Guest Blog: 25 of the Most Metal Films (That Aren’t About Metal)

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The world’s first heavy metal band, Black Sabbath, took their name from Mario Bava’s classic 1963 horror film. In the years since, horror and metal have continued to have an ongoing conversation, from horror-themed metal bands (such as Cradle of Filth, The Great Old Ones, or Carach Angren) to metal-themed horror films.

My short story Requiem in Frost continues this tradition, telling the story of a Norwegian girl who moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a black metal musician.

To coincide with its release, I’ve decided to make a list of movies that, to me, feel “metal.” However, I’m not going to limit this list to horror, and I’m going to avoid films that are specifically about metal. This is because every other list of “Most Metal films of all time” take it literally, all of them focusing exclusively on the same 10 or so movies to have explicit references to the genre. The internet can only withstand so many posts containing Deathgasm, The Gate, The Devil’s Candy, and Lords of Chaos. So instead, I’m going to focus on movies that feel like they capture the essence of metal.

Here’s my criteria: do the images in the movie feel like they could be metal album covers? Could you put metal on the soundtrack and have it feel right? Does the story feel like it could also be that of a metal concept album? Does it feel powerful and meticulously constructed in the way that good metal does?

Obviously, everyone will have their own view on what does and doesn’t belong on this list. These are my choices, and I’m sure that your own are perfectly valid. That’s why these are 25 of the most metal films that aren’t about metal—not the 25 most.

Black SabbathHere we go. Organized by year:

  1. BLACK SABBATH (1963): Let’s just get this shoo-in out of the way. It honestly doesn’t feel that metal to me, but the fact that it inspired what many consider to be the first metal band ever makes it retroactively metal.
  2. WIZARDS (1977): Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature establishes a world in which, following a nuclear apocalypse, humans have all died or become mutants, and fantasy races have taken over in the meantime. An evil wizard uses Nazi propaganda footage to inspire his troops; a robot finds redemption, and fairy tits jiggle. It’s a strange, over-ambitious film, but the subject matter and imagery would feel right at home in a strange, over-ambitious metal concept album. Bakshi’s Fire and Ice might also be a suitable pick, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t put it here.
  3. HEAVY METAL (1981): A token inclusion, this adult animated anthology feature contains aliens on drugs, women with big swords, and copious amounts of sex and violence. It’s rather dated, particularly in the treatment of its female characters, but there’s no denying it is as metal as its name.
  4. CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982): Look, the poster for Conan the Barbarian looks just like a Manowar album. It opens with the forging of a sword. It’s full of Vikings. It has to be on this list.
  5. LEGEND (1985): When you get down to it, a lot of metal is quite geeky, full of fantasy tropes and looming apocalypses—much like Legend. Plus, Tim Curry’s Darkness is such a perfectly iconic heavy metal demon that it would be sinful not to include it.
  6. HELLRAISER (1987): Clive Barker’s squirmfest is undeniably metal, if only for the aesthetic of the cenobites and for the film’s obsession with pain, pleasure, and Hell. Hellraiser was also a huge influence on the band Cradle of Filth, with Pinhead’s actor Doug Bradley making regular appearances on their albums.
  7. EVIL DEAD 2 (1987): The Necronomicon. Ash’s chainsaw hand. The bleeding walls. The soul-swallowing, flesh-possessing demons. Evil Dead 2 is as metal as it gets.
  8. THE CROW (1994): While it’s arguably more of a goth film than a metal film, The Crow is nonetheless filled with such metal-appropriate themes as coming back from the dead to avenge your frigid lover. It’s also one of the rare movies where both the protagonist and antagonist have longer-than-average hair. Kaw, kaw.
  9. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (1994): Also known as Cemetery Man, this underrated dark comedy stars Rupert Everett as the keeper of a cemetery where the dead come back to life after burial. It features a romance with a severed head, a zombie on a motorbike, and Death himself, as well as amusingly cynical quotes like “I’d give my life to be dead” and “At a certain point in life, you realize you know more dead people than living.”
  10. VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST (2000): One of the most beautiful animated films of all time, and also one of the darkest. There’s vampires, giant flying manta rays, strange monsters, dark magic, zombies, and more. The first Vampire Hunter D film is good, but Bloodlust just gives the audience one incredibly metal scene after another, and it’s filled with shots that look like they could be metal album covers.
  11. LORD OF THE RINGS (2001 – 2003): Just look at this meme. I think that demonstrates pretty clearly just how metal these films are.
  12. HELLBOY (2004) & HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008): Guillermo del Toro’s fantastic Hellboy films follow a demon who fights Nazis, tentacled Eldritch abominations, faeries, and more. The fact that we have a demon as the hero of the story is pretty significant, but the films’ hellishly lush imagery also demand their inclusion. Particularly metal is the Angel of Death we meet in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  13. 300 (2006): I’m including Zach Snyder’s divisive “300” here because the whole movie just feels like a mosh pit to me, with its fetishization of big men with big swords fighting in big groups. It has stunning, brutal, beautiful violence, and plenty of images that feel like metal album covers. Lest you think metal can only be from Scandinavia, check out the amazing Greek metal bands Rotting Christ or Septicflesh, and the Mesopotamian metal band Melecesh. All three bands would feel right at home on the 300 soundtrack.
  14. PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006): Another beautiful Guillermo del Toro picture, Pan’s Labyrinth is both a grisly fairy tale and a story of rebellion. The Faun and the Pale Man, both played by the incomparable Doug Jones, are stunningly dark creations, and this list would be incomplete without them.
  15. SILENT HILL (2006): Pyramid Head’s scenes. ‘Nuff said.
  16. MARTYRS (2008): Extreme metal is like extreme horror: enjoyment often requires a process of conditioning and desensitization. Just as you can recommend some extreme metal only to people with the ear for it, you can only really recommend Martyrs to people with the stomach for it. Somewhere out there, a goregrind band is writing lyrics about a woman’s skin being removed in honor of this grueling film.
  17. VALHALLA RISING (2009): Nicolas Refn’s surreal Viking picture stars Mads Mikkelsen as One Eye, a man who resembles Odin and goes on a transcendent journey. It’s bloody, somber, drenched in pagan spirituality and black metal as Hell.
  18. HELLDRIVER (2010): This bonkers Japanese splatterfest contains a car made out of body parts, an eight-armed zombie holding eight assault rifles, a plane made out of zombies, and…look, it’s just nuts, okay? I might have also included similar Japanese bonkers films like Tokyo Gore Police, The Machine Girl, or Robogeisha, but I feel like Helldriver belongs here the most.
  19. DRIVE ANGRY 3D (2011): Nicholas Cage escapes from Hell to take revenge on someMandy evil cultists by driving…angrily…in 3D. While being pursued by a demon accountant…who is also, yes, in 3D. There’s also a sex scene gunfight…which is, you guessed it, also in 3D.
  20. BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC (2012 – 2013): While it isn’t nearly as good as the manga it’s based on, this anime film trilogy is nonetheless quite metal. Set in a medieval fantasy world, Berserk has big swords, big battles, and big demons, culminating with the infamously hellish “Eclipse” sequence. But really, read the manga instead.
  21. KUNG FURY (2015): This 30-minute long Swedish crowd-funded film manages to pack more metal stuff in it than most films can manage in a feature-length. In Kung Fury, a Kung-Fu Cop must fight Hitler, but accidentally goes too far back in time and ends up in the Viking Age, where Viking women ride dinosaurs and fight laser raptors. In other words, it’s amazing. You can watch it for free on YouTube.
  22. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015): This movie contains a man playing a fire-spewing guitar on top of a stage that’s on a moving big rig, and if that’s not metal, then I don’t know what is.
  23. THE WITCH (2015): The Witch kicks off with the ritualistic sacrifice of an infant, and from there only continues to bombard us with Satanic imagery. Of particular note is Black Philip, the sinister goat who apparently terrorized the actors as much as he does the characters in the film.
  24. MANDY (2018): Nicolas Cage makes a bat’leth and fights a shitty cult in this surreal film that’s destined to be a cult favorite. Like some great metal albums, I can think of, Mandy starts off slow and atmospheric, lulling you with hypnotic beauty before exploding into an orgy of batshit violence. Also, like many great metal albums I can think of, it feels like it was conceived while on drugs.
  25. AQUAMAN (2018): Okay, hear me out. James Wan’s Aquaman makes Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman look as metal as possible, and he makes the rest of the film as metal as possible too. The scene where Aquaman bursts from the ground while riding a giant crab? Metal. The Lovecraft references? Metal. The Trench sequence with its creepy fishmen? Metal. Amber Heard’s jellyfish dress? Metal. The fact that Aquaman fights a giant tentacle monster that’s voiced by Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews? Oh, so metal. There’s even a cute scene with the cuddly metalheads at a bar. This movie is a treasure.

 

JonathanFortinAuthorPhoto_SepiaJonathan Fortin is the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus (coming December 2019 from Crystal Lake Publishing) and Nightmarescape (Mocha Memoirs Press). An unashamed lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the “Next Great Horror Writer” in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian gentleman, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him online at www.jonathanfortin.com or on Twitter @Jonathan_Fortin.

 

Holiday Horror Viewing!

Holiday Horror Hits

By Kristin Battestella

Looking for something to do with yourself after surviving the horrors of unending holiday dinners, hyperactive family drama, and the fruitcake that will not die?  Take in these classic horror hits and worthy recent scarefests.

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Antichrist – Director Lars von Trier’s 2009 disturbing and controversial family horror drama opens with a bizarre and unique sex scene/baby death montage and gets weirder from there.  Only Willem Dafoe (Platoon) can make dead babies seem so casual- and I say that in a good way!  Although von Trier’s distorted cutting, angled filming, and scribbled chapter plates may be jarring to some, these visual cues akin perfectly to the unreliable feelings of distortion and downward spiral that such grievous loss can bring.  Cannes Best Actress winner Charlotte Gainesburg (I’m Not There) is a little annoying as well, but then again obviously understandable as a mother who was shebanging when she should have been looking after her child.  The altered perception of time, responsibility, and indifference bounces between the leads nicely as we progress towards plenty of violent sex, mental scares, and kinky creepy.  It’s all a little uppity considering the dirty subject matter, and certain audiences will definitely be alienated by the material-but the performances here win against the saucier distrubia. Put the kids to bed for this one.

Bride of Frankenstein – Despite its short length, over the top style, and bad science effects, this 1935 Universal sequel is a classic for a reason.  Boris Karloff (The Mummy) returns with Elsa Lanchester (Witness for the Prosecution) for director James Whale’s (The Invisible Man, Showboat) stylized tale in the spirit of Mary Shelley’s infamous creation.  The theatrics at hand add to the spooky atmosphere and morally ambiguous, hair raising drama and provide plenty of scary hijinks for both young and old.  Even the score is wonderful as well, being tragic when needed and even spiritual and bittersweet. Love, tragedy, death, angry mobs, misunderstood monsters- there’s something for everyone here!  Long time classic horror fans can always enjoy the great, campy classic quotes and old school iconography.  Educate the family while taking in all the subtext, layers, and quality storytelling here.

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Child’s Play If you want to scare the kids out of wanting THE toy of this holiday season, then this is the film! Though dated, some of the 1988 scares may indeed be too much for the super youngins.  However, nostalgic folks can chuckle with Chucky’s naughty wit courtesy of Brad Dourif (Lord of the Rings, Dune) and enjoy the more intelligent mystery and suspense aspects here.  While the sequels certainly have their ups and downs, Chris Sarandon (Fright Night, Dog Day Afternoon), and Catherine Hicks (7th Heaven) have some fine moments here.  Die hard marathoners can continue with Jenny Agutter (Logan’s Run) in Child’s Play 2 or go really crazy with Jennifer Tilly’s (Bound) send up in Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky.  Child’s Play 3 isn’t that bad, but Chucky run amok on a military base is a bit much, even for this zany franchise.

Trick ‘r Treat This 2007 pseudo horror anthology is kind of comical- a diminutive pumpkin boy Sam (short for Samhain) pursues naughty Halloween rule breakers? Some segments here are pretty bad, even stupid and just preposterous beyond belief.  Somehow, however, writer and director Michael Dougherty’s (X2, Superman Returns) quirky style and lighthearted irony keep these tales- among them twisted school principal Dylan Baker (Kings, Thirteen Days) and seemingly innocent and Red Riding Hood-esque Anna Paquin (True Blood, X-Men) – on the bemusing side.  The ridiculousness is actually quite refreshing; especially against other recent horror pictures that try to be sardonic and miss or those copycat sequels and remakes that just take themselves too dang seriously.

 

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 The Watcher in the Woods Although this 1980 Disney thriller might be a little too scary for the super young Santa set, older kids and the young at heart who grew up on this spooky charmer can delight all over again in young Lynn Holly Johnson (Ice Castles, For Your Eyes Only) and crotchety Bettie Davis (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte) as they try to solve the haunting events and disappearances in the forest about their grand English manor.  Yes, it’s a little marred by Disney’s influence and maybe some of the events here are a fairly typical now. However, some scenes are still as scary now as they were to me back then.  When my mother wanted to frighten me indoors from the woods surrounding our own home or prevent me from staying up to watch an eclipse, she’d yell, “Do you want to end up like Karen in The Watcher in the Woods?!”

 

Horror Christmas Tales – Staff Picks!

Hope all of you Addicts are surviving the holiday season.

Some of the staff here at HorrorAddicts.net have given us suggestions for horror holiday reading/listening!

Dan-  One of my favorite Christmas horror stories is from my man Jack Mangan, which made it’s way to Horror Addicts #52, called “Santa Thing”. What a great, creepy, and exciting twist! Click below to listen.

David- I liked Michele Roger’s Santa Claws which was on HorrorAddicts.net #13 and has recently been printed in a new anthology called Ain’t No Sanity Clause. You can buy it now on Kindle.

Emz- My favorite holiday horror story- and most won’t think this is horror – is a story I read when I was little called Christmas Every Day by William Dean Howells. A little kid wants Christmas every day… but it all goes horribly wrong as presents keep showing up and are so many in number they block the door to the house and cause all sorts of problems! It was written in 1892 and can be read here at project gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22519

Looking for more holiday horror? How about listening to the Wicked Women Writers Challenge show again? “The Secret Ingredient” by Rebecca Snow is a tale that will give you chills, even if you aren’t out shoveling snow.

Do you have a favorite Christmas horror tale? Please share in the comments.

And if you’re in the mood for some Christmas Quiz-y fun! Check out Mike Bennett’s fun Christmas Quiz on Youtube.

Horror Addicts Top Ten Contest – The List and The Winner

 

The votes are in and they have been counted. So without further delay here is the TOP TEN MOVIES as voted by you the listeners.

  1. Ghost Ship – 2002 – Domestic
  2. 1408 – 2007 – Domestic
  3. Brotherhood of the Wolf – 2001 – French
  4. Paranormal Activity – 2007 – Domestic
  5. The Descent – 2005 – UK
  6. Saw – 2002 – Domestic
  7. The Mist – 2007 – Domestic
  8. The Ring – 2002 – Domestic
  9. Dead Silence – 2007 – Domestic
  10. Case 39 – 2009 – Domestic

 

Now on to the winner of the prize package which includes copies of some featured films from this season, and a copy of the book, “Vikings, Vampires and Mailmen”.

The winner is (Insert your own drum roll here);

Bill Rafferty of Illinois.

Congratulations to Bill and thank you to all that entered the contest.

Below are the movies Bill submitted to the contest in the list he had them in order.

  1. The Strangers – 2008- Domestic
  2. Laid to Rest –  2008 – Domestic
  3. Paranormal Activity – 2007 – Domestic
  4. Shutter (remake) – 2008 – Domestic
  5. Dead Silence – 2007 – Domestic
  6. Insidious – 2006 – Domestic
  7. Halloween (remake) – 2007 – Domestic
  8. Hostel – 2005 – Domestic
  9. Ghost Ship – 2002 – Domestic
  10. Saw – 2002 – Domestic