The relationship between horror movies and heavy metal dates back to the very birth of the latter. It all began in the late 1960s, when a hard British blues band called Earth noticed crowds lined-up to see a Boris Karloff fright fest outside a theater and renamed themselves after the movie: Black Sabbath.
Since then, the horror genre in general, and scary cinema in particular, has been (super)naturally intertwined with metal, punk, and hard rock down to the very skeleton of each form.
Back in the ’80s, movies often promoted their soundtracks with official tie-in music videos. Seeing as how that decade was such hair-raising, headbanging high point for both horror and metal, MTV regularly rotated killer hard-rocking big screen promo clips.
Since every day is Halloween in the realms of horror and heavy metal, it’s always the season to treat yourself to these vintage Headbangers Ball-flashback music videos.
“Leatherface” – Lääz Rockit
Movie: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1989)
Bay Area bruisers Lääz Rockit thrash up the third installment of the sanguine Texas Chainsaw Massacre saga by way of the title track “Leatherface.” The song packs a serviceable sonic wallop, amplified by the directness of its chant-along chorus: “This is your invitation/to come join Leatherface/it’s his addiction/to keeping you face to face!”
“Trick or Treat” – Fastway
Movie: Trick or Treat (1986)
Fastway was a heavy metal supergroup consisting of ex-Motörhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, ex-UFO bassist Pete Way, ex-Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley, and brand new singer Dave King.
Trick or Treat was akin to a heavy metal supergroup in film form, as it co-stars Gene Simmons as a late-night rock radio DJ and Ozzy Osbourne as a televangelist.
It makes perfect sense, then, for Fastway to not only supply Trick or Treat's title song, but the entire soundtrack, including the music performed by the movie’s resurrected evil metal star Sammi Curr, who's played by ex-Solid Gold dancer Tony Fields, after Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. was unable to make the shooting schedule work.
They're all MONSTROUSLY awesome with variously amazing, appalling, and/or ass-kicking soundtrack songs, and you can read about each film in this article, as well as in a book whose title really says it all: Heavy Metal Movies.
Alas, none of those low-budget cult classics released an official, MTV-ready tie-in-music video, so they're out of the running for this list. Still, let's all pay full horns-up respect!
“Scream Until You Like It” – W.A.S.P.
Movie: Ghoulies II (1987)
Even before W.A.S.P. rocked out the raging theme song for Ghoulies II, the band made heavy metal movie history by raging through “Tormentor” live and battling a buzz-killing “good guy” in The Dungeonmaster (1985).
A year after hanging with the Ghoulies, W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes delivered the most unforgettable, tragicomic moment in The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years by way of his drunken swimming pool interview alongside his mom.
W.A.S.P.’s “Scream Until You Like It” music video shows scenes from Ghoulies II of the titular critters terrorizing a carnival intercut with the band tearing it up inside a funhouse on the midway. By the end, the two forces of chaos come together, with W.A.S.P. and the Ghoulies making friends. It certainly seems right.
“Pet Sematary” – Ramones
Movie: Pet Sematary (1989)
Hard rock fanatic Stephen King, author of the novel upon which the film Pet Sematary is based, personally asked the Ramones to provide the movie’s theme song.
On the track, the New York punk legends slow down their typical sound and actually go a little gothic, conjuring up the foreboding doom inherent in the tale of unholy ground that reanimates the dead.
Although the Ramones got precious little love on mainstream radio in their day, Howard Stern boosted the band hugely when he officially named “Pet Sematary” his pick for the best song of 1989.
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” – Megadeth
Movie: Shocker (1988)
The music video for “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” Megadeth’s thrashtastic Alice Cooper cover, essentially re-casts Dave Mustaine as Horace Pinker, the executed-but-undead serial killer anti-hero from Wes Craven’s Shocker.
Early on, the clip depicts the bitter childhood of Mustaine that ultimately leads to him singing and shredding on guitar (the solo is ferocious) in jail. Eventually, movie clips figure into the mix, and Mustaine meets the same fate as Pinker: getting fried in an electric chair, but coming back to wail away at what he does best.
MTV’s Headbangers Ball righteously rotated the hell out of this clip.
“Who Made Who” – Who Made Who
Movie: Maximum Overdrive (1986)
As he did with the Ramones three years later with Pet Sematary, Stephen King reached out to AC/DC to score Maximum Overdrive, the author’s big-screen directorial debut (and swan song).
AC/DC took King up on it, and responded with the mighty “Who Made Who.” The song boasts a colder-than-usual AC/DC drum beat and an absolutely dizzying Angus Young guitar lead, each of which mirror the movie’s account of machines rising up and hammering down on humanity.
In a bold move, the official “Who Made Who” music video doesn’t incorporate clips from Maximum Overdrive. Instead, it further explores the King’s themes—as well as the song’s lyrics and very title—by depicting a mad scientist creating an army of robotic Angus Young clones that mimic his moves but don’t have any strings on their guitars. Particularly as AC/DC (gloriously) goes, this foray into sci-fi/horror is tremendously heady.
Who Made Who, the movie’s soundtrack LP, contains that title anthem and two original instrumentals, "D.T." and "Chase the Ace." The other tracks, which appear in the film, essentially add up to a “greatest hits” package (“You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Hells Bells,” etc.).
“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – Alice Cooper
Movie: Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives (1986)
After singing “I Am the Future,” the theme from the 1982 punksploitation classic Class of 1984 and starring two years later in Monster Dog, his own schlock fright flick favorite, Alice Cooper took on hockey-faced horror icon Jason Voorhees with “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask).”
The techno-pumped, funkified single Friday the 13th Part VI theme got Alice into heavy primetime MTV rotation throughout the summer of 1986.
Part VI (subtitled Jason Lives!, complete with that exclamation point) is the only (intentionally) comedic F13 franchise entry. Alice’s song is similarly witty (incorporating the film’s signature “chay-chay-cha/ah-ah-ha” sounds) and the video is an all-out hoot, with the two anti-heroes—who may be the same being—freaking out a movie theater packed with fans.
“Dream Warriors” - Dokken
Movie: Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987)
Dokken’s dramatic “Dream Warriors” doesn’t just perfectly fit the taut, triumphant tone of Nightmare on Elm Street 3, the music video plays as a coolly captivating extension of the movie itself.
Patricia Arquette, one of the movie’s young stars, constructs a toy version of the original Nightmare on Elm Street house out of Popsicle sticks and rock magazine clippings about Dokken.
After drifting off to sleep, both Patricia and the band are inside the now life-size abode, which turns out to be a gateway to a cheesy-cool version of heavy metal hell. Also inside is a spooky little girl on a tricycle, and, of course, Nightmare villain Freddy Krueger.
Dokken ultimately defeats the razor-fingered bad-dream menace via the sheer might of their metal. The video’s twist ending supplies the most charmingly obvious punchline, with Freddy himself bolting awake in bed and growling, “What a nightmare! Who were those guys?”
Such a joker, that Krueger!