bITS 'N CHUNKS
You know, gang, I like metal and I like movies. That much should be evident if you read any of my writing, follow my social media, know me as a person, and so on.
I’m always pondering ways to reach out to my fellow metalheads and commiserate, but most importantly combine our interests in productive ways. As it turns out, one of the prerequisites to metal fandom is… an enjoyment of film. Shocker! Specifically, we tend to lean towards scary film. So for Halloween, I thought I wanted to do a list of metal horror films for your headbangin’ souls.
Then, the project got… big. Metal infects everything in my life (like goth, only less so) and I thought, why do I have to stick to horror movies? Why can’t it just be evergreen?
Then… the project got monstrous.
I realized I couldn’t do it alone. So I reached out to my genderfluid dreamboat -- I mean definitely one of my favorite power metallers and big time inspiration, Lovely! Together, we have compiled a master list of films that any self-respecting metalhead should enjoy, or if you’re stuck in that phase of explaining things to mom and dad, maybe some of these will help.
(I’m totally fucking with you, these won’t help at all).
So, check out the massive list below, and don’t forget to check out Lovely’s podcast, Lovely Talks Metal! And follow their Twitter and Instagram. That being said:
E's Choice Cuts
Strangeland is what happens when we let Dee Snider get ahold of a vanity project and it’s… good? It has some age on it now, but this movie was the very first of the torture porn/BDSM delectable killings films that your faves Eli Roth and Rob Zombie have been cribbing from ever since. You might as well watch the real thing, just saying. Stick around for some of the very real bodymod practices if you’re a veteran of the Pain-O-Lympics like I am. And that late '90s thrash soundtrack is bangin'.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
I have no problem freely recommending Cannibal Holocaust these days because it’s a classic mondo movie and you’ll probably never find more than image stills of it. That’s right, it’s less available than fucking Salo. Those image stills are enough. But this movie’s influence reaches across every goregrind band you’ve ever encountered. Is it genuinely good? Not really. Will you throw up? Yes.
Trick or Treat (1986)
So… I actually hate Trick or Treat. Yeah it has cameos from Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons and those are awesome, but this movie is cheesier than the worst bargain bin hair metal and just makes me mad. Why would I ever recommend it? Because it’s entertaining. The concept is pretty original (rock ‘n roll is the devil’s music literally, har har) and I’ll admit that soundtrack is slammin’. Yeah… I don’t know how I feel either.
I shouldn’t have to tell you to watch anything from this franchise, but I will again. Pinhead/Lead Cenobite has been inspiring metal fashion for decades, and I can’t wait for his inevitable crossover with Rob Halford. Has anyone ever seen Rob Halford and Doug Bradley in the same room? Anyone? Please check this out for the occult themes and fearousal-inducing gothic horror.
The Hunger (1983)
Pause. Isn’t this a little too… goth for this list? Too punk? Nay, I say! The Hunger is the vampire movie for the romantic metalhead in you. We’re out there, I swear. We’re usually listening to Paradise Lost, which is pretty much what this film looks like. It helps that The Hunger is a genuinely good twist on the usual vampire mythos, sorry if it doesn’t have enough Kensington gore in it for you.
The Wizard of Gore (1970)
Herschell Gordon Lewis is the great-grandfather of all splatter film, and this is one of his best. It was good enough to get a tribute from the mighty Rigor Mortis, right? For something well over forty years old, this movie is still fucking brutal and a hard watch… which is exactly why it’s on the list.
Demon City Shinjuku (1988)
At least since the mid-80s to late-90s, anime aesthetics meshed with metal hasn’t been all that uncommon, especially when you get to folk/power/technical metal. Of all the anime that could occupy a spot here, Demon City Shinjuku (or Wicked City) is a personal preference. It’s not terribly original or all that well executed, but it’s an interesting combination of Japanese cyberpunk and western demon folklore… set in a dystopian future… with a love story in the middle. Lots of appeal for everyone!
Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but if I must: Demons! Ghouls! Comic books! Billy Zane! BILLY ZANE!
If your introduction to the series was Netflix’s Crybaby, then you’re in for a wild ride going through the back catalog. It’s hard to recommend something from the franchise because previous adaptations haven’t been the best, but if I had to throw a dagger and pitch one to ya, I’d recommend the incomplete OVA series (The Birth & Demon Bird) with the hilarious English dubs turned on, and the Apocalypse OVA.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best and strictly for the fantasy vikings and power metallers out there. Adjust your James Earl Jones wigs accordingly. Fun fact: Grace Jones feelings aside, I actually don’t care for Conan the Destroyer.
Another one with a worthy tribute from Rigor Mortis, Re-Animator is a must for whoever you are. But if HP Lovecraft appeals to you but you wish he wasn’t a terrible person in real life and in death, make sure to check this one out and reanimate your interest with a little green serum here from Herbert West (make room for From Beyond while you’re at it). Metal and the Cthulhu mythos just high five each other all the time! Just look at Gwar!
Oh, you wish I was kidding. What better movie to appeal to a subculture than a movie about teenagers fighting the system to be themselves? And so what if it’s a little mainstream? Doesn’t hold up quite as well as Heathers, especially if you’re approaching the 30 and up segment… but still, no one said you couldn’t be frostgrim and have fun.
Spinal Tap (1984)
Comedy classic and scourge of your favorite band, this movie is still TOO relatable 30+ years on… and also just fucking funny. Check out the actual band while you’re at it—promise it’s not left field free-form jazz.
Lovely's Lovely List of Films
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
This is metal-adjacent in my eyes because the music video to Avenged Sevenfold's "Nightmare" is inspired by this film, which is a favorite of the band's late drummer, James "The Rev" Sullivan. The music video is a stretched out version of the hospital hallucination scene starring the band members. Jacob's Ladder is less gory and more psychological/thriller with an ending that one might consider cop-out or lazy. However, that previously mentioned hospital hallucination scene has the peak of the film's gore factor, which is to say, near non-existent.
Until The Light Takes Us (2008)
I said I'd steer from documentaries, but! I wanted to include Until The Light Takes Us because it was quite legitimately scary for me watching it for the first time. This film is a documentary about the early Norwegian Black Metal scene told purely from the perspectives of the musicians in it, including -exasperated sigh- Varg Vikernes. This film was made during his time in prison for the murder of Euronymous and church arson. I'm not a religious person, but it was very chilling to watch footage of churches burning in this film. It is also interesting to see how the Norwegian prison system differs from the United States through the little snippets of him in prison. And as interesting as that is, it's equally creepy to watch the murder-arsonist talk about stabbing his peer in the head in such a matter-of-fact tone.
Wayne's World (1992) (and Wayne's World 2) (1993)
Thor was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I watched, and I reasoned that it would be one that I would enjoy considering that I enjoy folk metal, power metal, viking metal, and Amon Amarth. I did find it very enjoyable, even if I wouldn't really get into Marvel until years later.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007)
Another documentary, I know. I'll be done with them for this list after this one. This is a documentary that follows Iraqi band Acrassicauda during the Iraq War. The war on their land and power outages to stop their live shows are a few obstacles that we see the band face in this film. It must be terrifying, living in a land unto which war was delivered. Obstacles aside, though, we see the band's love for heavy metal (mainly Metallica).
Netflix’s Castlevania (2017-)
This isn't a film, at all, but rather an animated series inspired by a video game series, but I'm including it in this list because at the moment there is only one season with four episodes, so that amount of content that exists of this adaptation of Castlevania is about the length of a film. So anyways, I love particularly love this because in watching it for the first time, the aesthetics and stunning visuals just reminded me of how much I love the band Powerwolf. Vampires and vampire slayers all in ancient Wallachia dominated by Christianity, ugh, yes. This screams Powerwolf to me. Particularly the song "Armata Strigoi."
Little Nicky (2000)
Forgive me for including an Adam Sandler flick in all of this, but there is something quite entertaining about the premise of the son of Satan trying to navigate the realm of the living. We get a fun cameo of Ozzy Osbourne at the end eating the head of a bat, so, that's something at least.
Dark Floors - The Lordi Motion Picture (2008)
If you want something really corny and not great at all, I'd recommend the film Dark Floors, starring the band Lordi as the monsters haunting the floors of a hospital. It tries to bring up some themes of dark and light out of nowhere at the end, leaving the whole thing very confusing in all honesty. But hey, if you wanna see Lordi try to kill people, this film will be a bit of fun for you.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Purely for the Cannibal Corpse cameo.
Honorable Mention: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Honorable because it's not even metal, it's a very okay film that could be better could be worse, and also there's something to be said about the film focusing on two white vampires in the settings of Detroit, Michigan and Tangier. But I very much enjoyed watching Tom HIddleston play a brooding sadboy vampire who makes music for two hours. Plus the main vampires Adam (played by Hiddleston) and Eve (played by Tilda Swinton) prefer the flavor of Type O Negative blood. Eh?
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...