Billy “Eye” Harper: The Rock ’n’ Roll Frankenstein of Nigel Benjamin and Trey Loren
Most horror film aficionados believe the American slasher film cycle of the early eighties birthed with John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween. In reality: slasher films got their start in Italy with a literary format known as Giallo or “Yellow” in the Italian vernacular.
Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s 126-paged novella horror classic (The Strange Case of) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, small literary houses in Italy churned out their Giallo variant: a cost-effective format of reading entertainment intended for male readers — considering most of the psychologically damaged antagonist’s victims were female — who eschewed cheaply-produced romance novels with splashy, sexy-gaudy covers enamored by the women in their lives. These Italian paperbacks were produced by small literary houses that kept their printing costs down by binding the books in universal, unadorned yellow covers with simple, black-lettered titles that readers could easily stuff the ironically blood red-soaked tales in their jeans’ back pocket for easy, portable reading.
Giallos offered European readers sexually-inspired gore stories that caused the fans of the suggestive, atmospheric horror films produced by Britain’s Amicus and Hammer Studios to flinch — and Stevenson, along with noted Gothic horror authors Sheridan Le Fanu, Gaston LeRoux, and Guy de Mausspaunt to roll over in their graves. Giallos — filled with quaint, occasional reader-acceptable typos by way of underpaid and overworked editors and proof readers — were well-written, suspenseful and engaging tales (the “content” is the key) that Sheridan Le Fanu probably wanted to include in his influential, short-story collection In a Glass, Darkly (featuring the vampire classic “Carmella”) and realized he had to rein his imagination or be judged by a puritanical, elitist lynch mob for writing “filth.”
A comprehensive list of ’80s Metalsplotation Films — inspired by Halloween and Friday the 13th — appears at the end of this article.
It was those yellow-bound books that inspired the spaghetti-horror (pasta-horror) cycle spearheaded by Mario Bava with 1971’s Twitch of the Death Nerve, and Dario Argento, who became the maestro of Italian Giallo films with 1970’s Bird with the Crystal Plumage (watch Carpenter’s Halloween, Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, and Brian DePalma’s Dressed to Kill — and compare to Bava’s and Argento’s work).
Produced for a reported $350,000 John Carpenter’s classic grossed an estimated $80 million dollars in worldwide box office during its initial release. Initially dumped into the U.S drive-in market to make a quick buck, the fluke blockbuster status of the film inspired mainstream Hollywood to jump on the yellow-painted band wagon with 1980’s Friday the 13th and 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.
As fate would have it, the John Carpenter-inspired slasher film cycle coincided with the introduction of a contraption known as a VCR that played something called a VHS tape — and that hunk of analog electronics transitioned the slasher film genre from America’s outdoor drive-ins and onto the shelves of the burgeoning U.S home video market. Slasher films — affectionately referred to as “boobs and blades” for their concentrations on well-endowed, giggly women and the shiny, sharp objects that stabbed them — were cheap and easy to produce and the worldwide film markets were hot for product. Returns on a film’s investment produced under the “boobs and blades” banner were guaranteed. The films became the number one way for a newbie actor or writer, budding director or producer to get into the film business.
At the same time those direct-to-video “boobs and blades” knock offs started flying off the video store shelves, a new form of heavy metal birthed in Britain in the late seventies — dubbed by Sounds magazine as “The New Wave of British Heavy Metal” (NWOBHM). Featuring the violent, religious mania and bloody lyrics composed by the likes of Venom and Iron Maiden, complete with the requisite Satanic imagery on the album covers, slasher films and heavy metal music were a match made in hell: the music coming out of England was, in fact, Giallo musicals. This music-inspired slasher sub-genre even got its own name: metalsploitation, which featured other beloved so-bad-they’re-good bloody analog tales showcasing the exploitive titles of Black Roses, Shock ’em Dead, Terror on Tour, Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare, and Rock ’n’ Roll Zombies. The genre peaked — and quickly burnt out — when the major studios took a slice of the metalsploitation pie with 1986’s big-budgeted Trick or Treat. (It all came full circle with the Detroit-based NWOBHM retro-band Acid Witch: they paid homage to the genre with Midnight Movies, a 2015 movie soundtrack covers-tribute EP that features their take of “I’m Back” from Rocktober Blood.)
However, before the glut of heavy-metal horror films hit the video store shelves, Paul Williams and Brian DePalma composed a campy, 1974 rock ’n’ roll reboot of Hammer Studios’ 1962 film version of The Phantom of the Opera (based on Gaston LeRoux’s novel). Somewhat similar to 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the camp ’n’ rock department, Phantom of the Paradise featured an emotionally damaged musician, Winslow Leech, who rains vengeance on the narrow-minded fools who stole his music and ruined his career.
And that leads us to the subject of this article: the “career” of an emotionally damaged faux heavy-metal rock god known to the metal-loving world as Billy “Eye” Harper. The Michael Myers-cum-Winslow Leech-inspired rocker was the brainchild of screenwriter Beverly Sebastian for what was to become a direct-to-home video metalsploitation classic: Rocktober Blood — directed by her husband, Ferd Sebastian, and starring their son, Trey Loren (aka Tracy Loren Sebastian).
As with the more renowned John Carpenter and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies, Martin), the Sebastians knew how to squeeze a film’s budget to get the most bang for their bucks. Their earliest films, such as Flash and the Firecat (a Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry-inspired car chase adventure) and Gator Bait (a swampy revenge movie inspired by the Burt Reynolds’ classic Gator), like Carpenter’s and Romero’s, were each produced for less than Carpenter’s Halloween-budget and would consistently earn double-digital millions in drive-in box office returns — profits later compounded by their film’s rebirths on the home video market. As result of Sebastian International Films’ financially successful reputation in producing cost-effective films that garnered substantial returns, Paramount Studios, a major Hollywood studio that wanted to get into the financially-beneficial home-video market, contracted Ferd and Beverly to produce a series of action films in the late eighties featuring lots of bar fights, well-endowed babes, and the requisite motorcycle gangs.
While the glut of video-direct heavy-metal horror films varied in script, acting, and production-value quality, some with greater financial resources than the Sebastians, there is a unique quality to the Sebastian’s vision of Rocktober Blood that the others don’t possess: unlike their celluloid brethren, which grafted the preexisting song catalogs of King Kobra, Lizzy Borden, Michael Angelo Batio, the Names, Thor, Paul Sabu, and Fastway to double for their film’s faux-rock stars, the soundtrack for Rocktober Blood featured all-original tunes that reflected and drove the film’s plot. Those fan-worshiped original tunes of “Killer on the Loose,” “Rainbow Eyes,” and “I’m Back” were penned by Sorcery (who also starred in the film as Billy’s band “Headmistress”), a metal band that cut their teeth on L.A’s Sunset Strip alongside Mammoth/Wolfgang — the nascent version of Van Halen that opened Sorcery’s earliest shows. Sorcery, with then frontman David Glenn Isley, received their first taste of national recognition with their appearance on a Dick Clark-produced Halloween television special, and honed their acting and soundtrack chops in 1978’s Stunt Rock. (Another band sharing L.A stages with Van Halen and Sorcery was Rockicks; be sure to read about them here, on Medium.)
Prior to filming and recording the music for Rocktober Blood, in which Isley would have appeared as the “vocals” of Billy “Eye” Harper, Isley joined ex-Angel keyboardist-founder Greg Guiffria’s eponymous band that scored a 1984 MTV video and U.S Top 40 radio hit with “A Call to Your Heart.”
Stepping in for Isley was a singer who, to make ends meet as he scratched by with his rock ’n’ roll dreams, took up acting as his “day job.” Like Rick Springfield (for U.S television series), Kim Milford (Song of the Succubus, Laserblast, Corvette Summer), and Lane Caudell (Goodbye, Franklin High and Hanging on a Star) before him, Nigel Benjamin, while waiting for that big hit record, got his first acting job as “Chris” — Billy “Eye” Harper’s manager and producer.
As with Springfield (who recorded and toured with Australia’s Zoot), Kim Milford (who replaced Rod Stewart in the Jeff Beck Group), and Lane Caudell (several singles-only deals as a solo artist; fronted Player precursors Skyband), Nigel Benjamin’s rock ’n’ roll pedigree was his replacing Ian Hunter in Mott the Hoople from 1975 to 1976 for two albums as the truncated Mott and touring the world with REO Speedwagon, Thin Lizzy, Humble Pie, Kiss, and Judas Priest.
Benjamin’s first bands in the early seventies were the London Southend-based glam-groups Grot and Fancy; after issuing their 1973 single “Starlord,” Fancy transformed into the Billion Dollar Band, and then Royce. After Mott’s demise (to become British Lions with Ray Major on lead vocals) Benjamin formed English Assassin; signed to Arista Records, they recorded a still unreleased album. The one English Assassin “album” that did see a release was Just for the Record, a 1978 solo album by famed British motorcycle and film stuntman Eddie Kidd — an album that English Assassin backed and Benjamin produced.
After relocating from England to Los Angeles, the city’s nascent hair-metal scene adopted Benjamin and he fronted the infamous London — a band with an ever-evolving roster that, while never scoring a deal of their own, served as a rock ’n’ roll boot camp for musicians who joined the more commercially successful bands of W.A.S.P, Guns N’ Roses, and Cinderella.
Then, one day, Nigel Benjamin’s ex-London bandmate, bassist Nikki Sixx (who also went through the ranks of Circus Circus alongside Blackie Lawless, later of W.A.S.P), was forming his next band: Motley Crue. Benjamin, in interviews over the years, expressed there was no love lost between him and Sixx. So when Sixx asked Nigel to join the “new band” as lead vocalist, Nigel turned him down. Sixx and his drummer, Tommy Lee, went to a rock club and saw a cover band, Rock Candy, with a tall lean, blonde-belter named Vince Neil. Motley Crue was born. (At the time, Nigel was dating the sister of Tommy Lee’s future wife, actress Heather Locklear; the Locklear sisters and Benjamin shared a home.)
