CINE-WEEN: A From The Stereo To Your Screen Triptych Of Terror

“Fright Night” by the J. Geils Band from Fright Night

“Teenage Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a horror-film junkie, so it’s no surprise that, when a reclusive new neighbor named Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) moves next-door, Brewster becomes convinced he is a vampire. It’s also no surprise when nobody believes him. However, after strange events begin to occur, Charlie has no choice but to turn to the only person who could possibly help: washed-up television vampire killer Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall).”

Superior to both “Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame,” and on-par with “Love Stinks,” the J. Geils Band’s theme song for 1985’s vampire film Fright Night is one of those songs I wish got mentioned in the horror theme canon more often. It’s a goddamn bop (seriously, that breakdown) while managing to lay out the basic plot for Tom Holland’s movie. No small feat.

The video makes a transition from the band re-enactacting Charley Brewster’s experiences from the opening of the film, to them performing a live concert, but even the concert ties into the film rather than just being generic live performance footage. The stage has a slew of candles, a creepy open door and window as a backdrop, and at one point, lead singer Peter Wolf chucks a bunch of plastic fangs into the audience. Superb.

The clips from the film are also edited really tightly to the beats of the song, so that “Just waiting for the moment for that connecting thrill” is underneath Amy’s being bitten by Jerry Dandridge and the shouted lyric, “Watch out!” is actually synced to Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent shouting the same thing in the film. I didn’t know this video existed until earlier this year, and I cannot stop watching it. It’s just so perfect.

Fun fact: this was the band’s last recorded song before breaking up.

Neither the 2015 Twilight Time nor the 2019 Sony Blu-ray include the music video, although the more recent release manages to fit in the two and a half hour long Fright Night documentary, You’re So Cool, Brewster!  The track was released in a variety of different ways, including on the actual soundtrack release, on the promo 45s and 12-inches, although the commercial 7-inch release from Private I Records features the Fabulous Fontaines’ song, “Boppin’ Tonight,” also featured in the film’s school dance sequence.

“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” by Alice Cooper from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

“Years ago, Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) killed infamous hockey-masked murderer Jason Voorhees (C.J. Graham), and the intensity of the experience has landed him in a mental institution. To end his torment and achieve a level of closure, Tommy escapes from the hospital and heads to the graveyard where Jason is buried, intending to dig up the body and cremate it. But, before this total annihilation can occur, a freak electrical accident resurrects Jason from the dead, and the terror begins anew.”

Alice Cooper in Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask? Yes please! In addition to a stellar synth-laden horror rock tune, this might be the apex horror movie music video. It doesn’t just utilize film clips, (although those are present in large quantities) but instead goes for a crazy plot which tells its own story parallel to that of Jason Lives.

Cooper is doing this whole thing which involves a cage and writhing dancers and pulling people into a movie screen, but they’re also showing Friday the 13th Part VI in the theater, too? As Jason, the young man says at the end of the video, “Well, I’m not sure I sure I really understood it all.”

Happily, the lyrics lay it out perfectly, telling the story of kids “on the make” (“a bad mistake,” noting the relationship between sex and punishment a full year before Carol Clover’s famous final girl theory was initially introduced in her essay, “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film“) and basically just laying out a plotline which could be taken from any number of slasher films. The repeated refrain of “he’s back” definitely ties into the return of Jason Voorhees proper after the poor response to the previous Friday the 13th installment, A New Beginning.

The song was used for the lead single off Alice Cooper’s 1986 LP, Constrictor, with another album cut, “Teenage Frankenstein,” also featured in the film, along with “Hard Rock Summer,” which wasn’t officially released until its inclusion on The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set in 1999. That set also features the demo version of “He’s Back.”

The video was officially released on Blu-ray just this week, as part of the massive Friday the 13th box set from Scream Factoryts which dropped on October 13. It marks the first time the video’s ever been included on a Friday the 13th release, and there’s also a special feature included on one of the two bonus discs entitled “Alice Lives” which is a look at the music video, and features interviews with both Alice Cooper and the video’s director, Jeffrey Abelson.

“Scream Until You Like It” by W.A.S.P. from Ghoulies II

“Pint-sized monsters known as Ghoulies hop aboard a traveling carnival, where their violent behavior and grotesque looks are most likely to go unnoticed. There, the gremlin-like creatures find a new home in a haunted house attraction. As the creatures earn their keep by scaring visitors, the carnival finds itself running in the black for the first time in years. But things quickly turn sour when, to the shock of carny Uncle Ned (Royal Dano), the Ghoulies start taking bites out of the customers.”

Let’s be honest, this song is only palatable if you consider the lyrics as referring to a horror movie. Taken on their own — especially the chorus, but also “I’m sending out little boys to play/ You know a trick like that could really make my day” — it’s definitely a song about sexual assault, and reflective of the misogynistic lyrics which typified ’80s metal. Recontextualized as the end credits song for Ghoulies II, though, it’s definitely about horror movies. In point of fact, the song was written for inclusion in the 1988 film, and is included as the sole studio track on W.A.S.P.’s 1987 album Live…In the Raw, which was oddly released a solid year before the movie itself.

Anyhow, the video is mostly footage of the band performing the song, interspersed with myriad clips from the film itself. Thankfully, we don’t go the “Weird Science” route, but instead have Blackie Lawless and the rest of the band getting to interact with the titular creatures. The Ghoulies appear to be rocking out, which is kind of adorable and awesome, in addition to chewing on mic cables and bursting through the drum kit.

The song was released as a 7-inch single, which has a fantastic cover featuring Lawless and one of the Ghoulies both wearing the same hat. I definitely bought it because it’s a movie-related single, but that cover made it worth the $10 it ran me on Discogs. It’s pretty legit banger, as well — lots of riffs and screams and it definitely gets repetitive, but “Scream Until You Like It” works pretty well as a fist-pumping metal anthem.

Sadly, the video on YouTube is the best version out there. It wasn’t included on Scream Factory’s 2015 double-feature Blu-ray of Ghoulies and Ghoulies II.

Nick Spacek
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