Metal and horror go together like blood and guts. That’s what makes the ‘metalsploitation’ film genre so damn good — it’s the best of both worlds smooshed together in one deliciously pulpy mess.
Metalsploitation shredded and hacked its way into horror cinema in the early 80s and has haunted it ever since. We’ve exhumed 10 low-budget metalsploitation horror films that are so bad, they’re good. Grab the popcorn and prepare to be utterly horrified…
Terror On Tour (1980)
Tagline: “Terror strikes as the music begins!”
Terror on Tour is considered to be the very first metalsploitation film and was reportedly made in just seven days. The film is about a suspiciously Kiss-like band called The Clowns, who like to torture groupies as part of their stage act. Expect bad dialogue, cringy sex scenes and boobs, boobs, boobs. Basically, it’s everything you’d want from a 1980’s slasher.
Monster Dog (1984)
Tagline: “Unleashing a new dimension of terror!”
Claudio Fragasso’s 1984 masterpiece of schlock stars Alice Cooper as the distinctly Alice Cooper-like ‘Vince Raven’. Almost all the dialogue was dubbed (badly) in post-production and the result is brilliantly cheesy. The result is essentially 70 minutes of people being chased by domestic dogs and puppets.
Rocktober Blood (1984)
Tagline: “He's back from the dead with a message from hell!”
Director Beverly Sebastian delivers one of the finest metalsploitation films of the genre. There’s a casual impaling, full-frontal nudity, and a weird scene with a mime. The songs were written by American hard rock band Sorcery (in fairness, Rainbow Eyes is a killer track, pun intended).
Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
Tagline: “They came from the grave to Rock n' Rave and misbehave”
A movie that started as a horror comedy short and eventually morphed into the delightfully baffling masterwork you see today. If a horror film mated with a music video, this would be its child. It features zombies, werewolves, Nazis and evil dwarves in its character line-up. One of everything, basically.
Black Roses (1988)
Tagline: “Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, but don't watch it alone!”
Satanic panic gets real in John Fasano’s 1988 horror, Black Roses. The film opens with a musical number performed by prosthetic-faced demons and only gets weirder from there. The teenage students are played by middle-aged actors and, at one point, a man is eaten by a set of speakers.
Trick Or Treat (1986)
Tagline: “The ultimate comeback!”
The Citizen Kane of metalsploitation movies, Trick Or Treat is pure 80’s metal horror incarnate. Ex-Motörhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke’s band Fastway wrote the music and there are cameos from Gene Simmons as a radio DJ and Ozzy Osbourne as a demented, metal-hating TV preacher. The filmmakers let Ozzy go off script, so what you see in the final cut is taken from his 40-minute improvisation.
Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)
Tagline: “Alcatraz. For 39 years it held society's most depraved killers. Now it's home to something even worse...”
Slaughterhouse Rock feels like a gory cocktail of Nightmare on Elm Street and Night of the Demons with a sick metal twist. The practical effects and gore are superb, and it’s got the added bonus of a weird 80’s astral projection dance routine.
Death Metal Zombies (1995)
Tagline: “They like their music loud and their victims fresh!”
Todd Jason Cook’s low-budget indie corker has a “filmed on my dad’s camcorder” vibe that you’ve gotta love. As you’d expect from a DIY-style effort, the acting is very wooden and the dialogue sounds like it’s being improvised on the spot. It’s a very quotable 90’s horror that’d go down a treat at a Halloween watch party. Not to be confused with Hard Rock Zombies, obviously. Only a fool would do that.
Wild Zero (1999)
Bad CGI head explosions are the name of the game in this Japanese zombie film. Garage thrashers Guitar Wolf are a real band who play themselves and the end result is every bit as insane as you’d want it to be. The DVD comes with a drinking game as a bonus feature, so that’s your evening sorted.
Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal (2001)
Tagline: “Taking terror to new heights”
Think of all the clichés of an early noughties low-budget horror, and put ’em in one film - that’s Turbulence 3. And that’s precisely what makes it so great. It’s got hackers, Satanists, a gig on an aeroplane, and a character who looks like a dodgy mix of Marilyn Manson and Dani Filth. It’s part of a franchise but you don’t need to see the other films to enjoy it.