If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
Metal music and horror movies often go hand in hand and share a rabid fan base, with the central themes of violence and bloodshed coursing through the lyrics in song and images in film. Music videos by metal bands regularly depict frantic compulsions, scenes of doom and feelings of unrestrained terror—the same things fright films do on a lengthier scale. The two forms came together when long-standing Bay Area thrash-metal band Death Angel teamed with director Robert Sexton on the video for their song “Truce”—a clip that holds special meaning for Sexton, as it uses elements from the horror screenplay SLEEP NO MORE that he wrote with Fango’s own Jack Bennett. Essentially, the video (which you can watch on this site’s front page; see behind-the-scenes pics after the jump) is based on the opening scene of the as-yet unproduced film.
Death Angel guitarist Rob Cavestany explains that, having worked with Sexton before and knowing his other work, the band felt the director was the obvious choice to tackle “Truce.” Fellow guitarist Ted Aguilar agrees, adding, “It just so happens that ‘Truce’ has a dark, heavy vibe that the horror concept fits.” Death Angel is no stranger to violent and horrific themes; according to Cavestany, they’ve “written songs about a satanic cult that eats human flesh during bloody orgies of intense ecstasy.” Also in their inventory is a gem about a priest who murders and then cannibalizes his victims; not one to shy away from the macabre, this band.
All this made Sexton’s SLEEP NO MORE concepts a perfect fit for a Death Angel videos. “Rob and I were talking about various ideas for their new single,” the filmmaker recalls, “and I bounced the idea of an autopsy/corpse-reanimation scene from SLEEP NO MORE to him, and he went nuts. He loves blood, guts and gore, as do the rest of the band, so I cut and pasted the opening scene from the script and wrote the performance part of the treatment around it.”
Aguilar adds that he is a “big horror fan. I prefer the old-school films like FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE EXORCIST and DAWN OF THE DEAD, to name a few.” Cavestany agrees: “It’s a common love for the dark side. Rebellion from the norm. The rush. The tension. The blood!”
Sexton elaborates on the plot of SLEEP NO MORE: “A disgraced TV journalist, the legendary Tony ‘Sandman’ Suydam, discovers that a new type of drug is being smuggled into the U.S. from the Middle East in the bodies of dead American soldiers. The drug is a powerful psychedelic with amphetamine-like properties that can cause a person to have powerful, violent hallucinations and, ultimately, the inability to ever sleep again. Once that has happened, all hell breaks loose. Literally.” The script’s flawed protagonist is an antihero who struggles not only with his knowledge of the quietly spreading plague, but also with “his own personal demons—pun intended.” Sexton likens his and Bennett’s mixture of supernatural scares, impending apocalypse and a main character wrestling with his soul to a couple other films: “Think ANGEL HEART meets THE RING.”
How the screenplay came to be is an interesting story in and of itself. “I live in Hollywood,” Sexton explains, “and one evening I was with some friends walking down Sunset Boulevard when we witnessed a crackhead type standing in the middle of the street, having what appeared to be some sort of religious experience. The guy was crazy high and having an epiphany right there. The police arrived, ascertained what was going on and then tazed him. It didn’t slow him down at all. It was like those angel dust stories we’ve all heard about. He started to spout Scripture, at times speaking in tongues at the top of his lungs while the cops pumped 50,000 volts through his body. He seemed to be, for all intents and purposes, possessed.”
This got him thinking about all the “acid casualties from the ’60s and ’70s, people who had taken too much LSD and seen something from their trip that made them forever crazy.” Which in turn made him wonder what would happen if someone never came down from one of those trips. What if “an unclean spirit had taken possession of your body?” With the basics of the story in place, Sexton and Bennett wrote the script together between their various other projects. “I love Jack's writing, and he dug the idea,” Sexton notes, remembering freewheeling conversations the two would have about everything from obscure movies to images from their own nightmares, a few of which made their way into SLEEP NO MORE. “By the way, Jack has some serious issues,” Sexton adds. “Certifiable.”
Sexton treated the “Truce” video the same as if he were starting production on a full-length feature: posting casting notices and holding wardrobe stylist meetings, makeup tests, lighting and camera tests, rehearsals, etc. “When the music elements are removed,” he offers, “we will have, after editing in additional content, sound design, coloring and graphics, the very first scene from SLEEP NO MORE.”
For Sexton, the connection between horror and metal has been a constant in his life. “I grew up in New Jersey,” he relates, “and the only respite in life were three things: the local college radio station, WRSU, my Walkman and a movie theater that was three bus lines away. I’d take my metal mix tape, hop on a bus and go see horror movies all day. I was listening to Kiss, W.A.S.P., Alice Cooper, The Misfits, Iggy Pop, The Ramones. I had a fake ID that got me into the R-rated stuff, and would spend all day watching horror flicks and listening to metal in between.”
Sexton admits that he loved the theatrical aspect of those bands, especially when the likes of Black Sabbath and Slayer incorporated satanic imagery into their performances, making it obvious that horror had a serious influence on them. Sexton himself even joined a punk/metal group, Genocide, upon completing high school. “We lived and breathed horror movies,” he says. “Genre fans got it right away and completely understood what we were all about.” Plugging his roots, he adds, “Horror Records is to release a slew of our unreleased music very soon, so keep an ear out for it.”
The collaboration between Sexton and Death Angel is but one instance of horror merging with metal to produce an end result of morbid, sometimes wildly offensive and certainly nightmarish merge of music and scares. Meanwhile, Death Angel’s new release, RELENTLESS RETRIBUTION, is currently available; learn more about the band at their official site. Sexton’s work includes the highly acclaimed horror short LEGION: THE WORD MADE FLESH; his website can be found here.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment