Welcome To Hell Fest and Other Haunted Attractions

The U.K. poster for Hell Fest

Hell Fest hit theaters in the U.S. on September 28, 2018. I didn’t go see it during the opening weekend, so it was into October by the time I saw it. I had snuck in some Jim Beam to pour into my cherry Pepsi and I was ready to go. When it got to the first kill scene and they did not cut away from the impact of Gavin’s head exploding like a Gallagher watermelon underneath the hammer I knew I was in for a modern throwback to 80s slashers. I walked out feeling like the Halloween and horror season had officially begun. 

Hell Fest was directed by Gregory Plotkin and written by a team consisting of Seth M.Sherwood, Blair Butler, and Akela Cooper writing the screenplay with the story written by William Penick, Christopher Sey, and Stephen Susco. The soundtrack is full of electronic music that ranges from eerie to party sounds by Bear McCreary, John Massari, Brendan McKian, and Crisis Couture. 

The film stars Amy Forsyth as Natalie, Reign Edwards as Brooke and her boyfriend Christian James as Quinn, Bex Taylor-Klaus as Taylor and their boyfriend Matt Mercurio as Asher, and Roby Attal as Gavin. The movie gets some extra genre cred and a nod to horror fans with Tony-friggin-Todd as The Barker at the show. Stephen Conroy plays the killer, known as The Other. 

Hell Fest was filmed in Atlanta at Six Flags White Water with many of the actors and characters in the beginning of the film are from Netherworld Haunted House in neighboring Stone Mountain, Georgia, one of the Top 10 haunted attractions in the U.S. Many of the set decorations were borrowed from Six Flags Over Georgia Fright Fest in Atlanta. During promotion of the film, the production team designed haunted houses for Six Flags in L.A., St. Louis, and Chicago. 

With the vibrant colorations, interactive setting, and bold music, if you alter some of the dialogue and take out the cell phones, it plays like an 80’s campy slasher at its core. The group of friends planning to have fun at a party or some sort of event then it takes a turn as they’re picked off one by one by a masked killer. We saw this in movies like Terror Train, Prom Night, and Happy Birthday To Me. Most of all, it takes cues from Tobe Hooper’s 1981 film, The Funhouse. In The Funhouse, four friends decide to be funny and secretly spend a night in a funhouse at a carnival where they witness a murder and are then hunted by a deformed man in a Frankenstein mask. Hell Fest goes as far as playing off of the tagline for The Funhouse which is “Pay to get in. Pray to get out,” and put “Fun getting in. Hell getting out,” on their posters.

While our characters aren’t shelled out enough to give us a Final Girl by the more standard definition, we do get two survivor girls, including one that’s POC. It’s such a low bar for movies to pass the Bechdel test and have characters of color who survive and yet so many movies fail to reach it.

The haunted attraction industry might only appear for a few months a year (not taking into account the weeks and months of planning and building behind them), but it makes bank. According to Forbes, there’s an estimated 4,000 haunted attractions operating in the U.S. that make up an industry that brings in about $300 million dollar per year. It’s estimated that 100 countries around the world have some sort of haunted attraction that they put on during the Halloween season. Behind the attractions, there’s businesses and groups The Haunted Attraction Association and the International Association of Haunted Attractions, tradeshows and expos, magazines, evolving technologies, and more to this professional industry. 

The opening kill in Hell Fest shows a young teenage girl getting killed inside of a haunted attraction at the Orange Grove Community Fair Horror Night and her body being left displayed along with other dead body props inside the attraction. The main characters later bring this up as something that sounds like an urban legend but “actually happens” because it happened in Orange Grove a couple of years prior and the girl’s body wasn’t discovered for three days because everyone just thought that she was a prop. 

Have people actually been “splatter movie killed”, splayed, and displayed inside of a haunted house? No.

But, it is true that people have died at haunted attractions due to accidents. On multiple occasions, actors have put a noose around their necks, intent on it being fake and scaring patrons, but the actors slip and fall and the rope either breaks their neck or constricts their windpipe long enough for them to die. In 2016, at Disneyland Paris, a worker was electrocuted and died while performing maintenance at Phantom Manor. Later in 2016, in Missouri, a pick-up truck collided with a tractor that was pulling a trailer for a hayride and killed three passengers, including two children. In September 2017, a 21 year old surnamed Cheung was struck by a part of moving machinery at the “Buried Alive” maze at a Halloween event at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Investigators believed that “entered into an area for mechanical operations that was not open to visitors and was hit by a mechanical part” and Cheung was later pronounced dead at the hospital. 

In September 2015, I attended Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis. During one of the after hours parties, I met Alice, who was dressed up as Beetlejuice, striped suit and make up and all. In the following years, Alice would be the first to greet me on the convention floor, usually already in full costume. During Horrorhound Weekend 2018, Alice was in her asylum costume that first day and the downtown Indianapolis hotel was full of unsuspecting guests, including the San Francisco 49er’s football team, who were in town for a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. 

Recently, Alice was gratuitous enough to talk to me about some of her personal experiences as a seasoned actor in a haunted attraction. 

How many years have you worked as an actor in a haunted attraction? How many different ones have you worked in?

Alice: I’ve been a haunter for 8 years of my life. I started as a volunteer actor at a local haunt called Barn of Terror or something like that. Then the rest of my career was spent at Indy Scream Park in Anderson.

What led you into working at a haunted attraction? 

I always wanted to be a haunter from my first experience in a haunt with my family. The actors would always ask me to join after we went through. It made me so happy to realize I could scare people as a job.

What sorts of characters have you done? How long does it usually take for you to get dressed and made up each night?

The first year I was a vampire and was responsible for my own makeup and costume. It was very simple and didn’t need much effort to get the job done. My beginning years of Scream Park I worked in Bedlam 3D the clown attraction. There were lasers and dubstep and neon colors. The makeup was blacklight paint which I would do the base for, the makeup team did the rest (sometimes very badly) so i would have to touch it up myself. Getting in full costume, hair, makeup, contacts probably took around 30 to 45 min. When I moved to Brickmore Asylum in my third year costume and makeup was much easier and faster. Instead of multi piece clown suits, we all mostly got a patient’s jumper, sometimes a straight jacket and maybe pants. I of course spruced it up as the people eater with white or red contacts and extra sharp teeth. Over the years I added a certain amount of upgrades like knee pads, joint wraps, and eventually made my own costume so I could take it home and wash it each week. By far Brickmore was where I felt most at home. Turns out going feral was my calling.

How much of a physical toll does it take on your body? 

It is without a doubt the most physically demanding job I’ve ever worked. Each season you were guaranteed at least one broken or fractured bone, one debilitating respiratory infection, and one assault by a customer. Most of the time you’d get more than one. I’ve broken fingers, slammed my spine on a butcher’s block, stabbed my hands with metal or shattered porcelain, been tripped or body slammed by customers. You name it.

The killer in Hell Fest targets teens who make catty and sarcastic remarks to the actors. How many times a night would people come through and be disrespectful to the actors?

Oh yeah, Anderson is mostly rednecks and shitty teenagers so we would get at least 40% disrespectful customers. And our park served alcohol in the midway so you can guess how many of those were intoxicated people. On our busiest nights security couldn’t even keep up with it and we would lose half the customers who had been reported.

Have you or anyone you’ve worked with been injured by the acts of a customer? Is it a frequent occurrence? 

Yeah, everyone gets hurt by customers unless you are in a safe spot like a cage or drop window. There was a girl one season who got punched in the face almost every weekend and had to go home. Drunk rednecks are nasty.

What would you want to tell customers on behalf of haunt workers everywhere?

In a perfect world, the customers wouldn’t drink before the haunt, they would never touch the actors. I never understood why people would pay $30 a pop just to fight actors or insult the park… if you’re not scared that’s fine. Shut the fuck up and keep moving. Don’t touch things or ask the actors for their phone numbers. Stop trying to get the actors to break character. And Dont bring your 3yo into the haunt unless you’ve raised them to handle it.

To see more of Alice’s cosplays and creative works, you can check out her Facebook and Instagram pages below:

https://www.facebook.com/Alicesmonsters

https://www.instagram.com/mysticmothersketchbook/

Maybe we’re not going to have haunts to go through or movie going experiences this fall, but until then, we can watch Hell Fest with a giant bowl of popcorn because this fits right in with campy slashers for the season. 

And when we are able to go back to haunted houses, don’t be an asshole and respect the workers. 

Children Of The Night- Songs About Vampires

“Vampires Will Never Hurt You” My Chemical Romance

“And if the sun comes up

Will it tear the skin right off our bones?

And then, as razor sharp white teeth

Rip out our necks, I saw you there”

The early 2000s were prime for the marriage of emo and metalcore and vampires. 

“Vampires Will Never Hurt You” was the debut single from My Chemical Romance. Released on May 27, 2002, the cover featured a still from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The song became the third track on their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, released the following July. 

Lead singer Gerard Way had been a comic writer and artist before the formation of My Chemical Romance and still is (see Umbrella Academy). At the time of the recording of Bullets, he had been working on a vampire comic that never got completed but he said it’s part of the reason why vampires come up in the lyrics. 

“A Vampire’s Lament” Atreyu

“I used to be golden, a saint in a time of sorrow

But then the turning came and I kissed the sun goodbye

Don’t you get it? It’s always darker in my eyes”

Metalcore pioneers Atreyu released their debut album entitled Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses in 2002. The album featured some re-recorded versions of songs from their second EP, Fractures in the Reflection of Your Porcelain Beauty. One of the newly written songs was “A Vampire’s Lament”. 

I’d also be lying if I said there wasn’t a period when I was in middle school where I listened to this album on a loop. 

“The Crimson” Atreyu

“And with blood tears in my eyes

I’m an Anne Rice novel come to life

I can’t hide the monster anymore

One can only feel desolate for so long

Until one starts to change

Into something the mirror doesn’t recognize”

The third single from their second album, The Curse, the music video for “The Crimson” received airplay on MTV2’s Headbangers Ball and FUSE. The Curse gave Atreyu more commercial success than their debut album, reaching #32 on the Billboard 200 in and #1 on the US Independent Albums in 2004, where Suicide Notes peaked at only #30. The album art features a woman in a red bra with her mouth slightly open, but the deluxe release art in 2005 gives us a much clearer look at her teeth, which include bright white vampiric fangs. 

Her Portrait In Black” Atreyu

“Can you feel her burning through your veins

She will always live forever

Can you bear the burden?”

The 2006 sequel to vampires vs. lycans film Underworld, titled Underworld: Evolution, followed the soundtrack suit and released a soundtrack full of gothic/electronic/metal/industrial music. Underworld: Evolution Original Motion Picture Soundtrack January 10, 2006, ten days before the wide release of the film. Featured was an original song by Atreyu, “Her Portrait In Black”, which also got a music video featuring clips from the movie intertwined with a performance by the band and glimpses of a vampiric version of lead vocalist, Alex Varkatzas. 

“Bloodbath & Beyond” Ice Nine Kills

“I’ve crossed an ocean of time,

Caused unspeakable crime

But I would not change a bloody thing

Hunted by all mankind but they’re one step behind”

As part of their literary concept album Every Trick In The Book, Ice Nine Kills wrote the song “Bloodbath & Beyond” about Bram Stoker’s gothic horror classic, Dracula. Stoker’s novel was first published in 1897 and introduced us to the characters of Count Dracula and doctor/monster hunter Professor Abraham Van Helsing. 

Looking back at the novel, lead singer Spencer Charnas told Metal Hammer that, “Equal parts sinister and sexy, this novel introduced the world to perhaps the most famous monster of all time.”

“Vampire Kiss” Stellar Corpses

“As the sky grows dark

A fallen star is there to light your way

The Devil knows what we are

And I thought I heard him say

We sleep all day

We party all night

Never grow old

It’s fun to be one of us”

Horror punks Stellar Corpses released their single “Vampire Kiss” on Halloween 2011. The song appeared on their second album, Dead Stars Drive-In, was released in January of 2012. The music video for “Vampire Kiss” stars Alycia Paulsen and features appearances from AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and music producer Joe McGrath. Along with appearing in their music video, Burgan did backing vocals on the songs “Vampire Kiss”, “Evil Dead” and “Dead Stars Drive-In”. AFI guitarist, Jade Puget, also left his mark with the album, doing sound design for the song “Be Still My Heart”

“Lost Boys The 69 Eyes

“We are dead until dark

But that’s another thing

Nothing really matters

Behind the shades of blue”

Forming in 1989, Finnish goth rockers The 69 Eyes are still going strong with their own brand of “Goth ‘n’ Roll”, even referred to as “Helsinki Vampires”. 

Their first CD that was released in the US, and seventh album overall, was 2004’s Devils via Virgin Records. “The Lost Boys” was the first single, with a music video directed by Bam Margera that was recorded between Philadelphia and Rainbow Room in Hollywood. 

“Everyone I Know Has Fangs” He Is Legend

“I’ve been meaning to look behind your smile.

I’ve seen it a half a million times.

So how’d I not noticed that you have fangs?”

If I didn’t sing my praises of He Is Legend enough in my Main To Colorado Road Trip Playlist- Songs Inspired By Stephen King then please allow me to continue. 

In 2008, the band announced in a blog post that they would be taking a musical sabbatical in the woods of North Carolina. On April 24, 2008, they posted four demos on their Myspace page from their retreat, including the song “Everyone I Know Has Fangs”. The album that those songs would be featured on, It Hates You, wouldn’t be released until July 13, 2009. 

“Blood Cave” Argyle Goolsby

“Hey Mike! – You’re changing quick.

Your balmy skin is screeching at the sun.

Hey Mike! – You’re getting sick.

Welcome to this undead way of fun.”

Horror punk musician Argyle Goolsby has been in the game since the late 90s when he was a part of Blitzkid. Along with collaborating with numerous other acts in the horor punk scene, including members of The Misfits and Mister Monster, Argyle Goolsby has released a few solo albums and singles as Argyle Goolsby and the Roving Midnight. His 2017 album Darken Your Doorstep features songs about movies monsters such as The Babadook and the vampires from The Lost Boys as they’re recruiting Michael in the song “Blood Cave”. 

“We Only Come Out At Night” Motionless In White

“We are the children of the night and we are rising from the grave.

To haunt you in your sleep and drink you from your neck.

We only come out at night”

Opens with a sampling of Bela Lugosi in Universal’s Dracula delivering the infamous spooky line, “Listen to them, children of the night, what music they make.”

Motionless In White weren’t hesitant to release merch with images of vampire characters on them, notably a hoodie with Christopher Lee as Dracula in the 1958 Hammer Horror film. 

Featured on their debut album, Creatures, “We Only Come Out At Night” is about vampires, generic and notable, with lyrics that also nod to Joel Schumacher’s 1987 cult vampire classic The Lost Boys- 

“Cry little sister and save these, 

and save these lost boys, 

thou shall not fall, we can’t fall

Be one of us.”

“Your Neck” Alkaline Trio

“We’re the things that go bump in the night that you can’t see

We’re the mishaps that always happen in threes

This ain’t no rocket science, no big mystery

Why the light of day that’s shown to us

Is absolutely meaningless to me”

Dan Ozzi of Differuser wrote that Alkaline Trio wrote lyrics that, “combine the macabre imagery of the Misfits with the clever turns of phrases of Jawbreaker,” and there could not be a more accurate description. Their fifth studio album, Crimson, was released in 2005 and featured dark lyrical content about Susan Atkins of the Manson Family with the song “Sadie”, the trial of the West Memphis Three with “Prevent This Tragedy”, and vampires with “Your Neck”. 

In the fall of 2005, Alkaline Trio toured with My Chemical Romance, so between the bands and the fans in attendance there were a lot of vampiric vibes, for sure. 

“Santa Carla Twilight” Tiger Army

“If you want forever close your eyes and surrender to me

Just remember today was the last that you’ll ever see the sun

In Santa Carla”

Playing their first show in 1996 at the famous 924 Gilman Street venue in Berkeley, California, Tiger Army released their first EP in 1997. Led by guitarist and vocalist Nick 13, Tiger Army has released six albums, four EPS, and appeared on a dozen compilations. 

Known for a psychobilly sound that layers in country, punk, and the blues, Tiger Army sing about love, loss, ghosts, and the occasional vampire. “Santa Carla Twilight” appears on their third studio album, 2004’s Tiger Army III: Ghost Tigers Rise. The song title references Santa Carla, the city in which The Lost Boys is set. 

The Science of Stephen King: Book Review

The Science of Stephen King: The Truth Behind Pennywise, Jack Torrance, Carrie, Cujo, and More Iconic Characters from the Master of Horror by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence

Brought to you by the authors of The Science of Monsters and The Science of Women In Horror, we’re about to dive into The Science of Stephen King. 

