OK, I know it’s been a while (and by the way, I hope everyone is hanging in there with everything going on), but I have risen to sit at my desk and write to you now about a movie which has blown my mind so, so much … Saint Maud.
I’ve always been attracted to horror concepts which involve religious fervor and how that can get out of control. I also like movies that chronicle one’s descent into madness. So the appeal for Saint Maud was there right from the start, but it wasn’t what I expected at all, and I mean that in a totally good way. I didn’t know the protagonist was consumed to the point of self-im … well … let me hold off from that particular detail, because you will see it.
I’ll just tell you there are things in this movie which were TOTALLY unexpected. The horror of it all was so great, sometimes I was going, “Fucking hell, did I just see what I just saw?” And the full impact of this movie really hit me a full two days after the first viewing.
It’s a very stripped down portrait of a young woman, Maud (played by Morfydd Clark) who we figure was at one point a professional nurse but is now employed in the privatesector. We’re presented with two major facets of her character; insanity and religion. And the truth is, both get worse as they get closer together.
She is desperately seeking a combination of belonging, commitment, atonement while struggling with a great inner-trauma, which makes it impossible to make connections with people regardless of how hard she tries. Slowly, you start getting the message that maybe her reality is her own custom made version. In lots of films, madness is suggested, but here you see exactly what she’s seeing, and that makes the perspective harder to break down.
Maud’s character reminded me somewhat of Catherine Deneuve’s Carol Ledoux in Roman Polanski’s 1965 classic, Repulsion, where we see her going through something in a very singular fashion; trying to work it out, trying to avoid insanity. She was an au pair, so also involved in home care, and there were a few times where I thought Maud might be a modern take on Ledoux.
We see Maud engaging in several “social” acts but in desperate, detached and ultimately unsuccessful ways which end up in a series of what could be hallucinatory situations. It feels like being involved in a big nosedive, yet she seems unshakably committed to her path, and there is this dangerous level of delusional narcissism that leaves her utterly wrapped up in her own convictions. I think there’s can be comparisons made to certain elements of society today, where some people feel that throwing all your faith behind a cause or belief will result in your life being so much better.
Yet weirdly, the stranger and more crazy Saint Maud got, the closer Maud seemed to get to a kind of peace. Only her route to enlightenment is kind of quietly and persistently horrific. You’ll see at the very end – is that a happy ending or not? I guess that’s a case of personal perspective. And the fact it is a British production is no surprise at all, this film has that great “small and very real freshness” about it that you got with Hammer back in the day and films like The Wicker Man. I think its lack of convention, and its folklore-rich vibe, really gave it an even greater presence.
My last observation? Saint Maud was written and directed by a woman, Rose Glass. This directorial feature debut stars predominantly female characters, and is to all intents and purposes a female-driven movie, which is so fucking great. That’s even more of a reason to see it, support it, and speak about it to everyone you can.
It’s been a while since I last wrote, and usually if I’d say “a lot has happened since…”, it would be true to a degree, but not to the degree it is right now!
I want to start by saying these are the craziest of times for sure, and I hope everyone is doing OK and staying safe. I’m trying to keep busy, and I might even have a new post up before the month is over!
Like it has been for most of us, movies and TV have been a loyal friend to me during everything going on, and I have to say there’s been an amazing amount of great horror stuff on all the cable stations, which suits me fine. What I am not doing is watching pandemic movies, like Contagion.
Why would I want to watch a movie about a pandemic when we’re living it? That doesn’t make sense to me. Besides, there’s such a backlog of things for me to watch so I’ve started working through that pile, and re-visiting a few old favorites. So allow me to share a few of them with you!
First up, The Lodge. A great psychological horror film that seriously messed with me into the next day.
There’s another great one, A Dark Song, which is a really good take on the occult. A great film and one which had been on my list for a while.
I re-visited Death Proof, the grindhouse film from a decade or so ago which was a lot of fun, and then I had to watch An American Werewolf in London both for nostalgia and because it’s a fucking great film! I also re-visited Blue Velvet, which is not only great but reminded me that in Frank Booth we had a man who practiced mask wearing and social distancing by the fact he was such a dick you wouldn’t have wanted to get close to him.
Color Out Of Space with Nicolas Cage was great, a Lovecraft story, and I love HP Lovecraft! It seems like Nic Cage has come full circle from being a “cult” actor to a major blockbuster star back to being a cult actor. And that’s, I think, where he’s at his very best.
Dr.Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, was one I liked a lot because it was very faithful to the book, and I loved the way they used elements of the old score to link the first movie with this one. There’s another great one called The Shed, starring a kid who has a vampire living in his shed! Pretty great, right?
If you like funny horror Satanic Panic hits the mark, and I found The Witch In The Window as creepy as all heck. There’s a moment in there where technology meets folklore as a kid tried to take a picture of the witch with his iPhone but the witch isn’t visible in the display of his camera, and that was a moment.
I also need to mention something on Netflix which is, for me, the best TV show going. I’ve been binge-watching and am so surprised to say that it fulfils every one of my horror cravings and each season is consistently well written…The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. My friend Shelley told me to check it out as it was the best thing on television, and guess what, it is the best thing on television! It is SO satanic! The first episode is all about whether Sabrina should sleep with The Dark Lord on her 16th birthday? How satanic is that?! There is a little humor, it isn’t all serious, and in terms of content it has everything.
In these strange times, for me, it kind of feels like we’re living in a combination of three very classic movies; Night of The Living Dead, The Stand and The Masque of The Red Death. The Stand for obvious reasons, a virus killing people wantonly and the way people are divided, so the comparisons and similarities are creepy to me. Night of the Living Dead reminds me of people walking around without any regard for the living or the dead, no masks, like zombies. Masque of The Red Death is also about division, the rich and the poor, social inequality, it’s about a ruler who brings the elite inside the castle wall and burns the village below to get rid of the plague, but of course death comes and infects everyone anyway. Between the three of them, it feels like you have the story of our current situation … I probably shouldn’t forget to add The Dead Zone in there, for obvious reasons. Between The Stand and The Dead Zone, maybe Stephen King should be in charge of something right now!
Anyhow, I hope some of these recommendations keep you busy and entertained! See you soon and stay safe out there!
OK EVERYONE, I want to start by talking about Parasite,and not just because it won the Oscar for best picture! What a horror movie. Full on Jane Eyre. The thing which is in the attic becomes the thing in the basement yet again, and I loved it! It actually started off kinda slow for me, but then it became sideways and unpredictable, which I wasn’t expecting. And when things started to get weird, I thought , “OK, I see where this is going!” And again, I was surprised.
It wasn’t the type of horror flick I was expecting … I was expecting actual parasites, busting out of human bodies, a Korean Cronenberg sort of thing. There is gore of course, but it’s not the primary element of the movie. The script is so original, so it becomes more like a thriller-melodrama. It has elements of Polanski to it, a little bit twisty, and you could even add a dose of De Palma or Tobe Hooper. It’s a worthy flag-bearer for a great, currently booming, South Korean film industry, which also includes another Bong Joon film, Snowpiercer, and The Horde, which is a great zombie film.
I didn’t expect it to climax the way it did, with that whole birthday scene being so graphic. Most people already know I’m not really big on graphic violence. I’ve seen a lot of it in real life so it’s a bit of a trigger for me. But yeah, the way it ended seemed to be some sort of “revenge fulfillment” in my eyes. Maybe a kind of statement on the concept of class status and how some people live in horrific conditions while other people are so caught up in their luxury and status that they don’t realize things are lurking right beneath the surface. Literally. So if you haven’t seen Parasite yet, do it now.
Something else I want to talk about is the jam-band I’ve got going with Rob Trujillo. Seems like the word is spreading, so yeah, why not mention The Wedding Band? And right now I’m really, really, really, (really) excited about our next show coming up on March 8th. It’s kind of tied in to my latest museum exhibit, the It’s Alive collection currently on display at the Columbia Museum of Art. We last attempted this when I had my exhibit on display in Toronto, so why not try it again? This time we’re hitting the Senate in Columbia, South Carolina.
Basically, The Wedding Band is an opportunity to jam in a relaxed environment. It’s a great opportunity for Rob and I to just jam; playing folk songs, playing metal songs, playing punk songs, playing funk songs! I’m also really happy that this will also be the first public The Wedding Band show with Jon Theodore! We’re going to be playing some odd stuff here and there, and we’ll mostly stick to the traditional arrangements of the songs, but maybe out of the blue, or in the middle of the song, we’ll just go somewhere else. The best thing about this is that we don’t talk about where we’re gonna go. We just go there. And those moments are the moments I live for the most. It’s also nice that The Wedding Band creates publicity for the museum show, and it’s also allowing Rob and I to show a different side, musically speaking. We’re both very multi-faceted in inspirations and influences; there are things we enjoy in our playing that no one outside of our immediate circle is really aware of. And we both feel that The Wedding Band is a window into that.
Before that event, however, I’m going to be in England where I’m honored to be playing a part in the Peter Green Celebration Show being staged by Mick Fleetwood at the London Palladium. Between Mick, Billy Gibbons and Dave Gilmour I am going to be in the presence of some severe legends, and in truth, I’m completely blown away by that. When I acquired Greenie, I bought her because she sounded great. She’s a very unique sounding guitar. I had no idea it would lead to all these different opportunities, all these different experiences, and meeting all these different people. It was coming up on 50 years since Peter Green left Fleetwood Mac, this tribute was happening, but no one called me until Ross Halfin called Mick Fleetwood’s manager and kind of informed him about my owning the guitar and suggested I should be part of it.
So Mick Fleetwood got a hold of me at the beginning of the Hardwired… tour and asked if I was interested in doing this tribute to Peter Green. At the time I had to tell him I had no idea what my schedule was gonna be like with Metallica because we were literally on the eve of our first shows for Hardwired… But then three years passed and the tribute show started to develop more. Ross had kept me abreast on how it was taking shape, so I contacted Mick Fleetwood, and he was gracious enough to say I could still be part of it. So that’s how I’ll get to play “Green Manalishi” at the Peter Green tribute! It’s just amazing, seeing and hearing all the people committed to the tribute. The majority of them are all people I’ve been well aware of ever since I was a young musician, so to be playing with some of them now, it’s a mind blower … A Mind Blower !!
So all of this is going to give me a few free hours in the sky where I can do to do a little movie viewing! What do I have planned, you ask? Well, it’s going to be a bit of a Tobe Hooper rediscovery journey, because both Texas Chainsaw Massacre II and Lifeforce are prominent choices. Chainsaw Massacre II has a great sense of humor about it, and Lifeforce is about blood-sucking vampires from outer space. And if you don’t love that concept, well, there’s gotta be something wrong with you. I mean … Blood Sucking Vampires from Outer Space !!
Oh, and one last thing … make note that #WAHOFF is happening! The date is during The Wedding Band bash on March March 8th. Its the Cry Baby Battle Royale, and Mrs.Smith, my challenger, claims to be a “bigger abuser” of the wah peddle than me. Of course I find the comment preposterous, and i’ll show everyone exactly why it’spreposterous at The Senate in South Carolina!
Let’s get straight into it; ’tis the season for Krampus! So, yeah, I admit I was a little late to the whole Krampus scene, but I’ve been there for a while now and I just love it!
The 2015 movie is a must-see over the holidays, and what isn’t there to like about the whole Krampus vibe at any time, and especially now?! So yes, I’ll be watching Krampus again very soon. I also need to remind you again about Hagazussa. A really great, creepy, atmospheric gothic medieval folk horror movie from Germany that is absolutely one of my favorites, and has been since I first saw it. I don’t wanna say too much about it other than once you start watching you’ll get drawn into its web, even though it is a slow-burner. Be sure to check it out.
Along the same lines of folk horror, I also liked Midsommar a lot, which is a little more traditional in approach to the whole folk horror genre but still packs a great punch and strong storyline. Folk-horror is something I’ve always really liked, going back to the original Wicker Man, and it’s been great to see it evolve again as a really important genre, with The Witch having led the way a few years ago, and now movies like these two emerging.
Another addition to the list of “Films To See Right Now” would be Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. I’m never afraid of a bit of comedy and humor in my horror, and this has lots of it. Not only that, it stars Bill Murray in the middle of a war against a zombie invasion of his town!
What’s not to like about that? Nothing. So check it out!
A quick mention too for the documentary Hail Satan? … and if I could get that Baphomet statute, I’d put it on top of my car and drive around town for sure!
I also wanted to reflect for a moment on the It’s Alive! exhibition that’s been on display at the Royal Ontario Museum for the last few months. It comes down on January 5th, so you have a couple of days left … I feel this exhibit has not only been a great success but also a lot of fun.
Whenever my collection goes on display, I instantly want to be there with it, looking at it, get inspired by it, and enjoy it. I was able to do that in Toronto (as well as play with The Wedding Band, my jam band with great friend and fellow Metallica member Rob Trujillo – thanks bro!) and it was also really interesting to see the collection installed in a different way by a different curator.
When it was at the Peabody Essex museum it was really great as well, and Toronto reminded me that I just love seeing what curators do; being able to stand in the exhibit and see floating Frankenstein heads was one example, and another was their dramatic lighting of certain pieces.
The next place It’s Alive! will be seen is in North Carolina, and already the curator of that exhibition has been in touch with the Royal Ontario curator because there were some things which were just perfect. It’s interesting to see how putting your collection in a museum increases the value of not just your own collection but collections in general – meaning that now, some of the things I want to get are even more expensive than before!
