Glenn Danzig loves horror movies. His old band the Misfits shamelessly plundered countless B-list classics inspiration and song titles: Return Of The Fly, Horror Hotel, Night Of The Living Dead. His artwork is iconic, most notably the Crimson Ghost, adapted from a 1946 flick of the same name.
Yet loving something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re any good at it. Danzig’s debut feature-length horror movie, 2019’s Verotika, proved he has no understanding of how horror movies actually work. Betwixt three vignettes comprising a woman with eyeballs for nipples, actors missing their marks, cameras zooming into the wrong places, unintelligible French accents, non-sequiturs, and a four-minute scene where Elizabeth Bathory splashes about in a tub clearly made of styrofoam, the anthology earned a reputation as the Citizen Kane of shit. “You guys laughed at the stuff I wouldn’t have laughed at,” Glenn is reported to have said at the premiere. We did, mate. We did.
Still, any and all criticism rolled like holy water off a monk’s sack. Danzig’s back with a new film: Death Rider In The House Of Vampires. It’s about cowboys. Vampire cowboys. Nobody tell him about From Dusk Till Dawn.
Death Rider stars Danny Trejo, Eli Roth, Devon Sawa and Kim Director. These are credible names. Will this film be competent? Probably not. Should you watch it? Absolutely.
Here’s why. Glenn Danzig has made his dreams come true. He’s writing, directing and scoring his own work, on his own terms. Sure, no major studio would have signed Verotika off, but that’s beside the point. It’s his unfiltered vision, soft porny and incongruous as it may be. It’s hilarious. Shamefully rewatchable. And, if he keeps going, he might start getting good.
Think of it like this. Ministry’s first few albums were not great. Converge’s early gestation didn’t suggest Jane Doe was in the oven. Just as those bands were given time and space to grow before delivering their masterpieces, Danzig deserves fans’ trust and respect while he tinkers with his cinematic formula. After all, they stuck with him for an entire record of karaoke Elvis covers. They’re die-hards, so 90 minutes of unintentionally hilarious cinema shouldn’t put them off.
That’s not an excuse for Danzig to cruise, and he won’t. Because even Verotika, while fundamentally broken, remains entertaining by virtue of his undying love for this stuff. If you aren’t invested in horror, there’s no way you can mangle its tropes so spectacularly. And only one person could namecheck the Italian horror legend Mario Bava when, in fact, his film shares more DNA with Alex Chandon’s Cradle Of Fear (Dani Filth eating a cat? Sure, why not).
In a world of instant gratification, big budget box-office wankery and endless reboots of franchises that never warranted an initial run, feel safe knowing that Glenn Danzig means it. If Death Rider comes out and you find the quality lacking, perhaps recalibrate your expectations. Just because you’re shit at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyway.