It’s dark outside, the weather’s shitty, so why not hunker down with a gore-splattered horror movie or spine-tingling chiller?
Here are some recommendations of the world’s scariest movies (and one kids’ cartoon) that had some of the world's scariest rock stars, from Metallica's resident horror junkie Kirk Hammet to black metal heavyweights Behemoth, checking under the bed for monsters…
Scott Ian (Anthrax) – The Thing (1982)
I just think it’s the best on every level, be it the suspense, the horror, the effects, the acting, the writing,” says Scott.
And he’s right, the film is famed for its mutating/morphing effects that were created by a team of over 40 technicians. Just look at this!
“It was mind-blowing because you’d never seen anything like it before,” says Scott. “The effects that Rob Bottin did in that movie, you’d never seen anything like that, it was ground breaking.”
But there’s more to it that freaky effects and gnarled-up bastard dogs snapping at your face. Coming out back in 1982 it’s arguably Kurt Russell’s finest hour and has stood the test of time as being genuinely scary and not coming across like a Carry On film with gore.
“It’s just an incredible movie,” concludes Scott. “The sense of the claustrophobic suspense that he creates was just amazing, I was blown away by it. I just think it’s a perfect movie.”
Kirk Hammett (Metallica) – The VVitch (2015)
“I think the best horror movie to come out in a long time is The VVitch. It’s original, the concept was great, I love the fact that all the dialogue was taken from the 16th century. And the ending is a recreation of a famous series of Francisco Goya paintings. When I saw that ending, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this looks familiar’, and then I realised what the director was doing. It’s just incredible, and for me, it’s one of the best scenes of that movie. And the soundtrack is really great, too.”
Baalberith (GosT) – Halloween (1978)
"Halloween is hands down my favourite horror movie. Fall has always been my favourite time of year and Halloween has always been my favourite holiday. The soundtrack done as a kind of afterthought is crazy to me as it has been so very influential.
"If you grew up during the 80's and were a fan of horror chances are you like Halloween as a film and as a season. My favourite style of horror movie has always been the masked slasher and Halloween has always represented the pinnacle of the genre."
Elijah Witt (Cane Hill) – Hostel (2005)
“When you first watch it you’re just shocked by it. What really got me was that as a kid I didn’t realise that in other parts of the world, stuff like that actually happens. Eastern Europe seems to have a large sex trading realm. You live in a bubble in America where you don’t really get to think about people in other countries that have a poor economy, the selling of humans actually happens. I think that’s what’s more horrific about Hostel, is that probably it’s roughly based on true stories. I was talking to someone the other day about Hostel and they said they got out of a cab in Eastern Europe and it had dropped them off at a place that just had five or six guys waiting with weapons, and he immediately ran. You could be being sold for either murder or sex which is just horrific. It’s probably the most violent film I’ve ever seen.”
Biff Byford (Saxon) – Nosferatu (1922)
“My favourite would be Nosferatu. It’s funny you should ask, because I’m writing a song about it and I’ve been watching it a lot, but the film’s got no words, so it’s more about the cinematography. Why that one? Well, you wouldn’t want to wake up next to him would you? Christopher Lee [in 1958’s Dracula] was handsome and they made vampires good-looking in those movies, but you wouldn’t want Nosferatu creeping in through your window!”
Ash Costello (New Years Day) – House Of 1000 Corpses (2003)
“My favourite horror movie of all time is a Rob Zombie movie – House Of 1000 Corpses. I don’t get tired of watching it, it’s fun and colourful and really disturbing. I’m giggling and laughing, but the things I’m giggling and laughing at are really fucked up. The characters are really colourful and memorable, so much so that I have them tattooed down my leg! Captain Spaulding is my favourite, and I had a big crush on Otis Driftwood for a while. When you see that guy you’ll be like ‘what the…?’. Because he has long albino hair and a belly that hangs out of his shirt but I just thought he was the cutest. When it came out, I watched it once a week for five weeks straight. I couldn’t get enough of it. I have all the tickets in my scrapbook. It just inspired me so much to be a part of the Rob Zombie world.”
Gene Simmons (Kiss) – Psycho (1960)
“One of the finest movies continues to be Psycho, even though there’s nothing supernatural in it. The original. Have you ever seen it? You never see a knife enter a body, you never see blood coming out of a body, it’s psychological horror, which is the scariest. Maybe the only monster is a human being, and maybe that’s the scariest one.”
Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan) – Martyrs (2008)
“I have favourite horror movies that aren’t really specific to Halloween, but they’re scary. One of my favourite horror movies is Martyrs, the French film. It’s gnarly man. Those French people are fucked up. I don’t want to ruin it for people by saying too much, but it’s one of those movies where the first scene is as brutal as any movie that you could see, in scene one. And it just gets worse and worse and worse. And at any point the movie could end and it was a horrifying movie, and then it keeps going. It’s freaky, and I guess it’s one of those things where you feel it probably is real, that somewhere in the world it’s happening. And those are the kind of things that are horrifying to me. It deals with psychological torment and just how crazy we are as people, and religion and all that stuff. It’s really creepy. You won’t sleep well after that one for sure.”
Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) – Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (1985)
“I like Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, the cartoon, where him and Odie dress up like pirates and they find this old guy in this cabin who scares the shit out of them. And I really like the Disney Sleepy Hollow cartoons that Bing Crosby narrates. I associate horror movies with just being a genre, but I associate Halloween with being a little kid. So I like the same stuff I liked when I was a kid, when having something simple like Halloween coming round, and getting some candy and watching cartoons was something to look forward to. You didn’t have to deal with the pressures of life.”
Inferno (Behemoth) – Susperia (1977)
Behemoth's Inferno loves 1977's Suspiria – although it doesn't necessarily scare him.
“Suspiria, in my opinion, is the most interesting movie directed by maestro Dario Argento,” declares the death metal sticksman. “The film is the first of the Argento’s trilogy called The Three Mothers. In short, it’s about a young ballet dancer who attends a ballet academy and after while it occurs that the place is run by a witch. The background for the movie is at an amazing location – a famous old university town on the edge of the Black Forest, in the southwest Germany. It has mystical interiors, shock cuts and coloured lights.”
But as music and horror buffs amongst you are no doubt aware, Suspiria is also famed for it’s soundtrack by the infamous Goblin. The Italian proggers had worked with Argento previously and actually recorded the music before the film was even made, which gives you an insight into just how twisted and dark the band’s mindset is on any given day. The band also recorded the soundtrack for Zombi (the European version of Dawn Of The Dead).
“An essential and important part of the movie is the soundtrack,” says Inferno. “It’s dynamic, full of emotion and anxiety. Whispering vocals with beautiful piano sounds create a soundscape that brings the imagery of witchcraft and overwhelming grimness.”
But it’s not just the music he’s interested in…
“I could not skip one of the most beautiful murder scenes I have ever seen – it’s really disturbing and meaningful. A masterpiece!”
Dani Winter-Bates (Bury Tomorrow) – Sinister (2012)
“Honestly, I know this is going to sound a bit weird but, I’m going to have to say Sinister. I used to like all the B-movie type films like Halloween and Friday The 13th, and Sinister is the first movie I’ve seen that can rival them. It’s got an actual character that comes along and terrorises people. That’s what I like. The guy looks like Mick Thomson from Slipknot. What’s not to like about that?!”
Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) – Profondo Rosso (1975)
“My all-time favourite horror film is Profondo Rosso, translated as Deep Red, by Dario Argento. It’s an all-time classic; you’ve got the blood and the splatter and the gore, but there is also a deeper psychological thing going on there. I love when you can feel the tension and there is a little bit of mystery, when you don’t know who the killer is until the very end. That’s what I like about the old films, now you know who the killer is and that there is just going to be lots of blood straight away. It wasn’t like that in the old films, they let the suspense grow brilliantly.”
Joel O’Keeffe (Airbourne) – Jaws (1975)
“I love Jaws. The summer that movie came out, and the following one probably, they reckon beach attendances in the US went down by almost 100% because everyone was scared they were going to get eaten by Jaws.
“I still watch it to this day. There are some bits where they don’t really get away with the big fake plastic shark anymore, especially if you watch the film on Blu-ray, but if you have a few whiskeys and you’re a little bit blurred then it’s still just as menacing as ever – you just have to let your imagination take over.
“My favourite scene is where they’re on the boat drinking, and they were actually drunk when they filmed it. It’s all shot around the table and it’s one of those movie making moments that you don’t see a lot of anymore. Spielberg and those three actors [Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw] managed to capture one of the best scenes in movie history amidst this big epic adventure, and it’s just one of my all time favourite films.”
Asvargr (Dark Fortress) – The Sentinel (1977)
“The Sentinel is a little gem of occult horror and creates an exciting dark atmosphere,” says Dark Fortress guitarist Asvargr. “The plot involves a model moving into a house whose only other tenant is a blind priest. She doesn’t seem to feel well in her new surroundings, for she sleeps badly at night and is haunted by memories of her suicide attempt.
"She suspects that noise coming from next door must be the reason for her insomnia, so she complains to her real estate agent about her neighbours. However, the agent confirms that it’s really only her and the priest in the house.”
Starring Chris Sarandan, Ava Gardner and Martin Balsam, it also featured the likes of Jeff Goldlbum and Chris Walken who went on to much greater things. But it wasn’t just the casting Asvargr is into…
“Above all, the make-up and the blind priest, always standing at the window, ‘watching’, are what create the film’s menacing, nightmarish atmosphere. A dance with the devil, slowly building up to a brilliant climax, in which despicable scenes take place which led to a lot of discussions at the time. It’s a movie which enthralled me as a fan of 70s horror.”
Morean (Dark Fortress) – Possession (1981)
On the more gruesome end of the scale is the once deemed ‘video nasty’ Possession. Although originally banned in the United Kingdom and having to be heavily edited for a Stateside release, it was released uncut in 1999. Of course, Morean was able to find a copy…
“I discovered this little-known gem of a movie many years ago in the cult section of our video store. It took me years to find it on DVD. It’s maybe not a horror film in the strict sense of the word; it’s more a relationship crisis blown up to such psychotic proportions that it turned out as one of the finest works of metaphysical horror I’ve ever seen. A woman falls in love with an octopus-like creature, and the rest is a disaster unfolding till the very end.”
Starring Sam Neill (before his Jurassic Park days) and esteemed French actress Isabelle Adjani (who won the Best Actress Award in Cannes for her performance), Possession is the tale of a couple apparently going through divorce until not everything is as it seems – which Morean engages with somewhat.
“I have often wondered why this bizarre film resonates with me,” he says “but I guess the fact that an indescribably beautiful woman becomes possessed by a tentacled monstrosity, and that her betrayed husband is changing species towards the end of the film, might have something to do with it.”
Yeah, that’ll do it.
“I have never cared for people-on-people violence, and the classic slasher films usually put me to sleep before the opening credits are finished. But the fact that blood and gore are not the central theme here, but just happen to come up during the interpersonal crisis in a most unexpected way, provided the surprise element so many movies lack – especially horror flicks.”
The distinct lack of general horror sensibilities and focus on a disintegrating relationship are perhaps what made Possession such a cult classic amongst film buffs.
“The general vibe is one of film noir-style intellectualism, paired with socialist depression and wildly drifting, enigmatic dialogue. If it wasn’t for the tentacles, I probably would not have even watched it. But like this, I applaud this unique and mysterious genre crossover. Many people would hate this film, I’m sure, but in my long tours through the swamps of mostly awful horror, this one for me stands out head and shoulders above the usual stuff.”