The Gateway Horror series is all about what gets people into horror. Whether that’s English class, cable TV, your older brother, or something else. Today, that Gateway is the music genre known as heavy metal. We’ve written extensively here at THS all about metal and Halloween songs (three lists to be exact). The focus today is on how these two genres can intertwine and get people who might not be interested, interested. After all in horror, all it takes is one movie to kick off a love affair for life.

My horror journey started with absolute fright. I watched The Exorcist at 8 and swore off the movies for good. Somewhere along the line that hatred cooled off and I watched some of my first horror classics. The Universal Monster movies definitely helped with this. But that really kicked into high gear when I started listening to heavy metal in middle school. Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Black Sabbath, etc.. They all have lyrics that combine the horrors of real life with blisteringly fast or brutal riffs. Take a look at the first album cover for Black Sabbath.

That album cover is an entire horror movie in one image. It’s frightening, it’s enthralling, it’s inviting, in the most terrifying ways possible. Why is this lady in black in front of this creepy house in the overgrowth? What’s going on here? The mind can run wild with the possibilities. If you listen to the title track, “Black Sabbath” you can hear Heavy Metal being born. It’s birth was with horror imagery and the occult. So naturally horror movies would come into play.

Everyone In Metal Seemingly Loves Horror

Check out Kirk Hammett’s guitar collection. He has guitars modeled to look like classic horror movie posters. King Diamond? Alice Cooper? The name Iron Maiden is all about horror. Horror movies and Heavy Metal are intertwined and you can’t take them apart. Listening to Metal is a lot like watching a horror movie. You get the same emotional responses, especially in a live performance. It’s a lot of fright, but some nice emotions after the fact, knowing that you’re safe, and it was just a performance. Songs like “Black Sabbath”, “Sleepless Nights”, “Halloween” (take your pick on the artist), and more tell stories just like horror movies would.

Rob Zombie might be divisive with his movies among horror fans, but the dude loves his horror. He’s the blend of the two genres. He’s a showman on stage and he’s stylized on screen. I might not be the biggest fan of his Halloween films, but his love of the genre comes out in his filmmaking.

You Know How I Found Out About Dario Argento?

Dario Argento uses Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” during a dream sequence in his movie Phenomena. It’s just as awesome as it sounds.

How did I find out about this? Being an obsessed fan of Iron Maiden in my high school days, I was scrolling the internet trying to find anything about the band that I could. Now that song’s title might sound like a horror movie scene, but it’s really about playing around as a kid. From there, I thought “well, any guy who’s going to use Iron Maiden in one of his movies, has to be sick right?”. Then you go on to find the entire filmography of this legendary director.

They Both Had Peaks In The 80s

The final thing I’ll talk about is nostalgia. I wasn’t alive to see the boom of Heavy Metal and Horror in the 80’s. Today, we still have the old guard of metal bands around and new acts like Ghost and others trying to pick up the mantle. With Horror, we have a similar feeling. There’s those old guard of characters that people still want to see like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and more. But we have an influx of youth and talented filmmakers making new icons, new horror franchises. The best happens when you mix those two things and get a movie like Candyman or Halloween (2018). You have the old to get the butts in the seat, and then the filmmakers get to show off what they can do.

If you ask me, heavy metal and rock music can do the same thing. Ghost might be maligned by some people in the metal community, but they’re the crusaders for metal’s future. They do the perfect thing and combine that old school sound with a new perspective. Dokken and Freddy Krueger teamed up with “Dream Warriors”. The results was one of the best music videos of the 80s. Alice Cooper gave us “(He’s Back) The Man Behind The Mask”.

If you’re a fan of Halloween Kills, you might go see the movie knowing that Ghost has a song on the soundtrack. “Hunter’s Moon” is delightful.

Trick Or Treat (1986) Might Be The Culmination Of This Pairing

You had Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, and more in a film about heavy metal. Trick or Treat might not be the pinnacle of movies but it had a kickass soundtrack from Fastway. The plot of the movie wasn’t actually terrible, but by today’s horror standards, it’s a bit hokey. The film has effects by Kevin Yagher, who is an industry legend who did Freddy Krueger and the Crypt Keeper from Tales From The Crypt. If anything, this movie shows just how on top of the world the two genres were in the 80s. It’s excessive, it’s indulgent, but the movie is fun.

Horror and heavy metal go hand-in-hand. Without heavy metal, I might not be as into horror movies as I am. Is that how your story goes as well?

Horror is entering a new golden age, Heavy Metal has arguably never been better from a musical standpoint with releases like Helloween and Senjutsu this year. These two things go together thematically.

Just remember where you came from.

For more on horror, check out THS Fright-A-Thon, the October marathon of horror content, or stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.