Throwing Some Light on the Dark Earth

Dark-earth-concept art

Scottish-born director, screenwriter and old-school FX monster obsessive Peter A. Montgomery is nothing if not determined. His latest project — his most ambitious yet — is a feature film called Dark Earth that offers up monsters, period-set science fiction/fantasy adventure and interplanetary wonder in abundance. Involved in its production is talent from Britain, the US and Australia, and a who’s who list of professional FX designers with a background in Harryhausen-style stop-motion animation and puppetry.


This is grand SF adventure of the kind represented by such classics as The Land That Time Forgot (1975), At the Earth’s Core (1976), The People That Time Forgot (1977) and Warlords of Atlantis (1978), which is rather gratifying as the director of those four films, Kevin Connor, happens to be an avid supporter of Montgomery’s project. Also supporting it via the creation and animation of an array of monstrous creatures and lots of monster action is a list of well-known industry veterans:

  • Norman Yeend (The Time Guardian, $9.99, Ultraman: Towards the Future)
  • Richard Kent Burton  (Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, The Blob (1988), Ed Wood, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Robot Chicken, Screamers, Freaked)
  • Ron Cole (Sinbad: the Fifth Voyage, Ghostbusters II, Monsters (TV series), Legend of the Golden Fishcake)
  • Nick Hilligoss  (Legend of the Golden Fishcake)
  • Steve Koch (Jumanji, The X Files Movie, Men in Black II, Starship Troopers, TRON Legacy, Men in Black III, Hellboy: The Golden Army, Godzilla (2014), The Thing (2011), Spider-Man (2002), Beetlejuice, Evoliution, The Mist, and many more).
  • Lionel Ivan Orozco (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, The Lost World: Jurassic Park)
  • Jim Aupperle (as Advisor) (Planet of Dinosaurs, After Earth, Ghostbusters, Hellboy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Tremors II: Aftershocks, Robocop 3,  John Carpenter’s The Thing, to name but a few, seriously — check here)
  • John Dods (as Special Consultant) (Ghostbusters II, Poltergeist II, Boomerang, Monsters (TV series), The Deadly Spawn, Spookies, and many more)

That is one impressive team, I think you’ll agree!


Says Montgomery:

Dark Earth will be the first movie in this genre for several decades to be made with traditional craftsmen but brought up-to-date using the best practical FX on offer today. We’re using Henson-esque puppets to represent the main aliens — cable-operated creations — and state-of-the-art stopmotion so authentic in its end result it will be like nothing you’ve seen before. The test shots from Tippett Studio I managed to get cleared to test the process on were received well with huge enthusiasm. Dark Earth is the film that many aficionados have been waiting for for decades. I’m making the kind of movie I myself have wanted to see for years. It’s no throw-away, here-today-gone-tomorrow effort like so many big budget films, but a project made with real passion by real artists, who want to give you something that’s really lacking in modern CGI-dominated cinema. It’s in the best hands it can be in, made by guys that work on big motion pictures. Put basically, it’s in the hands of artists. (Source)


So, what is this film about? First off, check out this rough test trailer:

And here’s a synopsis of the film:

Dark Earth is a period-set (Edwardian era) fantasy film. Time travellers create a rocket ship. On a test outing they manage to shoot off into space and find a world they mistake for home located several million light years from Earth.

After a very hard landing, the crew of the ship find themselves on an alien world, populated by monstrous denizens and creatures from prehistoric times, long extinct back home on Earth. Dark Earth is a tour de force of exciting conflicts, monsters and scientific marvels, and features an alien race known as the Horidens, who become the main obstacle preventing our heroic explorers of time and space from escaping the Dark Earth and returning home ….

Undead Backbrain has written about Peter A. Montgomery and his projects before, in particular a remarkable trilogy of SF/fantasy films under the title Bizarre Life Institute. This was an enormous project, done over many years without significant resources. If you want to get some idea of what drives Montgomery and where he comes from check out the two-part article Bizarre Life Institute: The Trilogy — Part 1 and Part 2 in the Backbrain’s archives.

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This latest project looks like it has huge potential, but Montgomery and his amazing team need some help. Yes, you guessed it. Financing. To this end, like many other “outliers” in the film industry, Montgomery and the production studio, RIGAR UK, have set up a crowdfunding campaign on INDIEGOGO to ensure the sets constructed, such as the time machine interior and miniatures, wardrobe, puppets, and of course the stopmotion and compositing work, are all top of the line. They have also vowed to go to 4K resolution 35mm film quality with the stated budget, and that if they raise over the amount they would also add an original orchestral score, not a digital one.

Dark-Earth-dvd coverMontgomery added: “I know it’s not much when you think of what we’re proposing to create, but believe me, the team ready to go can pull off something spectacular with that budget, though small in today’s world of film. Even if we don’t reach the full amount, you can be assured of a beautifully presented piece of cinema made with love for the craft / genre, and a good story.”

