As part of 2019’s 13 Days of Halloween, we here at Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life thought it would be fun to see if some of the bands and artists we love had any interest in horror. It turns out quite a lot do so we turned it into an interview.
1. First things first…introduce yourself please!
We’re Ted and Bill from Sacred Monster, a heavy metal band from Chicago. We make up the rhythm section of the band, but besides providing a backbeat we also help come up with a lot of the lyrics and concepts behind the music, which center heavily around horror – from songs based on Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft to our own original stories.
2. What are your top 3 favourite horror movies and why?
Re-Animator (1985) – Although it certainly isn’t the most faithful Lovecraft adaptation, it’s an entertaining, cheesy B-movie approach to a classic tale that has a unique sense of style.
Rose Red (2002) – This is actually a mini-series, but hope it counts – I love haunted house movies, and Rose Red is a masterpiece. Primarily due to Stephen King’s scripting, the increasingly diabolical machinations of the house are a delight to watch unfold.
The Conjuring (2013) – While not exactly innovative, The Conjuring was instrumental in getting me deeper into horror as a genre (yes, I was a bit of a late bloomer) and I’ve got to give it credit for that: the theatrical and fine-tuned approach to building atmosphere drew me in and helped elevate it past a lot of similar films.
Halloween (1978) – The mother of all slasher flicks – great build up, epic soundtrack, and it defined a monster icon and scream queen for decades.
The Exorcist (1973) – Intense makeup and incredible acting with an unforgettable score.
Return of the Living Dead (1985) – Fun, scary, and timeless. The film’s use of zombies started the trend of brain-craving zombies as well.
3. Do you remember your first experience with horror? Was it at a young age?
TED: I remember watching Jeepers Creepers when I was maybe twelve or so and being scared beyond belief – especially in the first act when they stumble upon the uh, people-wallpaper. These days it’s more of an entertaining watch to me than anything else, but I have to admit the song still creeps me out.
4. What era of horror is your favourite & why?
TED: As a band, the late 80’s probably have the biggest influence on our sound, but I personally have a strange appreciation for the 1990’s and early 2000s. My wife, who aided my descent into the horror genre, showed me a ton of these movies that she still had on DVD, like Rose Red, The House on Haunted Hill (1999), and Thirteen Ghosts – they may not all be masterpieces and there’s a lot of unnecessary remakes, but there’s some good scares and it’s neat seeing actors you know from other less campy works show up in these films.
5. What frightens or creeps you out in horror?
BILL: Jump scares – I know they’re coming, but they always get me. A good atmosphere can really dial up the scares, though.
TED: I get creeped out when there’s a slow, suspenseful build – like where you don’t see, or deal with, the monster until far, far down the line. As a recent example, I remember in one of the first two Insidious movies there’s some scenes earlier on where there’s ghosts in frame that aren’t called attention to at all – blink and you’ll miss them. That leads you to question yourself – did you really see that?
6. Who is your horror inspiration? Be it a director/actor/author etc.
TED: Definitely H.P. Lovecraft – the ‘fear of the unknown’ that Lovecraftian stories play on is a personal favorite of mine. We’ve adapted some of his classic tales, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and Herbert West – Reanimator, into songs explicitly, and the mythos and style of storytelling he used are influences on other songs, like Maze of Dreams.
7. Do you enjoy modern horror or do you look to the past for your fix?
TED: Well, there’s usually a couple good movies a year, and then there’s a lot of crap. It’s not like the past was any different in that regard, though! Don’t skip out on foreign horror stuff, either – I especially liked Verónica (2017 – Spain) recently.
8. What horror movie is universally beloved that you just don’t like?
BILL: Babadook (2014) – too cartoonish and not creepy enough. Could have been great with a better design.
TED: At least it gave us some quality meme formats.
9. If you could shoot one horror cliché/trope into the sun to never be used again. What would it be?
BILL: Remakes – if it’s already been done, it’s been done. Leave it alone!
10. Same question but about type/style. What type or style of horror would you happily never watch again?
TED: I think we’re good on SAW and SAW-alike movies now. If they could never be remade, that would also be great.
11. What gets you excited when watching horror?
TED: It’s always about atmosphere for me, which is a combination of soundtrack, filming choices and pacing. I thought the recent Haunting of Hill House series built atmosphere excellently, mixing in a healthy amount of non-horror drama and dropping in scares when least expected. I’m also a sucker for well-thought-out occultism and symbology – I thought the Insidious series had some cool mythology in it, if a bit ridiculous at points.
BILL: Monsters and boobies. Bonus points if the monsters have boobies.
12. Have you had any real life scary experiences? We’re talking supernatural or something that can’t be reasonably explained.
BILL: Once, when I was visiting Mexico, I thought I saw my grandfather walking in the yard outside. Then I heard a noise from the kitchen, turned around and saw him indoors – when I turned around to see who was in the yard, the figure walked right through a wall and disappeared.
Also, about two years ago I saw the Mothman, or something that looked like it, on Willis Tower in Chicago – it flew off the building and out of sight. Whatever it was, it looked like a strange fusion of a human, insect and a bird.
TED: Nothing too spooky has happened to me, but I’ll add that the Mothman sighting is part of the inspiration for our song “The Mothman Lives”.
1. Favourite overall franchise (3 or more movies)?
BILL: George Romero’s Dead series.
2. Most memorable character death?
TED: Re-Animator – Dr. Hill (though, he doesn’t technically stay dead).
3. Best horror twist?
BILL: Nothing surprises us anymore. The fact that the game Silent Hill was heavily inspired by Jacob’s Ladder was neat, though!
4. Favourite Stephen King book?
TED: The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger.
5. Best remake of a horror movie?
BILL: The Hills Have Eyes (2006).
6. Worst remake of a horror movie?
TED: House of Wax (2005).
7. Favourite horror villain?
BILL: Michael Myers.
8. It’s Halloween night…you settle down with some popcorn to watch…what?
TED: Halloween, of course! But it’s much more likely that I’ll turn on Acid Witch while waiting for Trick-’r-Treaters.
We’d like to thank Ted and Bill of Sacred Monster for taking the time to speak with us. You can find our more about the band by checking out their Facebook Page here.