As the resident music weirdo down here, I decided to crawl out of my hole to look at ten celebs who made a significant jump – and by "significant," mind you, I don't necessarily mean "successful" – from gold records to silver screen horrors. The only qualifications are that they were big music stars BEFORE they appeared in front of and/or behind the camera on a horror film, and concert movies don't count toward this list. But otherwise I'm playing fast and loose with the subject matter... you know, like I always do.
This is about as subjective a list as you're going to see, since it straddles two different media, so to make things simpler I listed the artists in alphabetical order instead of preference. So haters step off, everyone else hit the jump and feast your eyes AND ears!
David Bowie – The Hunger
The glam-rock icon's otherworldly appearance landed him a big-time screen debut as an alien in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth, but it's his role in Tony Scott's neo-gothic vampire flick for the MTV generation that showed horror fans the Thin White Duke was more than able to channel that otherworldly charm as a centuries-old vampire. In the film, his immortal bloodlust, bestowed by vamp goddess Catherine Deneuve, proved to have one unfortunate side effect: he might live for eons, but at a certain point he starts aging again... and fast. As an added musical bonus, we also get to see Bauhaus perform their hit Bela Lugosi's Dead in the film's opening scenes.
Alice Cooper – Prince of Darkness
You might argue that the theatrical film version of Alice's legendary Welcome to My Nightmare is itself a horror musical, but according to my loosey-goosey rules here, concert films don't technically count. So instead I picked the shock-rock god's brief, silent but memorable cameo role in John Carpenter's apocalyptic masterpiece as the homeless street schizo who – under the influence of a can of green goo formerly known as Satan – impales lovably nerdy scientist Thom Bray on a broken bicycle (while his own song Prince of Darkness plays away on the victim's Walkman). It's such a memorable kill that The Coop uses the routine during his own stage shows.
Snoop Dogg – Bones
There are enough hip-hop celebs crossing over into horror films to merit an entire top-ten list of their own, but for the sake of this more general overview, I picked my current favorite in the mighty Snoop. Not all of his horror projects have been masterpieces, but he more than makes up for it in enthusiasm. This man not only knows his horror stuff, he has the potential to become a franchise unto himself, as demonstrated in the title role as an undead crime boss in Ernest Dickerson's supernatural urban revenge tale – itself a tip of the hat to the "blaxploitation" horrors of the '70s – and has some great moments conversing with the severed heads of his old enemies.
Debbie Harry – Videodrome
Blondie's sultry frontwoman is certainly no stranger to creeptastic cinema – she played a charming (if slightly gullible) child-eating gourmand in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, and played a nurse who helped convince Stacy Keach to invest in some totally gross hair implants in John Carpenter's anthology Body Bags. But it's her breakthrough role opposite James Woods in David Cronenberg's mind-blowing epic that literally burned her image into the minds of genre fans everywhere – as she showed her masochistic stripes by putting out cigarettes on her boobies.
Meat Loaf – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
When the stocky rocker uttered in deep seductive tones, “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?” he hinted that the demonic imagery of Bat Out of Hell extends further than the album cover. His star had already been on the rise two years earlier when he played bisexual biker Eddie in Rocky Horror, regaling us with the awesome ditty "Hot Patootie" before getting dismembered and served up for dinner (now looking less like Meat Loaf than a pile of veal cutlets). Sure, he did a memorable turn a couple years back in Dario Argento's Masters of Horror installment Pelts (in which he skins himself alive on camera) but my heart still belongs to big, lovable Eddie.
Henry Rollins – Feast
The former punk-rocker turned talk-show host has worked every media angle since his stint as frontman for Black Flag – from a successful series of spoken-word performances to walk-on roles in countless indie films. Rollins has been putting in time on horror flicks a lot lately, but it's his role as a philandering motivational coach (whose leadership skills fail him when it counts) in John Gulager's blackly comic monster indie that made genre fans stand up and take notice. Henry's blessed with a mighty, manly voice, so when this guy gets offed onscreen, he checks out in a big way.
Dee Snider – Strangeland
Already kinda creepy to look at in hair-metal drag (or out of it, for that matter), Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider dove deeper into the dark recesses of his creativity as writer and star of this psycho-killer indie (the sequel to which, Strangeland: Disciple, is in the works), portraying ritual sadist Captain Howdy (a name inspired by The Exorcist), who isn't merely satisfied to have enough piercings to make him a Homeland Security risk, but instead uses this newfangled thingie called the Internet to lure teens to his S&M house of whacks.
Sting – The Bride
A lot of folks thought this '80s retelling of Bride of Frankenstein was a bit of a misstep, but iconic popster Sting does invest the mad scientist role with a smug, aristocratic air that makes his most successful humanoid creation (the holy-damn-hot Jennifer Beals) all the more sympathetic. The former Police-man dabbled further in genre projects (most notably prancing around in a leather jockstrap in David Lynch's Dune), but this one is the most genuinely gothic, approaching the style of Hammer's sexy '70s productions.
Tom Waits – Bram Stoker's Dracula
He might have had a tiny cameo (as himself) in the creepy supernatural thriller Wolfen, but it was his role as Renfield in Francis Coppola's vampire epic that put the grizzly folk-rocker on the horror map in a goofy but sympathetic performance that is one of the film's standouts... and considering the role has been previously handled by such lunatic masters as Dwight Frye and Klaus Kinski, that's a pretty big straitjacket to fill.
Rob Zombie - The Devil's Rejects
Say what you want about his choice of remaking John Carpenter's revered horror classic Halloween (and believe me, folks have been saying plenty about that, so I won't even go there), Rob Zombie makes no bones (tee-hee) about his life-long reverence for grindhouse cinema from the late '70s and early '80s - synthesized most perfectly in this sequel to his heavily troubled directing debut House of 1000 Corpses. So deep was Rob's dedication to period authenticity that he elected to keep his own tunes out of this one, replacing it with a who's-who of '70s classic-rock favorites... including the climactic positioning of Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, who would later approach RZ to contribute to their latest record.