The goal is ambitious, but every little bit helps. If what is written above sounds like something worthwhile (and it certainly does to the Backbrain), at least pledge the small amount needed to get yourself a DVD/Blu-ray copy of the final film — think of it as a pre-order. But there are also lots of other perks.

Meanwhile, check out the team’s introductory campaign video and read about the actors and more about the state-of-play.

Here is the link to the campaign.

Source: via Avery Guerra; Peter A. Montgomery; Indiegogo Campaign Page; Dark Earth blog

Posted in Animation, Independent film, Monsters in general, News, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Grows! … on Steroids!

So Nick Stathopoulos and Ryan Cauchi’s fantastic short nasty-plant-from-outer-space film, It Grows! (see these Undead Backbrain articles) has shambled off with a slew of awards at Zed Fest.

Director Ryan Cauchi reports:

I’m speechless right now. It Grows! has just won 5 awards at Zed Fest! “Outstanding Foreign Short Direction” for Nick Stathopoulos and myself; “Outstanding Horror B Comedy Short”; “Outstanding Original Score” for Andrew Thomas Wilson; a special nod to Nick for “Creature Effects, Miniatures and Matte Paintings”; and last but not least, “Best Poster”… and apparently there are more awards to come!!

Great work, guys!

The Award-winning Best Poster:


An Example of Nick Stathopoulos’ Incredible Matte Painting (click on it to see it in all its glory):


Posted in Giant Monsters, Independent film, Monster Plants, News, Posters, Update | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chinese Giant Bugs Attack in 3D


Bugs 3D [3D食人虫, aka CHONG] (China-2014; dir. Vash Yan)

According to the East Winds Film Festival website, Bugs 3D is a “throwback to the classic Hollywood B-movies of the sixties and seventies”, while owing a debt to the likes of Korean blockbuster The Host 괴물 (2006). This latter comparison is inevitable (given the status of The Host in the genre), but a viewing of the recently released trailer below suggests that Sector 7 should get a look-in, too.

Bugs3D-03 Bugs3D-02


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The film’s publicists go on to make reference to “a host of unsuspecting but attractive teen protagonists” lined up to get devoured by giant insects — and suggests that the film “never takes itself seriously” aiming to provide “schlocky fun and scares, with the added bonus of being shot in real 3D”. So, add the distinctively slapstick nature of the Eastern approach to humour in horror and I guess we know what to expect.


Bugs 3D‘s tagline is “Terror Crawls Fast”!

Shooting for the film began in 2012, and it had its international festival premier at the East Winds Film Festival on 3 November 2014.



In the near future, due to huge demand for protein, synthetic protein is rapidly developed around the world. Jams, a fanatic geneticist, has managed to raise super bugs that can provide high-quality protein at low-cost. But the reproduction of the bugs goes out of control because of men’s excessive greed. They break out of the tubes, devour scientists, and turn into giant monsters. Numerous monster bugs hankering after human flesh and blood swarm into the sea, threatening bring on a holocaust.

The bugs keep reproducing and eventually cause a tsunami. At a rave party going on by the beach, the participants have no idea the bugs are coming, but when the wave arrives all those hot guys and ladies enjoying the party suddenly get ripped up and eaten. The bugs turn the beautiful beaches into a sea of blood. A small group of young people are bold enough to jump onto the ship where the bug queen resides, hoping to end the war by killing it. They know if they don’t succeed, mankind will be doomed. (Source – slightly adapted)

Here’s a bunch of pics from the film.

Bugs3D-13 Bugs3D-12 Bugs3D-10 Bugs3D-08 Bugs3D-07 Bugs3D-06bugs3D-15Bugs3D-09More images can be found on the East Winds Film Festival Facebook page.

Meanwhile, here’s a second poster:


Sources: via Avery Guerra. Mei Ah Entertainment Film Catalogue; East Winds Film Festival website; East Winds Film Festival Facebook pageCinando


Posted in Film, Giant Bugs, Giant Monsters, Horror, Monsters in general, News, Posters, Preview, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It Came From the Desert


Giant ants on a rampage!

No, it’s not the 1950s’ classic monster film Them! It’s a popular Amiga computer game that was brought out by Cinemaware in 1989 — and it’s soon to be reborn as a Finnish feature film from Nordic Genre Invasion! and Roger Pictures, directed by Marko Mäkilaakso (War of the Dead).


When asked about the proposed film version of It Came from the Desert, director Marko Mäkilaakso commented that he couldn’t say much at the moment, but shooting is planned for Almeria, Spain during spring 2015. He described the film as “a desert, motocross action, horror, comedy with giant spiders!” —  the story of Brian and Lukas’ wild adventure in the desert. 

But what about the ants — the Them!-inspired antagonists of the Amiga game?



Backbrain interviewer Avery Guerra queried whether the giant ants from the original were being totally replaced by giant spiders. Replied Mäkilaakso enigmatically: “Well, yes and no regarding the ants, but I will leave it at that for now!”


