure victims to his house on the pretense that they’re being invited to a party. Once his “guests” arrive, they quickly learn that semantics is a bitch as Captain Howdy’s definition of a party involves torture, body modification and scarification as well as imprisoning his victims in claustrophobic-inducing cages while he regales them with monologues about the hypocrisies of vanilla society.

His latest victims are 15-year-old Genevieve Cage and her best friend, Tiana Moore, who meet Captain Howdy online and are subsequently never heard from again. What’s different about this case is that Genevieve’s father is local cop Mike Gage, who, with the help of a younger cop named Steve Christian and Mike’s niece, Angela Stravelli, manages to track down his daughter’s kidnapper and bring him to justice. Along the way, he discovers Captain Howdy’s torture chamber where to his shock and relief he finds Genevieve alive, albeit naked and bound with her mouth stitched shut.

A year passes and Captain Howdy is found not guilty by reason of insanity and is sent to the Meistrich Psychiatric Institute where he’s diagnosed as a schizophrenic with a severe chemical imbalance. Apparently, that’s a condition that only requires three years of treatment and he’s released with the idea that as long as he’s on medication, he’s not a threat to society. “Christians Against Moral Decay,” an activist group led by Jackson Roth (played by Robert Englund), doesn’t agree with this decision and offers Captain Howdy a welcoming committee in the form of a public lynching. Unbeknownst to the group, the lynching is a failure as Captain Howdy is more than alive; he’s relapsed into his schizophrenic persona and is out for revenge!

STRANGELAND was the shot in the arm that horror really needed at the time. Its bold and unflinching depiction of sex and violence was a breath of fresh air in a genre watered down by pretentious hipper-than-thou scripts featuring hollow characters who rather than sucking you into their story, made it a point to always remind you that you were watching a movie.

STRANGELAND was also a revolutionary horror film insofar as it’s one of the first, if only, genre films to center on the themes of tattooing, branding, body modification, scarification and the tribal rituals associated with these practices. Snider clearly has a love and respect for the body-modification community and it shows through the realistic depictions of the fetishes associated with this group.

Snider also uses the character of Captain Howdy to expound on the hypocrisies of vanilla sex and the immediate association that anyone interested in kink is considered “sick.” Unfortunately, Captain Howdy is in fact a sick schizophrenic whose characterization ultimately thwarts any attempt at credibility Snider may have intended this crusader for kink to have. If anything, Captain Howdy almost serves as a poster child for those who condemn the BDSM community as deviant, leaving you to wonder what the point was of trying to validate an often misunderstood form of sexuality via a character exhibiting all the stereotypical traits of how this community is viewed by vanilla adherents.

At any rate, STRANGELAND has been embraced by the body-modification community and is a fascinating, if sometimes quaint (note the social relevance of teen chat rooms and an appearance by a 56K dial-up modem), film that’s seriously twisted, sister!

Rob Zombie's House Of 1000 Corpses

Track listing

"Howdy Folks" – :31
"House of 1000 Corpses" (Rob Zombie) – 3:43
"Saddle Up the Mule" – :17
"Everybody Scream" (Theme from Dr. Wolfenstein's Creature Double Feature Show) (Rob Zombie) – 2:36
"Stuck in the Mud" – 1:16
"Holy Miss Moley" – :16
"Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass?" (Buck Owens) – 2:19
"Run, Rabbit, Run" (Rob Zombie) – 3:01
"Into the Pit" – 1:21
"Something for You Men" – :20
"I Wanna Be Loved by You" (Helen Kane) – 2:47
"Pussy Liquor" (Rob Zombie) – 4:57
"Scarecrow Attack" – 2:12
"My Baby Boy" – :14
"Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" (The Ramones) – 1:34
"Investigation and the Smokehouse" – :35
"Bigger the Cushion" – 2:26
"I Remember You" (Slim Whitman) – 2:03
"Drive Out the Rabbit" – :13
"Mary's Escape" – 1:19
"Little Piggy" (Rob Zombie) – 3:54
"Ain't the Only Thing Tasty" – :26
"Dr. Satan" – :19
"Brick House 2003" (Rob Zombie (Featuring Lionel Richie & Trina) – 3:48
"To the House" – 2:29

I am a big fan of horror films, and I love Rob Zombie's music so I thought I'd give House of 1000 Corpses a shot. I figured it would be depraved and just a complete gore-fest, which it was. It was also very disturbing because there was not one shred of humanity in the film. Pardon my language, but Rob Zombie is a twisted motherfucker. The one thing you come to expect in horror films is there will be one character who manages to triumph against the evil. Usually a girl and usually after several near death experiences. Sometimes a cop will be along for the ride to help save her. Zombie takes all that, sets you up and then turns you on your ear. Cops show up all right, but nothing good comes from it. The first one gets shot in the side of the head, the ex-cop along for the ride searching for his daughter gets skinned and worn as a suit and, in the most chilling sequence in the film, the last cop is put down on his knees with a gun to his head as the camera pulls back for what seems to be an eternity before getting shot. The one extended gave me chills as I kept waiting for something to happen and just when you think the shot will cut away, it stays and stays and stays before the trigger is finally pulled. And what about the girl that always lives? Here she makes it out alive, only to be rescued by the guy who started the whole thing and taken right back to the hell she escaped from.

Visually the movie was disturbing. Much like in his music videos, Zombie has created a stylistically impressive world that's both exciting and unsettling. He also has this habit of cutting between the regular world and a rough, home video world that sort of helps tell the story and is generally used to show the depravity of the people involved. The worlds he creates seem to come from a very dark place inside of his heart. It makes me wonder what he went through as a child to come up with some of this stuff. I found myself looking around me at times to make sure none of these strange creatures was about to sneak up behind me and slice the top of my head off. Again however, this is pretty much what I expected when I went to see the film. And being a Rob Zombie music fan, the soundtrack was great.

My theater had maybe 7 or 8 other people in it, including, to my surprise, two women who sat alone. House of 1000 Corpses never struck me as being a chick flick but apparently they really wanted to see it, coming out before noon on opening day. After the movie one guy wanted his money back while everyone else looked slightly green. I sat and listened to Zombie's version of 'Brick House' play over the closing credits, wondering if I liked the film. As you can see, I gave the film a 'C' grade. From an overall movie standpoint, the movie probably would have gotten an 'D'. Bad acting, jumpy directing and editing, no story, no real motivation for anything but a killer soundtrack. That being said, from a horror film point of view, I think the movie probably deserved a 'B'. It had blood, it had guts, it had psychos, it had hot women, it had nudity and there were a couple of times where I jumped out of my seat. What more could you ask for from a horror film? So I averaged out the grades and gave it a 'C'.

David Maloney