If you were following last year and caught Halloween Shindig’s 31 days of Halloween Horror, then you’re no doubt familiar with the bit of Samhain Horror goodness called Hack-O-Lantern(aka Halloween Night aka The Damning aka Death Mask aka The Most Awesomely Titled Movie With This Many Awesome Alternate Titles)
Unlike some other Rock ‘N Roll Horror outings claiming association with then Eve of All Saints, this one actually delivers the goods, and then some.
A perfect selection for an October night of drinking and buffoonery, Hack-O-Lantern is an absolutely ridiculous mess of low-rent satanism, Halloween madness and Rock ‘N Roll attitude.
What more do you want?
Skin? Got it.
Weird murders? Got that too.
Someone in a mask doing the murdering? Yup. Be Something’s Hooded Fear
Pumpkins? By the truckload.
Halloween decorations? Indeed.
A Halloween party? Totally.
Graveyard goings-ons?Oh, just murder, sex. kids trick or treating.
A Rock ‘N Roll video posing as a dream sequence?You know it.
Eye lasers which produce shrunken heads from drum equipment? Check that shit out ==>
More eyes laser that turn guitars into tridents? Only here.
Completely impromptu, unfunny and non-sequitor stand-up routines? Yeah, that’s there too for some reason.
Nonsensical theatrics and bizarre scripting? Boy howdy.
Easily accessible on YouTube, this one should not go unwatched by anyone this Halloween. And if your buddy pops over with Rocktober Blood, up the ante with this actual Halloween horror gem.
So here’s Tommy, pretending to know how to use a guitar with D.C. Lacroix, performing the certified Shindigger The Devil’s Son.
The first 2 minutes of this 1989 Rock ‘N Roll Horror opus is literally a girl screaming. Now I know 2 minutes might not sound like a long time, but when it’s one chick screaming over and over, almost identically each time, it feels like some godforsaken pit of eternity. It’s one of the most excruciating openings to any film I’ve ever seen.
Yeah, she’s half naked, and a chainsaw eventually rips through her crotch, but that doesn’t change the fundamental essence of what this scene asks of its audience: can you ignore every instinct you have to cancel this shit and endure?
At first it just seems like a really long scream, and you imagine it can’t possibly keep going. Then you can’t believe it’s still happening. About 20 seconds in, it becomes humorous. This quickly fades. Seriously? She’s still screaming?
You still have another minute and a half.
Each second is another dare: how long will you just sit there and watch this?
It becomes almost suspenseful in its annoyance. How long will this persist?
Then, self reflection sets in: Why am I doing this? What’s wrong me? Are these the choices of my life?
Then the questions: How ever did someone endeavor to shoot this? To edit this?! Watch this repeatedly to tighten it up? Holy shit, this might have been longer…
What mad sadist would subject himself, his crew and his audience to this?
Then the screaming stops.
As the memory of that horror throbs in your eardrum like a stubbed toe, the words “written and directed by Donald Farmer” appear. The architect of your pain has a name. If you know this name, you’re fully aware of what’s to come. If you don’t, by the time it’s over, you will.
It’s a ballsy move, and for those with the fortitude, the subsequent 60 minutes are pure gold.
When i watch garbage, I want something akin Scream Dream; shoestring relentlessness that’s unapologetic, mind boggling and approaching unwatchablity while remaining entertaining. It’s not best in show, but it delivers enough to satisfy, and certainly more than most of the scrubs on this list.
When I watch a Rock ‘N Roll Horror flick, I also want something akin to Scream Dream; bad rock and lots of it. Whether it’s just the music, tons of footage of the bands playing it, or generalized Rock ‘N Roll goings-ons. Scream Dream’s got that in spades. Much more than most of these wanna-be’s.
It’s ain’t good, but it ain’t hard to watch (mostly) and at 68 minutes, it doesn’t stick around long enough to lose you, or make any sense of itself. It’s a winner of a loser.
More importantly, we’re getting this Title Track (incessantly) throughout. This puts Scream Dream up at the top of the Rock ‘N Roll Horror heap in our book, despite how long and repetitive that track may be. Seriously, it’s the same riff for like 4 and a half minutes….and I trimmed it down…
If you listen to IMDb users, you’d think Blood Tracks was the worse movie ever made. But if you listen to IMDb users, you’d think every movie was the worst movie ever made. Those goofballs hand out that award like they got an overstocked warehouse they have to unload cheap.