Still, overall, it’s a really good thing for collectors all around. Someone asked me what I thought the most popular pieces on display usually are, and I’d say it’s pretty much always the big movie posters or the art that’s featured on my guitars. I guess that isn’t really surprising as it’s the art which gets the most exposure. But my favorite? Well, right now I’m really taken by the large Dracula one-sheet from 1931, but I also love the Metropolis poster that features a pentagram. In fact, I think it might well be on a future guitar!
Watch this space for updates!
Happy New Year everyone, see you in the new decade!
For today’s blog, I’m delighted to be joined by my friend, the illustrious Ronald V. Moore, maker of the film Future Kill and a poster dealer, collector, and film historian (he’s the Indiana Jones of the poster world)! So if you see the letters “RVM” and a quote or two in italics, that’s Ron speaking. Ron is the kind of guy who’ll find movie posters in the walls of houses around the globe being used for cheap insulation … but that’s a whole other story, and one that happens to be in my book Too Much Horror Business … but I digress, so let me get straight into it with a little film titled Brightburn.
I think it’s a film with a really great concept. For you people out there who don’t know what the plot is, Brightburn is about a kid found in a meteorite that hits Earth. Sound familiar??!! And the family who raises him finds that when he turns twelve or thirteen and his hormones kick in, there’s the expected adolescence, but something else is coming with it. And the kid isn’t standing for any of it, because he’s also discovering he’s different from everyone else. Turns out he has superpowers that are akin to other superheroes we know, but he basically takes them in the opposite direction! A very misguided, vindictive sort of direction, which is great – because not only does it turn the whole superhero mythos on its head, it also turns the movie and comic superhero genre on its head, leading to a horror movie. Which brings me to another thought…
Are superhero movies actually horror movies in disguise? Maybe all those Marvel and DC movies are actually really lightweight horror movies with very clearly defined roles, similar in both genres, but here with a lot more added cake and ice cream. There’s always the belief that superpowers will be used by superheroes for the “right” cause, which just goes to show you how much we like to morph superheroes into our own psychological behavior and whatnot. But if there was a superhero on this planet, they’d probably have a totally different psychology and morphology, a totally different mental state than ours.
So that’s basically what this movie shows – that ugly, dark side of what’s probably attached to every superhero in the superhero universe but we conveniently look the other way. I mean, no one ever talks about the millions of people who have died in the wake of superheroes battling villains and creatures and whatnot, you know? Think about it … I used to read those comic books where they’d pick up trucks and hurl them at each other in the middle of downtown Manhattan. In some of those issues of The Fantastic Four there was wanton destruction everywhere!
RVM: It was actually the entire plot line of one of the Avengers movies, where you had the two different factions of Avengers going off against each other over the fact that their superpowers needed to be controlled by somebody that had more common sense.
Right, and that was great, because that was addressing something that was never addressed until that movie. It was absolutely not in the comics, at least that I was aware of. But of course, the vast majority of superhero movies play to us and our expectations. It’s a world where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. And the good guys are born good and are always good and the bad guys maybe are born good but turn bad. Maybe there’s some retribution there, but the good guys are always, always good, unless there’s an alien influence or something like that.
RVM: I thought Frank Miller when he started with The Dark Knight series, really started that wholedark side. Is he really good or is he bad, or is there somewhere in between?
And that’s what made The Dark Knight great. I think all of those Batman movies that started to come out around ten to fifteen years ago with a darker sort of outlook were definitely influenced by the Dark Knight. The first few Batman movies that came out in the mid-‘80s / early ‘90s, those were more traditionally Batman. It was the Michael Keaton type Batman versus the Christian Bale Batman, who’s just darker, moodier, and a bit more human to me, really.
But getting back to Brightburn, and without spoiling the plot, I think it kind of gives you the same sort of feeling The Omen did where yes, it’s a child but it’s an unstoppable force. So check-it-OUT!
Speaking of more unique takes on classic genres, I really like Jordan Peele’s whole approach to Film and horror. He really knows the genre well. I can tell he’s done his time watching a lot of horror, and there’s a lot of references in his films I love to death. He really knows how to build tension and he’s really good at generating feelings of impending fear and doom. With certain key scenes you know there’s something’s coming that’s gonna reveal more information about what the heck is going on. It’s playful in a good way, as he leads you into really blank areas where you don’t know what exactly is going on.
