Nirvana was one of the defining bands of the 1990s, and a staple in the CD players of Generation X-ers like myself. The day lead singer Kurt Cobain shot himself to death is still a fresh memory, even more than twenty years later. It plays like a horror movie in my mind: coming home from school, putting on MTV (back when the “M” stood for “Music”) and reading the newspaper comics (back when we still had print newspapers) like I always did. It took a few minutes to register what Kurt Loder was saying in the background… but as my mind focused on the horrifying news, the paper slipped to a pile on the floor and I sat there, in total shock, for I don’t know how long. As a 14-year-old kid, this was my first experience with a tragic celebrity death… and I didn’t know how to react.
All these years later, and I discover the following video, dubbed “Kurt Cobain’s Horror Movie.” I am both excited to know the late musician loved horror movies as much as I do, and horrified to see a young Cobain mimic committing suicide.
As the story goes, this video dates back to 1984. A 17-year-old Cobain was making home movies with future Nirvana band member Krist Novoselic and The Melvins’ Dale Crover (who also played with Nirvana briefly). In an interview with Crover, he is certain there “was no title,” although when a damaged copy of the video hit the bootleg scene in 2000, fans took to calling it “Kurt’s Bloody Suicide.”
Crover says that the trio was just “fucking around with a camera,” which was Novoselic’s Super 8. This seems a fair description of the tape, as it isn’t so much a movie as it is a compilation of random scenes the boys shot.
It just so happens that these scenes look like they came from any one of a number of horror films: worship at a Satanic altar (which was Cobain’s idea; it was also his idea to wear the Mr. T mask); scenes from a knife-wielding maniac’s point of view; Cobain’s “suicide;” and various other fake stabbings and shootings.
The “original” video (or rather, the video that is in bootleg rotation, which is likely a third-generation video) is owned by “MC Satanic” Scotty Hile, who got the tape from Novoselic. The original footage had no sound recorded with it. The video shown above was later dubbed with a soundtrack by The Melvins.