THE DEAD ROCK!
Patrick C Greene
In honor of Armand’s DYING DAYS series, and the upcoming anthology based in its universe, I decided to take a look at how the zombie phenomenon has infected the popular and underground music scenes.
Okay. Maybe not the Top Ten – but here’s my take anyway.
Back in nineteen eighty-something, Michael Jackson kicked off the pseudo-trend I guess, with his loving tribute to horror films, the extended music video for his smash hit Thriller. Using then-state of the art special effects, lavish set design, and cinematic-level camera work, The Gloved One went all out, even hiring A-list director John Landis and the one and only Vincent Price to provide some nice atmospheric voice work.
The result was a success on every level. No one had ever seen anything quite like it on MTV, and probably never will again, unless teen moms and Jersey shore mouth breathers turn into werewolves, or face a zombie outbreak, only with decent lighting, editing, scripting, etc.
If you’ve never seen it, you really should:
The climactic zombie dance number has been parodied and imitated numerous times. Working with Peepin Tom Productions on a zombie film called One Last Sunset a couple of years ago, and again this past spring, I bore witness to a well-orchestrated re-enactment on set. MJ would be proud. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the crew in action, but here’s the trailer for the movie:
Back to the music…
Soon after, punk rock pioneer Billy Idol took a tune he had performed with his first band Generation X called Dancing With Myself and re-recorded it for his first solo foray, leading to a video directed by none other than Tobe Hooper. The stylish vid features a raggedy band of what can only be zombies, attracted apparently by Idol’s singing and posturing, crawling up the walls over one another looooong before World War Z made it fashionable.
Still in the eighties, new wave-ish pop band The Hooters contributed an atmospheric and hooky tune called All You Zombies that took the charts by storm–though what the hell it’s actually about is up for debate. I don’t think it’s zombies, but decide for yourself:
1986 found Credence Clearwater Revival alum John Fogerty tossing out a nice piece evocative of bayou voodoo called Eye Of The Zombie. Warning: ass nudity.
For at least the next decade or so, it would be difficult to find a song -or for that matter, any pop culture source- about zombies. With the advent of Road Rules type programming, MTV degenerated to a more subtle and less interesting brand of zombification, and horror films in general began to wane. When they were eventually resurrected, it was in the form of a slasher film revival.
But our rotten, shambling archetype could not stay figuratively dead anymore than literally so. With hardcore favorites Misfits leading the way, a new wave of ghoulish rock slowly dug its way from the underground. Generally known as “horror punk”, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_punk) these acts use all manner of Halloween and horror film imagery, combined with fifties-esque doo-wop sensibilities to evoke a retro spookshow feel. Naturally, zombies are a popular motif.
There’s no shortage of tongue-in-cheek fun to be had from the music and in the presence of horror punk bands. It’s hard not to love a band like this:
The Crimson Ghosts did a good job of capturing the apocalyptic feel of the better zombie movies with this little ditty:
Why even good old Uncle George got in on the undead action, directing this sick little gem for the ‘Fits:
Leave it to the world of metal to bring gravitas back to the grave. The video for Moonspell’s “I’ll See you In My Dreams” is bleak and doom-laden:
Of course, any band calling themselves Cannibal Corpse should have on their set list at least one track concerned with the undead:
To bring the cycle back around, techno/goth metalers Gothminister pay tribute to the song that started it all, with–well, what else? Thriller.
- BIO_ Patrick C. Greene – Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes.
Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best-selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing.
Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard. Visit the website: www.PatrickCGreene.com
In addition to his novel PROGENY, and the short story collection DARK DESTINIES, Greene has several film projects in the works, and just finished writing his second novel – THE CRIMSON CALLING -the first in the action-adventure vampire trilogy, The Sanguinarian Council.