During a recent Decibel editorial meeting/story brainstorming session (also known as me semi-drunkenly emailing ideas of various outrageousness to my editor), I realized that I have a story going live on Halloween. I realized that Exhumed recently released an album, the fantastically old-school-grinding Horror. I realized that album has an old-school horror motif. It was almost too easy: why don’t I ask Exhumed guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey to talk to us about his five favorite old-school horror movies? And because Harvey is a good sport, here we are.
“Picking five favorite horror flicks is almost as hard as picking five favorite records,” says Harvey. “Splatter flicks were essential to my childhood even before I became enamored with distorted guitars and pounding drums, and when I finally realized that I was listening to death metal at 12/13 it immediately clicked that I was indulging in the sonic equivalent of those gory movies that had already twisted my young brain, priming it to fall in love with tunes like ‘Regurgitated Guts,’ ‘Ripping Corpse,’ and ‘Piece by Piece’ as an impressionable pre-teen.”
So, without further preamble, read on to find out what five fright flicks rose to the cream of the crematorium for Harvey.
Re-Animator (1985) – Probably my all-time favorite, with the perfect mixture of atmosphere, camp, gore, and some wonderful scenery-chewing by Jeffrey Combs, who is a national treasure. Hill placing his severed head between the lovely Meg Halsey’s (played by the gorgeous Barbara Crampton) legs is a scene that is forever burned into my consciousness. We included a not-so-subtle nod to the film on Horror with the tune “Re-Animated.”
Evil Dead II (1987) – As much as I love the first, serious version of this film, the second one resonates more with me. The violence and horror are free to be as over the top as possible, and all bets are off. Eyeballs are flung into screaming mouths, chainsaws rumble and a wall décor laughs like Popeye. Groovy indeed.
The Beyond (1981) – Let me take a minute and recognize how great the score is in this movie. Fabio Frizzi delivers his masterpiece theme here (which I liberally borrowed from for “Gangrene” by Gruesome, by the way). The limitations in budget can’t contain the oppressively bleak atmosphere of the movie, and the chain-whipping scene is truly a horror highlight for me.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This series is the inverse of the Evil Dead franchise for me, in that as much as I love the tongue-in-cheek sequel, the grim, filthy original will always reign supreme. The whole film seems to be covered in grime and the violence comes in frenetic, unapologetic bursts. Sally fleeing the house is the direct inspiration for “Naked, Screaming, and Covered in Blood.” The meat-hook/freezer scene is truly chilling and shocking, despite being even older than I am.
Suspiria (1977) – As much as I enjoyed the remake, I’m referring to the 1977 Dario Argento film here. Clunky dialogue aside, Argento’s cinematography and voyeuristic camera work elevate the film from sleaze to something greater. Pat’s fantastic death scene, which ends with her corpse hung after descending through and shattering a stained-glass aperture is a beautiful piece of filmmaking, and, of course, Goblin deliver their finest score here.