When Josh Vargas wrapped up filming on his Dean Corll biopic In a Madman's World, he told us that he wanted his next picture to be something a lot more playful. Plenty of blood and guts, but this time just pretend. Originally this was supposed to involve a biopic on the making of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but a legal dispute and the death of Marilyn Burns derailed the project.
So Vargas moved onto a horror movie he's calling Hairmetal Shotgun Zombie Massacre, and a film with a name that over the top deserves an over-the-top weapon to go with it. Luckily, Vargas was able to get his hands on a rare weaponized guitar gun just for this purpose.
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.
"It was after Sandy Hook," Vargas said in a phone interview. "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' 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 firing mechanism has been removed so that it is not technically a gun anymore; however, the distance of the flamethrower has been increased. Believe it or not, this is actually perfectly legal in Texas.
"You don't need a license to own or use a flamethrower," joked Vargas. "You need a licensed pyrotechnic guy to use it on-set or stage, of course, but there's nothing legally prohibiting you from having one. In fact, in my son's baby book there was a section where you glue a newspaper clipping for the day they were born, and I used a story about a guy who tried to rob a convenience store with a flamethrower. The clerk ended up beating the guy over the head with his own fuel tank!"
Hairmetal Shotgun Zombie Massacre has completed principal photography. The idea for the film was originally pitched to Vargas a decade ago by Church of Melkarth's Justin Whitney, who co-wrote the script for the movie. It feature a ton of guest stars including Slayer's Tom Araya, Lamb of God's Randy Blythe and Morbid Angel's David Vincent. Vargas expects the film to be released before In a Madman's World owing to horror's wider audience.
In the meantime, he and Whitney are now the proud owners of a flamethrowing guitar. I would caution anyone attending a Church of Melkarth show to keep their heads down. Check it out in action below.
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