So: your popcorn’s freshly popped, your living room’s decked out in fake spider webs and you’ve secured a brave sofa-mate to cling on to during the goriest moments. The only question remaining is: what horror film are you going to stick on this Halloween?
From drawn-out psychological suspense to chainsaw-wielding villains, there’s truly something for everyone in the horror genre – and if you’re a fan of a good old-fashioned musician movie cameo, then you’re also in luck.
David Bowie, The Hunger (1983)
From playing evil goblins (Labyrinth) and visiting aliens (The Man Who Fell To Earth) to an exaggerated version of himself in Zoolander, Bowie was no stranger to the silver screen. 1983 was a busy year for the late icon: as well as starring in World War II drama Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and making a fleeting and uncredited appearance in the bizarre comedy Yellowbeard as a man with a shark fin strapped to his own back, Bowie also found time to portray an 18th century vampire cellist who becomes embroiled in a bloodthirsty love triangle. More horny than terrifying, this horror flick also stars Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve.
Spooky factor: No jump-scares here – instead, just gallons of fake blood and endlessly arty shots.
Sting, The Bride (1985)
Another musician with plenty of film appearances to his name, Sting turned his hand to horror in 1985 when he starred as the infamous Dr Frankenstein in Franc Roddam’s The Bride. Based on Mary Shelley’s classic novel, The Bride sees a decidedly evil scientist trying to craft the perfect wife for his monstrous creation Viktor – before he then runs off with her instead. Once they’ve eloped, he sets about trying to train Eva (played by Jennifer Beals) to think and behave like his ideal partner. Not concerning or toxic behaviour at all!
Spooky factor: Stylish enough, but not very scary – Sting wears some impressively-starched collars, though.
Debbie Harry, Videodrome (1983)
Now a cult classic, Videodrome examines humans’ fascination with technology and grisly disaster – and, decades later, it still feels timely. Predicting wake-up apps and 24-hour television years before they became reality, it also fears the consequences of viewers becoming desensitised to extreme sex and gruesome violence through being able to watch it at the click of a button. Best of all, it stars Blondie singer Debbie Harry as sadistic radio host Nicki Brand – a coolly detached character who auditions for a new mysterious show called Videodrome after being drawn to its torturous content. ”I think we live in overstimulated times,” she warns. “We crave stimulation for its own sake. We gorge ourselves on it. We always want more, whether it’s tactile, emotional or sexual. I think that’s bad.”
Spooky factor: Trading in ghosts and ghouls for science fiction body horror, David Cronenberg’s movie only feels a couple of steps away from reality – which makes it even scarier.
Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons, Trick Or Treat (1986)
It’s fitting that not one but two rock stars pop up in Trick Or Treat – an ‘80s horror flick about a high schooler who becomes haunted by a heavy metal singer who’s hungry for revenge. Although he turned down the chance to play the ghost in question, KISS’ Gene Simmons still puts in an impressive acting shift as the over-enthusiastic radio presenter Nuke – the character who unleashes the undead frontman in the first place. And appearing with neatly slicked hair as the Reverend Aaron Gilstrom, Ozzy’s televangelist cameo takes the piss out of the very same people who likely branded his own band Black Sabbath as Satanists. “These evil people have just got to be stopped!” he says of metal bands while angrily wagging his finger. Genius.
Spooky factor: Two rock megastars and an underlying message about the moral panic over our beloved children being corrupted by devil-worshipping rock’n’roll? What’s not to love?
Cherie Currie – Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Based on the TV series of the same name, this Twilight Zone film adaptation remakes four episodes from the late 50s horror show. Its third segment, which is inspired by the It’s a Good Life episode, tells the story of Anthony, a young child with extensive psychic powers. It briefly features The Runways’ Cherie Currie as his sister Sara, who is glued to a TV set showing black and white cartoons. As the camera pans out to show her face, Sara has no mouth. The creepy scene paves the way for the increasingly surreal, sugar-loaded horror that unfolds.
Spooky factor: Though Currie is only in the film fleetingly, her unsettling scene – soundtracked by cartoonish children’s music – sets the tone.
LL Cool J, Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Whoever LL Cool J hired to be his acting agent deserves a pay rise. Instead of being killed off after a short cameo in the ridiculous shark horror Deep Blue Sea as per convention, his character Preacher evades near-certain death, wields a harpoon against an escaped mako shark and even finds time to contribute a fairly catchy-yet-lyrically absurd track called ‘Deepest Bluest’ to the soundtrack (sample lyric: “My world’s deep blue / Killers gotta eat too”). Amazingly, the rapper also escapes a gruesome fate during another cameo in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later – for reasons unknown, that film’s masked murderer Michael Myers shows a rare flash of benevolence, and simply… leaves LL Cool J alone. Perhaps he was a fan of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’?
Spooky factor: Yeah, the plot is completely preposterous – but if there’s one thing more terrifying than sharks, it’s genetically-modified sharks with boosted brain-power.
Alice Cooper, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Prior to appearing in the sixth instalment of Nightmare on Elm Street, hard rocker Alice Cooper was approached by a number of other movie franchises due to his music’s horror influences. However, he usually declined their offers because casting teams wanted him to appear on-screen decked out in his usual on-stage make-up. Though Cooper doesn’t have much screen time in Nightmare 6, he’s still memorable for his role as the nasty, abusive father of future serial killer Freddy Krueger.
Spooky factor: Genuinely quite terrifying, tbh.