Tales From the Metalnomicon: ‘Suburban Grindhouse’ Author Nick Cato’s Top 5 Most Metal Grindhouse Moments

On a freezing cold Saturday night in January of 1985, I was still reeling from seeing my second Metallica gig at Brooklyn’s famous rock club, L’Amour (at the time no one had a clue they’d eventually become the biggest band in the world) and yet an ad I saw in my local paper a day earlier kept gnawing at my brain. Superstition came out with no TV commercials and, as far as I recall, no mention in any of the horror zines at the time. Most alluring of all, it was released unrated. So I attempted to get my hearing back as I entered the (now defunct) Fox Twin Cinema, one of Staten Island’s best venues for exploitation films… — Suburban Grindhouse Memories #47: Horror Hotel This Isn’t…

Once — hilariously! accurately! — dubbed “The Marcel Proust of trash cinema” in the Cemetery Dance comments section, writer/editor Nick Cato has consistently established and re-established himself as one of the most interesting, incisive, transgressive, entertaining scribes in the underground via his crackerjack criticism as well as gotta-read-em-to-believe-em tomes such as The Atrocity Vendor, Uptown Death Squad, Death Witch, The Satanic Rites of Sasquatch and Other Weird Stories, and more.

Now comes Suburban Grindhouse: From Staten Island to Times Square and All the Sleaze Between, Cato’s meticulously wrought, rousing love letter to dangerous cinema and its deliciously seedy cultural and physical environs. It’s wild and enlightening and shocking and just an all around great read.

One thing that comes through loud and clear — not only in the landmark Suburban Grindhouse, but in Cato’s other books and social media presence — is his longstanding devotion to punk and metal. And so Decibel reached out to inquire whether Cato might be interested in providing us a list of his Five Most Metal Grindhouse Moments. He graciously agreed.

A couple days later the following master class in pairing trve metal and sleaze cinema arrived in our inbox…


While the film played in NYC as the Grindhouse thing was at its end, a few lucky souls got to see the 1987 German sickie Nekromantik in a couple of art house theaters in the late 80s/early 90s as it simultaneously became the most sought after VHS bootleg. The graphic corpse shagging threesome instantly brought Slayer’s classic track “Necrophiliac” to any thrash metal freak’s mind. The film itself is a (death) metal moment supreme, and still manages to freak out first time viewers.

2. Don’t Look in the Basement

In the 1973 schlocker Don’t Look in the Basement, the lunatics take over the asylum, leading up to a genuinely gruesome finale. You can almost hear Lemmy from Motorhead singing “I really like this jacket but the sleeves are much too long!” as the psychos attack. “Back at the Funny Farm” is an unsung Motörhead classic that came out ten years after the film, but they both work so well together.

3. Prince of Darkness

In John Carpenter’s 1987 Prince of Darkness, the scene of Kelly becoming possessed by Satan after coming into contact with a mysterious liquid — don’t ask! — was like watching a video for the title track to Venom’s fourth album, Possessed. Creepy, dark, and weird.

4. MS. 45

In Abel Ferrari’s 1981 cult classic MS. 45, a woman goes on a killing spree as revenge against her rapists, and in one unforgettable sequence she shoots down a crew of thugs who surround her. Just a year earlier, AC/DC’s iconic album Back in Black hit the world — and among its perfect track selection was “Shoot to Thrill,” a song that would’ve fit perfect in this scene.

5. Demons

In 1985 I witnessed Demons on the big screen at a local theater that happened to feature an incredible sound system. Hearing Accept’s “Fast as a Shark” on the soundtrack as our survivors rode around a theater on a motorcycle, hacking demonic heads off with a sword at a blaring volume was about as metal as cinema gets.