From Carrie to The Institute, they work chronologically through Stephen King’s (and Richard Bachman’s) writing career, taking into account King’s personal life experiences at the times he was writing. 

As Meg says in the introduction, “Every ‘constant reader’ remembers the first time they delved into the delicious horror of Stephen King”, and this rings true for me. I was in middle school and it was Carrie, followed soon thereafter by Misery. I would carry the books with me to read when there would be free time in class or at lunch. Middle school seems to be the prime time for young, assigned-female-at-birth horror fans to meet Carrie and rightfully so. Leave it to a book written by women about Stephen King to teach me more about menstruation than health classes ever did. 

Contributions come from interviews with a crisis therapist, a Native American artist, a substance abuse counselor, an art therapist, a survivalist, a beer brewing enthusiast, co-author of Gwendy’s Button Box Richard Chizmar….and more. It’s pretty cool when you can interview professionals in their respective fields who also happen to be fans of King’s work. 

The writing style is where you can fall down a rabbit hole of research but you say, “I have a reason for this, I swear, so stick with me.” But if you’re also interested in research loops of history and how it relates to the topic at hand then it’s very fun. Even if you’re not, it doesn’t feel exhaustive as you’re reading it. Other topics covered include, but not limited to, mental illness, history lessons, technology, past and present medical science, and true crime.

There’s also a timely honesty to the book, not ignoring our current situations with coronavirus pandemic and climate crisis and how painfully similar it all is to King’s novels The Stand and Under The Dome

The Science of Stephen King hits shelves on October 6th.

Here’s a link where you can order this as well as other works by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence.

The Science of Stephen King on Amazon https://t.co/rfZKdB8vAh?amp=1

A Playlist For An Exorcist

“The Exorcist” Possessed

“Unleashed men of sin

Hatred hell within

Sinners hate will die

The Exorcist

I can see the light

I don’t want to burn

Help me save my soul

Let me live”

In 1985, death metal band Possessed recorded and released their debut album, Seven Churches, while lead singer and bassist Jeff Becerra and guitarist Larry LaLonde were still juniors in high school. Producer Randy Burns took Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (the theme song from The Exorcist), arranged it, and performed it for the album’s opening track, “The Exorcist”. 

The song has been covered by other death metal bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Cavalera Conspiracy, Human Compost, and Death, 

“Communion Of The Curse” Ice Nine Kills

“So round and round I spin my head

Circulate the blood that I have shed

Pass the cup and drink from me instead

Savor the taste and quench your thirst

With the communion of the cursed

Get on your knees and prove your worth

Don’t raise your filth to me

I know you’re in there, Regan

Just continue to breathe.”

Ice Nine Kills took inspiration from literary classics for their fourth album, Every Trick In The Book. Released in 2015, the album hit the charts in the States, reaching #122 on the Billboard 200 and reaching #1 on Billboard Heatseekers Album. 

In an interview with Metal Hammer, frontman Spencer Charnas told fans that, “We wanted this song to pay homage to the brilliantly twisted story, while exposing people to this time-tested literary gem.” The band also released a music video for this song which recreated some of the iconic scenes from the movie. 

“Linda Blair” Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space

“You once really gave me the creeps

Endless nights I could not sleep

Seeing your head spinning around 

Turned my whole world upside down”

Opens with sampling of Father Karras introducing himself to possessed Regan, who responds, “And I’m the Devil”.

Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space formed in 2002 in Vienna, Austria. To date, they have released nine albums, including an acoustic live album, a Christmas album, and a greatest hits compilation. 

“Linda Blair” appears on their album Toxic Terror Trax and the song is a horror punk ballad to Linda Blair and her gruesome portrayal of a possessed girl.

“Nice Day For An Exorcism” Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space

“Can someone call me a priest

Cause i’m already down on my knees

I beg for mercy and salvation

It’s a nice day for an exorcism”

Taken from Regan’s line, “What an excellent day for an exorcism,” Bloosucking Zombies From Outer Space released “Nice Day For An Exorcism” as a single in 2018, complete with a Ouija board. The song was released ahead of their 2019 album All These Fiendish Things

“Love At First Fright” The Murderdolls

“I’d love it if you’d spin your head for me

Or vomit a beautiful pea soup green

So beautifully”

And here we have another ballad for Linda Blair’s grotesque character. 

Horror punk musician Wednesday 13, known for his solo work as well as his work with Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, was approached by Slipknot’s drummer (at the time), Joey Jordison, to join a horror punk/metal band that he was putting together. That band became known as The Murderdolls. 

The Murderdolls only released two albums, the first being Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls in 2002. The album featured fifteen tracks, including this ode to Linda Blair. 

“The Exorcist” Primal Fear

“Strapped and gagged into my bed

An iron crown upon my head

Finger scratch upon the wall

Maggots on my skin – my eyes are red”

German power metal band Primal Fear formed in 1997 and are still going strong, with their most recent album, Metal Commando, being released in July 2020. Primal Fear are known for their lyrics about science fiction and fantasy and they occasionally delve into horror, as they did with “The Exorcist”.

“The Exorcist” appears on their eighth album, which was released in 2009, 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead)

Fear and the Factor of Money

The questions usually come up during some sort of gathering like a slumber party, asking if you would be willing to eat something gross or perform an embarrassing stunt. If you say no, someone would bring up the hypothetical, “What if someone gave you a million dollars to do it?” Then eating a bug or running naked across a football field seems more tempting with the promise of great monetary payout. 

The early 2000s are such an outrageous time capsule of American television. We saw the start of shows like Survivor, Big Brother, American Idol, The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and too many reality dating shows to count. Notorious stunt-competition show Fear Factor premiered on NBC in 2001. It’s initial run was 2001-2006, then it was revived from 2011-2012, then it was brought back once again by MTV from 2017-2018, for a grand total of 188 episodes. Contestants were put to physical tests that came out of a Hollywood stunt person’s playbook and gross-out tests that ranged from eating animal parts to sitting in boxes of snakes and worms. If contestants were brave enough, they could win the grand prize of $50,000, with a few special episodes offering $100,000 and $1 million dollar grand prizes. The show also did some celebrity competition episodes where the prize money would go to a charity of the celebrity’s choice and each charity would get at least $10,000, no matter how far the celebrity made it in the challenges.

There’s been versions of Fear Factor in 39 countries around the world. A Fear Factor contestant has actually died from injuries sustained during a stunt. In 2005, 22 year old Thai pop star Vaikoon Boonthanom was hit in the head with a 20kg barrel after failing a stunt where he was hanging from a crane and had to hold onto said barrel. Boonthanom later died from the massive brain injuries caused by the impact. The stunt was being filmed at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition centre and Police Colonel Satjapong Woranantrakul told reporters, “From the evidence obtained so far it looks like the accident was caused by the carelessness of the crane operator.”

In the early 2010s, the U.S. saw a bit of a trend in movies resembling the core of Fear Factor- Would You Rather, Cheap Thrills, and 13 Sins. All of these movies start off with the theme of “desperate times”; the full statement being, “desperate times call for desperate measures”. Medical expenses, losing a job, facing eviction, any sort of stressful financial uncertainty. Not having money to cover basic living needs can cause a person to feel shame, stress, and anxiety. 

These are psychological horror black comedy thrillers that resonate with Fear Factor and the Saw franchise in asking their audiences, “What would you be willing to do?”  

Would You Rather was directed by David Guy Levy and released in 2012. It stars Brittany Snow as Iris, who is left to take care of her younger brother, Raleigh, after the death of their parents. Raleigh has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant and Iris is desperate for money to pay home and medical bills. During a meeting with Raleigh’s oncologist, Iris is introduced to Shepard Lambrick (Re-Animator’s Jefferey Combs), the wealthy creator of the Lambrick Foundation, who invites her to a dinner and night of parlour games where there’s the potential to have all of her financial troubles taken care of and a donor at-the-ready for her brother. 

Upon arrival, we’re introduced to the other dinner guests, including Amy (Sasha Gray), John Heard (our dad from Home Alone) as recovering alcoholic Conway, war veteran Travis (Charlie Hofheimer), gamling addict Peter (Robb Wells), an elderly paralyzed woman (June Squibb), and Lambrick’s affluent son, Julian (Robin Lord Taylor). 

