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10 Classic Horror Films That Metalheads Can Appreciate

5. The Haunted Palace (1963)

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Edgar Allan Poe was “in” during the early 1960s. Thanks to a string of films made by American International Pictures, anything based on Poe or suggested by one of Poe’s short stories or poems seemed destined to make money. All a producer had to do was put “Edgar Allan Poe” somewhere on the advertisements and the film was likely to sell. Take for instance 1963’s The Haunted Palace. Although its name is taken from the poem that Roderick Usher utters in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the film’s plot is actually lifted from H.P. Lovecraft’s novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. At the time, Lovecraft’s name was nowhere near as well-known as Poe’s, but visionary director Roger Corman decided to not only introduce Lovecraft’s brand of horror to the silver screen, but The Haunted Palace is also the first major film to showcase Lovecraft’s Necronomicon and his gods Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. In order to complete this minor revolution in horror cinema, Corman not only brought in Vincent Price to play the undead warlock Joseph Curwen and Lon Chaney, Jr. to play another wizard named Simon Orne, but he also enlisted horror author and Twilight Zone regular Charles Beaumont to write the screenplay. Together, these kings of the genre made a forgotten masterpiece of American horror.

4. Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Another masterstroke from Bava, Blood and Black Lace is one of the best examples of the giallo genre ever committed to screen. Combining horror with the police procedural, mystery, and loads of sex appeal, giallo, which dominated Italian cinema from the early 1960s until the early ‘80s, is the obvious forefather of the slasher film. Usually shot in technicolor with plenty of red paint available, giallo films typically deal with psychotic (and always black-gloved) serial killers who hack and slash through Italian cities for various reasons. In Blood and Black Lace, Bava’s killer, who looks eerily similar to Alan Moore and David Gibbons’s Rorschach, stalks the world of high fashion in Rome. Much to the audience’s delight, all of the killer’s victims are beautiful women. Furthermore, the whole film is beautifully shot and is often too pretty to be a murder movie. For gorehounds, Blood and Black Lace is a must-see because of its tremendous impact on later, bloodier films.

3. Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966)

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While Bela Lugosi’s popular turn as Count Dracula in Tod Browning’s 1931 film emphasized sophistication and sex appeal, Christopher Lee’s take on the famous count for Britain’s Hammer Film Productions was far more primal. Lee’s first turn as Dracula came in 1958 with Dracula (the film is better known in the U.S. as Horror of Dracula), a film which saw the formerly hypnotic vampire become a terse, almost businesslike aristocrat who sported bloody fangs and hissed when hungry. In Dracula, Prince of Darkness, which was Lee’s second time portraying the Count for Hammer, Dracula doesn’t speak at all, thus underscoring his animalistic nature. A fairly straightforward vampire film about wayward travelers who become ensnared by Dracula, Dracula, Prince of Darkness is notable for both its resurrection scene, whereby Count Dracula’s ashes are fed the blood of a recent victim, and Dracula’s death sequence, which sees the vampire falling into icy water. Although metalheads might prefer Dracula, A.D. 1972, which sees Lee’s Dracula in the middle of Swinging London, Dracula, Prince of Darkness is the perfect blend of classic Hammer imagery and a new, more blood-drenched approach.

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2. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

For a company that made its name remaking the Universal monster films of the 1930s or otherwise revisiting traditional monsters such as Dracula and Doctor Frankenstein’s creation, some of the best Hammer films were complete originals. 1966’s The Plague of the Zombies is one such example. Made back-to-back with The Reptile, The Plague of the Zombies is a chiller set in Victorian-era Cornwall. Featuring elements of voodoo and a cast of frightening zombies, The Plague of the Zombies is about a vicious nobleman who uses black magic to populate local mines with the recently reanimated. When a beautiful woman enters the picture, the aristocrat (played convincingly by John Carson) unleashes all hell. Keen-eyed metalheads may recognize that bands such as Death Breath and individuals like Phil Anselmo have been influenced by this often overlooked zombie film. If this isn’t enough to get you to watch this gem, then see it for the famous zombie dream sequence.

1. The Devil Rides Out (1968)

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Yet another Hammer production, The Devil Rides Out is based on the Dennis Wheatley novel of the same name. Published in 1934, Wheatley’s black magic book is about a curse placed upon a group of heroes by an Aleister Crowley lookalike named Mocata. The novel and the film both feature hypnotism, heavy Satanic imagery, and even the Devil himself, who is summoned as the Goat of Mendes by Satanists during a ceremony held not far from Stonehenge. A huge influence on Geezer Butler, The Devil Rides Out is a highly stylized depiction of the black arts that continues to influence bands as diverse as Cursed and Electric Wizard. The 1968 film is widely considered one of the best horror films ever made by Hammer, even despite the fact that Christopher Lee plays a rare good guy.

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