With both Get Out and Us, they’re horror movies but there’s also elements of mystery in them, and I love that. Maybe that comes from being exposed to too much Rod Serling or something, I don’t know (and of course, what famous, amazing, crazy ‘50s mind-bending TV classic has Jordan Peele done brand new episodes of? Yes! Correct!).
But yeah, I loved the subplots in Us, and because of the way he loves to weave a few different ones into the same movie, I really look forward to seeing more of his stuff. Some movies work with one plot, but I think Jordan Peele movies are all about the sub-plots, and he’s quickly proving himself very masterful with them.
Without any further ado (whatever ‘ado‘ is!) let’s get straight into some killer movies I’ve seen recently…
Like Arizona. A horror comedy starring Danny McBride which I enjoyed immensely. UFO with David Strathairn is another I got a kick out of, and Slice, starring Chance Bennett and Zazie Beetz, about a pizza delivery guy that runs into all sorts of horror-y things and situations was another favorite.
There was also Possum, which was really, really freaky, and it features an excellent use of a Nosferatu mask. Check out this for a plot description …! “A disgraced children’s puppeteer must confront his sinister stepfather and a hideous puppet. He keeps it in a brown leather bag.” Tell me, what isn’t appealing about that?! And rounding off this opening quick-fire blast of fun films is Slender Man. It got panned by the critics but I loved it. I really like the idea of Slender Man coming from a meme and becoming a real story with a plot. I gave it a lot of leeway of course, and it’s cheesy in parts, but it was still extremely entertaining.
The concept rides above all.
I finally got around to seeing The Nun, and this is another I liked a lot. You know, having a Catholic school background, I love the idea of evil nuns because I’ve always felt that nuns are evil … especially when I was going to Catholic school and they were beating me and all my friends up! Again, I gave the movie a bit of breathing space because of how much I liked the overall concept. When I love the idea behind a horror movie, it can be as bad as hell and I’ll still like it. I’d put both The Nun and Slender Man in that category. The concept rides above all.
Abominable is another of those “concepts I love” movies. It also works as a damn good Bigfoot movie. I love Bigfoot movies and this one is right up there in this very narrow genre. The poster art looks like a ‘70s flick, but it was released in 2018. While I’m on the subject of Bigfoot movies, there was one where even the concept didn’t stop me from feeling really disappointed … The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. It had huge potential but it ended up feeling more like a western dressed up as a horror movie. I have to admit the title does set up your perception on what the plot might be, but if you don’t buy it, well, you just don’t buy it.
Now; three films I think are spectacular! I saw Overlord, Border and Lords of Chaos within a two week span, so let’s start with Overlord. It’s brilliant! It’s a little like Bone Tomahawk to me in the way it mixes genres, but it does it in such a way that you’re totally accepting it and it totally makes sense. Overlord is like a cross between Kelly’s Heroes and Re-Animator served with a side of Inglorious Bastards. It plays out like a World War II movie until you get to “the mission” and then all of a sudden, it gets really gothic. Almost to a Lovecraftian degree. All of a sudden you’re dealing with a deranged mad doctor and reanimated bodies, among other great things, and the flow and consistency in the movie makes it work. It’s well made with good special effects, good acting and good production. A World War II genre movie that turns into a fucking Lovecraftian horror movie at the turn of a dime! Overlord is just a killer, killer flick.
Most people reading this are familiar with Norwegian Black Metal; the church burning, and whatnot. I was pretty familiar with it, but to see it broken down into an actual series of events in the movie Lords of Chaos was mind-blowing. Obviously I’m partial because of where I stand in the whole music industry. I know what it’s like to start a band, and I know how it is to believe in a cause. I also know how it is to do whatever you can to find other people who believe in the same cause and recruit them, which all of a sudden makes you a gang. And then all of a sudden that cause becomes really super powerful.
It was really striking because it reminded me of when I first started playing with Exodus in the Bay Area. A bunch of juvenile delinquents on the wrong side of the law all the time. And we were bored. All we really had was the music and our vision, our common cause. So watching this movie was like seeing a mirror image of what happened in the first few years of Exodus and then Metallica, but then in this case (and story) it all goes horribly wrong. And I think that could’ve happened to us very easily if a “wrong person” and influence had been the dominant thinker. It’s like the movie asks, “What will you do? How far will you go to stand out? How extreme will you be just to be a ‘unique’ individual?” I mean how far do you go?
