Ever wonder which movies inspire your favorite bands or how filmmakers work with artists to compile your favorite soundtracks? Sound to Screen is a regular feature that explores where film and music intersect. This week, Salem’s Pot pick eight horror sequels that fuel their uniquely terrifying approach to doom metal.
No band knows horror like Salem’s Pot. The Swedish doom rockers are the musical and aesthetical embodiment of low-budget ’70s horror films: the psychedelic imagery, the oversaturated Panavision colors, the campy sex and gore. Listening to Salem’s Pot feels almost like watching an old VHS copy of Suspiria late at night, bong smoke lingering in the air, wood-paneled walls closing in.
“That’s exactly how we started the band, just watching horror movies,” explains frontman Knate. “I was the only guy playing music, so we just started as a concept: me doing the riffs, everybody coming up with artwork and ideas. We try and do the whole theatrical thing with our live shows: 50 percent music, 50 percent horror movie.”
The band’s second full-length album, Pronounce This!, drops July 22nd via RidingEasy Records. Drawing inspiration from the supernatural creeps of Italian giallo cinema, the record is their catchiest and most hallucinatory yet. It’s rock and roll that’s slightly off, content to drift in its own left-field weirdness like the bizarre flicks that inspired it.
With Salem’s Pot set to drop their very own horror sequel — and with our film staff’s sequel ranking still fresh in our nightmares — Consequence of Sound caught up with the band to get a rundown of their favorite terrifying follow-up films. Read on if you dare.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The epitome of a successful sequel, George A. Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead not only improved on Night of the Living Dead but left a lasting impact on the horror genre — specifically splatter and zombie films. Its cheeky satire came to define the term “campy” for a new generation of scare-seekers. Suddenly, audiences found themselves laughing while zombie heads exploded and bodies were ripped apart. It felt like a natural reaction to something that was never meant to be taken seriously. Romero understood that there’s a fine line between horror and comedy, and that’s why the Dead series is so timelessly entertaining, with Dawn being arguably its strongest iteration.
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
What Romero tapped into with Dawn, Sam Raimi took to the absurd extreme with Evil Dead 2. A splatterific mess of guts, gore, and badassery courtesy of Bruce Campbell’s role as the iconic, quote-dishing, womanizing, flesh-shredding Ash Williams, Evil Dead 2 is that rare film that remains truly fun from start to finish. Its stomach-churning gore is only equaled by its undeniable humor. A classic of the genre and a benchmark for all horror sequels.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
“I have to include this one for the sake of it,” Knate says with a laugh. Although it’s not horror in the obvious sense, Home Alone 2 captures the fear and tension of being a child lost in a vast and scary place. Did you ever get lost at the mall as a kid and run around crying until you found your mom? Director Chris Columbus turned this concept upside down, incorporating slasher and home-invasion archetypes in his so-called “family comedy.” Think about it: Unflappable kid protagonist Kevin McCallister terrorizes his goofy pursuers like the mastermind villains found in many classic horror films. The only difference? He’s the good guy, and we’re cheering him on instead of fearing for the safety of his victims.
Zombi 2 (1979)
A sequel in name only (it was reportedly titled Zombi 2 to capitalize on the success of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead), Lucio Fulci’s opus is a masterpiece of Italian gore — part adventure, part exploitation, part zombie killfest. Numerous scenes stick out from this film, particularly the one where a splinter is graphically inserted into an eyeball. Oh, and the one where a zombie fights a shark. It’s wildly imaginative, verging on surreal, and a certified cult classic. Some even consider it superior to Romero’s work.
Halloween 2 (1981)
It’s not on the level of the original, but Halloween 2 maintains the same claustrophobic vibes, picking up with a freshly injured Jamie Lee Curtis on the same night of Michael Myers’ initial mayhem. It’s essentially a 90-minute chase scene and a slasher flick to the core — the last in the series worth watching. Rick Rosenthal handled directorial duties, but John Carpenter was still involved as producer, screenwriter, and composer. His contributions keep the film focused and atmospheric in that patented Carpenter way.
The only real “blockbuster” on this list, James Cameron’s thrill ride of a sequel brought a whole new level of fear to the Alien universe. Where Ridley Scott’s original perfected the survival-horror archetype, Aliens constructed a backstory and context for the series, making the fear more real and palpable. Familiar characters face off against a familiar enemy, but the events of the first film inform the sequel in such a way that we’re even more invested in the outcome. Like any successful sequel, it builds upon the first, carrying over the tension, the conflict, and the terror.
Dr. Phibes Rises Again! (1972)
“Phibes lives!” reads the poster for the sequel to director Robert Fuest’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Picking up three years later, Rises Again! opens with Phibes discovering that his house has been demolished and his papyrus scrolls have gone missing. When he finds the culprits, he intends to punish them, which results in numerous, insane death scenes that are as creative as they are implausible. It’s a lesser film than the first, but it retains the same unsettling mood and psychedelic ambiance.
Phenomena is not a direct sequel but rather a spiritual successor to Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria. It takes us to the same hallucinatory dreamscape of strange characters, supernatural happenings, and seemingly disconnected imagery (though it sadly doesn’t feature the music of Goblin, a highlight of its predecessor). Of the films on this list, Argento’s brand of giallo is the closest to what Salem’s Pot projects through their own music and performances.