Nigel Benjamin was then hired for his first acting job as “Chris” in Rocktober Blood for a non-singing role. While some web-Intel indicated Benjamin was reluctantly drafted — after being hired as an actor — to become the “vocals” of Billy “Eye” Harper, what really happened: Benjamin came onto the film as a production assistant, then stepped in to handle the vocals for Billy Eye, and then was given a part in the film. According to Benjamin, regardless of the band’s onset bragging about their “career,” Benjamin claims he never heard of Sorcery until meeting them on the film set. And while Sorcery believed Benjamin “joined” the band, Benjamin insists he never joined and wanted no part of the band. (Another person Benjamin met for the first time on the Rocktober Blood set was Motley Crue’s future drummer, Tommy Lee, brought to the set by a visiting Nikki Sixx.)
So, why didn’t Nigel Benjamin change acting roles and portray Billy “Eye” Harper in the film instead of having another actor lip-sync his vocals?
Well, Sebastian International Pictures was a family affair. While their son, Benjamin, worked behind the scenes on their film’s business and technical aspects and took on occasional, small support roles, their younger son, Tracy, always appeared in the family’s films as a co-star or lead actor. Making his early-teens debut in Flash and the Firecat, Tracy had his first leading man role in the Sebastians’ other rock ’n’ roll flick: On the Air Live with Captain Midnight, a film best known to the over-50 crowd from its incessant early-Eighties airings on the USA Cable Network’s weekend-night rock video programming block, Night Flight. (Other oft repeated rock movies on the program were Rocktober Blood, the Ramones’ Rock ’n’ Roll High School, and Ladies and Gentlemen: The Fabulous Stains.)
For many years the fans of Rocktober Blood — those unaware of Nigel Benjamin’s musical past — believed Tracy Sebastian, who starred in the film under his stage name of Trey Loren, sang the vocals and the ersatz-band “Headmistress” was a real band. Exasperating the confusion as to who composed and performed the film’s songs: the film’s scant opening titles sequence and end credits failed to properly credit the musicians. The names of Sorcery’s guitarists Richard Taylor and Lou Cohen, bassist Richie King and drummer Perry Morris appear — without a reference to their band; the same holds true for the uncredited vocals for Donna Scoggins’ “Lynn Starling” character by Susie Rose Major — which fans believe were done by Scoggins. In addition: some minor, incidental tunes heard throughout the film in the background of various scenes (appearing in-full on the subsequent vinyl-only soundtrack) were recorded by Susie’s band Facedown — with Susie and her fellow band members of Paul Bennett, Michael Zionch, and Barry Brandt (ex-Angel drummer) receiving no credits and, as result of the way the credits read in the film, for many years fans were lead to believe the members of Sorcery wrote and performed the tunes that Facedown contributed to the soundtrack.
During an interview with the online publication Full In Bloom, Nigel Benjamin had this to say about his Rocktober Blood experience:
“[There’s] nothing to tell. They [Sorcery] asked me to sing the songs for Tracy Sebastian to lip-sync to, [and] then somehow thought that I had joined them! [Then,] when I got asked to star in the movie, they [Sorcery] wouldn’t pay me to finish singing because I was being paid to act! I stopped singing, [and] they [Sorcery] lost the gig. I finished the soundtrack with Pat Regan, my then keyboard player [which was the band Eyes]. I didn’t know who Sorcery was. Nobody I knew did either. According to [the guys in Sorcery] they were huge . . . go figure. Some of the guys were cool, though.”
And from Just a Buzz, a Mott the Hoople fansite, Benjamin had this to say about the film:
“If it had been a little bit worse, it would have been a cult classic. It was just not quite bad enough to be bad. I’ll tell you something very strange about it, though. I acted in it, I was a production assistant in it, I sang some of the soundtrack, and I wrote some of the music — but I still did not know the story until I went to the screening. I never saw a script for more than twenty minutes before I was supposed to do it, and any script they gave me the night before changed to a completely different scene the next morning. I went to the movie screening and I had no idea what the movie was about until it was all finished!”
(Benjamin’s insights seem to explain how Susie Rose Major’s Las Vegas-based Facedown came to contribute “Watch Me Rock,” “Would You Let Me Touch You,” “You Can’t Kill Rock ’n’ Roll,” and “High School Boys”: Sorcery was fired from the film and the Sebastians needed songs to fill out their proposed — and poorly distributed — film soundtrack.)
And with that, our analog-celluloid years faded into video snow and vinyl static. Then, years later, the digitally-aged versions of our teenaged selves began to search for the “parts” of our beloved Rock ’n’ Roll Frankenstein online. Where is and how can we find the album or any other music from Trey Loren and his band Headmistress? Back in the pre-Internet epoch of a teenager’s high school years in the eighties, your weekend’s and after-homework-was-done entertainment revolved around your local video store’s 5 Videos-5 Days-5 Bucks cinematic honey hole. Then some video outlets came up with the idea to “rent” out record albums; then vintage vinyl shops began to provide album, as well as video rentals. Sadly, the soundtrack to Rocktober Blood — one of the most sought after movie-inspired albums by the fans of slasher films and metal music, its acquisition rivaled only by the obscure soundtrack to Matt Dillon’s 1978 movie debut, Over the Edge (which featured the first appearances of Cheap Trick, the Ramones, Van Halen, and the Cars) — could never be located for home taping.
On the above video boxes, notice the Italian Giallo-inferred title of 7 note di Terrore/Seven Notes of Terror—notice its similarity to the 1970s Giallo titles of 4 mosche di velluto grigio/Four Files on Grey Velvet; Il gatto a nove code/The Cat o’ Nine Tails; Sette note in nero/Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes; La dama rossa uccide sette volte/The Red Queen Kills Seven Times; Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso/Seven Blood-Stained Notes; La morte negli occhi del gatto/Seven Death’s in the Cat’s Eye.
So, we young, analog-drunk metal heads did the next best thing: popping VHS-rented copies of Rocktober Blood into the VCR and, with our little G/E portable tape recorders, we taped the films’ majestic theme song of “I’m Back” from the film’s opening recording studio scene and the Giallo-inspired crescendo featuring Billy “Eye” Harper going out in a blaze of blood ’n’ gory in the film’s closing concert sequence featuring “Killer on the Loose,” “Rainbow Eyes,” and a reprise of “I’m Back.” And thanks to our dual cassette decks we dubbed copies for our fellow rockers; those tunes became a permanent fixture in our car’s cassette decks as “Headmistress” ended up on mix tapes alongside our beloved Iron Maiden, Raven, Venom, and Ronnie James Dio-era Black Sabbath. For us metal lovin’-slasher film connoisseurs, Headmistress was the coolest Rock ’n’ Roll Frankenstein to bloody a heavy-metal horror flick. They were a Giallo-soaked lab experiment that rivaled anything rock ’n’ horror luminaries such as Alice Cooper or Dio and Iron Maiden or Venom could cook up in their electronic laboratories.
So where are the members of “Headmistress” now?
Riba Meryl, who co-wrote the faux-rock epic “Rainbow Eyes” with Sorcery’s Richard Taylor, became an actress and portrayed “Janis Joplin” in the speculative 1984 rock ’n’ roll conspiracy flick Down on Us (released to video in 1989 as Beyond the Doors to cash-in on the film’s Jim Morrison connection) and on a 1987 episode of the rock ’n’ roll U.S television series Throb. After her lone, non-Janis character acting role in 1987’s Banzai Runner, Meryl concentrated on television and film session work and contributed the song “Brand New Start” to a 1987 cop-murder drama, The Jigsaw Murders. Sadly, Riba passed away in 2007 at the age of 52 from breast cancer. (Why didn’t Riba Meryl provide the vocals for the song she wrote? We may never know.)
Donna Scoggins, who made her only acting appearance as “Lynn Starling,” went onto a highly successful international modeling career, and then became an equally successful copywriter in corporate advertising.
As for the voice behind Lynn Starling: Susie Rose Major is still rocking in 2019. Most recently, Susie provided guest-lead vocals for the cleverly-named Quint (remember 1975’s Jaws?) that recorded several original tunes (“Great White Skies,” “Bad Asser,” “Hell on Wheels” and “Brand New You”) for the SyFy Channel’s Sharknado film series. (Quint is led by Robbie Rist, best known to the over-50 crowd as “Cousin Oliver” from the early-Seventies American TV-comedy series The Brady Bunch.)
After his stint with Mott, Nigel Benjamin formed the band Satyr with bassist Chuck Wright (ex-Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot, Greg Guiffria’s House of Lords), then Eyes (Satyr without Wright; along with Bob Steffan, guitars; John Telsco, bass; Pat Reagan, keyboards; Richard Onri, drums — they appear on the Rocktober Blood soundtrack), and then gave up the rock ’n’ roll dream and retired from the music business. Working behind the scenes as a session musician, Benjamin found success in designing and building recording studios; he came out of hiding in 2003 to appear as an expert car builder and TV personality alongside Jesse James (Sandra Bullock’s ex) on Monster Garage, one of U.S television’s earliest reality series. Benjamin’s since returned to making music with the digital-only albums Buffalo, In the Absence of God, and Relentless Hammer of Dreams.
As for the physical embodiment of our cinematic rock god Billy “Eye” Harper: Tracy Sebastian and the rest of the Sebastian clan retired from the movie business. While Tracy forged a career in the hospitality industry and managed his own specialty barbeque restaurant on Central Florida’s Gulf Coast, his brother, Benjamin, formed Panama Films to reissue lost drive-in favorites of the 1970s to the home video market; their parents, Ferd and Beverly Sebastian, started The National Greyhound Association, a non-profit organization to save and shelter greyhound racing dogs. In 2016 an online campaign was initiated to raise funds to film a proposed sequel: Rocktober Blood 2: Billy’s Revenge; those plans crumbled in the midst of a fan-controversial DVD/Blue Ray-disc reissue of Rocktober Blood. (The tale of the reissue is chronicled in epic detail by The Analog Archivist, Blue Ray.com, and Horror Digital.)
As for the members of Sorcery: they went onto successful careers as session musicians in the television and film industry; inspired by his band’s newly acquired Internet fan base, drummer Perry King continues to market Sorcery’s music and movie catalog in the digital realm. And while Nigel Benjamin claimed to never hearing of Sorcery before their meeting via Rocktober Blood, it turned out that horror film director Eli Roth did — and was a fan: he used two of Sorcery’s Stunt Rock-era tunes, “Talking to the Devil” and “Sacrifice,” in 2015’s Knock Knock and 2018’s Death Wish.
