Way back in October 2012, Revolver put together a special collector's issue we titled "Rock, Shock & Horror," combining two of our favorite things — heavy music and scary cinema — and we hit up our friends at Bloody Disgusting to compile a list of the cheesiest heavy-metal horror movies of all time. As diehard headbangers, in addition to being avowed fright-flick aficionados, they readily agreed.
"Ever since Black Sabbath opened their self-titled debut album with the spine-chilling sounds of pouring rain, growling thunder and eerie chimes back in 1969," they wrote, "heavy metal and horror have been connected to each other almost as closely as Belial and Duane Bradley before their forceful secession." Read on for Bloody Disgusting's picks for the "top 10 rocksploitation flicks of all freakin' time!"
OK, we admit that this flick, which tells the story of baseball star Tony Washington — played by Canadian bodybuilding champion and rock warrior Jon Mikl Thor — who gets reanimated by a voodoo priest after he's killed by a gang of thugs and henceforth hunts down his tormentors as a jersey-wearing zombie, is really damn bad. So why does it end up in this top 10 list? 'Cause it features one of the very best soundtracks of all time — featuring kickass tracks by Motörhead, Thor, Girlschool, Virgin Steele, Fist and Deathmask! Oh, and the fact that Zombie Nightmare features Wayne's World star Tia Carrere in one of her first roles, doesn't hurt either!
Uh, another pretty bad movie. But one that definitely belongs in the category of "Films that Are So Bad, They're Actually Good." Ghoul School is a hilarious ultra-low-budget flick about a high-school swimming team whose members are turned into bloodthirsty zombies by a strange chemical that accidently ended up in their swimming pool. A bunch of robot ninja-lovin' geeks has to team up with the worst heavy-metal band that ever appeared in a movie and fight back the attack of the undead!
C'mon, can you think of a better story than the twisted tale of an up-and-coming glam-rock band, who is about to play a concert in the small town but gets electrocuted by the town's head, who, after taking off his mask, turns out to be none other than Adolf Hitler? And as if that ain't already enough, the film continues with the rotten band members being raised from their graves by the lead singer's underage girlfriend and ends with a no-holds-barred battle of the hard-rock zombies against Hitler and his loyal horde of zombie henchmen. One of the most bizarre and fucked-up heavy-metal horror films ever made!
This obscure little gem provides solid old-school camp, a few scares and a helluva lot of laughs. As so often in the rocksploitation genre, the story centers around an aspiring high-school band — played by a bunch of actors who look like they're in their late thirties to mid forties — who dream of makin' it big. Too a bad a hungry werewolf keeps showing up at their campus as well as their concerts and devours teenager after teenager in the most brutal and savage ways imaginable.
This is, without a doubt, one of heavy-metal horror's biggest cult films of all time, and rightly so. The story of a bunch of demons dressing up as rockers and reaping the innocent souls of the teenagers who show up at their concerts is just a helluva good time from start to finish, from the goofy latex monsters to the kickass soundtrack, including tracks by Lizzy Borden, Hallow's Eve and others.
Wanna get a diploma in dying? Then join the Phi-Epsilon-Nu fraternity and get ready to pull one cruel but hilarious prank after the other on pledge night — but beware 'cause there's always a good chance that the vengeful spirit of a fraternity brother, who got killed in a prank many years ago, will suddenly come back from hell to take bloody revenge. So what qualifies this movie as a rocksploitation flick? Well, first of all, the demon version of the deceased frat boy looks quite a bit like a headbanger, and secondly, the soundtrack not only contains several songs by speed-metal pioneers Anthrax, but also we get see the band's lead singer Joey Belladonna drown in acid in a short flashback sequence.
Heavy metal wakes the beast — or, in extremely bad situations, not just one but hundreds or even thousands of beasts! That's what two boys, Glen and Terry, have to learn the hard way, when they play a cursed record by the band Sacrifix backwards and, by doing so, open a gate to the underworld in Glen's parent's backyard. Featuring the film debut of a young Stephen Dorff and some of the best special effects and stop-motion animation you'll ever see in a B-movie, this cult flick is a true heavy-metal horror classic.
After heavy-metal superstar Sammy Curr dies in a hotel fire, he uses black magick to come back to life and kill everybody who's ever been mean to his biggest fan, the high-school kid Eddie 'Ragman' Weinbauer. At first Eddie's pretty happy about his new acquaintance from beyond, but when Sammy starts to go postal on the boy's friends, family and queen of hearts, it's up to the kid to unplug Sammy Curr's guitar for good. What really makes this movie is the attention to detail in every single scene: Eddie's got Raven posters on his wall, Exciter records on his turntable, Anthrax shirts on his chest, Iron Maiden buttons on his denim jacket, and Lizzy Borden stickers on the inside of his locker, plus we get to see cameos by Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons. If you've got the slightest bit of love for the metal of the Eighties, you'll sure as hell love this movie to death!
The second film on this list starring Jon Mikl Thor, this movie is the epitome of corny B-movie camp! The story of an aspiring rock band that rehearses for the recording of its debut album in an eerie spookhouse is pure cheesefest gold, the music by Jon Mikl's band Thor is freakin' awesome, and Thor and his lady's love scene in the shower is only to be topped by his hilarious brawl with the devil that marks the movie's big finale. Rock'N'Roll Nightmare has got everything that makes a good B-movie: cool music, campy actors, goofy humor, silly-looking latex monsters, lots of nudity and a completely ridiculous twist in the end.
The last of the classic old-school rocksploitation films to be released — at least the last one I know of — is also the genre's undisputed masterpiece. Telling the story of a nerdy loser named Martin, who quits his job at a local pizza joint to become a world-famous rock guitarist and ultimately sells his soul to the devil, Shock 'Em Dead is a nonstop camp bombardment of the highest and most hilarious order. Featuring Nitro's guitar wizard Michael Angelo Batio as a stunt guitarist and a stunningly hot Traci Lords as the female lead, this is a real must-see for every fan of hard rock-laden B-movies!