Photo Credit: F Scott Schafer
There have been rock songs inspired by horror movies going at least back to “Monster Mash”, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s 1962 classic, while horror imagery and themes have always played a major role in heavy metal, going back to Black Sabbath’s early days (and obviously through artists like Alice Cooper). However, Boston heavy metal band Ice Nine Kills took all of this to a new level with their 2018 album The Silver Scream, where each of the thirteen (coincidence?) tracks was a lyrical tribute to a different classic horror movie, ranging from obvious choices like Halloween, Friday the 13th (the very cleverly-titled “Thank God It’s Friday”) and A Nightmare on Elm Street to slightly more obscure selections like The Devil’s Rejects and Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Probably the most surprising choice on that one was “The World in My Hands”, inspired by Tim Burton’s romantic fantasy film Edward Scissorhands. This showed that the band and the project were not concerned entirely with blood-and-guts… just mostly. Well, anything horror would be nothing without a sequel, so Ice Nine Kills has now given us just that, in the form of The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood.
The album opens with a short spoken-word track, “Opening Night”, which informs the listener in an oh-so-serious monotone that the album they’re about to hear had been recently unearthed police evidence. Though a clever nod to the “found footage” horror subgenre which produced movies like The Blair Witch Project, suggesting that the band’s lead singer Spencer Charnas murdered his fiancé may not have been in the best taste (joke or not). This is a shame because like the previous Silver Scream album, the rest of this one is also a lot of fun.
Among the horror films given the Ice Nine Kills treatment this time around are Child’s Play (“Assault & Batteries”), Pet Sematary (“Funeral Derangements”), and The Evil Dead (“Ex-Mortis”). No prizes for guessing what 1960 classic movie inspired “The Shower Scene.” On various tracks, the band also does spoken-word reproductions of some of the dialogue from the movies, often paraphrasing them. We might wonder why they didn’t simply use snippets of the actual movie dialogue, but whether it was because they didn’t want to deal with rights issues or because they wanted to give these scenes their own unique spin, they made the right call.
In terms of strictly the music, there’s really nothing special or unusual going on here – this could have been the latest album from Slipnot or any of a number of hard rock bands in the same genre. However, the horror movies tribute proves to be more than just a one-off (or even two-off) gimmick, as Ice Nine Kills clearly worked at finding just the right balance between parody and a straightforward retelling of the movie’s plot. Of course, the number of horror movies that the band hasn’t yet touched could just about fill an abandoned Blockbuster video store (did somebody say The Exorcist? The Hills Have Eyes? The Babadook?), so The Silver Scream 3 is probably as inevitable as death and taxes (mostly death, of course).