13 Horror Movies Featuring Rock Stars (Who Shouldn't Quit Singing)
Article By: Tony Timpone
Some music stars “wanna rock and roll all night and party every day,” but that doesn’t stop them from expressing their inner DeNiro when the opportunity arises. Every so often we get a David Bowie, who seamlessly transitioned from music to movies (and back again) with his acclaimed work in the cult flicks The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger. Or the case of Henry Rollins, who went from ex-Black Flagg frontman to undead hitman in last year’s sleeper He Never Died. For today’s edition of The Friday 13, Chiller looks at 13 rock gods who failed to measure up when they traded the arena stage for the soundstage. (List arranged alphabetically to artist’s last name.)
1. Joey Belladonna in "Pledge Night" (1990)
Thrash Metal band Anthrax ruled the headbanger scene in the 1980s, with Oswego, New York-born Joey Belladonna supplying the ear-splitting vocals. In an effort to go legit, porn producer Joyce Snyder cut into the slasher field by writing this New Jersey-lensed bomb. Belladonna appears as Acid Sid, who dies wretchedly in a frat prank gone awry. Some 20 years later, Acid Sid returns as a burn-faced ghost (now played by Will Kempe) eager for gruesome revenge. But Belladonna’s the one who got burned; the singer (now performing in a cover band!) never appeared in another movie after the dreadful Pledge Night drifted into obscurity.
2. Alice Cooper in "Monster Dog" (1984)
It took years of practice for Italian director Claudio Fragasso to achieve the bad-movie depths of Troll 2, and this Spanish stinker served as ample training ground. The original shock rocker himself, Alice Cooper, appears in Monster Dog as Vince Raven, a musician visiting his hometown who gets caught up in a series of werewolf-like murders. Sadly, Cooper’s more comfortable being guillotined in his stage act than anything he gets to do in the dull Monster Dog. Making matters worse, he’s dubbed by someone else in the film! “No More Mister Nice Guy,” a choosier Cooper sunk his teeth into better gigs as a vampire in the Canadian horror comedy Suck and as himself in Wayne’s World and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows reboot.
3. Roger Daltrey in "Vampirella" (1996)
The 1970s-era horror comic character Vampirella still screams to be the focus of a major movie. This Roger Corman-produced quickie muddied the waters first. Problems started with the casting: former Bond girl Talisa Soto portrays the title role, a good vampire from the planet Drakulon who travels to Earth to bash bloodsucker nasties. Soto’s all wrong as the heroine, dressed in shabby costumes and not showing off the sexy alien’s required skin. And Who’s that as the lead villain, Vlad? The Who’s Roger Daltrey, that’s Who! Playing to the rafters, the singer camps it up big time as Vlad’s human alter ego, Jamie Blood. Daltrey’s over-the-top thesping and Vampirella’s threadbare production values put the stake right in the heart of this cheesy movie. We “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
4. Mick Jagger in "Freejack" (1992)
In this clumsy sci-fi thriller (derived from Robert Sheckley’s novel Immortality, Inc.), bounty hunters from the future kidnap hapless victims from the past to supply as new bodies for infirm one-percenters. A catatonic Emilio Estevez stars as a race car driver plucked from his vehicle at the point of fatal impact to serve as the fresh meat suit of wealthy Anthony Hopkins. Miscast Jagger fumbles his prominent part as the ruthless body snatcher Vacendak; he remains stone-faced throughout and never engages our emotions or interest. Overlong and tedious, Freejack provides no “Satisfaction.”
5. Jon Bon Jovi in "Vampires: Los Muertos" (2002)
James Woods, who winningly tackled the politically incorrect monster hunter in John Carpenter’s rip-roaring Vampires, wisely stayed away from this ersatz sequel. His rough-hewn Jack Crow has been replaced by pretty-boy rocker Jon Bon Jovi, here playing another secret slayer out to eradicate a bloodsucker nest in New Mexico. Unlike Woods, New Jersey’s second favorite son has no edge in this sloppy-seconds retread. Unsurprisingly, he has since disowned Los Muertos. Will the “Bad Medicine” warbler ever return in another Vampires movie? You must be “Livin’ on a Prayer”!
6. Meat Loaf in "BloodRayne" (2005)
He’s unfairly considered by many to be the worst director since Ed Wood Jr., but one criticism that does stick to German director Uwe Boll is his unwavering talent for ridiculous casting. This is the guy who hired Burt Reynolds as a medieval ruler for In the Name of the King and Tarantino tough guy Michael Madsen as an 18th century vampire hunter in BloodRayne. Also featured—badly—in BloodRayne, Bat Out of Hell vocalist Meat Loaf (née Marvin Lee Aday), who cameos as a slovenly vampire lord surrounded by wenches and wearing a ludicrous curly blonde wig. Better featured in contemporary films such as Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, Meat Loaf seems more comfortable by a dashboard light than inside BloodRayne’s castle walls.