My guess? They just haven’t seen enough movies, or at least not the right ones, cause Blood Tracks (while certainly not approaching good) is definitely not approaching the “worst movie ever.” Hell, I wouldn’t even put it near a top 20. You need a little something special to make it into that crew, and frankly Blood Tracks just doesn’t have it.
Too mildly bad and too mostly forgettable for any such distinction, Blood Trackssort of just exists, like a myriad of other Rock ‘N Roll Horrors begging to be better one way or the other.
What Blood Tracksdoes have (aside from its awesome double entendre title) is some sweet snow rocking compliments of (the fantastically named) Easy Action, posing as (the unfortunately named) Solid Gold.
See, Solid Gold’s looking to cut a video up in the mountains. Ya know, cause that’s the sleaziest most rocking locale around. Not the seedy titty-bar off Sunset, or the beach, or the pool at Caesar’s Palace, but the mountains. The freezing shitty mountains.
It is worth noting that their rocking does cause an avalanche, putting their rock into a most ridiculous category, somewhere between DC Lacroix’s shrunken head inducing laser metal and Dokken’s Freddy shredding guitar solos.
Now snowed in, the band, the management, the techs and the video hoes are all beset by a Hills Have Eyes fashioned family. Mayhem ensues. Thankfully for us, not before Solid Gold gets a chance to rock out a bit and indulge in a little rock star behavior; drinking, drugs, snowbound sex.
Frankly though, not enough for my tastes. Could have used more, cause once the horror hits, the rocking ceases and these groupies and band members could be any old generic group of horror assholes.
The acting is pretty awesome however, and there are some great lines delivered poorly. Some of the kills are pretty interesting, and the whole thing moves rather quickly. But I’m just not getting enough of its terrible (or enough of its good) to make Blood Tracks much more than “Oh yeah, that Swedish one with the band in the snow.” Certainly not the worst movie I’ve ever seen.
It’s not even the worst Rock ‘N RollHorror movie I’ve seen. Not by a long-shot. Particularly considering it has the wherewithal to serves up a Title Track, something no movie watcher should ever discredit.
Unfortunately, the movie seems to be the only place this track exists, as it can’t be found on any of Easy Actions albums. Which is shameful, especially since In The Middle of Nowhere and We Go Rocking (both also featured in the film) are readily available. C’Mon gang, make with the goods! The Shindig needs more than just a snippet of you Title Track to represent.
But we beggars can’t be choosers, so at #97, here’s what exists of Easy Action’s Title Track triple threat Blood Tracks.
One of the earliest and perhaps least applicable Rock ‘N Roll Horror entries, I toss New Year’s Evil into the mix for a couple different reasons.
While a band or singer is not at the forefront of the film (admittedly the most overriding prerequisite for a RNRH) you’ll get to see a lot of band action, notably from our number 96 ‘diggers Shadow. This is more than you’ll even get from such “certified” Rock ‘N Roll Horror entries as Dead Girlsor the wildly mislabeled Slaughterhouse Rock, so fuck it!
Our protagonist and final “girl” is a Disc Jockey named Blaze, and the whole plot revolves around her New Year’s Rock ‘N Roll countdown aptly titled New Year’s Evil. That’s gotta count for something, right?
Plus, I like New Year’s Evil, which is more than can say for a lot of the other duds this category has to offer.
And what’s more, it doesn’t disappoint in the soundtrack department. It even goes so far as throw down an awesome Title Track. Now you’re talking language of this playlist.
However, as a rule, The Shindig avoids Christmas-themed horror music (with 1 notable exception.) Christmas already encroaches enough on Halloween without it invading the fucking Shindig to boot. So, if it seems a bit strange to include such a non-Halloween holiday song, consider this: Samhain was New Years Eve to the Celts. So there’s that. It’s clearly not the same New Year Blaze and “Evil” are ringing in, but what the hell, huh?
I’d be remiss to leave if off the list. I’d be even more remiss to cut it from The Shindig.
Here’s Shadow with another glorious Title Track, 1980’s New Year’s Evil.
Ah, Rocktober Blood. 2 little words that promise so many things.
3 things, to be more precise. But 3 big ones: Rock, Blood, and October, which around here, means Halloween.
I’d normally say 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, but when the 3rd is Halloween, consolation is a tough commodity.
Alas, the broken promises that are Rocktober Bloodremain.
One guy mentions Halloween one time in passing. You could sneeze and miss it. There’s that, I guess.
He could have said anything though, that’s how completely fucking throwaway his statement is to what’s happening. It bears no importance on the plot, or even what he’s talking about. He could have just as easily said “by the end of the month” or “by Arbor Day” or by fucking anything other than Halloween.
It’s almost more upsetting that he even mentions Halloween at all, and that the rest of Rocktober Blood proceeds to laugh directly in your presupposing mug. Never assume is the lesson here, I’ll wager.
But no. Fuck that! Cause you named your goddamn movie Rocktober Blood and then didn’t even deliver 1 fucking pumpkin. Why is the movie even called this? Oh, cause that’s the bands name? Well, then why is the fucking band even called that? Oh, cause they’re all spooky and into Rock ‘N Roll Horror? Cause homeboy wears a mask onstage? Gimmie a break, fellas. I’ll give you it’s a totally bitchin’ Fang Face from Be Something Studios. That’s pretty Halloweeny, but they could have been name anything. Fuck, Fang Face would have been a better name. Even Sorcery (the actual band providing the music) is a better and more appropriate title for this band.
It’s all just disappointing in it’s abject mockery.
Alright. Well, that’s been buried deep within my heart for years. Feels good to let it out. Now lets take an objective look at Rocktober Blood, which despite the whole absence of Halloween debacle, ain’t half bad and probably one of the better Rock ‘N Roll Horror efforts.
It starts out really promising, immediately getting straight into the rock. We witness Billy Eye, lead singer, writer and all around genius behind Rocktober Blood, laying down the vocal track to his prophetic anthem and certified Shindigger I’m Back.
After which he goes on a rampage, killing some audio techs and torturing his former girlfriend and back up singer Lynn. The kills are fun. Guy gets his face smashed into a pinball machine, and this chick gets impaled on a wall. Solid stuff. I’m pumped already.
After a feeble security guard catches Billy in the act and hilariously chokes out “uh….you’re arrested,” Billy chases after him and the film bizarrely fades out.
Flash forward 2 years – Billy’s dead, apparently captured and given the death penalty for his crimes (which included prior murders we didn’t get to see) and Lynn has inherited Rocktober Blood. She has renamed it “Headmistress” (a great chick-fronted metal band name if I ever heard one) and their playing all Billy’s old music. They’re at a pre-tour party. There’s schmoozing, coke blastin’ VJ knock-offs, and a general air of Rock ‘N Roll awesomeness. Still pumped.
These first 20 minutes or so are great. You’re getting 1 ass, 2 tits, 2 solid kills and 1 great Shindiggin’ tune straight out the gate. Then a little Rock ‘N Roll downtime. You feel like you’ve died and gone to Shindig heaven.
Then boom! The next hour hits and all your dreams are dashed. You sit idly by, awaiting more Rock or Blood or October. You get none.
What you do get is Lynn at a lakeside retreat, aerobicizing, bathing, getting prank phone calls, seeing Billy places and generally acting like a nutjob. There’s some skin, a bizarre clothes iron attack, a scary jacuzzi attack, oh and Lynn digging up Billy’s grave. That’s a somewhat interesting part. It sounds great on paper, and with some editing and a little bit of sack, maybe it could have been. Unfortunately, it’s plodding and frustrating the way it plays out. Is Billy alive? Is he stalking her at the house? Is Lynn imagining all this? Who cares, where’s the fucking Rocktobering?
When the film decides to make good on 2 of its promises, it’s great. Bookended nicely as it is with adequate amounts of both blood and rocking. At least it ends strong, I’ll give it that, rockin’ you’re pants off with a 3 song death-concert that makes the rest of the stuff a little more forgivable. I just wish it wasn’t so chore-like to get there.
It really could have been the single greatest thing approached by this playlist. It could have been its Holy Grail, sitting on high, looking down at all the would-bes, coulda-beens and wanna-bes. Hell, Billy even utters the phrase Rock N Roll Horror for Christ’s sake.
Instead, it shuffles solemnly into its contented position somewhere at the bottom of the respectable 3rd of the list. Still, in its defense, it’s bringing the rock a lot harder than a good amount of these turkey’s, and for that it should be commended. But best Rock ‘N Roll Horror film of all time?
Nay, Rocktober Blood! Knell to your lord and master, Trick or Treat, a film which delivers on both the rock and the October. It even delivers on the supernatural level that you approach and then sidestep for some convoluted, Scooby-Doo-like stiff arm that de-awesomes the proceedings almost as much as your lack of pumpkins.
At least it has a decent soundtrack, one of a couple aspects giving it a leg up against the likes of Hard Rock Zombies or Terror On Tour, which both offer way more rocking, just with way shittier soundtracks.
Here’s the best thing about Rocktober Blood, and it’s literally the first 5 minutes of the film. It’s Billy Eyes bar setting resurrection anthem I’m Backby Sorcery.
I mentioned Rock ‘N Roll Horror in my post about John Fasano, and all this Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare/ Black Roses business has got it on my mind. Let’s talk for a moment about this as both a concept and a genre.
Rock ‘N Roll Horror forms the very foundation of Halloween Shindig; it is its ethos. Wherever a monster is dancing, you will find us. Whenever a ghoul grabs a gitbox, we are there. Should The Cryptkeeper or Elvira decide to rap, Halloween Shindig is lying in wait, ready to post that song.
As a genre though, Rock ‘N Roll Horror (or Metalsplotation as you will sometimes find it referred to) leaves us wanting. It has a few things going against it.
Firstly, there just aren’t that many. It’s a pretty thin sub-genre. 22 titles, by my count. You could stretch that number to 30+ if you got real liberal with your criteria and included some misfires from the late 90’s of new millennium. But I’m calling 22.
Additionally, it’s a dead genre. It had its time and place, but its moment in the moonlight has passed. The world has moved on.
I’d say “I wish they still made ’em like this,” but I don’t. That ship has sailed. You try your hand at this game post millennium and you’ll wind up with a Queen of The Damned, or a Rock ‘N Roll Frankenstein. Naw, just leave it where it was. Let it rest in peace; a product of a decade that is gone.
On top of all that (and perhaps worst of all) it’s a pretty terrible sub-genre, and this breaks my heart. Always eager for more of the bread and butter that bloats this blog, I’ve sat through most of them, waiting with bated breath for the next awesome addition to the playlist. I’m usually disappointed. There’s a couple hold-outs of which I’ve yet to find copies, so there’s still a little hope.
Of the 22 Rock ‘N Roll Horror films listed here, most of em aren’t worth a damn. They are time wasters of the highest order; not good enough to laud, not lousy enough to love. Somewhere in between they rest, trapped in a celluloid limbo of missed opportunities and boredom. It’s a genre after my own heart, and it consistently breaks it.
Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I got too much expectation. Or maybe Trick Or Treatis just that damn good. Probably a combination.
Here’s a list of the most prominent offenders; the ones you’ll see listed elsewhere if you dig hard enough.
True, this list excludes overtly music themed horror outings such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Little Shop Of Horrors, but for me, those fall into the altogether separate category of the Horror Musical.
Naw, these are Rock ‘N Roll Horror movies. Movies where rocking has precedence. Movies where a rock band or singer takes the main stage and blows your doors off.
The Phantom of the Paradise tows a fine line, and could very well be considered a Rock ‘N Roll Horror, but its too much of a Rock Opera to be smashed in with these kinds of films I think. Heavy Metal Massacre is also excluded because there’s too much of David DeFalco’s hair and apartment and too little metaling, despite it’s title.
The most depressing aspect of it all, even more than the lack of entertainment factor, is that not every one of these 22 films has made the cut for The Shindig. Some of them have music that’s just that wildly out of place, or just that bad. And The Shindig has some pretty terrible music on it, so that oughta give you an idea of what you’re up against.
I’ll talk about all of these films by degrees over time. But for now, lets take a few of these suckers that did make the cut, and lay out a full-on Rock ‘N Roll Horror block here in the late ’90’s, before busting headlong into one of my favorite stretches of the entire Shindig, just in time for Halloween.
The best song (and maybe even scene) from The Edge of Hellis also perhaps Thor’s greatest song altogether, We Live To Rock.
Perfectly summarizing Thor’s rock-philosophy in a 4 word chorus, We Live To Rock is a metal anthem for the ages.
It hails from a time in metal when the greatest source of inspiration was one’s own devotion to, and level of – rocking. These were the good ole days; the days when all you had to do was talk about how much you rocked, the manner in which you rocked and that you fully intended to continue rocking, to make a great song.
And a great song it is.
The end sample is from John Cody Fasano’s Thor: The Rock Opera. Taking place after the events of Edge of Hell’s sequel The Intercessor, the final installment in the Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare Trilogy finds Thor battling the evil snake god Jörmungandr and his evil karaoke henchman Metallus.
Standby for a GIF-rally from John Cody’s Rock Opera, starring my good pal Matt Mastrella.
Heavy Metal contains a demonic power. It seems a sinister and subversive force seeking to set upon our children and corrupt them against ourselves, our values, our religions and our very way of life.