For their fancy dinner, there’s an entree of steak and foie gras, which Iris politely pushes away and apologizes that she didn’t mention sooner that she was a vegetarian. Seeing a prime opportunity, Lambrick sets up an “appetizer” for the game to come and offers Iris $5,000 to eat the steak and foie gras. Iris doesn’t respond, bewildered by his offer. “I refuse to accept that you don’t have a price,” Lambrick continues, and offers her $10,000. Iris begins cutting up the steak and eats it as Lambrick laughs heartily, “A lifetime of discipline and a commitment to cause wiped away for a mere $10,000.” A mere $10,000 to Lambrick could be months of electric bills paid for Iris or it could take a chunk out of her brother’s medical bills. 

Following dinner, each guest is given a glass of wine, which Conway refuses. A recovering alcoholic who is sixteen sixteen years sober, Lambrick offers him $10,000 to drink a glass of wine then the offer jumps to $50,000 for drinking an entire decanter of scotch. Lambrick eggs him on, saying, “A momentary lapse to change your life.” If you’re living with any sort of addiction or you’re on the path of recovering from an addiction, then you know that recovery is not linear and relapses are a part of recovery. A single glass of wine or a shitload of scotch would be a big setback for anyone turning to a sober life. 

The game of the night is Would You Rather. “At its core, it’s just a children’s game,” Lambrick reminds his guests, being there’s books and websites dedicated to more “innocent” choices. 

When Lambrick is questioned about why he’s making them play a game rather than helping everyone in the room, because clearly he has the means, he responds with, 

“As simple as the game is, it’s all about decision making in its rawest form and there’s no better window into a person’s character than the decisions that they make and how they make them and how one applies rationale and ethics and reason while under duress.” 

Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) in Would You Rather

The game quickly escalates to blood and violence, with Conway being shot in the head as he attempts to escape and the first round involving electrocution. With Lambrick out of the room, Julian begins taunting the guests and tells them, ”You agreed to be here. You’re basically asking my family for a handout. The least you could do, pig, is show some fucking respect.” Average mindset of the 1% when the idea comes up of them helping others live, right? The one who argues back against him, Travis, gets targeted in the next round, where he receives lashes with a thick leather whip that eventually kills him. The nail who stuck out and stuck up for himself got hammered back down. 

Iris and Lucas (Enver Gjokaj) become the last two contestants standing. For the final round, Lambrick gives Iris the option of both her and Lucas leaving with their lives but with no more money or she shoots Lucas and wins the game, getting all of the money and help she was promised for her and her brother. As Lucas attempts to plead with Iris and garner sympathy with his family struggles, she shoots him in the chest before he can get out more than a few sentences. 

As Iris is leaving, Lambrick looks at her and says, “I believe a ‘thank you’ is in order.” After being electrocuted, stabbed, almost drowning, being sexually assaulted, and having to shoot someone, she is told she should be thankful for his help. 

When Iris returns home, she find Raleigh dead, having committed suicide by overdose. Raleigh had been open with Iris that he had been having nightmares about himself on a sinking ship and how guilty he felt about being sick and that she was stuck taking care of him, thinking that she would rather be off living her own life. The tragedy of it all is that it was all for nothing and it’s a giant slap in the face to Iris.

Cheap Thrills is the directorial debut of E.L. Katz that premiered at South By Southwest in 2013, with a home video release following in 2014. The poster advertises, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you richer.”

Facing eviction with his wife and baby and getting fired from his job as a mechanic, Craig (Pat Healy) retreats to a bar where he runs into an old friend, Vince (Ethan Embry from The Devil’s Candy). Vince asks him how his writing career is going and Craig admits to him that it wasn’t working out well so he became a mechanic and that he just got fired from said mechanic job. 

While in the bathroom, Craig sees a rolled up $50 bill in a toilet bowl and he pauses, debating. It’s at the edge of the water and there’s nothing else in the toilet bowl but the clean water. We don’t see whether or not he grabs the money though. 

Coming back out into the bar, Vince calls Craig over to a table, where he has made two new friends, husband and wife, Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton). Colin and Violet apparently have more money than they know what to do with and start dangling it in front of Craig and Vince, ordering a $300 bottle of tequila then offering $50 to the first person at the table to down a shot. Craig is befuddled and Vince takes the shot. Craig is still apprehensive but Vince is eager to see what the night has in store.

The four leave the bar and move on to a strip club. Vince “dares” one of them to smack a woman at a strip club on the ass for $200. Not exactly a humorous dare; more like an assault dare. Vince does it and the four run from the club. The bouncer catches up to them and targets Craig as the one who assaulted one of the dancers. From the safety of their car, Colin calls out to Craig that he’ll give him $500 to hit the bouncer first. Craig gives the best punch he can for someone who has obviously never punched someone before then gets knocked out in one hit from the bouncer.

When he wakes up, Craig finds himself at Colin and Violet’s house where the fun continues. Colin explains that their frivolous night had a plan all along, 

“Like a reality game show, you know? The game shows when they gobble, like, animal dicks or, ya know, like, put their head in a bucket of snakes or eat bugs, ya know, shit like that. Except this isn’t tv, right? That, and there’s $250,000 tax-free dollars.”

Colin (David Koechner) in Cheap Thrills

Vince makes it clear that, “no matter how much money is in there, I’m not sucking his dick.” Way to be homophobic because no one brought that up but you were quick on the draw to bring it up. How many times you see dude-bros wearing the shirt that says, “I’m not gay but $20 is $20”.

Once sex is brought into the mix, Colin offers Craig money to have sex with his wife because they’re in an open relationship. In fact, he offers him $4,500, the amount needed to pay off his back rent and avoid eviction, which Colin reminds him of because he looked in his wallet while he was still unconscious after being punched by the bouncer. Craig, very begrudgingly, cheats on his wife and has sex with Violet.

These two are throwing money into a wrestling ring and finding entertainment in watching these two guys fight over it.  The final challenge of the night- kill your friend for $250,000. Craig and Vince are each told this in secret. As a slideshow plays, showing photos that Violet took with a digital camera throughout the evening, Vince sees a photo of him and Craig sitting up at the bar together before Colin and Violet called them over. When Vince tries to call Craig’s attention to this so they can get the hell out of there, Craig shoots and kills him. 

The night comes to a close with Colin saying, “It’s been good partying with you,” and the audience learning that Colin and Violet had a bet over who would kill the other in the end, with Colin betting on Vince and Violet betting on Craig. 

The movie does get cool points for using the Agent Orange song “Bloodstains” as a theme.

“Well, I know they know the way I think,

I know they always will,

But someday I’m gonna change my mind,

Sometimes I’d rather kill,

Blood stains, speed kills,

Fast cars, cheap thrills”

13 Sins is a 2014 remake of a movie made in Thailand that was released in 2006, 13 Beloved (13: Game Of Death or 13 game sayawng), based off of the 13th Quiz Show episode in the My Mania comic-book series by Eakasit Thairaat. The American version stars Mark Webber as Elliot, Devon Graye as Elliot’s brother, Michael; Tom Bower as their father, Rutina Wesley as Elliot’s fiancee, Shelby; and Ron Perlman as Detective Chilcoat. Some of the “games” are similar in the remake such as swatting and eating a fly, making a child cry, and even stringing up a  wire across the road to decapitate motorcyclists. A few are different though, like eating a place of feces at a fancy restaurant.

The film opens in Perth, Australia, at a University of Perth dinner where Professor Solomon, opens with vulgar jokes at a fancy dinner then proceeds to cut off the finger off of the woman next to him. As he reaches for his ringing cell phone a cop shoots him, and the cell phone continues to play “Entry of the Gladiators” by Julius Fucik, the ringtone used by those playing the game and it’s quite the festive carnival tune. 

We’re introduced to our main character Elliot as he’s leaving for his job at an insurance agency. He’s going in confident that he’s going to get a promotion when he’s actually getting fired. He stands by his decisions of selling an elderly woman a policy that was more in her price range, rather than the most expensive one, but he’s not bold enough to stand up to his boss and tell him off and his boss knows it, calling him out on his passive nature. Elliot can’t stand up to his boss nor can he stand up to his vindictive racist of a father, who is less than pleased that Elliot is engaged to a Black woman. 

While stopped at a red light, and being annoyed by a fly in his car, Elliot receives a phone call giving him the opportunity to play a game with thirteen challenges with great monetary gain. Having just been fired and with a wedding and baby on the way, he plays along with the first challenge- swatting the fly that has been besting him for $1,000. The next challenge is for him to eat the fly he just killed and he is offered the exact amount that would pay off his fiancee’s credit card debt. The caller also reminds Elliot that he has student loans he’s still paying on and that his brother has outpatient medical bills that need to be paid. Upon seeing the money appear in his bank account, he agrees to play further and tells the mysterious caller, “I will dance with the golden toad.”

