The jury is out on the value of sequels – particularly with those in the horror and thriller genres.
Do they uphold the ideas set out in the first chapter? Is their delivery worth the potential loss in cinemas? That’s up for discussion, but sequels come nonetheless. Especially so for horror sequels, they either stay in the nether of cult appreciation, or fall deep into the pits of ridicule for years to come.
For Ice Nine Kills, their follow-up to 2018’s The Silver Scream, dubbed The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood, sees the band at a pinnacle point in the great sequel debate. Frontman Spencer Charnas, whose tone of voice naturally rings out like many of the characters played by the late, great Vincent Price, places a great deal of importance (and offers up a true admiration and respect) to the ol’ second child.
“As a fan of not only horror movies but the film industry in general, I was always fascinated by sequels, by the idea of them,” he begins with a drawl. “The Jaws 2s, the Halloween 2s, the Friday 13th 2s, and the barrage of them we got put through in the ‘80s and ‘90s. For me, I want to stay true to the tradition of [the] horror franchises I love so much, and with any good horror that comes out – what we consider our horror film, or album, rather, Silver Scream – with some success on it, well, there’s gotta be a sequel!”
“Scream 2 I think did a really good job of poking fun at the sequel – the body count’s always got to be bigger, the production value is higher, yet a lot of people think sequels are inferior films. I think we did our best to top the first Silver Scream, but if some people don’t think it’s as good, I can just say, ‘Well, sequels aren’t supposed to be as good, we did that intentionally!’”
Charnas makes a good point – lots of A-list releases from the decades he highlights have seen their sophomore attachments downgrade to the B-list, despite an increase in developmental attention. People are hesitant to see them because they think nothing can top the first, but wouldn’t Charnas at least want try selling The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood in a way that makes people want to give it a go for what it is, and not for its place in the Ice Nine Kills chronicle?
“I’m writing about stuff that I grew up worshipping as a kid, like renting tapes from Blockbuster…“
“I’m just having fun with it,” he says. “There are definitely sequels that, in my mind, surpass the originals. Not just in horror – Terminator 2 is clearly a better film, in my opinion. Weekend At Bernie’s 2, a lot of people argue that the first one is better, but I’m a Weekend at Bernie’s 2 kind of guy.”
Horror films tend to have a drop in pace and action before you reach the mega build to an important climax of suspense; Ice Nine Kills, however, have taken their second incarnation of the Silver Scream legend and gone full-throttle, amping up the morose narratives and dark textures as much as they could. And it’s because of that particular elemental development that right now, Charnas is a Silver Scream 2 kind of guy.
“It depends on the film,” he clarifies – drawing parallels between his music and strong cinematic influences, of course. “A song like ‘Assault & Batteries’, that’s about the Child’s Play franchise, and there’s no letting up on Chucky, so we just wanted to harness all the different energy of those characters.
“But on a song like ‘Farewell To Flesh’, an homage to Candyman, there is that sense of dark romantic side of his story, that’s why that song starts out hauntingly beautiful [before it] slams in with the aggression. So really it was more of a song-by-song and film-by-film sort of thought process, about how to best capture the energy of these stories that we’re honoured to be able to put our spin on.”
Because they retain massive respect for the source material, from cinema to music, there hasn’t been a great deal of reinterpretation of the thematic core of Ice Nine Kills. “I’m writing about stuff that I grew up worshipping as a kid, like renting tapes from Blockbuster’,” says Charnas, “just the excitement of stumbling into the next obsession.”
Throughout the album’s production, the role for Horror Appreciation 101 grew, as Ice Nine Kills brought on several big-name friends to contribute, all of whom just as inspired by the thrilling movies of yesteryear. Jacoby Shaddix – the king of collaborations himself – came on for ‘Hip To Be Scared’. Then there’s Brandon Saller of Atreyu and Senses Fail vocalist Buddy Neilsen, among others.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in my mind to continue as a franchise…“
“These are people I’ve admired over the years, that have inspired me in some way, that I thought would lend a good colour to the song,” says Charnas. “We’re lucky that so many of the people I do really respect like the band and like what we’re doing, and got what we were doing.”
Outside of music, Charnas was able to discuss with his guest collaborators all things horror. “Obviously Corpse Grinder and Cannibal Corpse [who also guested on the album] have a historical love of all things macabre. I remember seeing on one of Senses Fail’s albums, they referenced the movie Sleep Awake Camp in ‘Angela Baker And My Obsession With Fire’. I knew they liked slasher films. These people, we had a mutual respect kind of vibe.”
There’s a new sequel to 1978’s Halloween out now, Halloween Kills. Freddy Kruger and cult classic characters of his ilk have been going for more than 30 years, so the question must be posed: does Charnas see Ice Nine Kills following suit with his franchise ideals? Much like Charnas’ way of speaking, the future remains mysterious.
“I still want to wrap my head around [this] album,” he says, “but I mean, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in my mind to continue as a franchise. To me that’s such a fun thing to do, whether it’s a direct continuation of The Silver Scream of it’s another franchise that we start, I love the idea of continuing to build a world around the characters that were created.”
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The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood is out now via Fearless
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