‘Hard Rock Zombies‘ is a US cult horror film directed by Krishna Shah and released in 1984.
‘Hard Rock Zombies‘ is a low budget B-Movie that basically fuses Hair Metal, zombies, Hitler, dwarves, and lots of bad-taste jokes.
The plot follows a traveling rock band that end up in a small town called Grand Guignol. Grand Guignol is the ‘small-town’ to end ‘small-towns’, and it takes small-town weirdness to new levels by being populated by werewolves, dwarves, perverts……..oh, and Hitler.
Anyway the band show up and despite the strangeness of the town they stick around and the lead singer falls in love with a local girl called Cassie. Their ‘non-local’ status soon gets them into trouble and the band are killed by Hitler and his gang of cronies. Cassie finds a way to bring the band back to life, and the undead musicians set about saving the girl, the town, and possibly the world.
This is dumb fun of the highest order, and the movie has gained a cult status in the niche genre of ‘metalsploitation’ films.
The soundtrack for ‘Hard Rock Zombies‘ was written, composed, and performed by Paul Sabu, and it is a wonderfully odd and fun score that really captures the ludicrous essence that runs through this weird little film. Sabu is said to have played all the instruments on the soundtrack, as well as performing all the vocals.
Paul Sabu was born in the US in 1960 and became a relatively well known singer, songwriter, producer and guitarist – he is probably most known for his work with his band called ‘Only Child’. Paul Sabu has also worked for a number of other famous artists in varying roles, his impressive list of collaborations include Prince, Madonna, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Elvira, and many more.
The soundtrack itself is a perfect mix of 80s power ballads, middle-of-the-road rock anthems, and 80’s synthesizers providing a backdrop for poodle-rock guitars. Even if the music is not to your personal taste, there is no questioning the quality on show here – Sabu’s compositions and productions are slick and professional, in fact if it you listened to this without knowing the film it came from (and without knowing the song titles – “Midjet gets the beef”, “Zombies Revenge” etc…) then you could be forgiven for thinking it was a drive-time compilation from a 1980s US Rock radio station. It’s like Van Halen made an album with H.P. Lovecraft and let him write all the song titles.
This isn’t a soundtrack that plays to any typical horror cliches – the atmosphere isn’t creepy or dark, this is 100% upbeat, fist-pumping anthems and power ballads. You can get a good sense of the US rock theme that runs throughout by listening to ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ from the movie below.
Listen to ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ from Hard Rock Zombies:
There is more than a touch of Spinal Tap (which came out in the same year) about some of the songs on the soundtrack: they are knowingly tongue in cheek, they have a real sense of fun, but they are not so over the top that they stand out as an obvious parody. In fact, one the songs from the soundtrack got a 7″ release in France on Trema Records. The track ‘Cassy’ is a soft rock power-ballad that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any other similar tracks of the era and not look out of place – it is only when you place it in the context of the film that you realize that this is something very different. Listen to it below:
Hard Rock Zombies (Paul Sabu) Cassie’s Song:
The fact that you could put this soundtrack on and not realize it was from a low-budget, fucked-up, cult film is testament to the multi-instrumental prowess and slick production skills of Paul Sabu.
Check out ‘Na Na Na’ from Hard Rock Zombies:
The full soundtrack is very hard to find. It had a brief commercial release on vinyl in France in 1984 on Trema Records (who also released the 7″ single of ‘Cassy’ in the same year). This French release was called ‘Holly Moses – Bande Originale Du Film “Rock Zombies‘
and Paul Sabu was credited on the rear of the sleeve as the writer of all the tracks.
You can see the track listing below, and the album artwork is at the top of the page.
1-Angel’s First Victim
2-Shake it out
6-It don’t come easy
9-Angel’s trophy room
10-Street angel (Mark of the devil)
11-Midjet gets the beef
12-Bucky dines in
14-Matson’s last deal
15-Zombies lure ghouls
16-Hitler’s gas chamber
You can still get some of the soundtrack and selected tracks are available on Paul Sabu compilations, and an EP was also released that collects 5 tracks from the soundtrack together for digital download at iTunes
So, after hearing all about the soundtrack, you may as well check out the trailer for this odd little film.
Hard Rock Zombies trailer: