“Slaughterhouse Rock” is one of the best and least known horror films of the late ‘80s, taking elements from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “An American Werewolf in London” to create something that is startling and deserves a closer look. This film mixes demons, a soundtrack by Devo, Toni Basil and Alcatraz, so don’t let the campy title throw you off.
Alex Gardner (Nicholas Celozzi) is having terrifying dreams of a demon that is torturing him while he sleeps. The dreams come to life in his bedroom, but when he awakes, everything is back to normal. The main concern with everyone around him is discovering what is causing these bone-chilling demonic dreams.
With the advice of his girlfriend, brother (Tom Reilly) and dream specialist Carolyn Harding (Donna Denton, “Nashville”), Gardner is convinced that he has to get to the source to discover the truth. He must travel to the now-deserted Alcatraz, the grisly murder site of several musicians a few years prior.
What happens next is what makes the movie so unusual; for starters, the demon is 100 percent real, and in order to survive the night at Alcatraz, the group will be helped by the ghosts of the musicians that died there.
Basil is the lead ghost and driving force in saving the lives of the young college students.
With a long career as a choreographer and actress with appearances in “Head” and “Easy Rider,” Basil is probably most famous for her catchy little tune about a guy named Mickey.
Here her presence is a welcome treat that offsets the horror with small comical interludes. Her character, while not as great as Griffin Dunne in “An American Werewolf in London,” is still pretty amusing. The victims in this movie also appear as mutilated ghosts to give advice to the main character.
The actors all do a great job creating an authentic experience in fright, but a special mention must be made for Reilly, who is equally charismatic as a ghost and a human. Celozzi is also convincing as the film’s hero.
The movie’s authentic use of the actual prison complements the eerie atmosphere, and it is hard not to be creeped out by the rats that scurry along. The result of the monster also helps, and the makeup is creative, allowing for something new in the genre. Of course, genre enthusiasts love only one thing and – no need to fear – there is plenty of gore in this picture.
This is far from your standard slasher.
Besides, how many slashers have an excellent soundtrack by Devo?
The trailer for this movie will be featured on an upcoming DVD called “42nd Street Forever Volume 5: The Alamo Drafthouse Edition.”
With Halloween approaching, try something new with “Slaughterhouse Rock,” which will make for an entertaining start to a midnight movie bash.