It Came from the Desert is to be be written by Hank Woon Jr and Marko Mäkilaakso and produced by Teemu Virta.  No cast has been announced just yet. Its projected release date is late 2015 or 2016.

Read about the original It Came from the Desert on Wikipedia. A new version of the game is due out soon.

Source: Marko Mäkilaakso via Avery Guerra. Nordic Genre Invasion website.

Posted in Film, Giant Bugs, Giant Monsters, Horror, News | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

See the Hellyfish for Halloween!

Remember Hellyfish (US-2014; dir. Patrick Longstreth and Robert McLean)? It’s an  short indie monster flick the Backbrain revealed a while back.



America’s only missing nuclear weapon is leaking radioactive material into the ocean just off the coast of Tybee Island, GA. The trifling existence of a hapless cast is disrupted by a vicious force of nature that shows no mercy.

Now, just in time for Halloween 2014, you can see the completed film — and it’s quite a class act. Okay, at 12.50 minutes it’s like the opening scenes of a longer movie, but it’s worth it. Mutant jellyfish, both big and small! Rampaging! Good cinematography, excellent monster FX, bikini babes, gore, and some terrific music. And check out the ending credits for what might be up next.

Watch it now at the Cinema of the Backbrain! It’s free! Here’s your complimentary ticket!


Source: via Avery Guerra

Posted in Exploitation films, Giant Monsters, Halloween, Horror, Kaiju Search-Robot Avery, Short Films | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Daikaiju Eels and Doctor Who

Between 2010 and 2014, James Iles was the storyboard artist on 15 episodes of the new Doctor Who and concept artist on five others. He has also worked on the BBC Sherlock Holmes series. Now he and musician Alastair Jenkins — along with Jon Grundon (props maker on various Doctor Who episodes, including “The Fires of Pompeii”, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”, “The Waters of Mars”, “The End of Time” and “The Next Doctor”) and his prosthetics team from the Broken Hare studio, as well as lead actor Steve Hartnell — are intent on producing an “Old School” giant monster film called CongAAARGH! –– using practical FX and a carefully and intricately designed monster suit.

CongAAARGH-poster2CongAAARGH! is, we are told, a short monster movie about “a giant, mutated conger eel”, which, when disturbed by human goings-on, not unsurprisingly rises from the ocean depths and terrorises a seaside town.

“We feel that many of today’s monster movies, fantastic as they are, have lost the simple charm, character and ‘real-ness’ of a man in a monster suit,” the guys have stated. “With CongAAARGH!, we aim to help keep this great tradition of film-making alive…” (source: Kickstarter)


The mutant eel suit, an absurdity worthy of being seen in the company of similar absurdities from the heyday of post-Gojira daikaiju eiga, has already been designed, as shown by these images created by Iles:


According to the film’s producers: “Our prosthetics team are in high demand, having built amazing characters for Doctor Who and X-Men, amongst a long list of other creations. Luckily for us, they are 100% behind CongAAARGH!, and as long as we can cover their material and labour costs, we know that we’re going to get a pretty darned amazing monster….

“From Daleks to full size mammoths, Jon’s team of fabricators at Broken Hare have built a huge range of practical monsters, and have the skills to bring our giant eel to life.” (source: Kickstarter)

The problem is, of course, funding. The CongAAARGH! team have instituted a Kickstarter project to raise what amounts to a very modest sum needed to cover the cost of producing an industry-standard prosthetic monster, as well as other more mundane expenses.

Interested in helping?

Get along to their Kickstarter project page and check it out. You can pick up some excellent incentives, not least of which is a DVD of the resulting film.


Source: via Avery Guerra.

Posted in Daikaiju, Doctor Who, Funding Pitch, Giant Monsters, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Weed Spreads


The good news is that Ryan Cauchi and Nick Stathopoulos’ superlative, low-budget, practical FX-driven, monster plant flick, It Grows!, is sending out its tendrils, and taking root in film festivals worldwide.

The short film had its world premiere on October 11, at the Salty Horror International Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, where it picked up the award for Best Editing. The same weekend, it screened at Halloweenapalooza in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Below is the screening schedule for It Grows! (to date), complete with dates for those wanting to track it down (and believe me, you want to see this film):

Official Selection List (note: this list will be updated as new festivals are added)

  • The Salty Horror International Film Festival
  • Halloweenapalooza
  • The Eerie Horror Film Festival — Erie, Pennsylvania, Oct 17
  • Northwest Horrorfest — Seattle, Washington, Oct 21
  • Fargo Fantastic Film Festival — Fargo, North Dakota, Oct 24–26
  • Knoxville Horror Film Festival — Knoxville, Tennessee, Oct 26
  • Terror Film Festival — Online Competition, Oct 30–Nov 1
  • ZED FEST Film Festival — Burbank, California, Nov 7–9
  • The Sci Fi Film Festival — Parramatta, NSW, Nov 14–16 *Official Australian Premiere*
  • Buried Alive Film Festival — Atlanta, Georgia, Nov 23

