Two days before Christmas in 1985, a pair of young Judas Priest fans from Reno, NV went to a Lutheran church playground and attempted suicide with a 12-gauge shotgun under the chin. One of them died instantly while the other survived with facial disfigurement but died from an overdose of painkillers three years later. Their parents brought a civil action suit against the members of Judas Priest, alleging that their sons had been compelled to kill themselves after hearing what they believed to be a subliminal message hidden in a cover of Spooky Tooth’s 1969 song “Better by You, Better than Me” that Priest recorded for their 1978 album Stained Class.
Since the origins of rock & roll, any music that wasn’t family-friendly sock-hop fodder sung by Bing Crosby or Peggy Lee was considered to be the work of agents of the dark lord Satan, and groups of self-righteous religious nuts and power-mad authority figures assembled protests and burned thousands upon thousands of copies of these records in effigy. Horror filmmakers in the latter half of that narcissism-fueled decade cashed in on the raging hysteria by producing several low or medium-budget features with hard rock and/or heavy metal tunes not just occupying space on the soundtrack albums, but actually figuring prominently in the plots.
Horror and metal have always enjoyed a cozy relationship that endures to this day. Since no celebration of Halloween is complete without a juicy fright flick marathon to enjoy with that bag of candy you pilfered from your nieces and nephews, here’s my list of the 5 best heavy metal horror classics to ever grace a theater screen or the shelves at your neighborhood mom & pop video store that closed down ages ago and was replaced with a Verizon Wireless retailer.
Original Motorhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and UFO bass player Pete Way were both disgruntled with their bands at the dawn of the ’80s. They decided that they would form a supergroup along with former Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and an unknown 22 year-old Irish singer named Dave King. They used an amalgam of their names to give the band the moniker Fastway. Pete Way left the band before the recording of their first album due to still being contractually obligated to his former record label. He would later go on to play with Ozzy, his own band Waysted, and eventually return to UFO, where he can still be found today.