DID YOU READ

Heavy Metal and Horror

Rob Zombie on stage

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Heavy metal and horror movies go together like blood and gore. Both genres revel in shocking and violent imagery. Alice Cooper, who has been doing hard rock for decades, pre-dating metal, always incorporated elements of horror – guillotines, snakes – into his act. Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, a longtime horror fanatic, hosted Kirk’s Crypt at Metallica’s recent Orion festival.  Rob Zombie, through his successful, sanguinary films, has become something of an Ingmar Bergman of the rocksploitation genre; he is an auteur du splatter-cinema, if you will. Zombie is a writer, director and producer of gore – and he knows his audience very well. The self-proclaimed “Hellbilly,” according to The-Numbers, has average grosses of $29 million for films under his directorship. Over the 2007 Labor Day weekend, Zombie’s update of the moribund Halloween franchise drew record crowds – earning $30.6 million – for the Weinstein Company and MGM. Zombie’s fan base was made for horror, and, being a smart businessman, he leveraged his niche market of young men into a nice nest egg.

The term “heavy metal” itself came from counterculture writer William Burroughs’ novel The Soft Machine, published in 1962. Six years later, in 1968, Steppenwolf sang the magic, incendiary lyrics, “I like smoke and lightning/ heavy metal thunder.” The rest was history. Hair bands notwithstanding, the hyper-masculinity of heavy metal – in lyrics and in imagery — lends itself perfectly to the horror genre, where life is reduced to Darwinian survival and we are all just animated meattrying to avoid the occasional ice pick.

If metal and horror go back a long way, it wasn’t really until the Presidency of Ronald Reagan that the genre achieved full-blooded – pun intended — maturity. The obligatory cameo appearances by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne, with their 80s hair, were a staple of that decade of greed. In the 1980s, the Golden Age of Metal (as well as of horror), it was almost mandatory for a slasher flic to have a heavy metal soundtrack as well as a music video drenched in blood. Excess, in everything, was the 80s. “In the taxonomy of popular music, heavy metal is a major subspecies of hard-rock – the breed with less syncopation, less blues, more showmanship and more brute force,” John Pareles of the New York Times famously described heavy metal in 1988. One could almost say the same thing with minor alterations in language about horror films — a subspecies of the thriller, perhaps, with less attention to narrative and character, more jump cuts, more brute force.

The 80s were, in short, an age of leather, gunpowder and – how could it be otherwise? — extended guitar solos. Punk, thrash and even glam metal scores were all the rage. The legendary Return of the Living Dead, released in 1985 with a solid punk rock score, did $14 million at the box office on a measly $4 million budget. In 1986, the aforementioned Alice Cooper – arguably more “hard rock” than hard core metal – scored much of Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives. One year later, in 1987, hair metal band Dokken, not to be left out, did the memorable theme for Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (the only thing, incidentally, memorable about that movie). And in The Gate  (also 1987; also unmemorable), the cursed LP of the band SACRIFIX played backwards opens the gates to the underworld. Under the influence of Republican Presidents some of the best horror films of all time were created.

“Heavy metal and horror have a share a storied history,” writes Lauren Wise in the Phoenix New Sun’s Metal Mondays column. “Both are extreme, the kind of platforms that appeal to the misfits and the adventurous. The dual art forms have indirectly and directly influenced each other drastically over the decades.” Both also have cathartic value, as any young man could tell you. Listening to death metal, to the darker elements of hard rock, acts as a purge to negative emotions. So much the better for our civilization that we have such release valves in place.

Finally, as the staff of Slate stated in an interesting piece titled The Greatest Horror Films of the Aughts, “That the halcyon days of horror are directly proportional to the index of actual human suffering.” One cannot fail to note, in closing, that most of the films mentioned in that post were done under the Presidency of George W. Bush, not unlike the Golden Age of Horror, which occurred under Reagan’s watch. Coincidence? Just saying.


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Warm Bodies

Bloody Valentines

10 Romantic Horror Movies for Valentine’s Day  

Catch My Bloody Valentine this Valentine's Day Sunday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Watching hapless victims running for their lives might not sound romantic, but a scary movie is perfect for a cozy night on the couch with someone special. (Unless you’re a character in a horror movie, as any romantic moment eventually turns into murderous mayhem.) Before you catch My Bloody Valentine this Valentine’s Day on IFC, check out some horror movies that will both warm your heart and chill your bones.

1. Let The Right One In

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A surprisingly touching tale of a bullied child and his vampire crush, the acclaimed 2008 Swedish horror film perfectly captures the feelings of being in the throes of naive first live. Pair it with the solid 2010 American remake, and be sure to have some tissues on hand to go with the blood red wine and dark chocolates.


2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 take on Bram Stoker’s classic tale upped the lavish romanticism with an ageless, yet alluring, Dracula driven by a centuries spanning love. For better or worse, we wouldn’t have Twilight without this sumptuous gothic romance.


3. The Fly

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One of the greatest body horror movies of all time centers on the most doomed relationship you’ve ever seen. If you find Jeff Goldblum as attractive as Geena Davis does, well, we advise you to make the most of it early on before Cronenberg’s masterpiece mutilates him.


4. Bride of Chucky

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Why can’t movie monsters find love? Because it’s literally horrifying. Luckily that’s the point in Bride of Chucky, where the murderous puppet finds a soulmate who shares his penchant for sharp objects. A high point in the series that spoofed its own silliness while still scaring the hell out of us.


5. Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein

Of course, there wouldn’t be a Bride of Chucky without the original movie monster romance. James Whale’s horror classic both introduced a new level of pathos to the Frankenstein story and gave us a lady monster for the ages.


6. Hellraiser

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Lemarchand’s box first broke the barriers between life and death as part of a (deeply unromantic) love story. An unfaithful wife seduces and murders men to resurrect her dead lover, and when her daughter finds out things get gorily complicated.


7. A Chinese Ghost Story

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A night in a haunted temple has a man falling in love with a beautiful ghost in this horror comedy from director Ching Siu-tung. Oh, and he has to save her spirit from an evil tree demon. We haven’t mentioned the swordsman or the gymnastic martial arts yet, but you’ll definitely enjoy them too.


8. Candyman

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The creepy Candyman is looking for love, which is a hard sell when you’ve got a hook for a hand and are usually covered in bees. Oh, and you’re a revenge-fuelled murderous specter. Helen Lyle must deal with his romantic intentions as well as an unfaithful boyfriend, and it really doesn’t go well for anyone. You’d think it’d be nice to have someone who always comes when you call…


9. Warm Bodies

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An unlikely love story between the living and the dead, Warm Bodies follows “R” as he grunts and groans his affection for the chief zombie-hunter’s daughter. No other story has ever so completely shown the healing power of love.


10. My Bloody Valentine

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My Bloody Valentine stars the Grinch of the holiday, the murderous miner who has sworn that a small town should never again host a dance on that day. Of course a gang of sexy teens decide to ignore him. And of course he comes back, with wonderfully horrific results.

Exclusive Premiere: Early Morning Rebel “Find An Easier Way”

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Early Morning Rebel hasn’t been a band for that long. In fact, in their current iteration the group has only been together for a year, but this doesn’t mean that they lack any of the spit and polish of bands that have been together a lot longer. In fact, Early Morning Rebel has enough shine on them to teach their elders a thing or two about how to make it in the music industry.

The band was formed by high school best friends vocalist Nathan Blumenfeld-Jones and guitarist Dustin Bath who decided to merge their love of music with their other loves: art and fashion. They used their connections (and their gumption) to immerse themselves in the fashion world. “We really wanted to create a community with designers and artists and filmmakers and photographer and to really collaborate with them with the intention of creating music and inspire other artists and have art inspire our work,” Blumenfeld-James told CBS News.

Once the fashion world deemed them cool, their rapid-fire rise to success was practically guaranteed. Soon Early Morning Rebel found their song “Lifeboat” being used on “Grey’s Anatomy” and now a full-length album and tour are in the works.

Despite their musical success, the band hasn’t lost any of their love for art and fashion. To that end, the band makes their own music videos, including the one we are premiering today. “We produce, direct and edit all of our videos. Putting a visual to the music is a process we enjoy almost as much as creating the music. The basic plot of this video is a guy losing a girl and fighting to get her back. Not being able to let that person go. We shot the video in Venice, Ca, where we are from. We wanted to use imagery and aesthetic of our native Los Angeles,” Blumenfeld-James told us via email. The video is the perfect reflection of the story behind the song. “Originally, when I wrote that song, it was about finding an easier way to deal with the fact that I can’t let this girl, this person, go. It’s a pretty quintessential love song. It’s a heartbreak song at the end of the day where I’m holding on to this thing that I’m not going to be able to let go, ” Nathan Blumenfeld-Jones told the Huffington Post. Nothing like being lovelorn to inspire a song.

Watch Early Morning Rebel “Find An Easier Way”:

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Exclusive premiere: Wild Cub “Jonti”

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If summer is all about shaking off seclusion for endless poolside possibilities, Daisy Dukes and the wind in your hair, then Wild Cub’s “Jonti” captures it with the clarity reminiscent of those quiet moments when you’re alone at night driving with your window down, listening to a song that suddenly seems written just for you. It’s also got this irresistible, faintly “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” thing going on during the chorus, as singer/songwriter Keegan DeWitt professes, “I see it now, it’s brighter when the lights are out.”

The video directed by Chad Hartigan with photos by Anna Ottum, was shot (in NY, LA & Portland) with a Lomokino camera from over 3000 individual cropped frames. DeWitt is also a film composer, who scored last year’s “Cold Weather” that premiered at SXSW and happens to be currently scoring a film for Hartigan called “This Is Martin Bonner” (starring Richmond Arquette, whom you may not immediately recognize, but is in almost every David Fincher movie ever made).

This Nashville group’s core is DeWitt and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock, both of whom have been around a while, even touring together previously under DeWitt’s name. Their debut album as Wild Cub, called “Youth,” releases today via Big Light Recordings.

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Upcoming Tour Dates:

TUE 14 AUGUST – Pianos New York, NY, US
FRI 24 AUGUST – Unknown venue Florence, AL, US
SAT 25 AUGUST – High Watt Nashville, TN, US
MON 10 SEPTEMBER – The Mercy Lounge Nashville, TN, US
SAT 6 OCTOBER/SUN 7 OCTOBER – Soundland 2012 Nashville, TN, US
THU 18 OCTOBER – Arlene’s Grocery New York, NY, US

 

Do you see it now? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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