Studio 666, when rock returns to make deals with the devil

“Rock and roll now counts for little, you have to do something to make it interesting, a pact with the devil ››.

This was stated by one of the characters of “Studio 666″, the horror comedy at the cinema from 23 to 29 June, strongly desired by Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters, and directed by BJ McDonnel, former director of the band’s video ” Run ››, Grammy winner.

In the film the Foo Fighters band, by decision of its leader David Grohl and suggestion of the producer, moved to Encino, California to record the tenth album. What they do not know (they will find out from the neighbor but also from disturbing findings in the villa) is that in that house in the early nineties the group of Dream Widow lived, whose members were massacred by the leader Greg Nole, mad after having made mysterious rites.

In Italy, summer has always been the horror film season, films such as “Black Phone”, based on a story by Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, arrive in theaters (often sparsely populated).

But “Studio 666” is a separate case. It is shot with the style of a documentary, at the beginning it seems to see “The Osbournes”, the reality show dedicated to rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his family that had had great success at the beginning of the 2000s.

Among the protagonists are real characters, such as Grohl and his entire band, bassist Nate Mendel, guitarist Pat Smear, drummer Taylor Hawkins, lead guitarist Chris Shiflett and keyboardist Rami Jaffee, along with characters from pure fiction. , like sexy neighbor Samantha (Whitney Cummings), who turns out to have been a Dream Widow groupie.

But it is also a personal project by Grohl, author of the subject and truly the absolute protagonist, with his creative crisis (which is somewhat reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s in ‹‹Shining››), the exhausting marathons of tests to which he subjects the group in search of the perfect song and his passion for eighties horror.

The film pays homage to them, from the choice of entrusting the theme of the soundtrack to John Carpenter, the great director of horror masterpieces such as ‹‹Halloween›› (1978) and «La cosa ›› (1982), but also author of the soundtracks of many of his films.

Carpenter makes a cameo, in the role of a technician who deals with the sounds of the Foo Fighters, flanked by a collaborator who deliberately remembers Jena Plissken, the protagonist of her 1981 cult “<1997: escape from New York>“.

He is a sort of tutelary deity of the film, which also pays homage to the series (not surprisingly from the Eighties) of Sam Raimi’s “The House”, with the infernal evocations of the magician (who really existed) Aleister Crowley by the leader of the Dream Widow (who also physically resembles Crowley) in place of the Necronomicon (the book cited in the stories of the master of the genre Howard Phillips Lovecraft) of “The house”.

And the fact that the series is not a documentary can also be seen in the fact that band members can die.

With one of them it also happened in reality: Taylor Hawkins really unfortunately died last March, shortly after the end of filming.

But the various deaths are in the style of the eighties splatter, with the desire to horrify and at the same time to amuse the viewer. Obviously, as was the practice of the time, sexual acts do not make people arrive alive at the end of the film, and so Jaffee dies while he is crowning his erotic dream with Samantha (and the very fact that the two copulate with nonchalance even knowing full well that are unleashing hellish forces is indicative of the film’s fun and surreal tone).

There is a subtle red line that unites ‹● Studio 666 ›› to ‹‹ Top Gun: Maverick ››: both pay homage to a certain Eighties style, and are in any case very different because the Eighties, even if perhaps enclosed in a spirit common, were composed of many different elements.

Thinking of Dream Widow, massacred in 1993 according to the film, one cannot help but approach them to Nirvana, the band of which Grohl was the drummer and who split in 1994, after the suicide of frontman Kurt Cobain. He and Greg Nole of Dream Widow are physically very different (Cobain long blonde hair, Nole bald like Crowley), but they were probably both possessed in a way according to Grohl, who founded the Foo Fighters after the demise of Nirvana.

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In spite of this tragic assumption, “Studio 666” is a funny film that re-establishes the old relationship between horror and rock (especially hard rock), celebrated in a classic Eighties as “Death at 33 rpm” (1986), with the cast Gene Simmons of Kiss and Ozzy himself (in the ironic role of a Protestant pastor), to the soundtracks of many thrill films (such as ‹‹Phenomena›› by Dario Argento with Iron Maiden,), or even to the themes of many songs (<> by AC / DC, > by Iron Maiden, which have often paid homage to Lovecraft, <> by Metallica are just some of the many potential examples).

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For many critics, Kurt Cobain’s suicide was the end of rock, which in fact for years has ceased to be meaningful: the old bands are always successful (just think of the recent concert at San Siro of the now octogenarian Rolling Stones), but c ‘is the idea that it has become a genre for nostalgic old men, like classical music.

Who knows that a return to the old pacts with the devil, who has a long relationship with rock (at least since 1968 of the Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil ››), could return to make children listen en masse instead of the omnipresent trap.

The article is in Italian

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