Writer, producer, co-director, FX designer and star Nick Stathopoulos (pictured in his role as star) commented:

It’s great to see It Grows! being accepted in film festivals and  screened to large audiences. It started out as such a low — brow and budget — project. Ryan and I have learned so much, which was one of the things the project was meant to do. I’m really pleased with the look of it, and Ryan’s just taken out an editing award from one of the festivals [The Salty Horror International Film Festival], which is a major achievement. He did an awesome job blending the new material seamlessly with the original seven-minute version. That’s been very successful.

it-grows2The film’s 17-minute run-time is packed with eye-popping imagery, all created by Stathopoulos, and is a homage to some of the great genre films of the past. “I grew up obsessed with Universal’s Classic Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man), the original King Kong and Ray Harryhausen’s entire body of work,” director Cauchi told Undead Backbrain. “It Grows! is my love-letter to all of these. It combines my enthusiasm for practical effects with an unashamed love for tacky horror and B-grade schlock.”

Certainly Sydney will never be the same!


Cauchi and Stathopoulos decided to rework the film’s initial 7-minute “Tropfest Cut”, adding characters and scenes, expanding the plot and finessing some of its technical aspects, in the end making it an even-greater wonder to behold than it had been. As well as Stathopoulos himself, the film stars his dog Bonnie (who proved to be a born thespian), writer and friend Catriona Sparks, Jaimie Leonarder (aka Jay Katz, well-known Australian musician, archivist, social worker, film critic, radio announcer, and DJ), and Stathopoulos’ sister, Henri Stathopoulos — along with cameos by Greg Kaplan, Chris Hawkshaw, artist Lewis Morley, poet Adrian Robinson and Alexander Wright. As well as a terrific music score by Andrew Thomas Wilson, it boasts a theme song vocalised by media personality Bob Downe (alter ego of comedian Mark Trevorrow).

it-grows05The plant makes a house call

it-grows06Cat Sparks as the long-suffering girlfriend

It-grows01Jaimie Leonarder as the bemused scientist


Nick Stathopoulos as Zac, about to be consumed by his non-digital, FX-created co-star

Cauchi added:

The new cut has been a really fun creative challenge. We’ve had incredible support from both Tim Newsom (Sound Designer) and Andrew Thomas Wilson (Composer), as well as film industry figures like Matt Ferro (EP, ‘Happy Feet’) and Craig Wood (Editor, ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Rango’). But my biggest thanks go to my co-director and producer, Nick Stathopoulos. He is an amazing collaborator and a real joy to work with. We already have two more short films lined up and you can be sure that Undead Backbrain will be the first to spread the news!

See! Good news all ’round. Stay tuned!

Source: Ryan Cauchi and Nick Stathopoulos

Posted in Apocalypse, Australian, Fantasy, Flying Saucers, Giant Monsters, Man-eating plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hellyfish Slouches Towards Us?

As the poet Yeats asked: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

Well, folks, it’s a giant jellyfish. It may not be slouching towards Bethlehem, but it is heading towards a TV station or online site near you….


Remember the giant jellyfish flick the Backbrain profiled back in August 2012, when we interviewed the director? No, well, go here to jog your memory. There’s lots of squishy information.

At any rate it’s called Hellyfish and is directed by Patrick Longstreth and Robert McLean.

Now there’s a poster (above) and a new official trailer:

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America’s only missing nuclear weapon is leaking radioactive material into the ocean just off the coast of Tybee Island, GA. The trifling existence of a hapless cast is disrupted by a vicious force of nature that shows no mercy.

It will be a short film [13 minutes] — and will slouchingly reach its destination on Halloween 2014. First off though, it will be screening at the DC Shorts Film Festival on Friday, September 11th at 7pm. I’m rather keen to see it myself, though getting to Washington from Wollongong, Australia, that evening might be a bit impractical.

Source: Facebook page.



Posted in Film, Giant Monsters, Independent film, News, Short Films, Update | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

New: Evala, The Land Mine Daikaiju


The details of this new daikaiju clip are sketchy to say the least, but for what it’s worth Evala, The Land Mine Daikaiju came to the attention of News Hound Supremo, Avery Guerra via the following Youtube clips — marked, as you will see, as a “pilot film”. It was made by Yuki Kurosu, who commented that the footage was produced “as a hobby”, but with the hope of making a short film or even a feature film… eventually. We should consider it as him slowly “gearing up”.

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This second video is a breakdown of the visual FX moments from the first:

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It will be interesting to see if this comes to anything. It certainly looks rather impressive. But what is a “land mine daikaiju”, I wonder?


Source: Avery Guerra.

