Can you smell it in the air? The ominous stench of sugary sweets, cheap plastic masks and the faint whiff of decomposing bodies stuffed into bin bags, I really must clean out my downstairs cupboard… Sorry, lost my train of thought there. Ah, yes, that’s right its Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve or a metalheads favourite holiday. Call it what you will. It is certainly one of my favourite times of the year. Grabbing a crate of beer and sitting down to watch absurdly gory 80s horror films. Playing some dark and disturbing horror games. Oh, of course blasting out some heavy music. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Sam, that doesn’t sound any different from what you do nearly every day of the year’. To which I would reply, shut it… It is different in that I’m dressed like a rejected member of a Misfits tribute act.
To keep things nice and spooky, I’m going to be celebrating Halloween by taking a look at some of the most metal but also horror influenced films and games. Starting with Splatterhouse (2010).
Splatterhouse is a video game series that goes way back to 1988 when the original game was released in arcades and on the TurboGrafx-16. It was renowned for its incredibly violent and gory imagery as protagonist, Rick Taylor, turns every inhabitant of the titular Splatterhouse into bloody pile of guts and broken bones. It was well received and spawned two sequels on the Sega Mega Drive (that’s the Sega Genesis for all my American readers) that continued its gore riddled legacy. It was already a pretty metal game series but in 2010 the remake was released, ramping the metal up to the max.
The remake isn’t the greatest game in existence but if you’re a fan of metal then it is a must play. We are going to ignore the sloppy mechanics, camera and slightly frustrating gameplay aspects in favour of focussing on what makes this game as metal as it is.
The plot is pretty much the same as the original game. You play as Rick Taylor a metal fanatic escorting his long-time girlfriend, Jennifer Willis, to West Mansion where she is due to interview Dr. West for the Miskatonic University newspaper. Rick has a date planned for afterwards in which he intends to propose to Jenny but things don’t go entirely to plan given that Rick is disembowelled and Jenny is kidnapped by West. His body is flung into a near by coffin which contains the series iconic Terror Mask, what? Jason Vorhees never heard of him. Nearing death Rick puts on Terror Mask who promises that Jenny doesn’t have to die. Rick is painfully transformed into a roided up, monstrously hench form of himself capable of ripping limbs from socks, heads from spines and intestines from arseholes (You read that last one right.) So, the plot may not be Shakespeare but the simplicity is just fine. Mutant metalhead kills his way through monsters to rescue girlfriend… There’s a concept album in there somewhere.
Rick and Terror Mask make for one hell of a team. Their dialogue is fantastic and often full of reference that may go over any casual gamers head but for metalheads. It’s going to be a treat. One of my favourite moments is when the play stans idle and Terror Mask ask what Rick is listening to at the minute. Rick response by listing several bands (all of which feature on the soundtrack) ending with Goatwhore. Terror Mask replies with “Oh, goat whore? Fuck me, I love goat whore – oh wait, never mind…- You mean the band – oh sorry, I thought you meant…never mind”. It is a quick little extra that is guaranteed to give you a chuckle and any fan of Goatwhore a serious smirk.
The gameplay is your pretty basic beat-em up formula. Travel from area to area, ripping and tearing your way through waves of enemies. The enemies aren’t too out this world. Slightly generic if you ask me. The Homini are very thin zombies. Ghast are simple spiked creatures with club hands and don’t stand out as hordes of them are thrown at you again and again. There is some more interesting variant in the Forgotten. The student variation isn’t that exciting as they look more like your stereotypical zombie, mirroring my issues with the Homini. However, the slaughterhouse and clown versions. Oh my! Short ways into the game Rick runs into the slaughterhouse Forgotten. Pale, hulking bodies. Blood stained black butchers’ aprons and armed with huge cleavers. They are like something from a slam metal album cover. Dandyland houses the clown Forgotten. Thin, jumpy, frantic undead clowns. Spitting fire and break-dancing fighting style make for one interesting, but annoying, enemy. With the cel shaded graphics the enemies don’t stand out to the graphic gore of the original games, making it a little lacking in the creature department.
It is really the boss fights that stand out in the remake. Most notable Biggyman. If the series had an iconic boss or enemy it would be this guy. A mutated human with chainsaws instead of hands with a burlap sack slung over his head, what? Jason Vorhees in Friday the 13th Part 2… nope still never heard of him. His skin is ripping open like stretch marks around his rotund belly, exposing the raw muscle underneath. This boss would be right at home on the front of any brutal metal, beatdown or hardcore album cover.
The soundtrack nails the metal vibe on the head. It features some of the best bands to ever come out of the heavy music scene. Lamb of God, Mastodon, Municipal Waste, Goatwhore and many more all provide the perfect backing track to Rick’s all out-slaughter fest. I got a big old riff boner when you start the Experiment 765 boss fight and Blood and Thunder by Mastodon then Walk With Me In Hell by Lamb of God start tearing up the speakers. Cannibal Corpse and Gwar were also name checked by co-producer Dan Tovar but unfortunately didn’t make it into the game which is a shame. Both these bands would have fitted nicely into this game.
To round this all off, Splatterhouse 2010 also packs in the original trilogy for you to experience the old school terror of a 16bit blood bath. It is the perfect way to spend a weekend on the build up to Halloween. If you are heavily into metal and want to play something filled to the brim with gory, mindless action then the Splatterhouse remake may just hit the spot.
Enjoyed reading this? Then check out my previous Halloween Specials below:
Halloween Special! Costumes to Metal Up Your Halloween
Halloween Special! Bands to Blast Out This Halloween!
Halloween Special! Top 5 Horror Movies for All You Metalheads