What was so striking is that these guys, these musicians, they’re caught up in this kind of weird ‘competition’ that went totally awry. It was a game of egos even though it wasn’t obviously apparent. The nihilism of it all blew me away, because at the end of the day it’s just frigging music. It’s fucking entertainment. It’s a violent movie, and I’m someone who can do without multiple stabbing sounds. Someone must’ve stabbed a watermelon maybe 300 times with a mike on it, and every stab sounds different. But the violent, graphic parts of the movie are crucial to the telling of the story. You can’t tell a story like that, and put the emotions across you want to put across, without showing the violence.
In Metallica we’ve known the director and filmmaker Jonas Ackerlund for a long time. In fact, there is a key link between Lords of Chaos and Metallica, which is that the band in Lords of Chaos was the band who starred in our “ManUNkind” video Jonas shot, and the video sort of gave everyone the first taster of what was to come in the movie. So while I’m here, thanks again to Jonas, Rory Culkin, Jack Kilmer, Emory Cohen and Valter Skarsgård for doing that.
The other amazing film on my recent list is Border. Going by the synopsis, I thought of it as being a movie which would be relatively simple to comprehend. A border guard who can smell human emotions and smell out all these various characters. That’s pretty cool, and I thought that was the beginning and ending of the plot … but I was just oh, so wrong. Also, when the male lead showed up, he reminded me of Aphex Twin, I thought it was that guy.
The movie just gets weirder and weirder, with the most bizarre, out-of-left-field shit going down. And I have to say, I thought there might be some humor when the guy showed up, but no, there’s no humor at all. It just got darker and more mysterious! Look, just trust me, this movie is so great, but it’s hard to talk about without giving too much away.
Finally, moving away from movies, I wanna tell you about two new pieces which will be at the upcoming Royal Ontario Museum exhibition of my It’s Alive! Collection.
The first is a Dracula one-sheet poster I’ve been trying to find ever since one was found in the ‘90s. Before it was found in the ‘90s, the only picture we had was in black and white. And when I saw the full color version from 1931, I thought it was the best Dracula poster there is. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to pick one up, and I’m really, really, really excited because it fills out my collection in a way I’ve been meaning to fill it out for a long time. I’m very happy about it, and there will be a guitar graphic in the future.
The other piece is a piece that me, my friends, and pretty much the whole horror collecting world could not believe was actually found; the original artwork for Invasion of The Saucer Men.
Not only had this poster actually survived, it was found in a secondhand store in Florida, of all places. The speculation is that the artist maybe moved to Florida, or retired there, perhaps passed on, and maybe his family had an estate sale where somehow, the art was bought. It ended up in a secondhand store, and an intrepid collector picked it up for an absolute giveaway before turning it around spectacularly! And guess what? That’s gonna be on a guitar soon too!
It is cool enough that I’m out here in Europe this summer playing some pretty amazingly fun shows with my bandmates. It’s even cooler that an old friend of mine, not to mention a great musician and fellow horror fiend, is doing exactly the same thing on our bill with his band Ghost. Tobias Forge and myself have geeked out about horror in the past, so this is a perfect opportunity for us to continue geeking and share some of that with you! What we didn’t reckon for was that there wouldn’t be nearly enough time to cover everything we wanted to talk about, so this is the first of two discussions, with the second to happen in late August. For now though, settle in my fearless freaky horror friends and (hopefully!) enjoy us nerding out part one!
Kirk Hammett: Can I just say one thing? What Black Sabbath was to that time era and to movies like Black Sabbath and all those crazy Hammer and early ‘70s horror films, I think the modern equivalent is Ghost and movies like The Conjuring and The Nun and Annabelle. I think Ghost is connected to all these great modern horror movies that are coming out. I might be just totally full of it, but that parallel that I’m drawing really is cool because I love this band, I love those movies and it’s a way of like bringing ‘em all together and celebrating all I love which is, you know, the dark!
Tobias Forge: I guess that would be very natural, and quite logical to think that. Going further, if we parallel-compare the horror genre with metal, not only are they alike, but they are also alike because you have the creators of what instigated the horror genre that eventually led to a myriad of filmmakers essentially paying tribute to a lot of those older films. Same way that metal was created by people originally playing blues and funk music who then stumbled into making metal, and then all the metal bands that came after that are in a way, unfortunately dogmatically, sometimes just paying tribute to other bands.
I come from a death metal underground, and it’s basically full of horror name dropping! I know that a lot of classic films made back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, especially in the ‘70s, were inspired by previous horror/thriller makers. Obviously Hitchcock influenced others, Terrance Fisher…
KH: …Tod Browning…
TF: Absolutely! Fast forward to the ‘80s, and especially in the ‘90s and the 2000s. I think a lot of contemporary filmmakers who grew up in the VHS digital violence era, such as myself, caused the genre in its totality to maybe suffer from being too much of a homage. All the time there’s weird, eclectic little references, and then you sort of outsmart yourself and the whole project by just making it too true to the genre in a way. Whereas I think a lot of the groundbreaking films were made by people who didn’t necessarily do a whole lot of horror films, but were filmmakers in general. Stanley Kubrick is the classic example of that with The Shining.