Posted in Film, Giant Monsters, Japanese | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Favourite Horror Film Theme Songs

Films in the horror genre — particularly films that can be described as exploitation horror comedies, even if they’re only incidentally funny — seem to inspire excellent theme songs. For the purposes of this list — let’s call it My Top 10 Favourite Horror Film Theme Songs — I define “theme song” as a song written specifically for a particular movie and containing in its lyrics a high level of relevance to the actual plot.

The type of theme song I’m referring to isn’t the kind of award-winning cinematic music epitomised by the famous orchestral theme to Star Wars (by John Williams), or the theme to Lawrence of Arabia (by Maurice Jarre), or “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago. Nor am I including famous non-lyric-based (“instrumental”, if not “orchestral”) horror themes such as those for Jaws, The Exorcist, Psycho, Dario Argento’s Suspiria (in fact, any cinematic score by Goblin), Carpenter’s The Thing or the same director’s Halloween. I’m referencing a different beast altogether. This “subgenre” has lyrics, and the lyrics make direct, often (but not always) humorous reference to the film itself. A high level of irony generally comes into play. There’s a profundity to these often tritely cheeky songs that’s rather hard to rationalise… so I won’t bother.

This might be a genre of movie music unique to horror and horror comedy. Or maybe it isn’t. After all, some of the Bond franchise theme songs more-or-less fit this definition (such as “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey). But never mind the definitional problems. Let’s just go with it!

Here is a list of my Favourite Horror Film Theme Songs (not in order of preference).


This one holds an almost iconic place in the genre. The wonderful tongue-in-cheek pop sensibility displayed in the music and the lyrics would seem at odds with the pseudo-serious tone of the film. Yet somehow, it turns out to be just right.

blob-original-poster“Beware of the Blob” — from The Blob (US-1958; dir. Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.), performed by The Five Blobs [Burt Bacharach and Bernie Nee]

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Lyrics (Burt Bacharach, Mack David)

Beware of the Blob,
It creeps and leaps
And glides and slides
Across the floor
Right through the door
And all around the wall
A splotch, a blotch
Be careful of the Blob…



The Ghostbusters theme is nearly as iconic as “Beware of the Blob”, though for different reasons. It captures both the late-night commercial marketing hype that inspired it in the first place, but it also embraces the sort of communal celebratory attitude towards New York that engulfs the entire cast at the end of the film — though, of course, it also transcends the Big Apple and celebrates the communal nature of humanity as a whole. Profound, right? On its first release in 1984, I saw the film at a cinema in Parramatta (Parramatta is a non-capital Australian city, just west of Sydney, in case you were wondering). It was a packed house and by the end communal oneness (now manifesting in these wild-and-woolly western suburbs) was being expressed via a spontaneous, almost ritualistic, mass shout-out to the question “Who ya gonna call?”

ghostbusters_ver4“Ghostbusters” — from Ghostbusters (US-1984; dir. Ivan Reitman), performed by Ray Parker, Jr.

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Lyrics (Ray Parker, Jr.)

If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters)
If it’s somethin’ weird, and it don’t look good
Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters)

I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

If you’re seein’ things, runnin’ thru your head
Who can you call? (Ghostbusters)
An invisible man sleepin’ in your bed
Oh, who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters)

I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters)

If you’re all alone, pick up the phone
And call (Ghostbusters)!

I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
I hear it likes the girls.
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Who you gonna call? (Ghostbusters)

Mm… if you’ve had a dose
Of a freaky ghost baby
You better call Ghostbusters

Let me tell ya somethin’
Bustin’ makes me feel good
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Don’t get caught alone, oh no…
When he comes through your door
Unless you’ve just got some more
I think you better call Ghostbusters!
Ooh… who you gonna call? (Ghostbusters)
Who you gonna call (Ghostbusters)
Ah, I think you better call (Ghostbusters)
Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters)
I can’t hear you… (Ghostbusters)
Who you gonna call? (Ghostbusters)
Louder! (Ghostbusters)
Who you gonna call? (Ghostbusters)
Who you can call? Ghostbusters… (till fade)



The Killer Klowns theme song is perhaps my favourite — not because it’s more profound than “The Ghostbusters” or more lyrical than the others mentioned here, but just because both it and the film it tags are so goddam soul-expandingly absurd. As always, Coulrophobes beware!

killer-klowns-from-outer-space-movie-poster-1988-1020469216“Killer Klowns”  — from Killer Klowns From Outer Space (US-1988; dir. Stephen Chiodo), performed by The Dickies. Music video directed by Chuck Cirino.

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Lyrics (The Dickies)

PT Barnum said it so long ago,
There’s one born every minute, that you know
Some make us laugh, some make us cry
These clowns only gonna make you die.
Everybody’s running when the circus comes into their towns.
Everyone is running from the likes of the killer klowns…
From outer space.
Killer klowns from outer space.

Ringmaster shouts let the show begin,
Send in the klowns, then let them do you in.
See a rubber nose on a painted face
Bringing genocide to the human race.
It’s time to take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round,
You’ll be dead on arrival from the likes of the killer klowns…
From outer space.
Killer klowns from outer space.

There’s cotton candy in their hands
Says a polka-dotted man with a stalk of jacaranda
They’re all diabolical bozos…

Oh, look around! What do you see?
Tell me what’s become of humanity.
From California shores to New York Times Square,
Barnum and Bailey everywhere.
If you’ve ever wondered why the population’s going down,
Blame it on the plunder from the likes of the killer klowns…
From outer space.
Killer klowns from outer space.
Killer klowns [repeat]



If that’s not weird enough for you, how about a rhapsodic love-song to a rat? Okay, it’s not meant to be funny, but the fact that someone thought it was a good idea to create such a seriously sappy melody to capture the essence of a revenge horror film about a boy and his pet rat (an intelligent rat that happens to be the leader of a pack of killer rats) — and then to get the young Michael Jackson to sing it — is just too good not to mention. Okay, “Ben” is not actually a favourite song of mine, but I love the fact that, bizarrely, it exists.

Ben“Ben” — from Ben (US-1972; dir. Phil Karlson), performed by Michael Jackson

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Lyrics (Don Black and Walter Scharf)

Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I’ll never be alone
And you my friend will see
You’ve got a friend in me
(You’ve got a friend in me)

Ben, you’re always running here and there
(Here and there)
You feel you’re not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind
And don’t like what you find
There’s something you should know
You’ve got a place to go
(You’ve got a place to go)

I used to say “I” and “me”
Now it’s “us”, now it’s “we”
I used to say “I” and “me”
Now it’s “us”, now it’s “we”

Ben, most people would turn you away
I don’t listen to a word they say
They don’t see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I’m sure they’d think again
If they had a friend like Ben
(A friend)
Like Ben
(Like Ben)
Like Ben



This Friday the 13th flick isn’t a comedy. It’s exploitative and schlocky though, and is the first of the franchise in which Jason is unequivocally a zombie — not just back in another film, but back from the dead. Being rhapsodised by none other than Alice Cooper seems entirely appropriate.


“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” — from Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (US-1986; dir. Tom McLoughlin), performed by Alice Cooper

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Lyrics (Alice Cooper, Tom Kelly and Kane Roberts)

You’re with your baby
And you’re parked alone
On a summer night
You’re deep in love
But you’re deeper in the woods
You think you’re doin’ alright.
Did you hear that voice?
Did you see that face?
Or was it just a dream?
This can’t be real
That only happens, babe
On the movie screen.

Oh, but he’s back!
He’s the man behind the mask,
And he’s out of control.
He’s back!
The man behind the mask,
And he crawled out of his hole.

You’re swimmin’ with your girl
Out on lovers’ lake
And the wind blows cold
It chills your bones
But you’re still on the lake,
That’s a bad mistake.
But the moon was full
And you had a chance
To be all alone —
But you’re not alone!
This is your last dance
And your last romance.

Oh, if you see him comin’
Get away if you can.
Just keep on runnin’
Run as fast as you can.
He’s a dangerous, dangerous man.
And he’s out tonight,
And he’s watchin’ you
And he knows your house.
No, don’t turn out the lights!

Oh, but he’s back!
He’s the man behind the mask,
And he’s out of control.
He’s back!
The man behind the mask,
And he crawled out of his hole.



Little Shop of Horrors (1986) is one of my favourite cultural artifacts ever. Whatever the virtues of the original Corman Z-grade movie and the subsequent Broadway production, all the musical performances in Frank Oz’s film are top-notch, the choreography is breathtaking and the casting so perfect and endearing it made the original They-All-Get-Eaten ending a no-go. (Mind you, the originally filmed ending, featuring a superb kaiju-rampage FX sequence, is so awesome it needs to be preserved — as it now has been, as an alternative “version” on the newly released Blu-ray.) Meanwhile, the opening title sequence with the titular song finds a well-deserved place on this list.

little_shop_of_horrors_ver2_xlg“Prologue: Little Shop of Horrors” — from Little Shop of Horrors (US-1986; dir. Frank Oz), performed by Chiffon (Tisha Campbell-Martin), Ronette (Michelle Weeks) and Crystal (Tichina Arnold)

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Lyrics (Howard Ashman)

Little shop,
Little shoppa horrors.
Little shop,
Little shoppa terror.
Call a cop.
Little shoppa horrors.
No, oh, oh, no-oh!

Little shop,
Little shoppa horrors.
Little shoppa terror.
Watch ’em drop
Little shoppa horrors.
No, oh, oh, no-oh!

What a creepy thing to be happening!
(Look out, look out, look out, look out!)
Feel the sturm and drang in the air.
(Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
Stop right where you are, don’t you move a thing.

You better,
You better,
Tellin’ you you better
Tell your mama
Somethin’s gonna get her.
She better,
Everybody better beware.

Oo, here it comes, baby.
Tell the bums, baby.
Oh, oh, no!
Oo, hit the dirt, baby.
Hit the dirt, baby.
Red alert, baby.
Oh, oh, no!
Oh, oh, no!

Hurry off to school child, I’m warnin’ you.
(Look out, look out, look out, look out!)
Run away!
Child you gonna pay if you stay, yeah!
(Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
Look around,
Somethin’s comin’ down, down the street for you!

You betcha,
You betcha,
You bet your butt, you betcha.
Best believe it,
Somethin’s come to get ya.
You betcha,
You better watch your back and your tail…

(Come-a come-a come-a.)
Little shop,
Little shoppa horrors.
You’ll never stop the terror.
Little shop,
Little shoppa horrors.
No, oh, oh, no, oh, oh, no, oh, oh, no!



M.I.B. the song isn’t really as much of a favourite as the rest of the theme songs mentioned here, but the movie itself is, and the theme song sits well with the general tone (not to mention the fact that it’s performed by star Will Smith himself). It’s got rather a lot of lyrics, too. Just stare into the light!

men_in_black“Men In Black” — From Men in Black (US-1997; dir. Barry Sonnenfeld), performed by Will Smith

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Lyrics (Will Smith)

Here come the Men in Black
(Uh it’s the M.I.B.s)
(Uh here come the M.I.B.s)
Here come the Men in Black (Men in Black)
They won’t let you remember

Nah, nah, nah,
The good guys dress in black, remember that,
Just in case we ever face to face and make contact.
The title held by me… M.I.B.
Means what you think you saw, you did not see.
So don’t blink,
Think what was there but now’s gone.
Black suit with the black Ray Ban’s on.
Walk in shadow, move in silence,
Guard against extra-terrestrial violence.
But yo we ain’t on no government list.
We straight don’t exist,
No names and no fingerprints.
Saw something strange,
Watch your back.
‘Cause you never quite know where the M.I.B.s is at,
Uh and…

Here come the Men in Black. (Men in Black)
The galaxy defenders. (uh oh, uh oh)
Here come the Men in Black. (Men in Black)
They won’t let you remember. (won’t remember)
(uh uh, uh uh)

Now from the deepest of the darkest of night,
On the horizon, bright light in the site tight,
Cameras zoom, only impending doom.
But then like BOOM black suits fill the room up.
With the quickness talk with the witnesses,
Hypnotizer, neuralizer.
Vivid memories turn to fantasies.
Ain’t no M.I.B.s.
Can I please,
Do what we say? That’s the way we kick it.
Ya know what I mean,
I say my noisy cricket get wicked on ya.
We’re your first, last and only line of defense,
Against the worst scum of the universe.
So don’t fear us, cheer us.
If you ever get near us, don’t jeer us.
We’re the fearless.
M.I.B.s freezin’ up all the flack.
What’s that stand for?
Men In Black.
Uh, M-m-m-…

The Men in Black.
(Uh uh uh)
The Men in Black.
(Uh uh uh, ah ah ah)

Let me see ya just bounce it with me.
Just bounce with me.
Just bounce it with me. C’mon,
Let me see ya just slide with me.
Just slide with me.
Just slide with me. C’mon.
Let me see ya take a walk with me.
Just walk with me.
Take a walk with me. C’mon,
And make your neck work.
Now freeze.

Here come the Men in Black. (Men in Black)
The galaxy defenders. (ooh ooh)
Here come the Men in Black. (Men in Black)
They won’t let you remember. (uh no, no)

A-right check it.
Let me tell you this in closin’.
I know we might seem imposin’,
But trust me if we ever show in your section.
Believe me it’s for your own protection.
Cuz we see things that you need not see,
And we be places that you need not be.
So go with your life,
Forget that Roswell crap.
Show love to the black suit.
Cuz that’s the Men in,
That’s the Men in…

Here come the Men in Black. (Here they come)
The galaxy defenders. (Galaxy defenders)
Here come the Men in Black. (Oh, here they come)
They won’t let you remember. (Won’t let you remember)

Here come the Men in Black. (Oh, here they come)
The galaxy defenders. (Uh oh, uh oh)
Here come the Men in Black.
They won’t let you remember.



Okay, there’s got to be one that’s completely tasteless, right? Well, this is it. It’s the theme song of a schlocky, sexploitation vampire flick from the 1970s (where all the best films of that sort came from). Vampire Hookers was made in the Philippines and starred an aging John Carradine at his gaunt, melodramatic best. The two things we learn from the film are that Shakespeare was a vampire… and that tasteless puns “sell” movies.

vampire-hookers“Vampire Hookers” — from Vampire Hookers (Philippines/US-1978; dir. Cirio H. Santiago) — performed by someone whose identity is a well-kept internet secret. Unfortunately the YouTube version below cuts off before the end. Very sad.

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Lyrics (unknown)

Don’t get hooked by a hooker
When you sail in seven seas
Even though she’s a looker
she can bring you to your knees.
She’ll take you to the graveyard
And try to ease your fears,
But her friends out in the graveyard
have been dead for a hundred years.

They’re the Vampire Hookers
Yeah, they’re Vampire Hookers
Well, they’re Vampire Hookers
and blood is not all they suck!

These girls are illusions,
They slit throats from ear to ear.
They want you for transfusions,
They’ll never shed a tear.
They make real bloody Marys
And have a grand old time,
But you’ll find out if you visit
That your life’s not worth a dime….

… To those Vampire Hookers
Yeah, they’re Vampire Hookers
Well, they’re Vampire Hookers
and blood is not all they suck!

So if you meet a hooker
And she seems so sweet and kind,
Be careful if you date her,
Your life may be on the line.
They’re beautiful and sultry
But they’re not what you expect.
You’ll be begging them for mercy
[As they bite you in the neck

They’re the Vampire Hookers
Yeah, they’re Vampire Hookers,
Well, they’re Vampire Hookers
and blood is not all they suck!]*

* a guess on my part



Over the years, Undead Backbrain has been introduced to many independent films — films made with love and passion, even if at times they’re rather rough around the edges. This next song comes from one such film — a Z-budget, tongue-in-cheek, sexy, irreverant and gore-splattered horror comedy about sideshow freaks, salacious women and inbred backwoods trailer trash. An interesting thing about Crustacean (US-2009; dir. L.J. Dopp) is that it is accompanied by a superb CD of original music written by the director and performed specially for the film by Dopp and members of the cast. I love this album and heartily recommend it. The theme song is one of the more sedate tracks. Others, such as the hilarious hillbilly ode to “Lemur’s Holler” or the trailer trash love-song “Trailer Park Queen”, up the ante on satirical humour and outlandish imagery. But “Crustacean” is a good theme song — so here it is.

crustacean-poster“Crustacean” – from Crustacean (US-2009; dir. L.J. Dopp), performed by L.J. Dopp, Peter Atkins, Brian Sheridan, and Maxine Gillespie.

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Lyrics (L.J. Dopp)

Crustacean, come out of your shell.
Crustacean, you’re harder than hell.
Frustration, they just don’t understand
What it’s like to have claws
Instead of normal hands.

Day after day,
You’re put on display
The king of the freaks
On the midway…

Crustacean, come out of your shell.
Crustacean, you’re harder than hell.
Frustration, they just don’t understand
What it’s like to have the claws
Instead of normal hands.

You’re living a lie,
You ask yourself why
You’re so full of rage
Maybe it’s because you live in a cage.

Crustacean, come out of your shell.
Crustacean, you’re harder than hell.
Frustration, they just don’t understand
What it’s like to have claws
Instead of human hands.

Crustacean, come out of your shell.
Crustacean, you’re harder than hell.
Frustration, they just don’t understand
What it’s like to have claws
Instead of normal hands.

Day after day,
You’re put on display
The king of the freaks
On the midway…

Crustacean, come out of your shell.
Crustacean, you’re harder than hell.
Frustration, they just don’t understand
What it’s like to have the claws
Instead of normal hands.

You’re living a lie,
You ask yourself why
You’re so full of rage
Maybe it’s because you live in a cage.

Crustacean, come out of your shell.
Crustacean, you’re harder than hell.
Frustration, they just don’t understand
What it’s like to have the claws
Instead of normal hands.



One last favourite. This theme song isn’t funny or ironic. But I want to put it in anyway. In my opinion, Paul Schrader’s Cat People is severely under-rated. Yes, it makes unsubtle the subtly suggestive 1942 original by Jacques Tourneur (via Val Lewton), but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. By drawing out the original’s fairly quiescent sexual elements, it creates a much more explicit and complex mythology, all of which is very 1980s. It also stars Malcolm McDowell and Nastassja Kinski as were-panthers… which they’re both very good at. And it has an excellent and evocative theme song by David Bowie.

“Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” — from Cat People (US-1982; dir. Paul Schrader), performed by David Bowie.

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Lyrics (David Bowie)

See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Colder than the moon
It’s been so long

Feel my blood enraged
It’s just the fear of losing you
Don’t you know my name
Ohh, you’ve been so long
And I’ve been putting out fire
With gasoline.

See these eyes so red
Red like jungle burning bright
Those who feel me near
Pull the blinds and change their minds
It’s been so long

Still this pulsing night
A plague I call a heartbeat
Just be still with me
Ya wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through
You’ve been so long
Well, it’s been so long
And I’ve been putting out the fire
with gasoline
putting out the fire
with gasoline.

See these tears so blue
An ageless heart
that can never mend.
These tears can never dry
A judgement made
can never bend.
See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Just be still with me
You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through.

You’ve been so long
Well, it’s been so long
And I’ve been putting out the fire
with gasoline
putting out fire
with gasoline.


That’s it, folks! Anyone else got any favourites that aren’t here?

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