For some of us, every day is Halloween, from the way we dress to the music we listen to and the movies we watch. Horror films’ archetypal blood splatters, mutilated bodies and nail-biting storylines are synonymous with the sentiments of industrial music fans and artists. In the mid-to-late 1980s, the industrial genre provided an eerie digital landscape with creepy strings, aggressive beats and vocals worthy of an exorcism. With the advancement of music technology, musicians were inspired to compose new sounds and piece them together. Industrial artists began chopping up samples like murderers and psychopaths in horror flicks who severed the limbs of their victims. To celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, we’ve compiled industrial songs that sample some of the most poignant and terrifyingly delectable moments from classic horror flicks.
Front Line Assembly, “Lethal Compound (Harmful if Swallowed Mix)”
This killer dance track is the single most impactful use of a sample from a horror movie: “I want to hear you scream…I want to hear you scream again!” For a whole two minutes before Bill Leeb’s vocals come in, tortured shrieks emanate from a deep cavern, panning from left to right, indicating their obedience to the threatening sample taken from Wes Craven’s black magic-zombie movie. There’s a sense of urgency in the bassline, and the kick is reminiscent of gunshots, which emphasizes the sense of immediate danger. The “Harmful If Swallowed” mix, in all its 11 minutes of glory, is a horror adventure on its own—no visuals required.
Watch the clip from The Serpent and the Rainbow here.
Skinny Puppy, “Church”
Legend of Hell House is a gothic tale about a damned mansion that holds many secrets, which Skinny Puppy reflects in the layered, melancholy soundscape on “Church”. Like a needle on a broken record, the listener is “stuck” in the nightmarish purgatory the song provides. The film clearly had an impact on Skinny Puppy’s early work, since different samples from the movie can be found throughout the group’s Bites and Remission LPs. You can watch a clip from Legend of Hell House here.
My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, “The Devil Does Drugs”
My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult are extremists. In their method of sampling, a slew of disparate elements are thrown together and somehow become harmonious. The album Kooler Than Jesus is a testament to the group’s sampling ability, and “The Devil Does Drugs” exemplifies their playfulness and artistry. Beginning with a sample from Mexican horror film about a possessed girl in a convent, Alucarda, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult takes the severity of its subject and makes a joke about it, which is part of their party-all-the-time shtick.
Clock DVA, “Sonology of Sex II (Le Comtesse De Sang)”
Clock DVA’s highly sexualized instrumental track emphasizes the “sounds of sex” and brings the eroticization of horror films to light. The sample—”and she bit them everywhere”—suggests vampirism and perhaps cannibalism, which becomes apparent when watching the Belgian film Daughters of Darkness (also called Les Lèvres Rouges, or “the red lips”) in which a vampire version of the Hungarian serial killer countess Elizabeth Báthory talks of the many ways she tortured her female objects of desire. The immediacy of the vampiress’ hunger is felt through the moving bassline as the beat acts as a whip, lashing upon the victim while she drowns in pain—or pleasure. The dichotomy between pain and pleasure, fear and lust is common themes in both horror films and industrial music, as ClockDVA. Watch a clip from Daughters of Darkness at 01:40 here.
Skinny Puppy, “Who’s Laughing Now?”
Skinny Puppy uses several examples from Evil Dead II in this dark, drilling track, including “May God forgive me from what I’ve unleashed unto this earth.” Vocalist Nivek Ogre’s demonic, echoing growl, interlaced with foreboding samples and the slow clangs of the beat, paint a horrific picture of fright and gore. Named after the gruesome practice of vivisection (a surgery conducted on animals for experimental purposes), the album VIVIsectVI reflects the horror genre motif of preying on the weak and helpless. Skinny Puppy expose the terrors of real life through their terrifying, diabolical sound.
Leæther Strip, “Rotation (Axis Off)”
This track samples Poltergeist II (“You’re all gonna die in there!”) and Legend of Hell House (“Life and death are simply two different states of being.”)
Header image from Legend of Hell House.