In John Fasano’s Black Roses, the titular band takes this idea to its natural and literal end. They are demons in disguise; corrupting and possessing the children of Millbasin in an all-out-war of the night against the adults. They become the black roses, soldiers of the night, and slowly begin killing their parents.
Listen Bro, I don’t care how cool your Powerslave shirt is, you touch my Black Roses LP and you’re getting laid the fuck out.
Fasano’s second roll ‘n rock horror odyssey plays almost like antithetical companion piece to Edge of Hell. Where Thor’s metal works as a power of light to defeat the Devil, The Black Roses show us it can also have the power conspire with the old scratch and do his bidding.
Viewed as such, they make a nice double feature. Black Roses, however (for better or worse) is a much more polished work. In not serving as a vehicle for Jon-Mikl Thor’s ego and equally large wardrobe, the whole thing feels less like a glorified music video and more like a genuine film.
There’s definite production value increases; a larger cast, a more involved plot, multiple locations, a pretty legit looking concert opener, and an overall improvement on a special effects level.
I say for better or worse because all of this may or may not increase your enjoyment of Black Roses over Edge of Hell. Gone is Thor’s over the top muscle-metal machismo. Gone are the truly silly effects. Gone is that absolutely ridiculous b-movie sensibility.
Now, if that’s the sort of thing you hate about Edge of Hell, then perhaps Black Roses will prove more enjoyable for you. However, if those are the very reasons you absolutely love it, then Black Roses will probably feel like a bit of a let down.
In other words, Black Rosesin a much better film in the classical sense. However, if you’re the kind of viewer that likes their movies with a little extra cheese, Edge of Hell’sgot it beat by a furlong.
Black Roses has plenty of its own goodness to match that of its predecessor, however:
More breasts minus Thor’s ass. Check Plus.
Better, non-musician based acting.
A more identifiable plot.
John Martin straight handling she-demons like he was John Macenroe.
An equal (albeit less awesome) amount of rocking.
A glimpse at what might have been if Tom Selleck played Marty McFly.
Some really kick-ass demons playing some serious hair metal to set the whole thing off.
And above all, a great soundtrack.
This opening sequence is really what The Shindig is all about, though.
It kinda makes you wish the whole movie was nothing but this, and wonder just what the hell happened when The Black Roses finally reveal their true selves again during the film’s climax.
Who the hell are these dudes? Where’d those other demons go, from the begininning? It’s anyone’s guess. I’ll have to ask John Cody. I imagine they just ran outta money. Or shot the ending first, and then found more money after.
Oh well. Least we get some kick-ass gifs.
From that killer opening sequence, here’s Lizzy Borden playing Me Against The World, under (ironically) the guise of the demonic Black Roses.
Once in blue Moon (or maybe 3 times in roughly 230 tracks) a song comes along so awesomely perfect that it defies my categories. It flagrantly rebels all, encompasses, and becomes more. It demands representation and it’s exclusion from any Halloween playlist is a crime against the holiday, so perfectly suited is it.
It’s a +1 to the trinity; it’s from a horror movie, its about the movie, it’s the movie’s fucking Title Track, and against all odd, it’s about Halloween too.
Are you kidding me? Nope. It’s a Referentially Inclusive Halloween Title Track, or a Great Pumpkin. I’d call it the Holy Grail, but there’s a couple of these fuckers on the Shindig.
While Trick Or Treat isn’t the ultimate example of such a song, it does appear before that track, so it gets the lead-in.
That’s not to say it’s any slouch though. Lets look at the stats:
It’s a Title Track, already 3 shots to it.
In that it’s called Trick Or Treat, is played live by an undead rock star in the movie, at a Halloween party, on Halloween, while he’s killing teenagers with a guitar that shoots lightning, is effort enough to earn it’s keep at the top of the heap.
You have a Halloween playlist and it doesn’t feature this song, you’re doing it wrong.
I love Trick Or Treat and it’s definitely an annual watch somewhere between October 1st and 31st.
Metal head dork Eddie Weinbauer accidentally resurrects his recently deceased rock hero Sammi Curr by unwittingly playing his final and unreleased album backwards.
At first Sammi aids Edward in his game of revenge, but when Sammi’s game becomes too real, Eddie pussies out and Sammi takes matters into his own hands. Awesomeness ensues.
The soundtrack, presented in the form of Sammi Curr’s music, is provided by butt-rockers Fastway, whom I’m not sure achieved much notoriety beyond this Soundtrack.
Either way, it all adds up to a pretty fantastic Heavy Metal Halloween. Enjoy!