As the challenges progress, the public and the police catch on that there’s one (or more) persons causing mayhem throughout the day. The caller gives Elliot a heads up and tells him that if he wins, they will make all of these charges go away and that, “Losers, however, are on their own.” Elliot ends up being wanted for assault, arson, child abuse, grand theft, desecration of a corpse, and mayhem, and that’s before he’s even done with all thirteen challenges. These are all things people with power and money can get away with on a regular basis. 

Elliot gets a taste of the “rich life” after cutting off the arm of his middle school bully and clocking that guy’s brother with a chair in a hospital waiting room then steals his car. Music up and windows down, driving fast in a fancy car and running red lights. 

Detective Chilcoat is on the case, knowing that these recent cases of mayhem go deeper than just someone acting out. The film’s opening credits show points marked on a world map, tied together like a conspiracy theorist or cop’s investigation, with emphasis put on XIII. He tracks down a man who is paranoid about “the game” after his wife killed their dog and then herself. He tells Chilcoat that, “Anyone can be turned into a monster.”

This is further proven when we learn that there’s a generational loop within the game. As he approaches the end of the game, Elliot is led to his father’s apartment. As it turns out, Elliot’s brother has also been playing the game throughout the day, too, as his opponent and they have reached challenge 13 at the same time- kill a family member. Their father is well-aware as to why the two are there, as he confesses that the reason their mother is dead wasn’t because of a simple car accident but rather an intentional one that he caused to beat the 13th challenge and win the game. Their father slits his own throat to prevent them from winning, having guilt over his own actions and trying to spare them. Leaving the brothers standing there, they end up shooting and stabbing each other, crying and shouting as they’re doing it. 

In the end, Elliot kills his brother and then kills Chilcoat, who has arrived at the scene with a can of gas and matches to clean up and cover up everything. In killing Chilcoat, Elliot has interfered with the game and thus loses all of the money that he has won. He calls his wife from a payphone to tell her he’s coming home and he slouches over on the bench, leaving us unsure if he’s relieved to see his wife again or if he’s slouching because he’s dead or dying from his injuries.  

Maine To Colorado Road Trip Playlist- Songs Inspired By Stephen King

“The Carpet” He Is Legend

“Take a second to let it all sink in

That you only call me

when you’ve been drinking

I’ve gotta curb your way of thinking

I’m not gonna hurt you

I’m gonna bash your brains in.”

Severely underrated band He Is Legend released their fourth album, Heavy Fruit, in 2014, after coming back from a hiatus. The album has a few spooky-vibing songs, such as “Something, Something, Something Witchy” and “ABRACADABRA”, and He Is Legend gave The Shining the treatment with their signature groove/alternative/metal sound. 

“Enjoy Your Slay” Ice Nine Kills (feat. Sam Kubrick)

“Face down in the lap luxury

Fuck the comforts of reality

Turn the page, disengage and destroy

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

“Enjoy Your Slay” was released as a single in May 2017, marked as “The Final Chapter” of their 2015 literary concept album, Every Trick In The Book. Sam Kubrick, vocalist of the metal band Shields and grandson of The Shining director Stanley Kubrick, graces the track as a guest vocalist. The song got a spot on their 2018 horror movie concept album, The Silver Scream

Gaining extra cool points, in 2019, Ice Nine Kills performed an acoustic set at The Stanley Hotel, King’s inspiration for The Overlook. The five-song set was recorded and Undead & Unplugged At The Overlook Hotel was released in June 2020 and, yes, it features “Enjoy Your Slay” as the set-closing song. 

“IT Is The End” Ice Nine Kills (featuring Peter “JR” Wasilewski and Buddy Schaub of Less Than Jake and Will Salazar of Fenix TX)

“A carnival of carnage

That much you assume

But it’s more than just a costume

and red balloons

IT’s coming back around every 27 years

IT’s everything you know

IT’s everything you fear”

The song had two music videos released- one that’s more theatrical and is 14 minutes long as a part of their prose music videos for The Silver Scream and one that was a performance video featuring Matt Appleton and John Christianson from Reel Big Fish on stage playing the horns, recorded on their summer 2019 tour. “IT Is The End” became their encore song on tour with lead singer Spencer Charnas returning to the stage in the same clown outfit that he wears for the music video, complete with red balloons. (“99 luftballoons…”) 

“Hell In The Hallways” Ice Nine Kills

“When happily ever after

Came crashing from the rafters

She knew she wasn’t meant to wear

their crooked crown

But look who’s laughing now”

Yes, three Ice Nine Kills songs in a row, but that’s what happens when a bunch of horror fans come together in a metalcore band. And they’re not the only band with multiple songs on this list. 

In an interview with Metal Hammer, Charnas spoke of King’s Carrie as, “widely regarded as one of the best horror novels of the twentieth century. Its imagery will forever be embedded in the darkest recesses of pop culture. In our track ‘Hell In The Hallways’, our goal was to pay tribute to this legendary cautionary tale.” The actress who plays Carrie in the music video should been cast in a remake, in my opinion.

“Pet Sematary” The Ramones

“I don’t want to be buried in a Pet Sematary

I don’t want to live my life again

Follow Victor to the sacred place

This ain’t a dream, I can’t escape

Molars and fangs, the clicking of bones

Spirits moaning among the tombstones”

While it was nominated for the Worst Original Song at the 1989 Razzie Awards, “Pet Sematary” became one of the most well-known Ramones songs as it was one of the few that got radio play with the release of the movie of the same name. In the novel Pet Sematary, King brings up the Ramones a couple of times, even having Louis Creed check into a motel using “Ramone” as a false name.  

Potentially the most-covered Ramones song, it was covered by Starcrawler for the 2019 Pet Sematary remake (still used during the end credits), The Haxans, Plain White T’s, The Casualties, The Creepshow, Hawthorne Heights, and covered live by Rammstein, The Misfits, and Blondie. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie make cameos in the music video for “Pet Sematary”, too.  

“We All Float Down Here” Iwrestledabearonce

“Come closer dear so you can hear me.

Give me your name. I’ll speak it softly.

You will be consumed.

Let it seep right through.”

“We All Float Down Here” was released on the fourth, and final, Iwrestledabearonce album, Hail Mary. The shortest summation of Iwrestledabearonce’s sound is experimental metal, but their variety of sound has included djent, electronic, deathcore, mathcore, progressive metal, and, early on, grindcore. Hail Mary was the second IWABO album to feature Courtney LaPlante on vocals, growling lyrics like, “We’re still floating. We all float down here.” 

“Pennywise” Pennywise 

“He’s a monster, he’s not human

He’s more than just a figment

of your imagination

You can’t run, can’t hide

There’s no way to escape Pennywise”

“Pennywise” by Pennywise from their album Pennywise. 

The band’s self-titled debut album was released in 1991, five years after IT was published and one year after the television movie starring Tim Curry was released. Since then, Pennywise have released twelve studio albums, a live album, and a live DVD. 

“All Work No Play” Dr. Acula 

“There’s no excuse for it, this shit has got to end

All work no play has turned this dull boy

into a monster” 

Although the song takes its name from the repetitive, manic writing of Jack Torrence, “All Work No Play” opens with a sampling of Otis Driftwood from The Devil’s Rejects quoting Charles Manson. The song appears on the fourth studio album of deathcore band Dr. Acula, Slander. As you can tell by the use of Dracula for their name, Dr. Acula pepper in horror references throughout their songs, sampling horror movie dialogue and getting many of their earlier song titles from the titles of Goosebumps books. 

“Ride The Lightning” Metallica

“Guilty as charged

But damn it, it ain’t right

There is someone else controlling me

Death in the air

Strapped in the electric chair

This can’t be happening to me”

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is a huge horror fan, known for his incredibly large collection of horror and sci-fi posters, props, and other memorabilia, to the point that there’s a book called It’s Alive: Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Movie Posters From The Kirk Hammett Collection and even limited edition Pop Vinyls of him as Frankenstein’s monster and the Creature From The Black Lagoon. 

As Metallica were writing their second studio album, Hammett was reading King’s The Stand and recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone, “there was this one passage where this guy was on death row said he was waiting to ‘ride the lightning’. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a great song title.’ I told James (Hetfield), and it ended up being a song and the album title.”

“The Shining” Black Sabbath

“Oh  rise up, to the shining

Wise up they’re gonna steal your mind

Rise up, the house is gonna haunt you

No one laughed, no one cried

You stayed too long

You’re finally gonna stay”

The Eternal Idol is the thirteenth studio album from heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath and was the first album to feature Tony Martin as their vocalist, after a revolving door of replacement vocalists after Ozzy Osbourne. “The Shining” was the first single from the album and when it came time to make the music video, they didn’t have an official bassist so they pulled someone off the street, who happened to be a guitarist, to stand-in during the filming of the music video. 

“Disciples Of The Watch” Testament

“Your fate is all that you’ll see

I am the one

To show you the path

Salvation is in the fields

Listen up children and follow me

Or I’ll let you pay the price

Of Malachi!” 

Children Of The Corn was a short story that was first published in a 1977 issue of Penthouse and then in 1978 in King’s collection of short stories, Night Shift. The movie was released in 1984 and was followed by several sequels and re-imaginings. In 1988, thrash metal band Testament released their second album, The New Order, featuring “Disciples Of The Watch”, a song that remains one of Testament’s most played live songs. 

“Lone Justice” Anthrax

“Burn ’em, clear the streets

as he rides into the town

Cause the nameless one’s gonna have some fun

He’s gonna bring an outlaw down”

The five short stories that make up The Gunslinger were published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction between 1978 and 1981. The Gunslinger stories were collected and published in 1982 as the first volume in King’s The Dark Tower series. “Lone Justice”, Anthrax’s song about The Gunslinger appears on their second album, Spreading The Disease, that was released on October 30 (Devil’s Night),1985. 

“A Skeleton In The Closet” Anthrax

“It’s insanity, puppetmaster boy or Nazi

Apt pupil, he hears the screams”

Apt Pupil was a novella published in 1982 in King’s collection, Different Seasons. The story follows Todd Bowden, who believes his elderly German neighbor is a fugitive Nazi war criminal. The novella has two movie adaptations, a stage adaptation, and the Family Guy episode “German Guy” is based on the story. Among The Living was Anthrax’s third studio album. It was released in 1987 and the album was certified Gold in 1990.

The album also features the title track…

“Among The Living”  Anthrax 

“Spreading the disease.

With some help from Captain Trips,

He’ll bring the world down to his knees.”

In King’s epic novel the stant The Stand, “Captain Trips” is the nickname given to the virus that kills almost the entirety of the world’s population. Some believe that the man depicted on the album cover for Among The Living is Randall Flagg, the antagonist of King’s novel. 

“Misery Loves Company” Anthrax 

“Write for me, and only me

A really extra special story

Make it mine, every line

Don’t make me sorry”

Based on King’s novel, Misery, the song “Misery Loves Company” appears on Anthrax’s fourth album, State Of Euphoria. The album also has their cover of Trust’s song “Antisocial”, which was dropped in the 2017 reimagining of IT during the rock fight scene. 

Who Made Who album by AC/DC

“Who made who, who made you?

If you made them and they made you

Who picked up the bill, and who made who?”

In 1986, horror fans received the utterly campy treat that was Maximum Overdrive. King wrote the screenplay and directed the movie based off of his short story “Trucks” from his Night Shift collection of shorts. The movie was nominated for Worst Director and Worst Actor with Emilio Estevez at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 1987 (both lost to Under The Cherry Moon, directed by and starring Prince). The music for the movie was written by AC/DC, who then released the Who Made Who album as the “soundtrack” to the movie. The album also featured the singles “Hells Bells” and a re-issue of “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

We Are Ready For Scream 5

We are ready for a Scream 5 and have been ready for years now. 

In this essay I will…

Okay, I’m past the attempt at a witty introduction. 

We need to go back to the beginning.

In 1994, writer Kevin Williamson saw news reports on the trial of Danny Rolling AKA The Gainesville Ripper. Rolling had gone on a killing spree in August 1990 and savagely killed five college students over a period of three days, terrifying the city to the point that parents were urging their kids to leave campus and come home before classes had even begun. During the murder of University of Florida student Christa Hoyt, Rolling had cut off her head and displayed it on a bookshelf in an attempt at grotesque humor. Williamson was enthralled and terrified of the case.

Thus, Scream was born. 

The opening Marion Crane-esque kill of Drew Barrymore’s Casey shared in the shocking nature of Christa Hoyt’s murder, with Casey being gutted and her body displayed, hanging from a tree. 

As director Wes Craven was scouting locations for Woodsboro High, Santa Rosa High School looked to be the ideal American high school. The school board wanted to read the script before approving them filming there and promptly turned them down after reading the script, citing the violence involving teenagers and the cynical dialogue. Parents and newspaper articles drew comparisons to the kidnapping and murder of twelve year old Polly Klaas in 1993 in Petaluma, about a half hour drive away from Santa Rosa. Craven and crew were denied permission to film at the high school and “Woodsboro High” ended up being the Sonoma Community Center. Craven left the school a special note in the credits for Scream saying, “No thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board.”

With the wild success of Scream, Scream 2 began production right on its heels. The internet was still young at the time, but someone was still able to get a hold of the Scream 2 script and publish it online, complete with the ending revealing who the killers were. Williamson had to frantically work to rewrite the script as the movie was filming and the cast were not given the pages that revealed who the killers were until the days they were filming the scenes. At a point in Scream 3, it’s even mentioned that there were multiple scripts written in an attempt to keep the ending off of the internet. Subtle, right? 

Timothy Olyphant plays Sidney’s classmate, Mickey, who has been recruited by “Debbie Salt”/Mrs. Loomis/Billy’s Mother to torment and kill Sidney. After the opening kill at a movie theater that is showing a preview of Stab, his class gets into a discussion about violence in movie where Sarah Michelle Gellar argues that, “movies are not responsible for our actions,” and Mickey drops the bomb of, “it’s just another classic case of life imitating art imitating life”. After he reveals himself as one of the killers to Sidney, she compares him to one of the original killers, Billy, and he argues that he is different because he wanted to get caught because, “these days it’s all about the trial. Can you see it? The effects of cinema violence on society. I’ll get Dershowitz or Cochran to represent me. Bob Dole on the witness stand in my defense. Hell the Christian Coalition’ll pay my legal fees. It’s airtight Sid. I’m an innocent victim.” Dershowitz and Cochran defended O.J. Simpson during the vastly televised murder trial of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman where, ultimately, Simpson was found not guilty.  

Mrs. Loomis’ motive “isn’t as 90s as Mickey’s” and it’s just good, old-fashioned revenge a la Mrs. Voorhees. 

About two years after the release of Scream 2, two student gunmen massacred thirteen people at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado on April 20, 1999. The public was quick to circle with theories as to their motivations, with conservatives harshly pointing at the violent movies the pair were fans of, the violent video games they played, and musicians they were fans of- Marilyn Manson and KMFDM. Scream 3 was just about to begin production when the shooting occurred and it caused the studio to stop and think. Craven was pushed to focus more on the comedic elements of the franchise, move away from violence involving younger adults/teenagers, move away from the high school setting, and the studio was ready to push them to drastically cut down on the violence and gore to the point of not showing any blood or violence on screen. Craven pushed back and told the studio, “Either we make a Scream movie or we make a movie and call it something else. But if it’s a Scream movie, it’s going to have certain standards.” 

Scream 3 REALLY calls shit out directly. The script for the movie was written by Ehren Kruger (who later wrote the Transformers movies) based on pages and pages of notes from Williamson. When Sidney confronts Roman, she’s confronting everyone who turn and point the finger at violent movies or video games as the cause of violent acts among young adults.”Do you know why you kill people, Roman? Because you choose to. Why don’t you take some fucking repsonsibility?”

These arguments are nothing new and still flare up on occasion, even twenty years later. In July 2012, a gunman in a movie theater began shooting at patrons during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. People noted his dyed bright orange hair and how it “resembled” Batman villain, The Joker. In 2019, Warner Bros. released a solo Joker movie that was smothered in controversy. People worried it would cause violence, citing the Aurora theater shooting and families of the shooting victims wrote to Warner Bros. urging them to consider what could happen upon releasing the movie. We don’t hear about midnight movie releases anymore, either. Those have changed to Thursday evening showings typically at 7pm or 9pm. 

Scream 4 takes less jabs at societal trends and more at the genre trends. The opening scene hits audience with a movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie and by the time we get to the actual opening kill, Jenny has a back and forth with the Killer of, “You’re the dumb blonde with the big tits- we’ll have some fun with you before you die.”

“I have a 4.0 GPA and 135 I.Q., asshole!”

During the killer climax (Part One), the Killer asks Kirby a question about remakes and before they can even finish the question, Kirby hysterically lists off about a dozen horror movie remakes that had come out within the last ten years, playing the odds that one of them was bound to be the answer. By the time she got to the fifth remake, the theater I was in was rolling with laughter. The loudest I ever heard a movie theater get was after Sidney says, with gusto, “You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill- don’t fuck with the original.” And we can’t forget that Scream 4 was intended to be the start of a new trilogy, too, with Craven being vocal about hopes for at least a Scream 5 even before the theatrical release of Scream 4. 

And here we are in 2020…yeah, it’s some heavy bullshit. 

There have been a LOT of happenings in the nearly ten years since the release of Scream 4. 

“New decade, new rules,” might not even be enough to cover it now. 

The Scream movies have been the slasher equivalents of George Romero’s zombie movies. Romero said that his zombie movies were “snapshots of the time they were made” and this holds very true, looking back over the 41 year span that they were made. The Scream movies have timestamps all over them. We can see the progression of time between the movies between the evolving cell phone technology and the progression of Gale’s hair. 

Maybe there’s a true crime podcast, complete with Hello Fresh ads, and some more armchair sleuths, giving us our Randy homages. Maybe there’s more social media aspects or more attempts at copycats. Maybe we see even more of the movie-within-the-movie Stab, even that one that deals with time travel. Perhaps they’ll take jabs at the Scream television show. 

And for the love of all things holy and satanic can we PLEASE have Kirby be alive and well? 

It looks like we’re having our main players return to the franchise (with Courtney Cox and David Arquette confirmed at the time I’m typing this), but even after Jamie Lee Curtis signed on for the 2018 Halloween, fans were still having doubts and were vocal about them. The “success” of the movie is still up for debate amongst fans, but it brought it over $75 million its opening weekend and you can’t argue numbers so much. 

Personally, I’m about at the same point that I was after Saw V where I just felt like, “Fuck it, as long as I have fun.” Let’s not forget how much of a loopdeloop the throughline in Saw became. 

Will the Scream movies be the same without Wes Craven? No. 

We all miss him and the potential work he could have done.

And that’s all okay. 

Personally, I’m just going with faith from the past and to the future of the genre. We’ve seen how slashers go after their fourth or fifth entries. Jason, Michael, and Freddy still went to hell and back (literally in a couple cases), outer space, and there were supernatural children, gaining immortality through a cult we never learned anything about, and getting blown up at the end of the day only to come back a few years later in a new movie. 

I shared in the apprehension with the official announcement of a Scream 5 but upon hearing that Matt Bettinelli and Tyler Gillett, who directed the 2019 success Ready Or Not, I was on board. Ready Or Not was one of my favorites of last year with outstanding suspense and gore slathered over layers of a story. James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and Guy Busick (Ready Or Not) are coming on to write with Wiliamson moving to being a producer. 

Dare I used a Spongebob image to end this?

I’ll just say it.

I’m ready. 

Playlist Of The Living Dead

“Night Of The Living Dead” The Misfits 

Stumble in some ambulance so 

Pre-dawn corpses come to life 

Armies of the dead surviving 

Armies of the hungry ones”

The Misfits’ single “Night Of The Living Dead” was released at their Halloween show at Irving Plaza in 1979, with the B-sides “Where Eagles Dare” and a cover of Allan Sherman’s “Rat Fink”. The song was re-recorded for their debut album released in 1982, Walk Among Us. It’s almost odd to think that The Misfits were writing songs about the George Romero classic ten years after its release when it seems so long ago now.

“George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding” Showbread 

“Night turns to dawn, and dawn into day

And the land overflows with the dead

Where did I last hold you in my arms?  

What was the last thing that you said?

Some hide underground, others hide in a mall

I still drag myself through the streets.” 

If you know me, you know this song will often make an appearance on my Halloween playlists. “George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding” is on Showbread’s fifth studio album, 2006’s Age Of Reptiles, which was their only album to crack the Billboard Top 200, peaking at #198. 

“Living Dead Girl” Rob Zombie 

“Who is this irresistible creature

Who has an insatiable lust for the dead?

Living dead girl!”

A quintessential Halloween song, “Living Dead Girl” has been played in Bride Of Chucky, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake, and even an episode of Dawson’s Creek. The song samples the horror movies Lady Frankenstein, Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left, and Daughters Of Darkness. Even the music video is an ode to the 1920 silent-horror film The Cabinet Of Dr.Caligari and 1932’s White Zombie. 

“Uneeda” Labadie House 

“A can of flesh lies in front of me.

Choking and gagging, smoke is all I see. 

What have I done to my society?

I feel a presence now surrounding me.

The pain of being dead

The only thing that numbs the pain

Is the thing inside my head.”

Hailing from Oklahoma, Labadie House is a medley of alternative horror stoner punk rock. Their latest release, the EP Labadie House I, was released in July 2020 and helps to make it feel like Halloween in July. The song “Uneeda” takes its name from Uneeda Medical Supply (*ba dum tss*), the warehouse that dooms humanity in the 1985 punk rock zombie flick, Return Of The Living Dead.

“Party Time” The Haxans

“They don’t know the acid rain

Is coming down to make them insane.

Do you want to party?

It’s party time.”

Let’s just hop right to another one about Return Of The Living Dead, shall we? 

The Haxans consists of singer Ash Costello from New Years Day and Matt Montgomery “Piggy D” from Rob Zombie’s band. They released their first full-length album, Party Monsters, in 2017. This song is a mix of an original and a cover, taking the intro and chorus from 45 Grave’s “Partytime” but mixing in original verses with lyrics about the movie in a more up-beat version of the song. 

“Zombies Ate Her Brain” The Creepshow

“We’ll once upon a time there was a sweetheart

A pretty girl with lips of red

She took a walk down by the graveyard

And out of nowhere something grabbed her head!

I heard that zombies ate her brains.”

A short but sweet song, clocking in at 1:29, Canadian psychobilly band The Creepshow unleashed this ripper on their debut album, Sell Your Soul, in 2006. The song was released as a single with a music video, complete with an RKO Pictures-esque opening production logo.  

“Zombies Ate My Neighbors” Single File

“Call the neighbor kids

The trash can lids

With buckets on their heads

‘Cause I’m telling you

We’re gonna need a little help tonight.”

Switching it up with something more pop-punk, Single File’s “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” is on their first, and only, full-length release, Common Struggles. The title comes from the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis game of the same name. The video game was released in 1993 and would still make a fun zombie movie, but it’s still stuck in development limbo for about the last ten years.  

“Kill Or Become” Cannibal Corpse 

“Viral contagion unleashed upon the earth

Billions of infected dead soon rise

Stalking the living to feast upon the flesh

It’s fight or flee to survive.”

Coming from Cannibal Corpse’s thirteenth studio album, A Skeletal Domain, “Kill Or Become” was released as a single with a music video. Known for their horrifically gore-filled song titles and lyrics, Cannibal Corpse has been attacked by conservative critics since the 90s to the point of their records being banned in Australia and Germany. 

“Zombie Ritual” Death 

“Drifting from the living, joining with the dead

Zombie dwelling maggots, now infest your head

Zombie ritual”

Considered by some to be the first death metal record, Death released their debut album Scream Bloody Gore in 1987. “Zombie Ritual” originally appeared on their Mutilation demo. The song was inspired by the Italian movie Zombie (or Zombi 2) directed by Lucio Fulci. 

“Dead As Fuck” and Not My Type: Dead As Fuck 2″ Motionless In White

“Pulled her from the dirt,

caught a look in her eyes

She’s got worms in her mouth,

spiderwebs in her hair

Yeah she may be fucking dead but I don’t care.”

Motionless In White have a song writing trend of doing a series of connected songs, sequels, if you will. “Dead As Fuck” was released on 2014’s Reincarnate and samples dialogue from Beetlejuice, “To the living, let now the dead come alive”, makes the sexual “boomstick” innuendo, and an animated music video was released. 

“And in the glow of the pale moonlight

She goes for a spin on my haunted hayride

Tried out the living but I don’t believe the hype

‘Cause if she’s got a pulse, then she’s not my type”

The follow-up was “Not My Type: Dead As Fuck 2” on their 2017 album, Graveyard Shift. Both songs had shirts with creepy gore-tastic lyrics from their respective titles released for them. 

“Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” My Chemical Romance 

“Up and down escalators

Pennies and colder fountains

Elevators and half price sales

Trapped in by all these mountains

Running away and hiding with you

I never thought they’d get me here

Not knowing you’d change from just one bite

I fought them all off just to hold you close and tight”


Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas have become known as the “Zombie Capital Of The World” thanks to George Romero and his series of zombie movies. His second zombie, Dawn Of The Dead, was filmed mostly at the Monroeville Mall. “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” appeared on My Chemical Romance’s debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, an album that also features vampires and other undead characters. Lead singer Gerard Way has described the song as “a sweet song about Dawn of the Dead“, with lyrics that paint it more as a romantic tragedy within a horror movie.

The 13th Anniversary Of Whitechapel’s The Somatic Defilement

We have a birthday in the house! A beast of an album is a teenager now!

Deathcore pioneers Whitechapel released their debut album The Somatic Defilement on July 31, 2007. 

The original artwork for The Somatic Defilement in 2007

The band from Tennessee take their name from the East London district of Whitechapel, where eleven vicious unsolved murders took place between 1888-1891, “the Whitechapel murders”, where some to all of the murders have been credited to the infamous Jack the Ripper. 

There were five canonical Ripper victims- Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. Other noted murder victims during the time of the Whitechapel Muders were Emma Elizabeth Smith, Martha Tabram, Rose Mylett, Alice McKenzie, and Frances Coles. A unidentifiable woman’s torso was found completely dismembered and she is just simply known as the Pinchin Street torso. Investigators did not believe this woman was a victim of the Ripper, perhaps another victim of the “Thames Torso Murders” but given that we have never learned the identity of Jack the Ripper nor the Torso Killer, it was possible that the two were one in the same. 

Metal bands referencing serial killers and gore and horror movies goes together like chips and salsa, going back to Death’s 1987 debut album Scream Bloody Gore, with songs like “Regurgitated Guts” and “Evil Dead”, and most of the Cannibal Corpse and Macabre catalogs. Cradle Of Filth’s 1998 album Cruelty And The Beast concept album about the “blood countess” Elizabeth Bathory. Even 80’s pop duo Hall & Oates mention Charles Manson and “Son Of Sam” David Berkowitz in their song “Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices)”. Don’t think we forgot Kesha name-dropping Jeffrey Dahmer in her song “Cannibal”, helping to prove that the idea is not limited to the metal-genre. 

Whitechapel’s line up on The Somatic Defilement was lead vocalist Phil Bozeman, Gabe Crisp on bass, Kevin Lane on drums, and three guitarists- Ben Savage, Brandon Cagle, and Alex Wade. 

So the album is 90% related to Jack to Ripper, with lyrics written in first-person either as the Ripper or a more generic killer who shares similar sadistic sexual motivations of the Ripper. “Festering Fiesta” is about Jeffrey Dahmer and opening track, “Necrotizing”, feature excerpts from an interview that Dahmer did with TV reporter Stone Phillips.  

“Fairy Fay” took its title from the nickname given to an unidentified woman whose body was found in a doorway on December 26, 1887 (before the spree “officially” began), but she was never one of the canonical Ripper victims. 

And the song entitled “Ear To Ear” speaks for itself. 

In the nearly 135 years since the Ripper’s reign, there have been countless theories into the killer’s identity (or identities), investigations, interviews, books, television specials, and tours taking people through the streets and corners of the murders. There is now a tour focusing on the lives of the five canonical victims, rather than the Ripper themselves- The Feminist Jack The Ripper Tour. There are more and more works being published bringing the truths of the lives of women in the late 1800s rather than having blanket statements that “the Ripper just killed sex workers”. Thanks to Gracie and Abbey of Good Mourning, Nancy Podcast for bringing these articles to my attention in their episode on 2001’s From Hell (I cannot recommend their podcast enough).   

The Somatic Defilement was re-issued on April 16, 2013 with updated mixes and artwork. 

Re-release artwork from 2013

The band has released six more albums since, including a live album recorded in 2015. Whitechapel’s latest release is an acoustic version of “Hickory Creek” from their 2019 release The Valley (talk about sound evolution and it’s really fucking good). 

Music To Be Murdered By

American Psycho

American Psycho is probably one of the first movies that comes to mind when you think of music in horror movies and rightfully so. I’ll be the first to admit that I still dance like Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) whenever Huey Lewis & The News “Hip To Be Square” comes on. 

I think their undisputed masterpiece is ‘Hip to be Square’, a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself.”

The Final Girls

So the needle drops during a kill scene in a horror movie can bring some levity to the moment, maybe some dark humor. 

The Final Girls isn’t one of those movies.

The Final Girls uses “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes as a cue that we’re about to see Malin Akerman die on screen, either as Max’s mom, Amanda, or as the girl with a clipboard and a guitar in an 80’s camp slasher, Nancy. 

And it hurts. 

Rob Zombie’s Firefly Family Trilogy 

Of course the guy who fronts a metal band would pick great songs to use in his movies. 

Starting with House OF 1,000 Corpses, Bill (Rainn Wilson) gets strung up and tortured and transformed into Fish Boy while Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) turns on the radio and dances around to “Brick House” by The Commodores. The finale of The Devil’s Rejects sees the trio doing their best impersonations of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid while Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays ever so epically. Following the three miraculously surviving the barrage of bullets, their story continues as Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby, and Foxy (Richard Brake) flee to Mexico. With a bounty on their heads, they’re forced to fight for their lives as the sound of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly swells up to play over a slow-motion fight scene.

Rest In Peace Sid Haig, our Captain. 

Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U

Happy Death Day has become a surprise Blumhouse fan-favorite. In the first movie, Tree (Jessica Rothe) tries to narrow down the list of her possible killers as she’s stuck in a time loop where at the end of each day she gets stabbed…or held under water until she drowns…or blown up. As she makes her way down the list of suspects, while also chopping her hair and dying it pink and walking across the school’s courtyard naked, Demi Lovato’s “Confident” plays.

In Happy Death Day 2U, as Tree has to buy more time for her friends to figure out the correct algorithms to close the time loop in the correct dimension, it’s suggested that she kills herself before at the end of the day rather than waiting for her killer to get to her. Feeding into the dark, almost ironic humor that the Happy Death Day movies have developed, Paramore’s “Hard Times” plays over Tree’s suicide montage.

With hopes a third movie is still coming, now we can wonder what the murder/suicide montage song could be.

Pet Sematary

Stephen King is known to be a huge fan of punk pioneers The Ramones so he approached them to write the title song for the 1989 adaption of his novel Pet Sematary. King gave a copy of the book to bassist Dee Dee Ramone and then he came up with lyrics. The movie cuts to black as reanimated Rachel (Denise Crosby) picks up a knife to stab her grieving husband, Louis (Dale Midkiff), then as we hear him scream in terror over a black screen Johnny Ramone’s guitar riff kicks in. 

The 2019 remake still uses the song “Pet Sematary” in the beginning of their credits sequence as a cover performed by Starcrawler. 

At least that movie still used the song somehow. 

Ma

Hearing about this kill scene is what made me want to watch Ma and it was well-worth it. 

Driving her pickup truck, Sue Ann (a brilliant Octavia Spencer) plows down Mercedes (Missi Pyle) while she’s on her jog, leaves her in a twisted and bloody mess, tosses in calling her a “cunt” for good measure, then turns on the radio and “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire comes on. 

Quite the celebratory kill song. 

Shaun Of The Dead

“It’s on random.”

The jukebox at the Winchester Pub seems to personally attack Shaun (Simon Pegg) twice. First after he’s dumped by his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), and “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago begins to play. Secondly, as zombies are swarming the pub and backing all of them into a corner, “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen comes on and Shaun, Ed (Nick Frost), and Liz all grab pool cues and begin hitting the now zombiefied bartender to the beat of the song. 

“David, kill the Queen! The jukebox!” 

Return Of The Living Dead

“Do you wanna paaartaaay? It’s party time!”

“Party Time” by goth punk rockers 45 Grave has become like the theme song to 1985’s Return Of The Living Dead. The song plays twice in the movie and the second round is when the toxic rain begins to pour and dead bodies begin to rise from the dirt and, to quote the tagline on the poster, “They’re back from the grave and ready to party!”

Reservoir Dogs

Ok so it’s not a horror movie but it’s too good to not include on the list. 

After the fuck up that was them trying to pull off a jewelry heist, the four remaining strangers return to their fallback spot (an empty warehouse) and they have brought back cop as a hostage. As tension rises amongst the group, suspecting one of their own is either a cop or is an informant, Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) decides to torture the cop, partially for fun and partially to try and get answers. “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Strealers Wheel plays on the radio as Mr. Blonde cuts off the cop’s ear, taps it like a microphone, and asks, “Is this thing on?”