And thanks to the digital realm that hosts the You Tube video-sharing platform and a plethora of vanity sites designed by horror film aficionados, Rocktober Blood never left our metalhead conscious. Almost forty years later, fans are discovering the film and its music for the very first time and they love it — in a Tommy Wiseau’s The Room fandom style. Hey, it’s a heavy-metal horror film thing our parents just don’t understand. Nor should they ever understand. Let ’em watch their Billy Haley and the Comets in Don’t Knock the Rock and Joey Dee and the Starlighters doing the “Peppermint Twist” in Let’s Twist. We’ll keep flashin’ our Ronnie James Dio-horns for Billy Eye!
So raise a cold one for Nigel Benjamin and Tracy Sebastian and the guys from Sorcery. Cheers to Riba Meryl, Susie Rose Major, and Donna Scoggins. You may not have become the rock stars or famous actors that you wanted to become; you didn’t receive the recognition or money you deserved for your hard work and dedication to your respective crafts.
But know this: You’re the “parts” of our beloved Rock ’n’ Roll Frankenstein — Billy “Eye” Harper and Headmistress. You rocked us and gifted us with one of our most cherished teenaged memories from the bouncy ’n’ bloody heavy metal ’80s. We still remember you, talk about you, watch you, and listen to you. And, believe it or not, fans of music and film obscurities are still — to this very day as this writer enters these words into a word processing program — discovering you for the first time and feeling the same joy this writer experienced all those years ago as a wee-teen rocker haunting video and vintage vinyl stores.
As Billy “Eye” Harper — by way of Tracy Sebastian, Nigel Benjamin, and Sorcery — opined in the lyrics of “I’m Back”: there is always hell to pay . . . in this business we call “rock ’n’ roll.”
And we’re glad you paid that hell for us lovers of metalsploitation films.
Nigel Benjamin and Trey Loren’s ultimate rock ’n’ roll Frankenstein doing their big “hit” (in our hearts), “I’m Back,” written by the L.A band, Sorcery.
— R.D Francis is the writer of The Ghosts of Jim Morrison, the Phantom of Detroit, and the Fates of Rock ’n’ Roll and Tales from a Wizard: The Oral History of Walpurgis, both which explore the life and times of the musician responsible for the mysterious 1974 Jim Morrison “solo album,” Phantom’s Divine Comedy: Part 1 — and came to replace Jim Morrison in the Doors.
You can learn more about the Phantom with supplement articles by R.D Francis on Medium.com.
R.D Francis has also published two Gothic horror novels: The Devil’s Anatomy and The Small Hours, along with the upcoming, Luminosity, a science-fiction adventure. Each is available in Print-on-Demand softcopies and eBooks at all eRetailers.
You can learn more about the Phantom’s career (with photos) and book purchasing information by visiting the Facebook Author’s Page for R.D Francis.
You can learn more about Beverly and Ferd Sebastians’ non-profit efforts at The Greyhound Project, Inc. and The 2nd Chance at Life Inmate Prison Partnership Program.
To learn more about their respective film careers, you can read their interviews with Hysteria Lives , Mondo Stumpo, and B-Movie Nation , and listen to a podcast interview at Terry and Tiffany DuFoe Live .
You can watch their back catalog of drive-in classics at their Sebastian Films LTD You Tube page.
You can learn about their equally loved — by rock flick fans — On the Air Live with Captain Midnight with a great retropsective of the film at Nightflight.
Rocktober Blood’s alternate titles in foreign markets
Argentina — Concierto de sangre — Concert of blood
Belgium — Rockill
Brazil — Concerto d o Horror — Horror Concert
Italy — 7 note di Terrore — Seven Notes of Terror
Mexico — El fantasma del rock — The Ghost of Rock
Soviet Union/Russian — Семь ночей ужаса — Seven Nights of Horror
Spain (video) — Terror En El Concierto — Terror in the Concert
Spain (theatrical) — Concierto de sangre — Concert of Blood
Ferd and Beverly Sebastian Filmography
Both worked as mutual a writer/director/producer/cinematographer/editor/ production designer on all films — unless otherwise noted. All films are fictional works unless otherwise noted.
1993 — Running Cool
1989 — American Angels: Baptism of Blood
1988 — Real Life 101 — (TV Series w/Ben Sebastian/producer)
1988 — Gatorbait II: Cajun Justice
1984 — Rocktober Blood
1980 — AC/DC: Let There Be Rock — (concert documentary; producers)
1979 — On the Air Live with Captain Midnight
1979 — Delta Fox
1975 — Flash and the Firecat
1974 — Gator Bait
1974 — The Single Girls
1972 — The Sexcapdes of Don Diego — (w/Ferd as Director of Photography)
1972 — The Hitchhikers
1971 — Red, White and Blue — (documentary)
1970 — Martial Fulfillment — (documentary)
1969 — The Love Clinic
1967 — I Need A Man
The Ultimate Metalsploitation Film List
All films are listed in alphabetical order by film title (alternate titles provided, if any), date of release, notable director & lead actor (in needed), and country of origin. Viewer notes are followed by review asterisks *
* Hey, it’s your life to waste
** Eh, I guess so . . . but you’ve been warned
*** There are worst things to watch
**** Go get your popcorn and soda
An-THOR-Logy: 1977–1985–2013 — Canada
Fan-made career retrospective DVD-film on the life and career of Canadian rocker Jon Mikl Thor and his namesake band, Thor. ****
Bad Channels — 1992 — USA
A Charles Band sci-fi rock ’n’ romp with an alien using a radio station to transmit shrunken women to his home planet; features appearances by spandex-metaler Ron Keel, Sykotik Sinfoney, and D.M.T; Blue Oyster Cult provides the soundtrack. **
Black Roses — 1988 — USA
Rock band tours the country and steals souls; features “Soldiers of the Night” by Carmine Appice’s King Korba and Lizzy Borden’s “Me against the World” dubbing for the faux-Black Roses. ***
Blodaren — 1983 — Hans Hatwig — Sweden
Rock Cats are an all-female band on tour in Sweden; bus breaks down and the infamous “Bleeder” stalks them. **
Blood Dolls — 1999 — Charles Band — USA
Blood Dolls, an all-female pop-metal band, are trapped and stalked by a psycho-billionaire in his mansion; pseudo-sequel to Full Moon Studio’s Demonic Toys, Bad Channels, and Dollman. *
Shocking Heavy Metal
Traces of Blood — 1985 — England
Real life Swiss rockers Easy Action double as “Solid Gold”; trapped in snow-bound cabin, they’re menaced by an Evil Dead-styled presence. **
The Choke — 2005 — USA
A giallo-styled killer traps a pop-rock band and their fans in a night club. *
Cradle of Fear — 2001 — England
Dani Filth, of the black metal band Cradle of Fear, stars in this Amicus Pictures-homage; features “Lord Abortion” and other COF tunes. ***
Dance of the Dead — 2008 — USA
Return of the Living Dead meets Carrie backed by a pop/alt-rock soundtrack. *
Dark Floors: The Lordi Motion Picture
Demonic Possession — 2008 — Finland/Iceland
Finnish metal band Lordi stars in Japanese horror-styled hybrid about a hospital for the creatures of the night; features the tune, “Beast Loose in Paradise.” ***
Day of the Beast — 1995 — Spain/Italy
A Catholic priest teams up with a Black Metal aficionado and an Italian occultist to fight the Antichrist. ***
Dead Girls — 1990 — USA
Dead Girls, an all-female “death-rock band” in Scream-like mayhem; released before Scream; features the non-metal punk-tunes “You’ve Got to Kill Yourself” and “Angel of Death.” **
Heavy Metal Apocalypse — 2015 — New Zealand
Comedic-horror with two death-metal infused teens who summon an ancient evil; features “Deathgasm” by Bulletbelt. *
Death Metal Zombies — 1995 — USA
Shades of Black Roses in this low budget back-masking yarn about metal band, Living Corpse, turning kids into zombies. *
Dance of the Demons — 1985 — Lamberto Argento — Italy
Movie goers trapped in movie theatre where the horror movie comes alive; features songs by Motley Crue, Accept, and Saxon. ****
Detroit Metal City — 2008 — Japan
A young Tokyo musician dreams of becoming a boy-band pop star; he ends up fronting the death metal band DMC — Detroit Metal City. ***
Detroit Rock City — 1999 — USA
Four stoned teens go through a comedic night of mayhem as they try to make it to a Detroit concert appearance by Kiss — who doesn’t show up until the end of the movie. **
The Dungeonmaster — 1984 — Charles Band — USA
Low-budget anthology about a wizard; Black Lawless and W.A.S.P appear in a segment playing “Tormentor” in a rock club. **
Electric Dragon 80,000 V — 2001 — Japan
A rock ’n’ roll superhero movie where a boy hit by lighting can shoot electricity from his fists. As a guitar-slinging, boxing teen, he battles a terrorist with a taste for electronic-based weaponry. ****
The Gate — 1987 — USA
Steven Dorff’s debut film; he opens hell’s gate with metal album by Sarifyx; needs more Sarifyx and less low-budget SFX; followed by a non-music connected sequel. **
Hairmetal Shotgun Zombie Massarce: The Movie — 2014 — USA
Ultra low-budget horror comedy in vein of Return of the Living Dead with a rock band rehearsal in a graveyard that summons zombies. Co-stars Slayer’s Tom Araya as himself; Tom “Ripper” Owens of Judas Priest appears on soundtrack. **
Hard Rock Nightmare
Wolves, Sex and Rock — 1988 — USA
A “hot” rock band, Bad Boys, runs afoul of a werewolf on a rehearsal retreat. *
Hard Rock Zombies — 1984 — USA
Holy Moses, a murdered pop-metal band, rises from the dead for revenge; w/ music by Paul Sabu, along with E.J Curse of Silent Rage, doubling as “Holy Moses”; features “Shake it Out” and “Cassie.” ***
