While Houston is still waiting (impatiently, I might add) for the release of Josh Vargas’s biopic on the serial killer Dean Corll, In a Madman's World, his second feature is edging closer to the light of day. Hairmetal Shotgun Zombie Massacre’s first teaser trailer has been released and though short, it is gloriously fun.
For the most part, it’s a simple set of shots featuring the walking dead with narration over them. Nothing original, but Vargas brings an idea that is so old it’s almost new again in the film. His zombies aren’t traditional zombies but demons inhabiting corpses as tools. They disappear in the daylight, and our narrator apparently tells a group trapped by them that if “you dickheads” can survive through the night, they’ll make it. I haven’t seen that since the Night of the Demons flicks, something Vargas says was an influence on the movie.
It all ends with a metal head shotgunning a zombie and making a high-pitched screech of victory with devil horns.
HMSZM is definitely one of the best-looking horror films I’ve seen from the local scene in quite a while. It has echoes of nostalgia efforts like Jeremy Sumrall’s Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter, but with a greater focus on restoring the best of the old horror tropes rather than paying homage to them. His zombie effects, from Rancid House FX, have a solid Rick Baker quality to them that makes them gruesome and unnerving in a way zombies simply haven’t been since that market flooded and turned to comedy fodder. They don’t look mindless and hungry. Instead, they look sinister and as if they're inhabited by something even worse.
The film follows a metal band trapped by demonic forces that has to fight its way to morning. It features new music by Marzi Montazeri and Tim “Ripper” Owens, as well as cameos from metal royalty like Tom Araya of Slayer, Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God and David Vincent of Morbid Angel, and is based on an original story written by Church of Melkarth’s Jvstin Whitney.
Upping the metal factor is the fact that the film will contain a flame-throwing guitar as a weapon. The guitar comes from Johnson Guitars U.S.A., a company that has been supplying some of the more interesting custom instrumental designs since the '80s. Originally, the guitar that makes an appearance in the film featured bullet-firing capabilities, a rocket launcher and a flamethrower, and belonged to Kesha, but the "Tik Tok" pop star ended up returning it.
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"It was after Sandy Hook," Vargas said in a phone interview earlier this year. "There was too much stuff in the news about gun control and assault weapons, so her management made her send it back. Pissed the maker off something bad."
Johnson initially declined to make a guitar for Vargas's film, considering the nation's current mood regarding guns, but after Kesha returned it, was willing to alter the piece to suit the filmmaker's needs.
The release date of HMSZM hasn’t been announced, but check out the first teaser trailer below. More on this film as it develops, as well as the proposed second and third films in the trilogy, Hairmetal Crossbow Vampire Massacre and Hairmetal Silver-bullet Werewolf Massacre.