Ah, yes… horror and music. They fit together like movies and popcorn, beer and pizza, and Japan and robots. Ever since the opening bell echoed in the doom and gloom on Black Sabbath’s eponymous first LP, heavy metal bands have utilized the horror genre for lyrical and stylistic inspiration, not to mention earning blood buckets full of cash in the process. It’s a potent mix perfectly fitted for monster-minded kids warped for rebellion and shock. And though many metal bands today have upped the stakes for a bloodier, brutal, and more jaded age, the essential reasons why they do it remain the same.
It’s a blast.
But metalheads aren’t the only ones attracted to the darkside. Whether it’s Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the Cramps, or the surf/garage rock sounds of the Ghastly Ones, horror and music don’t always equal downtuned riffs. The following videos are a few of my favorites and, I think, make for the perfect accompaniment for Halloween.
First up… the infamous Screaming Lord Sutch, groovy Brit garage rock circa 1964. He’s most famous for his song “Jack the Ripper,” but I dig this one even more. Lord Sutch, who was a representative for the National Teenage Party and founded the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, was influenced by Screamin’ Jay and likewise influenced the brilliant and totally underrated Alice Cooper. Here’s Lord Sutch singing “Dracula’s Daughter.”
And speaking of Alice… he used to scare the hell out of me as a kid in the 1970s. Between him and KISS, I couldn’t believe such demonic majesty was even legal! Having said that… I couldn’t get enough of them. Cooper pretty much dropped off my radar after the age of ten, as did KISS, but a few years ago I was seduced by those early Alice Cooper band albums (Pretties for You, Easy Action, Love it to Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies, Muscle of Love, and Welcome to My Nightmare) and struck by the sly word play, the melodies, irony, and the monstrous riffs. Oh, yeah, there was also the imagery. After all this time, Cooper’s outlandish stage theatrics still put a smile on my lips. Here’s a clip from one of my all-time favorites, “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” taken from Cooper’s ABC television special in 1975.
I love Blue Oyster Cult. From their spacey, literary horror references (HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and many others) to the fact that science fiction/fantasy writers Michael Moorcock and John Shirley have both penned songs for the band, BOC is favorite around these parts. They pretty much scored the soundtrack for my three months in Spain back in the spring. How that happened, I couldn’t tell you. Wisdom of the stars, I guess. This is their 1977 song “Nosferatu” edited to clips from the film. Good stuff.
The next clip is from the legendary and brilliant Roky Erickson, the father of psychedelic garage rock. Erickson has had more tragedy, insanity, and god knows what else happen to him. But he’s still alive and touring… and from all accounts healthy. But there was a time, I think before he thought he was an alien, that he thought he was the Devil. He might have written this song around that time. Bad time… but great song. And if you ever walk by my cottage in the middle of the night… you might hear me or Lynda singing it at the top of our lungs.
God how I loved the Misfits when I was in my mid-to-late teens. I still love them. Best horror punk band ever. Just don’t think what Glenn Danzig turned into post-Misfits or Samhain… simply remember what he was. Here, the band performs “Night of the Living Dead.” Hail, horror hail.
And then there was Fantomas. Named after the French anarchist pulp hero, this avant-garde band is one of the strangest, most exciting, and hilariously talented groups around. A mix of grinding metal, black metal howls, John Zorn mischief jazz, and outrageous vocalizations courtesy of Mike Patton, Fantomas is a wellspring of imagination and creativity. This track, “Der Golem,” is from their second full-length The Director’s Cut, an album of film covers ranging from The Godfather to Rosemary’s Baby to Charade. It’s masterful stuff and has to be heard to be believed.