KH: I was actually watching it myself (again, I’ve seen it many, many times) about a month ago. The most interesting thing with The Shining [movie] is that Stephen King doesn’t like it. And you know, I totally get that because having read the book and seen the movie more times than I read the book, they’re two different entities. But they totally somehow relate in the weirdest way, they both hold their own ground as artistic statements. Yeah, you’re getting a different story with the movie, but it’s shot so well and is so creepy [that] it touches on the atmosphere, environment and range of emotions Stephen King was shooting for, I believe. And it doesn’t follow the plot, it goes somewhere completely different with a completely different end, but it’s a great fucking movie and Jack Nicholson is just amazing in it. I mean, it goes without saying.
TF: One thing that I think is for me another key to not only that film but Kubrick’s films in general, [is that] as a good filmmaker, I think you need to pay attention to everything from dialogue to special effects to realism. Angles, details.
That makes me put him on a pedestal, whereas I think this is the problem a little bit with the horror film genre horror, it came to be a mass producing sort of genre, where a lot of the filmmakers are not necessarily interested in [that].
KH: And it’s the writing…
TF: There’re so many things…
KH: The costuming. It’s just crazy.
TF: Yes. The entire craft. And obviously he was -as everyone remotely interested in film knows – he [Kubrick] was a stickler for details, and I very much admire that. Where you have a lot of films, especially in the horror genre, that are entertaining but a filmmaker who maybe technically can make a film but is more interested in the special effects, or the nudity. And you see them phoning in a lot of the things “in between,” especially dialogue and the credibility of the character. Whereas Kubrick was so spot on.
KH: I think that point of the filmmaker as an artist not always embedded in making an obvious horror movie is so key. My attention lately has been gone to that book and movie Lord of the Flies, because I have two young boys and somehow or another we got on the subject of that book. I was telling them how I read it when I was ten years old and [how] it’s really an important book for them to read because it shows the importance of culture, social norms, rules and regulations, what it means to live in a civilized society and what happens when all that just disappears. How things tend to turn to savagery. I realized that when I saw that film I was about ten or eleven, [and] it scared the living shit out of me as much as any horror movie I’d seen at that point. Especially the whole thing with Piggy and the monster. It was intense. So I would have to say, Lord of the Flies, the original one from ’63, [the] black and white version is intense and a real suspenseful horror film in disguise. It’s not even in disguise, it is a horror film to me.
TF: Especially if you see it as a kid, it’s terrifying just because…
KH: …because you think, “Oh, that can happen to me!”
TF: It definitely touches upon…
TF: I know, going to camp, being at school.
KH: Adulthood, you know?
TF: Ironically that film, even though I’ve seen the old film, the remake of it came right about when I was about ten, in maybe ’89? That was the first one I saw, and then I saw the older one because it was on TV not very far in time after that. And it’s one of those films I don’t want to see again, because it made me feel so bad. I have a lot of those.
KH: Yeah, there’s a few films that I feel that [about] way too. Another unintentional horror film that scared the living hell out of me when I was a kid, [was] Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. An intense film. Almost, almost a slasher film. You know, predates that whole genre, but the violence in that film hits on such a deep emotional level that, yeah, that’s one I won’t watch again.
TF: Can I just throw in there a film I wanted to flag that genuinely made me fucking squirm, was a film from the ‘70s called Alice, Sweet Alice.
KH: Oh, I remember that one, yeah!
TF: It was an American film and I guess technically it’s a little bit of a slasher, but as [with] many films that I like, they don’t contain a ton of motives. It’s set outside New York, New Jersey maybe, mid-‘70s. Weather’s shit all the time. The environment is kinda like, uggh. And it’s just one of those films that also makes me… I like it. I like my memory of it. But I don’t want to see it again because it’s like so creepy. It smells.
KH: Yeah, it smells and you can’t really get it off. I know that feeling.
KH: Okay, let’s talk about the devil for a minute. The whole thing with the devil, how I see old Beelzebub, is actually the God bot. He was actually the god Pan, the pagan god Pan that the Christians took and basically used as the model for Satan, you know, a horned person with goat’s legs [and] whatever. So that in itself kinda muddies the waters for me, because every time I see a picture of Satan, I’m like, “Cool, fucking Satan” but in the back of my mind [it’s] Pan or Bacchus. That’s why I wear Satanic shirts all the time; I’m not wearing it for the sake of Satan, I’m wearing it for the sake of Pan or Bacchus, that’s what I’m really doing. And so having said that, for me, the ultimate devil movie, the ultimate Satan movie of all time that really hit me fucking deep and I thought I was gonna burn in hell after watching it, is The Exorcist. I mean, that is like the ultimate fucking devil shit. What can I say, I was a Catholic schoolboy when I saw it. I thought he was coming for me next. I thought I was gonna be possessed because of all the bad shit I did when I was a Catholic schoolboy. I just, I thought I had a big mark on my head. For six months after seeing that film I had to sleep with the lights on.
TF: I have a few favorite cult films, The Exorcist being one. I love the fact that even though the devil is present, he/she only really appears at one moment, really. He is not this ever present sort of monster that they would’ve done in many films today, this CGI sort of person that does way too much [in the way of] interaction.
KH: You have a total point there, and horror films are totally guilty of exactly that, Satan interacting way more than is realistic.
TF: Yeah, and that’s something that I really like about The Omen as well. The Omen I, II, III, up until the ending of …III, is one of my favorite sort of series when it comes to pure satanic horror. Up until the ending, because that’s when someone [was] just like, “Wait a minute, are we selling this point that this devil is-?” No, no, no, no, no! God’s hand just came down, and that’s the ending. It’s like the biggest fucking cock-block ever!
KH: Yeah. It’s like running into a brick wall. You have a point there. But you know, I think they had to do that or else we’d be seeing The Omen 12, The Omen 13, The Omen 14…
TF: Well, there was four.
KH: I remember seeing the ad for it, but you know, by that point it’s like, Omen IV?! Ah, you know…when sequels start going up past three, usually other groups and other parties [have] come in, other different creative entities, or a studio’s trying to keep something afloat or revive it somehow.
TF: However I must throw one “four” in there that is actually my favorite of a series, and that’s actually Friday the 13th IV.
It picks you up right after number three, it starts horrifically and it has all the good components of that whole series, in my opinion. I think three is cool but Four was like that multiplied. And that’s when you had all the ingredients, Jason had his mask, he wasn’t too fucked up, and, yeah. I think that there is a four.
So OK, at this point time was starting to run away from us and we had gig stuff to get on with, so we agreed to pick up this chat in August and as we were about to get up, someone in the room asked if truth was stranger than fiction, so being good sports, we thought we’d answer that!
KH: You never know what’s gonna be true. With fiction, it’s kinda like everything is fiction in the world of fiction, but in truth, something might look true but it’s false, or something might look false and it’s true, and that’s the paradox right there. You never know what’s true until you actually break the veneer and like look. And these days, because of things like the internet, you can’t take anything at face value anymore. You cannot. It’s foolish to. It’s always good to crack the veneer [and] look a little bit deeper at what you’re actually seeing, so I would have to say that you in most cases, it’s hard to find out what the truth is. But yes, there’s been times when I’ve read or seen or found out stuff that’s been true, and no one could dream up this shit in any sort of movie or book.
TF: Just taking two examples that are currently in my head, comparing truth to fiction, especially comparing it to cinema, if you take a film like, have you seen Vice? It has nothing to do with “horror” but it’s horrific.
KH: Yeah, it’s horrific. Especially what he did to his body just to play that part.
TF: Yeah, just from a film crafting point, it’s done very well and Sam Rockwell is the best George Bush, Jr. I’ve ever seen. But imagine if that was just a made-up script. It would’ve been… you can’t make that shit up. It would’ve been a completely stupid movie! But it’s not made up, so it’s a fucking horrendous story that you need to see, it’s a fantastic film.
KH: That’s a really good point.
TF: And [in] that way, I think that the truth is definitely stranger and more horrific than fiction. Speaking of horror, I was thinking about this just today because today we are in Manchester. I took a train up from London to here, and when I was about 12 there was this horrific story that I read about that completely blew my mind, that I’m sure a lot of people especially in England remember and that was the murder of James Bulger, the little two-year-old. I think he was at the time. Four? The four-year-old at the time. And just being close to train tracks, going through England, thinking about him, it’s one of the worst things I can ever imagine. It’s heartbreaking, horrible. And even though there has been a film made about the subject, I haven’t dared to see [it] because I just can’t find myself doing it. I guess that says something about the truth being so horrifying, and to also realize that it was two kids that did this. That just makes me cry for the world and humanity, and that’s way worse than any horror film that I’ve ever seen.