13 Horror Movies Starring Rock Musicians

2022 has seen some big names in rock music branch out into the world of horror movies. Back in February, the Foo Fighters released Studio 666 and a death metal EP by fictional band Dream Widow (our review here), then last month The Retaliators came out featuring members of Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch and Ice Nine Kills.

For the spooky season, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at other films that have starred some of our favourite musicians throughout the years. Here’s 13 horror movies to get you started!

13 – Cry Wolf [2005]

New student Owen Matthews has just arrived at boarding school, which has just been hit with the news of the murder of a teenage girl. He’s instantly mixed up with the wrong crowd when on his first night he’s dragged out by his roommate Tom to join in on a lying game which comes down to who is the best manipulator in the group. One person is picked out to be the liar aka “The Wolf” and the rest are sheep. It’s not the most exciting of games and you have to wonder just how bored rich kids can be, that this is the best game they could come up with. Dodger later decides she’s bored of their regular game night and to make it more exciting, she wants to start a rumour with the entire school that the killer is on campus. They write up a fake email and forward it to everyone about a serial killer nicknamed The Wolf with details of how previous victims have died. The following day Owen starts to get DM’s from ‘The Wolf’, their dorm room is trashed, one student has gone missing and Owen seems to be stuck working out if everyone is lying or if there really is a killer on campus who will strike on Halloween night.

Jon Bon Jovi stars in Cry Wolf as journalism teacher Rich Walker. Seemingly nice guy, but he has a thing for some of his female students so I guess ethics won’t be covered in his class.

12 – SAW: The Final Chapter [2010]

When it comes to horror, using ‘The Final Chapter’ in the title is pointless because when you’re seven movies in, the chances of it really being the end is slim. That said, it did seem to be the end of Detective Mark Hoffman. While the saga of Hoffman, Jigsaw and Jill Tuck continues (I am not trying to explain the past 6 movies here!), more traps are set killing a trio of dumb teens and a group of skinheads but the main focus of the film is on Bobby Dagen who achieved fame, money and love from pretending to be one of Jigsaw’s victims and now he really is one.

This isn’t the first SAW film to have a cameo from a well-known musician, but SAW 7 features Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington as a skinhead that’s been glued to the front seat of his car. The only way to ‘win’ the trap and save his friends is to pull the lever in front of him but in order to do that he’ll tear all the skin from his back and arms. The sad part for him is he actually gets pretty close but if he’d been about a second faster his girlfriend might still have her face and his friend would still have his limbs attached. Chester’s screams are the spotlight in this scene and it just makes us miss him so much more.

11 – Body Bags [1993]

Body Bags is a horror anthology starring horror legend John Carpenter as The Coroner who introduces all of the stories. He also directs two of the segments: ‘The Gas Station’ which includes a cameo from Wes Craven and ‘Hair’. Hair is about Richard, a middle-aged man obsessed with the fact he’s losing his hair. His girlfriend (played by 80’s pop star Sheena Easton) couldn’t care less about his receding hairline but Richard thinks he’s losing all desirability one hair follicle at a time. He doesn’t just lust for the hair he’s missing; he wants it long and shiny and buys all the hair products that allege to promote growth and fail. After seeing an ad on TV for Doctor Lock who promises to regrow your hair, he books himself an appointment where we see our next musician cameo – Blondie! Debbie Harry plays the sexy and very excitable nurse who encourages him to get the “Stallion”.

10 – I Still Know What You Did Last Summer [1998]

It’s been a year since psycho fisherman Ben Willis tried to seek revenge on Julie James and her friends but despite his body being lost at sea, Julie still has nightmares about him and thinks she sees him everywhere. When her unlisted phone number gets a phone call from a radio station offering them the chance to win four tickets to the Bahamas, all common sense goes out the window and they magically win with the wrong answer. As they arrive at their beautiful destination they find it’s actually off-season and a huge tropical storm is on its way and they’re about to find out they aren’t alone.

