"The Foo Fighters have made a horror movie called Studio 666" isn't a sentence that makes immediate logical sense in the same way it would if it were say, GWAR doing the same, or "Sabaton have made a historical docuseries". But, through the right lens it's also the kind of thing that has you thinking "ha! Well of course they have".
After all, Dave Grohl may be a man of many talents, but he is also a man of even more passions, and anyone who's followed Grohl's output post-2000 can see that he's channelled his popularity as currency to explore the infinite possibilities his rock star status can afford.
From recording an all-star metal album in 2004 under the name Probot (drawing in guests including King Diamond, Max Cavalera, Tom G. Warrior and Lemmy) to producing documentaries (and albums) about legendary studios and music scenes (even using the latter as stylistic and lyrical inspiration for the Foos' eighth studio album Sonic Highways), to releasing an autobiography while parts of the planet were fighting tooth and nail over toilet paper, Dave Grohl has built a career out of tiptoeing the fine line between creative ambition and hubris.
We were afforded the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the movie and have thusly assembled a handy guide for everything you need to know about Studio 666 ahead of its cinematic release this Friday [February 25].
Watch the official red band trailer below.
The plot is about as Foo Fighters-y as it gets
Does anybody love studios as much as Dave Grohl? The Foos singer has spent the better part of the last decade educating us on the magic of legendary studios and now his horror movie also concerns - you guessed it - a studio (it is called Studio 666 after all).
Plot-wise it's pretty dead-on for everything we'd expect the Foo Fighters to be doing in the 2020s; the band are looking for inspiration for their 10th studio album (production would have started on this before Medicine At Midnight, remember) and get sent to a creepy Encino mansion for inspiration. Only, when they're there they discover the house has a grizzly past and dark spirits threaten the band's lives (which might sound daft until you remember it's basically also the story behind both The Downward Spiral and The Subliminal Verses).
There are more cameos than an early 00s Limp Bizkit video
Remember when Limp Bizkit would get Ben Stiller and Thora Birch to pop up in their music videos like it was nothing at all? We're a good couple of decades since the rock and metal world has been courted so openly by celebrity A-listers, but the Foos manage to sneak (and promptly dispatch) a few familiar faces into Studio 666. From Kerry King portraying a roadie named Krueger (geddit?) to appearances from Will Forte, John Carpenter and... erm, Lionel Richie, the film is probably as star-stacked as anything in rock and metal has been for a good long while.
Director BJ McDonell has feet in both the worlds of music and horror
Based on a story by Dave Grohl himself, Studio 666 was brought to life by director BJ McDonnell and screenwriters Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes. If the director's name doesn't ring any bells immediately it probably should - McDonell was the mastermind behind Slayer's epic Repentless Killogy, as well as camera operator on the likes of Annabelle Comes Home, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and last year's utterly batshit Malignant, and he also directed Hatchet III way back in 2013. So not only is he a vet of the rock and metal world, but something of a modern horror connoisseur.
The movie is a love letter to the horror genre
So let's get down to the actual meat of the film: Studio 666 is, first and foremost, a love letter to the entire horror genre. It might not be a horror comedy classic to the same degree as Evil Dead II, Tremors or Braindead, but there is so much adoration to be found in the film that it's hard not to love it just a little bit on that alone.
From props and plot points lifted straight from the likes of Evil Dead to scenes and set-pieces that are clearly modelled on The Omen and one frame-perfect recreation of that iconic The Exorcist exterior shot (as well as a - what we're assuming is unintentional - scene that's almost identical to one from this year's Scream movie, with the same actress no less!), Studio 666 is a film that is literally dripping with love for the genre it inhabits. Speaking of dripping...
We'd quite like to hear the 47-minute plus song the band are working on
I mean, we get its being used for comedic effect, but we miss Reverend Bizarre and Dopesmoker is over 20 years old. Its about time we got some big-scale heavy metal epic, particularly if it sounds as good as the bits we hear throughout Studio 666.