Heavy Mental: A Rock ’n’ Roll Bloodbath — 2009 — USA
Troma horror-comedy about teen rocker who inherits possessed guitar. *
Heavy Metal Massarce — 1989 — USA
Low-budget tale about a serial killer on the loose in a heavy metal rock club. *
Horror Girl — 1995 — USA
Rock drummer on goes on a killing spree at a heavy metal Battle of the Bands competition. *
I Am Thor — 2015 — Canada
Unlike An-THOR-Logy, Jon Mikl Thor sanctioned this documentary; features his early hits/videos “Anger” and “Keep the Dogs Away.” ****
Incubus — 1982 —Canada
A demon rapes women in a quaint New England town. Bruce Dickinson appears with his pre-Iron Maiden band, Samson, to perform “Vice Versa” in a club — the “scene” was cut from Samson’s extended video-short, Biceps of Steel. **
Intercessor: Another Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare — 2005 — Canada
Very low-budget sequel to Thor’s classic film, Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare. *
Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park — 1978 — USA
TV movie stars Kiss in a Scooby Doo-inspired live-action romp as they battle an evil amusement park owner. **
Last Days Here — 2012 — USA
Document on Bobby Leibling’s Pentagram; features “Forever, My Queen” and insights from Pantera’s Phil Anselmo. ****
Lone Wolf — 1988 — England
Musicians at a remote rehearsal space endures an attack by a pack of werewolves.*
Lords of Salem — 2013 — Rob Zombie — USA
Rock-radio DJ inherits the lone pressing of a cursed album by the rock band of the title. ****
Mandy — 2018 — Belgium/UK
Nicolas Cage goes bat-shit crazy in this psychological rampage as he fights a hippie cult leader and his heavy-metal demon-biker henchmen; filled with metal moments and references, such as Nick’s battle axe resembling the Celtic Frost “CF” logo. ****
Maximum Overdrive — Stephen King — 1986 — USA
AC/DC provides the soundtrack to this horror tale as a group of people hold up in a truck stop to survive an onslaught of homicidal machines activated by rogue comet; “Who Made Who” became a U.S FM radio hit. **
Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical — 2011 — USA
Troma musical comedy about a murder-cursed rock band. *
Monster Dog — 1984 — Claudio Fragasso — Italy
Alice Cooper is rocker Vince Raven; while on a rehearsal retreat, Vince discovers he’s a werewolf; features Alice’s single, “Identity Crisis.” Fragasso is known for Troll 2, cited as one of the worst sequels ever made. **
Absurd — 1981 — Italy
Noted Italian director Joe D’Amato directs this George Eastman-scripted tale about priest arriving at a small town to kill a monster terrorizing the citizens. The 1990s German black metal band, Absurd, took their name from the movie; their late teen members then committed a real murder of one of their fans. **
Dancing Death — 1983 — Lucio Fulci — Italy
The noted director of Italian zombie flicks does a non-metal Flashdance-rip with a psycho killing aspiring dancers. Keith Emerson (ex-Emerson, Lake and Palmer) provides soundtrack-keyboards; he did the same with 1980’s Inferno for Dario Argento. **
The Band from Hell — 2010 — England
Another “famous” metal band comes to town to reap souls; w/”Hunger by Night” by Agim Kaba. **
Paganini Horror — 1989 — Luigi Cozzi — Italy
An all-female rock band uses old sheet music and opens a hell portal; features the Bon Jovi-inspired rips of “Stay the Night” and “Witches of Time.” **
Phantom of the Paradise — 1974 — Brian DePalma — USA
Faust gets a rock ’n’ roll make over; songs by Paul Williams; stars Gerrit Graham w/Ray Kennedy on lead vocals as the glam rocking “Beef.” ****
Ring of Darkness
Circle of Terror
Boyz II Death — 2004 — David DeCoteau — USA
Non-metal band of the Dorian Grey/Faustian variety recruits a new lead vocalist via a reality-TV competition series. *
Night of the Full Moon — 1975 — Don Kirshner — USA
The Jeff Beck Group’s former lead singer, Kim Milford, stars in tale of a rock band with premonitions that they’ll die; sequel to Song of the Succubus. ****
Rock ’em Dead — 2007 — USA
Shot-on-video black comedy about a metal head a making deal with a demon record producer. **
Rock n’ Roll Frankenstein — 1999 — USA
The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Frankenstein as a music agent builds his own non-metal rock star with body parts of famous musicians (Hendrix, Elvis, Jim Morrison, etc.) and spews forth a rockabilly rocker. *
Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare
The Edge of Hell — 1987 — John Fasano — USA
Jon Mikl Thor wrote and stars in this tale about a band besieged by demons at a remote practice space; features Thor’s “Energy” and “We Live to Rock.” **
Rocktober Blood — 1984 — USA
A metal musician, executed as a serial killer, returns from the grave. Stars L.A rock stalwart, Nigel Benjamin; he provides the vocals for faux-rocker Billy “Eye” Harper. ***
The Rocky Horror Picture Show — 1975 — USA
Theatrical treatment of the long-running stage production starring rockers Tim Curry and Meatloaf in a musical Frankenstein tale. ****
Scooby Doo and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery — 2015 — USA
Animated feature film starring Gene Simmons and Kiss working with the Mystery Machine gang to put an end to evil. ***
Scooby Doo and the Witches Ghost — 1999 — USA
The Mystery Machine gang teams with the Hex Girls to stop evil. *
Scream Dream — 1989 — England
A rock-vocalist practicing witch, fired from a metal band, takes revenge by possessing her replacement. **
Shock ’em Dead — 1991 — USA
Aspiring guitarist sells soul to voodoo queen for stardom; features the camp-metal classics “I’m in Love with a Slut,” and “Virgin Girl.” ***
Rock ’n’ Roll Samurai
Vegas Samurai — 1998 — USA
A campy post-apocalyptic romp set in 1960s Nevada as a rock ’n’ roll samurai protects a chosen orphan from Death (who looks and plays a lot like Slash from Guns N’ Roses) and his metalhead Horsemen warriors. ****
Slash — 2002 — South Africa
Lead singer takes his rock band to his family’s haunted farm to rehearse; killing ensues; features Concussion Girl with “Tie Me Up” and “I Don’t Live there Anymore” by Ian McKenzie. **
Slaughterhouse Rock — 1988 — USA
Another dopey band goes to an abandoned prison to shoot a music video; stars Toni Basil fronting Devo on “The Only One.” **
Spellcaster — 1988 — Italy
Punk rocker Adam Ant stars as an evil count who kills off MTV-styled participants on a new-wave, rock video treasure hunt. **
Slumber Party Massacre II — 1987 — USA
Leather clad rockabilly rocker with a drill bit-fitted guitar stalks female pop band. *
Snuff Kill — 1999 — USA
Low budget shot-on-video concern about a dorky horror movie fan who teams with a heavy metal singer to create horror films; the dork discovers the “special effects” are real murders. *
Song of the Succubus — 1975 — USA
Kim Milford and his band Moon fight an evil entity. The curse continues in Rock-a-Die, Baby. ****
Suck — 2009 — USA
Dark comedy with a metal band and vampire bats; stars Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. **
Terror on Tour — 1980 — USA
A fan terrorizes the Clowns, a dopey, Z-Grade Kiss-styled band. Stars pop-rockers the Names (see history of Cheap Trick) with “Remembering (Lisa),” “Bachelor Girls,” “The Living End, and “Forever Love.” **
13 Seconds — 2005 — USA
Night Gallery, a low-budget, non-metal band, records their new album in an abandoned boarding school — where they meet their deaths. *
Trick or Treat — 1986 — USA
Major-studio metalsplotation romp where British rockers Fastway double for faux-rocker Sammy Curr — who curses a teen with a backmasked record. ****
Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal — 2000 — USA
Dopey Marilyn Manson-clone Slade Craven hosts coast-to-coast rock concert on a 747; fights Satan-worshipping terrorists on a mission to open a portal to hell. **
Wild Zero — 2000 — Japan
Noted rock video director Takeuchi Tetsuro directs real life Asian rock band Guitar Wolf in this horror/comedy; they team with their biggest fan to stop a zombie invasion. Guitar Wolf also appears the equally fun/weird Sore Losers (1997). ****
Zombie Nighmare — 1987 — Canada
Jon Mikl Thor’s first starring role as non-rocker body builder whose death is revenged by the local voodoo queen; the metal-inspired soundtrack is better than the film. ***
Essential ’80s Metalsploitation Viewing
While you may not want to watch all the films on this list — do watch these quintessential heavy-metal horror films. While these films are mostly awful to our now aged eyes and educated brains, you have to appreciate these flicks for their pre-teen/teen nostalgia value of the video store boom of the ‘80s.
Hard Rock Zombies
Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare
Shock ’em Dead
Terror on Tour
Trick or Treat
Honorable Mentions: Documentaries
While not exploitive in nature, these films are essential chronicles regarding heavy metal music and its various sub-genres.
The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years — 1988
Penelope Spheeris’ sequel to her punk documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization, with insights from Joe Perry, Gene Simmons, and Steven Tyler.
Heavy Metal: Louder Than Life — 2006
Noted rock video director Dick Carruthers’ expansive study of heavy metal music with insights from Ritchie Blackmore, Geezer Butler, and Graham Bonnett.
Metal: A Headbangers Journey — 2005
An excellent in-depth study on the culture of heavy metal fans by anthropologist Sam Dunn. Stars Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, and Tom Ayara. Dunn’s sequel: Global Metal (2008).
Such Hawks, Such Hounds — 2008 — USA
Another definitive rock document, this one focuses on America’s hard rock underground of ’70s psychedelic and proto-metal sounds and it’s continued influences with post-grunge bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Orange Goblin, and Fu Manchu; features insights from Scott “Wino” Weinrich of the Obsessed and Saint Vitus and Scott Reeder of Kyuss.
Until the Light Takes Us All — 2008
Chronicles the rise, history and ideology of Norwegian black metal in the 1990s. Supplementary viewing: Once Upon a Time in Norway (2007) and Pure Fucking Mayhem (2008). Non-fiction and fiction supplementary viewing: Metalhead (2013) and Lords of Chaos (2019).
** Special thanks to Sam Panico at the B&S Movies website for his assistance on reviewing this list — and jarring my memory on a few movies I forgot, while turning me onto a couple of new recommendations. (Is there a movie they haven’t seen?) Be sure to check out Sam and Becca’s Podcast where they dissect obscure and forgotten horror films and other delights of the video fringe. You can also find them on You Tube.