This movie was my introduction to Tenacious D‘s Jack Black (or more importantly this was the role where he got my attention) who plays drug-dealing gardener Titus Telesco. His part isn’t very big; he’s only in 4 scenes before he’s gutted by the Fisherman.

9 – Stage Fright [2014]

10 years after the grisly death of opera star Kylie Swanson on the opening night of The Haunting Of The Opera, her children Camilla and Buddy have been raised by her former lover and producer Roger McCall [Meat Loaf] and work in the kitchen of his camp for the performing arts. Polar opposites, Camilla is a budding singer while Buddy can’t stand the musical geeks that come every year. It’s been decided that this year’s camp performance will be The Haunting Of The Opera but they’re going to make it Japanese. Despite it being against camp protocol, Camilla decides to audition and to the disgust of the campers, and her brother, she wins the lead role.

Before you worry that I’ve recommended some Glee-style crap for you, you’re kind of right BUT whenever the killer is on the screen we get electric guitars and 80’s style heavy metal vocals. Sadly they didn’t actually hit up a musician to do the singing but the actor who has done the vocals did a pretty good job. There are also a couple of nods to other horror classics Carrie, Hellraiser and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and enough inappropriate jokes to keep anyone entertained.

8 – Constantine [2005]

Seeking salvation from having to spend the afterlife in Hell over a suicide attempt when he was young, John Constantine [Keanu Reeves] has made it his life mission to exorcise demons and send them back to hell. He’s now been diagnosed with Cancer and decides to help a detective who believes her twin sister didn’t kill herself based solely on the fact she was a devout Catholic. Constantine has the ability to see Half-Breeds, humans that are half angel or demon, and their purpose is to maintain balance on Earth. They can only whisper in our ears but a single word can give you courage or turn your favourite pleasure into your worst nightmare.

BUSH frontman Gavin Rossdale plays half-breed, Balthazar. He’s a bit of a dick but he’s a sharp dresser!

7 – REPO The Genetic Opera [2008]

Cult classic Repo is an all-star gothic dreamscape set in the year 2056, where GeneCo offer the Afterpay of organ transplants, but if you don’t make your repayments in time the Repo man will come along and repossess the organs and you won’t be breathing to talk about it later. The CEO of GeneCo, Rotti, is dying and doesn’t believe any of his three children are fit to take over the family business and instead decides he’ll leave it to 16-year-old Shiloh, daughter of his ex-fiance. Shiloh has inherited a rare blood disorder from her mother which means she must stay indoors but she randomly disobey’s her fathers orders and the movie sees her meeting the Grave Robber, Blind Mag and other characters along the way before finding out her own father is a Repo Man.

Being a rock-opera you might expect a sea of musicians but it’s mostly actors and some like Paul Sorvino and Anthony Head can actually sing really well. There are a couple of musicians though: classical singer Sarah Brightman plays Blind Mag, I guess calling Paris Hilton a musician is a term that should be used lightly but she plays Rotti’s daughter Amber and Joan Jett has a cameo during the song “Seventeen” where she rocks out with her guitar in Shiloh’s bedroom.

6 – Urban Legend [1998]

When a student is murdered on her way home from school, amazingly not for her terrible singing, Pendleton University tries to shut down any news of what happened. Pretending a murder didn’t happen is one way to keep your reputation as the safest college in America. Meanwhile, as anyone connected to Natalie starts to disappear or die in re-enactments of urban legends; she becomes convinced there’s a serial killer on campus which could be linked to the 25th anniversary of the Stanley Hall Massacre while lacking the self-awareness to realize that everyone dying is linked to her.

30 Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto stars in the film as pompous journalist Paul Gardener who has been following the deaths for the school paper and investigating if there’s any truth to the Stanley Hall massacre back in 1973.

5 – Queen Of The Damned [2002]

Lestat has been asleep for near a century after realizing immortality is actually kind of boring when you’re on your own, that is until he hears the music from a local nu-metal band and he decides to come up for blood and become a rockstar. Not satisfied with just being famous, he also wants to piss off vampires in general by giving away their secrets in his song lyrics, which also attracts the attention of the Talamascan and awakens the OG vampire Akasha.

Everyone knows the story of Aaliyah who plays Queen Akasha but this movie actually has quite a few Aussie artists on the cast list too. The film’s band ‘The Vampire Lestat’ consisted of real musicians: Robert Farnham [Alex] is the singer of alt-rock band Rival Fire who recently got to open for KISS, Johnathon Devoy [James] was the singer of electronic hard rock band Jerk, Megan Cooper is a solo artist in Brisbane and Conrad Standish is in the indie rock band Devastations. Becky Thomas of The Mavis’s can be seen as an extra band member during the concert. Technically Jonathon Davis is all over this film considering he’s Lestat’s singing voice and wrote the vampire’s songs, but he also has a quick cameo as a scalper trying to sell Jesse a ticket to the Death Valley concert.

4 – IDLE HANDS [1999]

Deadbeat stoner Anton [Devon Sawa] who hasn’t been to school in a while, is totally unaware the town has a serial killer and his parents might be missing, which is an inconvenience because they’re out of dog food. Anton is so lazy that the devil has taken over the use of his right hand and all kinds of crazy shit goes down after he unwillingly kills his best mates.

The plot is simple but effective and 23 years later this movie is still hilarious. The scene with Anton fighting himself over a remote control cracks me up just as much as the first time I saw it. Like most 90’s films, Idle Hands has a killer soundtrack featuring Rancid, Motley Crue, Rob Zombie, Ace Frehley and The Living End.

The film also features two cameos – one is a literal ‘Blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo. I managed to miss the fact Tom Delonge is in this movie for about 20 years and even after finding out he was in it, I had to freeze-frame the scene to see if it really was him because his scene is 4 seconds long and his face is only showing for half of that. The other cameo is much easier to spot, The Offspring. They’re the band playing at the Halloween school dance and can be seen performing I Wanna Be Sedated and also has frontman  Dexter Holland being scalped soon after performing Beheaded.

3 – SUCK [2009]

Suck is a horror comedy about a struggling band called The Winners who are on tour playing in a bunch of tiny bars to a lukewarm reception. After one of their gigs, their bass player Jennifer decides to go party with some creepy-looking guy and comes back the following night a vampire. Her new look seems to be alluring to the crowd who are loving her. After crossing into Canada their roadie Hugo has the misfortune of seeing Jennifer drinking the deli attendant’s blood with a straw and becomes her ‘Renfield’, forced to clean up her bloody mess. Their gig that night is even bloodier thanks to the main act Secretaries Of Steak who have a legion of fans who throw raw meat at any band who plays with them. Their lead singer, played by Moby, is such an epic dickhead that it’s no great loss to the world when he becomes Jennifer’s midnight snack but between the screaming and Hugo suddenly being covered in blood again, the rest of the band walk in to find Jennifer chowing down on a severed arm and realize she’s a vampire. One by one the band members are turned into vampires. They get the fame they’ve always wanted but eventually lose interest in the vampire lifestyle and with the help of Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell) they hatch a plan to turn back into humans.

Suck has quite the cast list with Alice Cooper as the friendly if not blunt bartender, Henry Rollins as radio host Rockin’ Roger, Alex Lifeson as the border security guard who misses his old band days, Carole Pope as a Club Bouncer and Dimitri Coats plays Queenie, the vampire responsible for this entire film.

The only way this film could have been better was if the band in the film were a heavy rock band like the film’s soundtrack was. Instead, we have an indie band with a soundtrack that includes Alice Cooper, The Stooges, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Burning Brides.

2 – STRANGELAND [1998]

Meet Captain Howdy. He’s a big fan of body art. Half of his body is tattooed, his teeth have all been filed down so they’re pointy and the rest of him is covered in some heavy-duty piercings. In his spare time he likes to find victims on the Internet, which he lures to his house to become part of his torture room. One of these victims is 15-year-old Genevieve who takes her best friend Tiana to party with some guy she met in a chatroom. What could possibly go wrong?

