Thursday, June 2, 2011

Heavy Metal Horrors: How The '80s Merged Heavy Metal Tunes With Horror Films

A match made in hell.
Heavy metal and horror films. What could be a more perfect pairing? Since the early '80s the two have frequently been featured together - and now we take a look back at some of their best partnerships.

The Friday the 13th franchise has left its blood-stained mark on the horror genre in more ways than one. In actuality, the Friday films were laying out the path in which future Halloween, Texas Chainsaw, and Nightmare on Elm Street sequels would take (yes, Halloween and Texas Chainsaw pre-dated Friday the 13th, but the sequels would inevitable turn towards Friday's 'slasher' approach).

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives proved to be a trendsetter in its own right, ushering in the heavy metal/horror boom. It would be a marriage that would last the better part of the '80s and even stretch into the early '90s.

Friday the 13th Part VI featured a soundtrack by the one and only Alice Cooper. The king of shock-rock lent several songs to the film, including Teenage Frankenstein (played during the RV scene), Hard Rock Summer (during the car chase scene), and the film's theme, He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask) - which was written especially for the movie.

Unfortunately a true soundtrack was never released (an EP single for He's Back was released on vinyl, however). Instead, Teenage Frankenstein and He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask) were featured on Alice Cooper's Constrictor album and Hard Rock Summer was only released in The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set, along with demos for He's Back.

Most notable of Alice Cooper's contribution to Friday the 13th Part VI was his music video for He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask), which featured clips from the film and an appearance by Jason. Sadly this was never released as a special feature on any of the DVDs, but it can be seen here: He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask) Music Video

Seeing how well Alice Cooper meshed for Jason, the producers of A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 decided to recruit metal band, Dokken, to pen the song Dream Warriors for Freddy's latest romp.

Dokken and Freddy.
Dokken's music video for Dream Warriors featured an appearance by Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. The music video was included on the Nightmare on Elm Street Collection DVD box set. We've also included a link to it here: Dokken Dream Warriors Music Video

Dokken released the song Dream Warriors as a soundtrack exclusive EP before including it half-a-year later on Back For The Attack.

Freddy with Don Dokken and George Lynch.
Out of all the horror franchises, Nightmare probably had the most diverse offering of musicians over the course of the series. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master featured a soundtrack by Vinnie Vincent (formerly of the early '80s KISS line-up), Billy Idol, Go West, and more pop-rock additions by Tuesday Knight, Girl Talk, the Divinyls, and even an early taste of rap with The Fat Boys' Are You Ready For Freddy.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child continued to expand on these eclectic music tracks, including songs from Mammoth, W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden, Full Force, Schooly D, and Kool Moe Dee.

This increasing trend continued with the soundtrack for 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, featuring The Goo Goo Dolls, The Young Lords, Iggy Pop, Iron Butterfly, with the only real 'metal' track being from Fates Warning. Alice Cooper had a cameo in the film as Freddy's abusive father, but didn't contribute any of his music.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II also took a more diverse approach, incorporating a mix of rock, new wave, and punk tunes ranging from Oingo Boingo, The Lords of the New Church, Concrete Blonde, Timbuk 3, and The Cramps. A soundtrack was released in 1986.

Trick or Treat (not the 2007 film) took incorporating heavy metal with horror films to a whole new level. In fact, the entire plot revolved around the return of a rock n' roll idol from beyond the grave! Trick or Treat featured music by the heavy metal band Fastway.

The heavy metal craze was in full swing even in Italy, as can be seen in Lamberto Bava's masterwork, Demons.

Demons had an odd mix of music, from all-out metal bands like Motley Crue, Accept, Saxon, to more straight-up rock artists like Billy Idol, to even Rick Springfield(!). An actual soundtrack was never produced, but Demons wins the award for best use of a metal song in any film. How can you top Accept's Fast As A Shark blaring out when one lone samurai sword-wielding motorcycle-riding man takes on an entire army of demons? Answer? You can't.

Charles Band's Dungeonmaster featured the musical stylings of W.A.S.P. Though the movie's plot was as scattered as can be, it was great seeing Blackie Lawless and the gang belt out Hellion on stage, even though W.A.S.P.'s presence in the film went with little explanation.

Charles Band must have been a fan of W.A.S.P. because they lent their song, Scream Until You Like It, to the end credits of another one of his films, Ghoulies II. The Ghoulies themselves were also featured in the subsequent music video for the song. The music video was once featured in the early '90s on VHS with W.A.S.P.'s 'Video's In The Raw'. However, it has since never made it to DVD. Thankfully, youtube exists: W.A.S.P. Scream Until You Like It (Theme from Ghoulies II)

Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. and the Ghoulies

Even Thor (not the Asgardian) joined in on the heavy metal/horror mash-up with Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare. Jon Mikl Thor not only wrote the music for this low budget horror flick, but wrote the script too! A reissue of the soundtrack has been re-released a couple years ago and should still be widely accessible today.

Wes Craven's Shocker had a wide selection of metal and punk on its soundtrack. Fans of Megadeth, Dangerous Toys, and Iggy Pop owe it to themselves to check this one out.

While the early '90s weren't particularly kind to heavy metal due to the advent of grunge, apparently hell still had a warm spot for the sounds of electric guitars and wailing vocals. In 1992, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth not only had the likes of Triumph, Chainsaw Kittens, and House of Lords on the soundtrack, but it featured Armored Saint in the film, performing their song, Hanging Judge. And, if that wasn't enough, Motorhead rounds out the ending credits with the fitting track entitled, Hellraiser. Lemmy and company also shot a music video of the song, which included the Motorhead vocalist playing cards with Pinhead: Motorhead Hellraiser Music Video

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