The soundtrack is pretty kick-ass
Perhaps one of the most egregious sins a movie about music can make is to forget to include, you know, actual kickass music. The soundtrack for any band-based movie - be it Green Room or Wayne's World, Airheads or The Rocker - should actually feature some excellent songs in its roster and in this, Studio 666 certainly does not disappoint.
While the original 'Dream Widow' song March Of The Insane has caused a stir online, the actual soundtrack includes the likes of Gojira, Motorhead and Fu Manchu - something we're very here for. Plus, horror legend John Carpenter produced the movie's main theme and when it comes to horror royalty, it doesn't get much higher than that.
There's gore galore
So far as horror movie rules go, it's generally accepted that the more lashings of the red stuff you manage to slip in, the better your splatter flick will be (Halloween being perhaps the biggest exception to this). Studio 666 is no exception with puke, guts and gore flying about at every given opportunity.
The fact the movie goes all-in with the rubber model destruction school of practical effects only makes us love it more, a happy throwback to campy 80s horror where even the most gruesome kill becomes unintentionally hilarious as a clearly plasticine model gets utterly obliterated.
We wouldn't mind more bandsploitation movies
Stuff your all-too-sanitised 'reveal all' biopics and Oscar-bait big screen retellings, we want movies that embrace the inherent daftness of being in a band. After all, if we want our rock stars to be larger than life characters, surely we want a story to match? While there have been plenty of instances where bands have took the leap towards the big screen over the years (Christ, Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park is almost 45 years old!), the instances have been all-too few and far between.
We want to see Ghost in a campy gothic horror, GWAR serving up lashings of mush and Rammstein... being Rammstein in a cinematic way. It's about time Bandsploitation becomes a proper genre, especially now most of our favourite artists are becoming multi-media entitles in the first place.
The film does get a bit 'Return Of The King'
Much as we enjoyed Studio 666, the film does have a few pacing issues. A strong opening leaves a bit of a lag for the plot set-up, but manages to regain momentum once the actual story starts to unfold.
The main issue is in its ending - or abundance thereof. Much as we love a spooky addendum to our happy endings (see also: Carrie, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street), it feels like everything past the 90 minute mark (or thereabouts) is surplus to requirements as the main thrust of the plot ends and we go through a final 'twist' (that's signposted from the start), tacking another 15 minutes onto the run-time that really wasn't needed. But then, last year's Halloween Kills had almost the exact same issue, so in a way it's another bit of horror continuity.
There's no Dave Grohl cinematic universe...yet
Yes, we are slaves to Marvel Studios, and yes, we stuck around to the very end of the credits to see if Dave Grohl would slip on some supergroup-styled Infinity Gauntlet to kick off a wider cinematic universe. He doesn't, but that doesn't mean he won't.
So, real talk: we weren't expecting to go into Studio 666 and come out calling it the new Citizen Kane, or proclaim it as one of the best horror comedy movies ever made. That said, what exactly are we expecting?
Well... Fun, and frankly, Studio 666 has that in spades. From the aforementioned Easter eggs littered throughout that serve as a knowing nudge to horror-literate audiences to the general daftness of the film itself, Studio 666 is exactly the kind of thing you'd watch with mates and laugh right the way through.
The movie has some great one-liners and physical gags that feel right at home in the Raimi school of horror comedy, but also doesn't fall too hard into the trap of being a closed loop of pop culture references, even keeping the wider music references fairly sparing (we love the 'Pearl Jam high-five' bit, incidentally).
Studio 666 is a film that acknowledges its inherent daftness while having a lot of fun with the same and, for the glaringly obvious fact that none of the band are professional actors, there is an inherent campiness that brings up the b-movie quality of Braindead, Cemetery Man or Chopping Mall without feeling like it's trying too hard to be those movies.
Extra props go to Pat Smear for being the film's bona fide scream queen, his reactions adding a dash of Ash Williams to the mix. It's fun, it's silly and it tickles just the right spot to keep you entertained throughout.