Horror Movies

Top 10 Rock Stars You Forgot Were in Horror Movies

It’s Halloween! Time to overdose on candy and watch horror movies. Rock stars even get in the fun and sometimes make…interesting appearances in horror movies. Sometimes it’s not that bad, but most of the time it’s clear they should stick to music. To get you in the mood for things that go bump in the night, here are ten rock stars you forgot in horror movies. They’re ranked from best performances to worst.

10. Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Somehow Tom Waits playing the role of the insane Renfield in Dracula is oddly appropriate. Watching scenes of him eating flies and gravelly cackling about his vampiric master is hypnotizing and frightening. He perfectly shows how far gone Renfield is at this point in the film. What is probably the creepiest thing is how he still seems charming even though he’s spiraling into madness and is out for blood. With his demeanor and trademark gravelly voice, seems like Waits should be in more sophisticated horror movies.

9. Chester Bennington in Saw 3D

Unless you’re an avid fan of the Saw franchise, you might’ve missed Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington in the seventh installment of the series. In the film, he plays a Neo-Nazi named Evan who has to gruesomely tear himself from a car seat in order to save his friends. As you expect, things don’t end very well for the gang. Bennington puts his hard rock chops to work by screaming for his life. The scene is hard to watch and turns your stomach. Bennington landed the role by happenstance. Producer Mark Burg lived next to one of the Linkin Park bandmembers and heard Bennington was a huge fan. It’s an odd cameo, but at least he was decent at it.

8. David Bowie and Peter Murphy in The Hunger

If there’s anyone who could play a suave, sexy vampire, it’s David Bowie. The rocker landed the starring role in this 1983 “erotic thriller” about a love triangle between a doctor and a vampire couple. It’s not a horror movie per se, but rather a slick looking film with supernatural elements. Though the movie received mixed reviews, Bowie is as cool and stylish as ever. It may not be an awarding winning performance, but it’s better than most on this list. Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy also makes a brief appearance during the film’s credits singing the Goth anthem “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

7. Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

Two legendary rockers pop up in this forgotten 80s horror movie. In this film, Eddie is devastated over the loss of his favorite rocker Sammi Curr. He gets more than he asks when Curr starts haunting him. Simmons plays Nuke, Eddie’s friend who’s a DJ at the local radio station. The performance is forgettable and easy to miss as Simmons if you aren’t paying attention, or if you aren’t a KISS fan. But Ozzy’s turn as an evangelist talking about the evils of heavy metal must be scene. Dressed in a suit and with his hair slicked back, Osbourne warns kids about the evil of heavy metal with a straight face. Seeing as Ozzy’s music was touted as being Satanic and responsible for deaths in the 80s, it’s hilarious to hear him talk about the evilness of rock music.

6. Sting in The Bride

Did you know there was a remake/re-imagining of The Bride of Frankenstein? Yeah, it’s a terrible idea. To make things even more confusing, the film starred Sting as Baron Charles Frankenstein. The movie follows the same basic plot of the original: Frankenstein makes a mate for his infamous monster and everything goes to shit. Set in a lush Victorian setting, the film is visually pleasing, but that seems to be the most interesting about it. The movie was critically panned, as expected. Gene Siskel even called it a Monstorous Failure. But that didn’t stop Sting from starring in more movies, like Plenty and Dune. Guess the guy can’t take a hint.

5. Dee Snider in Strangeland

When Snider isn’t fronting Twisted Sister he’s apparently writing horror films. He wrote and starred in 1998’s Strangeland, which focuses on a small town being terrified by a tattooed and pierced baddie Captain Howdy. Howdy uses internet chat rooms to stalk and torture his victims. This is a movie that can only be made in the 90s when everyone was young and naive about the internet. The trailer looks cheesy as hell, but Snider at least seems decent. Still, the movie got negative reviews upon release. Guess people liked the movie the first time they saw it as Hellraiser.

4. Marilyn Manson in Rise: Blood Hunter

Marilyn Manson is no stranger to acting. He’s made appearances in films The Heart is Deceitful Above all Things and Party Monster. But in 2007 he made a low key appearance in sub par horror film Rise: Blood Hunter starring Lucy Liu. Judging from the three-minute clip, the movie is pretty lame. Manson is monotone and boring as the everyday bartender who helps Eve (Liu) to find someone. There’s nothing notable about his acting. The most interesting thing about the clip is Manson sans makeup, which is not as shocking as it used to be. There’s probably a reason you’ve never heard of this film. Maybe we need to keep it that way.

3. Jon Bon Jovi in Vampires: Los Muertos

Jon Bon Jovi has some weird obsession with being a cowboy. It started with “Dead or Alive” and lead to several roles in Western films. So when John Carpenter penned a script a horror Western, Jovi took the call to star as Derek Bliss, vampire hunter. This is actually a sequel to Carpenter’s 1998 film Vampires, which was pretty successful. This one, however, is a straight to video sequel. There’s really nothing else to say after that. You don’t need to see the entire movie to know it’s bad. Just watch the trailer and see how stiff and lifeless Jovi is in the starring role. Even the scene when he kind of turns into a vampire is dull. Maybe the rocker should stick with radio friendly hits that you love, yet hate at the same time.

2. Alice Cooper in Monster Dog

When browsing through Netflix one night, I came across this odd movie. A horror flick starring the equally frightening Alice Cooper? What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. The movie is slow, dull, and just awful. Not even funny awful. Just bad. Cooper’s performance is unremarkable and the plot of wild dogs attacking random citizens sounds cool but is hardly terrifying. Even the scene where Cooper turns into a werewolf, which you have to sit through the entire movie for, is boring. To make things worse, the movie is dubbed in English and none of the English actors voiced their own lines. So throughout the entire viewing, you wonder if something’s off or if you’re just going crazy.

1.Roger Daltrey in Vampirella

In this terrible adaption of the long-running Vampirella comic series, The Who frontman Roger Daltrey stars in this direct to video film. That should say it all right there. Daltrey stars as Vlad/Jamie Blood, who is Vampirella’s enemy and a rock star on weekends. And yes, that does mean there is a musical scene in the film. Seeing an aging Daltrey straining and trying to be enticing with a rat’s tail on the side of his head is cringe worthy. He doesn’t sound bad performing, but when it comes to enticing vampires, Daltrey isn’t the first guy you think of. Judging from the trailer, it’s one of those movies you watch with friends to laugh at how awful it is. What was Daltrey thinking?

Honorable mention:

Sonny Bono in Troll

I didn’t include this one because Sonny Bono isn’t a rock star. But seeing him transform into some weird plant/pod monster was too good to not talk about. Bono gets trick by a troll in the titular movie Troll, yes the precursor to the hilariously awful Troll 2. If you can manage to sit throughout the entire thing, you’ll even catch a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Happy Halloween!

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Playlist: Oh, the horror!

It’s October, the month of Halloween! Put up the spider web, break out the candles, and turn off the lights. It’s time to watch some scary movies. Though I love music, I’m also a horror movie fanatic. For the past two years, I’ve been watching a horror/Halloween movie every day to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve. By doing this I’ve learned how important music is to the horror film. Sometimes it’s scarier than the movie itself. A good horror theme makes you shiver before the monster reveals itself. Most horror themes fall into the cliche of booming, dramatic string music  and lots of panic. Then there are the themes that are so good, they stick with you forever. These are themes that can scare you even if the movie isn’t playing. Here are some of the best themes in horror.

Sinister (2012)

Sinister is a pretty good horror movie. It’s unnerving, hits all the right creepy spots, and keeps you on edge. But the thing that shook me the most about the movie was the music. And I’m not talking about the main theme. I mean the weird, jarring, spine-tingling music that plays during the “home movies.” There isn’t just one that’s scarier than the others; they’re all fucking terrifying. Hearing the music still, makes me cringe and curl up into a ball. The ominous noises, otherworldly vocals, jarring piano, and unsettling mood gives you goosebumps especially when paired with the disturbing footage. Often times the music lulls you into this false sense of safety; the music is quiet and soft. Then it hits you with a loud noise and broken piano making you jump out of your skin. Composer Christopher Young did an excellent job with the soundtrack. This movie is a great example of how great music is very effective in horror films.

The Exorcist (1973)

This is one of the most iconic horror themes of all time. Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” is haunting, unnerving, yet oddly beautiful. It’s the first minute of the song that really makes you shiver. Something about it is innocent and dark all at once. The song loses some of its creepiness near the end when guitars are introduced making it sound more like an 80s rock song. Still, when you hear it, you know bad things are coming. It’s been used outside of the horror realm, like in the 1979 NASA movie The Space Movie. But thanks to its association with this film, it will always strike fear in your heart.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This is one of those themes that takes you off guard. Composed by Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper, it opens like many other horror themes; ominous noises and tolling bells. This is then interrupted by a high pitched screeching noise that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. It repeats several times making you grit your teeth as it gets louder. From there we get a news report of the grisly murders while clanging and thumping resonate in the background. Random noises keep getting louder and louder as the newscaster is drowned out making you wonder what’s happening. It’s eerie and uncomfortable to listen to, which makes it a perfect fit for the film. You’ll want to look over your shoulder after hearing it.

Creepshow (1982)

The opening theme for the excellent film Creepshow is the epitome of horror movie themes: stark strings, creeping piano, and unnerving trickling ivories. There’s even lightning cracking in the background. The music then turns into some kind of demented lullaby getting scarier and scarier. Throw in some maniacal laughter, thunder striking, and more piano playing and you’ve got the perfect horror theme. It sounds what you would hear when walking through a haunted house with only a lantern to guide you. Though why you would want to do that is beyond me. Like most of these themes, it’s unsettling, but beautiful at the same time. Thanks for the nightmares, John Harrison.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

Composed by Lalo Schifrin, the genius behind this theme is how subtle it is. It begins with lush tones and some light piano tickling putting you at ease. When the piano is fleshed out, you feel safe and calm. It actually sounds pretty and almost seems out of place for a horror film. But before you get too comfortable ethereal voices filter in with eerie harmony. Still, it’s not that bad; a little unsettling, but nothing that makes you feel scared. The theme goes the extra mile by adding ominous percussion that hammers and thuds,  reminding you of the horror that lies ahead much like the infamous horror house itself.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Whereas other themes want to lull you into a false sense of security, the theme for Friday the 13th is made to terrorize you. Right from the start it strikes panic in your heart with the stark strings getting faster and faster. Harry Manfredini perfectly captures the frightful mood of the first film. It sounds like someone running through the woods, trying to get away while Mrs. Voorhees is on their tail. Jason’s infamous cry of “ki ki ki…ma ma ma” adds another layer of fear to the already frightening tune. The theme got a weird, disco upgrade for the third film, which is funny and a little corny, but it’s this one that will always be remembered.

Dracula (1931)

This one is cheating a little bit since this song wasn’t written specifically for the film. Rather it’s an excerpt from Act II from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Since the technology for adding film scores was severely limited in 1930, no score was ever written for the film. Rather, this song was used for the opening credits along with Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the endNormally, such a beautiful and elegant piece of music wouldn’t work for most horror movies, but this one has such an unspoken beauty to it. The tune is pretty, but it’s also fierce and dramatic much like the iconic vampire himself.

The Conjuring (2013)

Similar to the Amityville theme, this one starts out sounding nothing like a horror movie. It’s calming, pretty, and sweet with a light piano playing softly. Though it’s mellow there’s still something ghostly about it, like it’s the soundtrack for tragic events. It goes on like this for a minute until the music builds up with an eerie choir singing. The music and mood suddenly turn dark as everything gets louder and intense. It then returns to its soft sound as if the loud, jarring noises never occurred. Near the end, the music swells sounding more cheerful and hopeful than before. Listening to it, it reflects the changing moods of the film. The family moves into a new house excited to start a new life. They then experience turmoil and fear when supernatural events begin to occur. But things are hopeful once again when the band things have passed.

Deep Red (1975)

Some horror films are satisfied with using the standard tropes when it comes to the soundtrack. Others want to do something entirely different making you rethink what horror music can be. This is what Goblin’s theme for Deep Red does. It begins with an uneasy twinkling piano dancing around. Though it doesn’t give you goosebumps, something about it is unsettling. You hear it and know something is wrong. At the same time, it sounds like the start to 70s prog rock song, which isn’t a bad thing. As the music fleshes out, it turns into a production of synth, percussion, and more of the opening riff. Rather than sounding scary, it sounds mysterious. The horror tropes come in at the end when the organ swells creating a Gothic atmosphere. It’s a one of a kind theme and shows why Dario Argento signed on Goblin to score more of his movies.

The Fog (1980)

The master of horror John Carpenter is also the master of creating music that gives you nightmares. The theme for this 1980 movie The Fog shocks you right out the gate with violent thunder crashing. It’s a little cheesy considering it’s a horror cliche, but it’s the music that follows that makes it unforgettable. The entire theme is the same fragile piano riff treading throughout the song. As it goes on, the tone changes getting deeper and more dreadful than before. Each time the music repeats, it sounds more horrifying than the last. It signifies something horrible waiting for you in the darkness. It perfectly captures the ominous vibe and terror of the film.

Psycho (1960)

Whenever the topic of Psycho comes up the first thing that comes up is the music from the iconic shower scene. The screeching violins and foreboding bass denote a sense of dread when you hear it. This brief song is the universal sign for saying someone is crazy. It hits all the right spots when it comes to horror music. It’s scary and uncomfortable. This theme often overshadows the beauty and eeriness of the main theme by Bernard Herman. The booming music, frantic strings, and rapid pace brings on a sense of panic. It sounds like you should be running for your life when you hear it. Then the middle comes with a brief, lilting melody. It still retains it’s terror thanks to the constant stirring violins buzzing underneath.

Children of the Corn (1984)

Johnathan Elias’ Gothic, baroque opening for this theme makes it better suited for a black and white horror movie than an 80s Stephen King film. Right from the beginning, there’s an uneasiness to the tune letting you know you walked into the start of something horrible. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the children’s choir comes. As any horror fan knows, there’s something unnerving, disturbing, and creepy about children singing. Here is no different. Maybe without the Victorian music, it wouldn’t sound as scary, but the music mixed with the harmonizing kids makes it chilling. And if you know the story of Children of the Corn, you know this theme is eerily fitting.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

With how ridiculous the later movies in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise are it’s easy to forget how terrifying the first film is. Some parts are kind of hokey, but a burnt child molester that attacks you in your dreams with his steel claws? That’s fucking horrible! There’s a reason why the first film is still regarded as one of the best in the genre. And a great horror film needs a great theme. Composed by Charles Bernstein, the theme starts with a quiet eeriness. It slowly builds up tension, leaving listeners in the worst kind of suspense. That moment of fear hits with a light piano melody that sends chills up your spine. Throw in some odd noises that sound like evil laughter and a creepy kid’s choir and you’ve got a horror classic.

Halloween (1978)

The mother of all horror movie themes. John Carpenter’s theme for Halloween is unmistakable. The iconic piano melody has struck terror in the hearts of millions for almost 40 years. It manages to be one of the most frightening themes in horror despite its simplicity. The song consists of the same piano melody repeated for over two minutes, but it’s the dark vibes and moody sounds that makes this theme genius. There are times when the scariest thing about Halloween is hearing this theme, signaling Michael Myers. Stark and subtle, it is the ultimate horror theme.

Which horror movie theme is your favorite? Which one did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying, and the Dead – Wednesday 13

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 7/10

It’s been ten years since Wednesday 13 brought his love of horror movies to the music world. He’s been in multiple bands, including the Murderdolls, but is best known for his solo material. While he just released his eight studio album a few months ago, let’s take a look at his solo debut. His music explores themes of the supernatural, ghouls, zombies, and other horrific creatures. And while he makes it work for a lot of the songs, some of them have the tendency to come off as cheesy, sort of like the movies he loves.

Right from the instrumental intro track “Post Mortum Boredom,” which sounds like it was ripped from an old horror movie, you know you’re in for some horror-punk goodness. “Look What the Bats Dragged In” has a gritty hard rock vibe along with a mix of 80s hair metal, particularly when it comes to the guitar solo. This has all the markings of a Wednesday 13 song: loud music, lots of howls, and lyrics that talk about the dead and dying. While it’s not his strongest track it’s still a good representation of the album. “I Walked with a Zombie” is one of the more well known songs and has a bit of a different vibe. It sounds more like a pop-punk song with the various melodies and a clapping beat. There’s even a part where Wednesday sings “Whoa oh oh oh oh” like he’s in Poison. That’s not to say it makes the song bad; it’s definitely catchy and energetic.

Bad Things” takes influence from 80s glam metal as the singer wishes the most horrible things to happen to his enemy, while “House by the Cemetery” has more of a straight forward heavy metal sound. It mixes schlocky horror sounds like creepy laughter and creaking doors with aggressive and brutal riffs. These two songs are where Wednesday 13 shines. He perfectly mixes his horror-punk vibe in a way that doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard. The same can’t be said about the track “Haunt Me.” It starts off on a promising note with the creepy carnival music and maniacal laughing. 13 sings in a hushed voice bringing a different style to his vocals that hasn’t been heard before. But the lyrics are too cheesy for their own good. It’s a love song that’s about meeting up on Halloween and being “scared to death.” It tries too hard to bring a creepy element to a love song.

The title track has the same problem. The opening verse sounds like it was written by a 15 year old goth “poet:” “My room came alive, my dog just died, stacked 13 pennies in his eyes/I stared at the wall, it stared back at me/Started to breath and then it started to bleed.” The creepy intent is there, but it doesn’t succeed. Again, it sounds like he’s trying too hard to be disturbing and depressing. Aside from that, the song is pretty weak in general. The lyrics are boring, the music is too slow, and it dulls you before the track is over.

One of the best songs on the LP is “Rot for Me.” Here, 13 returns to the hard rock sound that’s so infectious it lures you in. The way he snarls at the beginning of the hook is viscous, like he’s a dog ready to attack. It’s oddly catchy with its simple, repetitive riff of “Rot for me/my darling.” “I Want You Dead” is another strong track with an “I-hate-you-so-much-I-want-you-to-die” message. This track is full of high energy and speeding guitars that have a punk rock feel. “Buried by Christmas” is a curious entry. As I mentioned on a previous playlist, it’s a great Christmas song, but why does it have to be included on the album? It should’ve been released as a single or b-side. The way it is now it interrupts the flow of the record, unless you’re one of those people who like listening to Christmas songs all year round. Weirdo.

“Elect Death for President” mixes things up a bit in terms of music. It begins with a shuffling vibe similar to Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses” before moving into a jazz sound that really throws you off. While it’s confusing at first, especially when the horns come in later, it oddly works with the song. The downside is the chorus, which sounds very similar to “Bad Things.” Though it’s one of the better songs on the album, it crosses the cheesy line once too many times. “The Ghost of Vincent Price” would make any classic horror fan proud. Featuring a creepy theremin, which was a staple in horror music, the singer makes several reference to the later actor’s movies, including House on Haunted Hill and House of Wax. While it’s far from the best track on the record, it’s still better than the closing track “A Bullet Named Christ,” which tries too hard to be gloomy and depressing.

The album was actually better than I thought. There are some strong tracks that will feed your wild, heavy metal side. There are even moments when 13 mixes his horror references with his music delightfully. But there are other times when it comes off as cheesy, forced, and over the top. Maybe this is the point, he is a fan of cheesy b-movies after all, but there are times when it’s too much to handle. Wednesday 13 has fine tuned his craft over the years, but his first solo outing predicted a promising career for the ghoul master.