When neither girl returns home, Genevieve’s father, a detective, tries to work out what happened to them but not before a car is found dumped in a river with Tiana’s body inside. Eventually Detective Gage tracks down Howdy and discovers his special room with multiple victims, including his daughter, set up on various torture devices.

Somehow Howdy – also known as Carleton Hendricks – is found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a psychiatric facility where four years later he’s now a very timid man who covers his tattoos up with makeup and likes to read books. He’s declared cured and released back into society, which pisses off a whole lot of people including Jackson Roth [Robert Englund]. When Roth’s teenage daughter doesn’t come home he gets it in his head that Captain Howdy has her and organizes a lynch mob. After beating on Carleton, they force him into a car witnessed by Detective Gage who just lets it happen. They drive Hendricks into the hills when they hang him but a rainstorm sends them all running home and helps break the branch he’s tied too and just like that….Captain Howdy is back!

Howdy is a bit like a 90’s Jigsaw – he’s an intellectual, loves making speeches and he likes to think he’s giving people spiritual enlightenment through pain. For a brief moment I even find myself sympathetic to his character and I’m not sure what that says about me.

Dee Snider not only acts in Strangeland but also wrote the script and he’s on the soundtrack along with Pantera, Megadeth, System Of A Down, Anthrax and more! There’s also a sequel but so far it hasn’t seen the light of day. In a 2016 interview with Icon Vs Icon, Dee talks about the possibilities of crowdfunding and with the success Terrifer 2 is having in the US right now, a film that was entirely crowdfunded, he should definitely consider it.

1 – Trick Or Treat [1986]

Metalhead Eddie Weinbauer is Sammi Curr’s biggest fan. After finishing a letter to Sammi and getting on with his chores, he sees the TV news talking about Sammi being banned from attending Lakeridge High School’s Halloween dance, followed with the news that Sammi died in a hotel fire last night. Devastated he goes to see his friend radio DJ Nuke played by Gene Simmons. Eddie has Sammi up on a pedestal but Nuke knew the guy personally and tries to talk sense into Eddie before giving up and handing over Sammi Curr’s final unreleased album Songs In The Key Of Death (a play on Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life) which he plans on playing at midnight on Halloween per Sammi’s request.

Eddie is also the high school’s biggest victim and after yet another incident of bullying, he goes home to listen to the record. He falls asleep and has a strange dream involving Sammi and the hotel fire when he wakes up to the record skipping. The vocals are clearly warped and as Eddie plays the record backwards Sammi is heard saying “let the big fish hook themselves…you’re the bait”. The next day at school, Eddie confronts his bully and ends up being chased all over the school grounds before it all ends with the guys storming into the teacher’s room with a fire extinguisher. It’s after this event that Eddie realizes if he asks the vinyl record questions, Sammi will reply but as the plot for revenge starts to cause more serious problems making Eddie want to quit ties with his favourite rock star, Sammi causes a soda can to spill onto the stereo system that gives him all the energy he needs to resurrect from the dead. Now he’s able to come back at will as long as there’s an energy source and his album is playing. When Eddie’s friend Roger plays a tape recording of the album it causes an electrical surge through his house before Sammi appears telling Roger to play his album at the dance or die.

Ozzy Osbourne also has a small cameo has Reverend Aaron Gilstrom and his entire role was adlibbed. His character reinforces the Satanic Panic of the 80’s where metal made you some kind of devil worshipper. He’s on a tv show talking about the disgusting lyrics found in rock songs and how listening to this music will turn you into a pervert. Before production started the filmmakers wanted a real musician to play Sammi Curr and had asked Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) and Gene Simmons (KISS). Gene turned it down but decided he’d play the part of the DJ. The role ended up going to a dancer named Tony Fields and fans of the movie are all pretty happy with this choice.

That’s it – let us know your fav cameos on our social media (or don’t) and get spooky this Halloween!

Written by Kim Anderson (@kimshootsthings)

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