Halloween Guitar Series 2011 Part 1

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Well it’s Halloween time again and I’m using this as an excuse to celebrate another personal interest with all of you. Horror movies. I’ve hardly made my interest in video games subtle, but along with games and music I have an emphatic interest in movies as well, and October’s the universal month celebrate movies specifically developed to scare us and/or just show a lot of people meeting their untimely demise, so why not take a moment and merge the two?

For the rest of the week a new gallery will be posted each day with a collection of guitars either carved or painted to reflect various horror movies of the past. The only criteria is it must be very clear which movie it’s referencing, so you won’t see me trying to pass off some spooky clown painted on a guitar as a Killer Klowns from Outer Space reference just because.

While I’m at it I may as well share my thoughts, opinions, and experiences with the various movies in question. I’ve gotta fill in the silence somehow.

Click Images to enlarge and get more info

While there’s a slight hue of eclecticism to this gallery I think it’s fair to say the overall theme regards the undead, and/or things that were once dead, but now are not.

As I’ve been working on this I hadn’t really thought of just how long I’ve been watching horror movies.  I’ve watched the old Universal monster movies since I was a kid.  Back then I never really associated them with horror because I never got scared watching them.  Hell, most of the time they had the same premise.  X monster kidnaps Y woman and Z ravishing stud saves the day as the fate of said monster is left ambiguous.  I’ll get into that more later.

In the meantime marvel at the carved Dracula and Frankenstein guitars as pictured above.

It wasn’t until I was about 11 and older that I started really watching movies that were gradually more and more easily definable as horror, one of the earliest being George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead.

I’ve always been amused by the premise of zombies.  A corpse who’s sole remaining instinct is to eat people.  What a premise.  What sold me on Night of the Living Dead was probably the atmosphere.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but the thing that left the strongest lasting impression on me was the lighting.  Once the night hit it was so dark you could just barely make out  what was going on.  Just enough to enable the audience to get squeamish if they didn’t have the stomach for it.  Any filmmakers that don’t understand that less is more should spend some time studying this movie (I’m looking at you, Heijningen).

Also George Romero’s got a pair for killing a kid.  Most filmmakers don’t want to cross that unspoken line.  I think that’s even more effective just because of how few filmmakers are willing to cross that seemingly unspoken boundary.  Most people just expect the kids to survive, so when they don’t what chance do the adults have?

Regarding the pictures of the Night of the Living Dead guitars, they were custom painted by the staff of Mike Learn. [www.mikelearn.com]  Mike was cool enough to give us the OK to use pictures from his portfolio here, and that’s awesome because a finish like that is too perfect to not bring up.  It really captures the aforementioned lighting.  A picture like that could have substituted as a movie poster.

Moving on there’s Dawn of the Dead.  The guitar above is a Schecter painted to reflect Romero’s classic follow up to Night of the Living Dead.

I’ve seen the original and the remake multiple times.  Hell, I own both of them.  When it comes down to it I still don’t know which one I prefer over the other.  I think the thing that distances me most from Romero’s was I wasn’t born until the 80s.  Romero has commented part of what makes it work is the generation it came out in.  A generation where malls had gun stores and full sized ice skating rinks in them.  Snyder’s was a bit more straight forward, but I’ve kinda found it to be a bit less memorable in the long run.  Either way both are good movies deserving of a place on my shelves.

Taking a quick step forward and assessing the House of 1,000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects guitars, both of those are also Schecter guitars with custom paint finishes.  I think if I’ve enjoyed anything about Rob Zombie‘s films it would be his use of practical effects and setting.  He has great control over the visual aspect of his movies, though as far as plot is concerned I’ve always been a bit bummed he’s never really tried to do something beyond what’s already been done before.  Though if anyone deserves to be brought up in this series it’s Rob Zombie.  White Zombie was awesome… the band.  Not the movie.  The movie was just weird.

I didn’t think either of the movies in question were particularly bad.  Fine enough if you took them at face value, but the only thing I really remember from Devil’s Rejects is that long winded Free Bird outro.  Couldn’t have cut it down a bit, guys?  It’s a great song, sure, but now every time I hear it all I can think of is that movie.

See the entire Halloween Guitar Series here, including last year’s. 


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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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