7. Marilyn Manson in "Rise: Blood Hunter" (2007)
The people behind this Blade wannabe missed a major opportunity when they put Goth guru Marilyn Manson in their movie. After she became one of Charlie’s Angels and before she paired with a modern-age Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu fell into Rise as a reporter-turned-vampire who hunts down the fanged cult that turned her. Her search takes her to goateed bartender Manson, popping up here as just another beer slinger. Why sign one of the music industry’s most ghoulish performers and stick him in a saloon with little to do but spout small talk? Prince of Darkness Manson’s totally out of his element in Rise, which truly wastes him in a nothing part. The “Sweet Dreams” cover artist could have provided Sweet Nightmares for fright fans, an opportunity not to be bungled again when Manson figures into season three of WGN’s Salem this year.
8. John Mellencamp in "After Image" (2001)
Minus his Cougar surname, heartland rocker John Mellencamp gave acting a spin in this dreary horror thriller set in Rochester, New York. Mellencamp limns a burnt-out crime scene photographer who returns to the home of his aunt (Oscar winner Louise Fletcher, always welcome). Things get complicated when the troubled guy falls for a deaf woman who experiences visions of a local serial killer’s misdeeds. Mellencamp sleepwalks through After Image, and his performance puts us to sleep as well. This one “Hurts So Bad”…
9. Ozzy Osbourne in "Trick or Treat" (1986)
This heavy metal horror movie prominently promoted appearances by heavy metal godfather Ozzy Osbourne, as well as KISS’s Gene Simmons. Both, sadly, get short shrift in the film and only wound up with glorified cameos. A bullied high school student (Marc “Skippy” Price from the sitcom Family Ties) makes the mistake of spinning a rare metal record backward. The kid conjures up the specter of a scarred, devil-worshipping singer Sammi Curr (a girly-haired Freddy clone), who guides the metalhead down the path of damnation. Cast (awkwardly) against type, Osbourne contributes two brief bits as a rock-hating TV evangelist. Unfortunately, first-time director Charles Martin Smith (American Graffiti’s Toad) displays no real feel for horror material. “No More Tears” for this demonic dud.
10. Iggy Pop in "The Crow: City of Angels" (1996)
When The Crow soared above box-office expectations in 1994, distributor Miramax wanted a sequel posthaste. Unfortunately, the original film’s star, Brandon Lee, had been killed in an accident during production. So they drafted a new actor (a stiff Vincent Perez) to take over as another resurrected vigilante, setting his sights on the drug gang that offed him and his young son. Punk pioneer Iggy Pop jumps onboard as the bad guy’s coke-sniffing chief henchman, delivering an exaggerated performance that’s all hyperactive sneers and jeers. Well, at least Pop displays a “Lust for Life” in this disappointing and unnecessary follow-up.
11. Gene Simmons in "Runaway" (1984)
Prior to hitting paydirt with his novel Jurassic Park, writer Michael Crichton cooked up this immensely silly sci-fi potboiler. Tom Selleck toplines as a copper in the near future whose job entails servicing malfunctioning robots. As the piece’s villain, Gene Simmons, KISS’s lizard-tongue leader, makes life miserable for our hero by reprogramming those once helpful gadgets into an army of mechanical terrorists. Runaway suffers from one unintentional laugh after another, such as poor Selleck fending off those tiny spider droids. Simmons, meanwhile, chews more scenery than one of Crichton’s T-Rexes. He mugs shamelessly, and his bug-eyed baddie sports no nuance or dimension. You can’t run away fast enough from Runaway, but camp junkies should take note.
12. Sting in "The Bride" (1985)
As a singer-songwriter, Britain’s Sting has won enough awards to fill a summer home. As an actor, however, his work’s spotty at best. He fared quite well as a Mod in The Who’s Quadrophenia and as a nearly-naked assassin in David Lynch’s Dune. But as Dr. Frankenstein in this failed re-imagining of the Mary Shelley perennial, Sting’s out of his league. He comes across as an arrogant snot as he attempts to educate his pretty female experiment (Flashdance’s Jennifer Beals, equally bland) in the ways of polite society. Those who sat through this overly dry horror movie are the ones who got Stung.
13. Jon Mikl Thor in "Zombie Nightmare" (1987)
Voted one of the “top 100 greatest frontmen of all time” by Classic Rock Magazine, Canadian bodybuilder-turned-heavy-metal songster Jon Mikl Thor (no relation to Marvel’s God of Thunder) unwisely tried to break into the horror movie business. He headlined two unrelated Nightmares in 1987: Zombie Nightmare and Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare, the latter of which he wrote and produced. Neither effort brought Thor the screen stardom he hoped for. Zombie Nightmare, the worst of the duo, spotlights Thor as a musclehead slain in a hit-and-run by teen punks. The local voodoo priestess then resurrects Thor, who promptly clobbers his killers. At one point, an embarrassed Adam (Batman) West wanders in as a detective. This Canadian cheapie’s a nightmare, all right, with production values equal to the cost of a six-pack of beer. You’ll certainly need a few brewskies if you decide to sit through Zombie Nightmare, just like the Mystery Science Theater 3000 folks did.
For four years, Tony Timpone co-hosted Sirius’ Fangoria Radio alongside his friend, Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, who also starred in and wrote the horror movie Strangeland.