Musicians have a very long history of crossing over into film. Sometimes, their acting abilities are pleasantly surprising. Other times, it’s a complete and utter disaster. Now, I understand that it makes financial sense to add a celebrity to an otherwise no-name production. But I’ve noticed some instances in which famous musicians were not utilized in any logical way to enhance the film’s appeal. Here are four examples of mystifying casting choices of musicians in horror films:
Sonny Bono in TROLL (1986)
The less talented half of 60’s duo Sonny & Cher was cast as a tenant in the apartment building that a wizard troll thing is terrorizing. I can vividly remember watching this movie during a sleepover party when I was a kid and being absolutely terrified by Sonny’s scene. The wizard troll thing kills Sonny by turning him into some sort of plant pod.
His transformation from balding eccentric old man to cucumber looking thing is totally weird and grotesque; it scared the crap out of 8 year old me. But what’s even stranger is that it isn’t even Sonny Bono in half of that scene. Turns out, Sonny was only available for a few days during taping, so the makeup supervisor stood in for him during the second stage of his transformation.
So… it begs the question: why have Sonny in the film in the first place? Despite his brief performance, Sonny Bono did contribute quite possibly the best “Holy Shit!” ever uttered on screen.
Cherie Currie in TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983)
Singer Cherie Currie is best known for contributing the growling vocals to the all-female rock group The Runaways. Once the Queens of Noise disbanded in the late 1970s, opportunities for Currie to have her voice heard were rather slim. But in 1983, she landed a very small part in TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE… and I mean “small” as in if you blink during the third segment of the film, you’ll miss her. She plays evil wunderkind Anthony’s older sister in the “It’s a Good Life” episode. In what can only be thought of as a deeply sardonic decision, Cherie Currie’s character literally has no mouth. Way to make the most of her skill set, Joe Dante.
Alice Cooper in MONSTER DOG (1984)
Putting rock legend Alice Cooper in a scary movie is a no-brainer: out of all the musicians on this list, he is the most seasoned when it comes to acting in the horror genre. You may not have noticed him without his trademark makeup, but he had roles in John Carpenter’s PRINCE OF DARKNESS and FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE as Krueger’s father. But years before those films, he starred in filmmaker Claudio Fragasso’s directorial debut, MONSTER DOG.
Alice was just coming out of rehab to treat his alcoholism, and thought doing the movie would help him get back into working mode. He basically plays himself in the film — with the minor exception of turning into a werewolf at some point. His transformation into the “monster dog” is actually quite creepy. It’s not on par with AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS, but the special effects are endearing, considering the entire budget went to hiring Cooper.
The bizarre thing about having Alice in this movie is that the rock star did not dub his own voice for the English language version; except for some music videos littered throughout the film, Alice’s voice is never heard. His lines were completely dubbed over by veteran actor Ted Rusoff.
Tiny Tim in BLOOD HARVEST (1987)
Decades before Tiny Tim’s rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” made us super-uncomfortable in INSIDIOUS, the oddball ukulele strummer was cast in Bill Rebane’s BLOOD HARVEST. In his first and only feature film, Tiny Tim plays a mentally disturbed clown named “Marvelous Mervo.” Now, Tiny Tim was creepy enough… putting him in a clown suit and smearing him with makeup was pretty genius on filmmaker Rebane’s part. The image is quite unsettling.
Throughout the movie, the audience is led to believe Tiny Tim is slaughtering people like livestock, but in a rather disappointing turn, Tiny Tim doesn’t actually end up being the killer. In fact, he’s completely innocent of the whole massacre. If you go to all that trouble of plucking Tiny Tim out of obscurity, putting him in a clown outfit, and making him seem even more deranged than he already was… at least give him the dignity of being the murderer!