While doing interviews in Toronto to publicize his debut as a movie producer, ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash sported a particularly appropriate sartorial touch: a Phantom of the Paradise T-shirt.
It was perfect, really. Brian De Palma's 1974 horror-comedy-musical was perhaps the first film to conjoin the realms of horror and rock music with its Faustian tale of a hapless songwriter who sells his soul to Paul Williams' devilish producer.
Slash (a.k.a. Saul Hudson) branches out from his comfort zone as the producer of Nothing Left to Fear, a supernatural thriller about a pastor's family facing a demonic menace when they are transplanted to the seemingly benign heartland community of Stull, Kansas. The film was produced under the banner of his newly minted company, Slasher Films.
In assuming the producer role, Slash joins a brotherhood of other rockers who have, in different capacities, committed to the horror realm, including Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Kirk Hammett of Metallica (see sidebar inside).
But Slash, 48, says he comes at the genre from a different place.
"All those guys actually do theatrical production in their shows, every single one of them, so they've adopted what they love about the horror and its gimmicks and made it a part of their stage show," he says on the phone from Toronto. "With me, I was just purely a rock 'n' roll guy who was a fan of the genre. And suddenly, at this point in my career, I was handed the opportunity to produce because I was such a fan.
"I was like, 'Wow, that would be really, really interesting,' and I just went for it," he says. "I wanted to see if I had the patience or the mental capacity to actually do a good job at that. And I fell right in love with it from the get-go."
Slash says he has his own theory explaining the crossover between spooky movies and metal music.
"There's something about rock 'n' roll and horror which has one major underlying theme relative to both. There's a sense of rebellion ... of getting away from the mainstream. That's something that connects them."
That said, Slash is quick to distinguish his movie, which stars real-life couple Anne Heche and James Tupper, from the extreme, brutal milieu of his rock-horror compadres. The company name Slasher Films, he asserts, is a misnomer.
"The moniker 'Slasher' just goes along with my name, so it was the easiest thing. But it's really the antithesis of the kind of movies I want to make," he says.
"I have no aspirations to become a producer of slasher movies. I really got into this because I thought there were too few great stories being told and too few movies with tangible characters involved," he says.
"I really want to be compelled by eerily beautiful art visuals and a great sort of creepy kind of story, and actors who can carry the load of being characters that are interesting, so you can be emotionally invested in them," he says. "So when the shit goes wrong, you go through the upheaval of these people that you've gotten attached to in the story."
If Rob Zombie was clearly influenced by the likes of John Carpenter (Halloween) and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Slash's inspirations are more classical.
"When I was a kid, one of the big ones for me was The Omen, the original," he says. "I always thought it was a marriage of great directing, a great story and great actors. It was really well done, and it was made in the fashion of the old feature movie."
Nothing Left to Fear is currently available on DVD. See review on Uptown's DVD page.