Ten Awesome Metal Songs with Lyrics Inspired by Movies
Metal and movies go together like metal and everything else: very well. Little wonder metal lyricists have been looking to cinema for inspiration pretty much since the genre’s inception. (The fact that metal and film both relatively young art forms probably doesn’t hurt, either.) Not gonna lie: as a massive film nerd, my ears definitely perk up every time I hear a great metal song with lyrics that are obviously referencing an equally-awesome film. Here, I take through a sampling of some of my favorites… you’re free to tell me which ones I missed in the comments section, of course, or just ponder why more metal songs aren’t inspired by comedies. Remember, like my grandma always said: just because you’re tr00 doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to show that beautiful smile every now and again!!!
Extra-special thanks to Frank at Metal Injection, who told me to write this!
The Black Dahlia Murder, “Raped in Hatred by Vines Of Thorn” (Evil Dead, 1981)
Perhaps the most disturbing, and well-known, scene from Sam Raimi’s classic (younger and/or more meta-oriented readers may remember it as “the movie they go to see in Donnie Darko“) is one in which in a young woman is… well… y’know. They tried to recreate the sequence for the 2013 remake, but it was pretty lousy — this death metal anthem was the far superior appreciation of Raimi’s work to be released that year.
Deicide – “Dead by Dawn” (Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987)
Well, duh: an obvious, but still awesome!, homage to Sam Raimi’s slapstick-horror (he calls it “spook-a-blast”) masterpiece, which is somehow even more awesome than the original Evil Dead. The song begins with a description of a key prop from the movie (“Book of the dead, pages bound in human flesh”) and concludes with a direct quote from the script (“Dead by dawn, dead by dawn, dead by dawn!”) and a strong desire to start re-watching the flick, like, five minutes ago. Killer stuff (no pun intended).
Van Halen – “House of Pain” (Island of Lost Souls, 1932)
The first cinematic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel The Island of Dr. Moreau is still the best, even if it lacks a totally bizarre Marlon Brando performance (instead, we get a fairly normal, but terrific, Charles Laughton performance). Presumably, a young David Lee Roth saw it either on television or at a revival house (remember, this was long before there was any such thing as home video), and its tale of a mad scientist amalgamating animals with humans made a big impact on his imagination. The title is specifically a reference to Dr. Moreau’s operating room, where he works on his subjects without bothering to administer any anesthetics.
Graf Orlock – “Hauser” (Total Recall, 1990)
Given that basically ALL of Graf Orlock’s music is based on movies, it’s kinda hard to single out a favorite. But I have a soft spot for this friendly lil’ melody, because I sincerely think Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent, highly-satirical sci-fi thriller is a fucking masterpiece. The title is a reference to the real name of the hero, played Arnold Schwarzenegger (who has come to believe his name is Quaid… just see the movie if you never have!), and the lyrics are just straight-up dialogue from the movie. This song makes me wish I had three hands.
S.O.D. – “Freddy Kruger” (A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984)
I probably don’t have to explain this one at all — The Gloved one is a full-on pop culture icon, right up there with Dracula and Frankenstein and other world-famous celluloid boogeymen. But what I always found interesting was the fact that S.O.D.’s description of the character is actually far more gross than the character himself: “His teeth are black/ Flex metal knuckles with a crack/ Maggots crawling all throughout his skin.” Fuck, dude.
Lizzy Borden – “Red Rum” (The Shining)
If this isn’t completely self-explanatory, I don’t like you. Stanley Kubrick is the best director in the history of cinema, and you should see ALL of his movies, at least twice, period, end of story. The only person in the world who doesn’t think The Shining is a masterpiece is Stephen King, and he’s just wrong. Also, this song rocks. And I don’t even like Lizzy Borden.
Chimaira – “The Disappearing Sun” (Sunshine)
Like Graf Orlock, Chimaira have a ton of songs film-themed lyrics, including “Pictures in the Gold Room” (which, like Lizzy Borden’s “Red Rum,” takes its inspiration from The Shining) and “Bloodlust” (American Psycho). But “The Disappearing Sun” seems to have become a fan favorite over the past five years or so, and with good reason: DAT GROOVE! And the track becomes all the cooler (hotter?) if you’ve seen Danny Boyle’s 2007 sci-fi opus, Sunshine, about a group of astronauts trying to prevent the sun from extinguishing, thereby ending all life on Earth (I swear, it’s not as silly as it sounds). Vocalist/lyricist Mark Hunter’s imagination seems to have been captured by Pinbacker, the insane, heavily burned antagonist, played by infamous British portrayer of villains, Mark Strong: “This demon’s covered in scars, menacing, burnt by the sun, his flesh is charred,” is just one of the song’s descriptions of the character.
Alice Cooper – “Ballad of Dwight Fry” (Various Universal Horror Films)
Dwight Frye is the name of a character actor who played key supporting roles in many classics from the Universal horror cannon — he was “Renfeld” in the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula, he was “Igor” in the Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein, etc. I’ve never been quite sure why Cooper dropped the “e” at the end of the name (maybe legal reasons?), but he did infamously record (and often performs) the song whilst wearing a straightjacket, à la Frye as Renfeld.
Billy Idol – “Eyes Without a Face” (Eyes Without a Face)
In case the title doesn’t tip you off that Idol is drawing inspiration from Georges Franju’s 1960 horror-thriller, Idol even had Perri Lister sing the words “Les yeux sans visage” during the chorus — which is the movie’s original French title.
Star One – “Earth That Was” (Firefly, 2002)
This Arjen Lucassen project had plenty of tracks inspired by various sci-fi films… this one happens to be my personal favorite, because I was a massive fan of Joss Whedon’s short-lived television series (the feature film which completes its story, Serenity, has its moments, too). The title refers to what characters call our now-abandoned planet, while the chorus — “A fire in the darkness!” — is an obvious reference to the series’ titular spaceship. And while I’m not the world’s biggest power metal fan, I do love this massively hooky tune. I even interview Lucassen about it around the time it was released.