Seven Notes of Terror (1984)

Hey, wait a minute? They stole the artwork from Rocktober Blood! Bogus!

Nope, this isn’t the case of Top Line, Hands of Steel, and Cy Warrior — three different movies — all using the same artwork, because . . .

This is still the Rocktober Blood you know and love . . . just with a slap of the ol’ Dutch Boy “Giallo Yellow” for its Italian theatrical and home video distribution.

Forget the fact that there’s no mention of “seven notes” in the film, or “seven” of anything. No seven keys or locks to solve a bloody noir mystery. And that Head Mistress only had six members and a lot more than seven people died. And there were no insects, or animals, or velvet, or scorpions, or cats, rats, or bats. But there were “eyes,” per se.

But why was Billy Harper nicknamed “eye” in film? Did he remove or collect eyes? Nope. Why not redub the film as Seven Eyes of Terror/Sette occhi di terror. Or Seven Bloody Irises/sette sanguinose iridi?

Yes, I am well aware there’s seven notes in a scale. But there’s also twelve notes in an octave. Why not redub the film Ottava di terror. Or Terrore in 12 note. And it wasn’t Billy, it was John who did the killings, so why not title it Gemello della morte?

Dude, this is Spine all over again. Your overthinking films is annoying.

Yeah, I know. And yeah, I know we know we go and on about this metalsploitation classic — three times, in fact, as Sam (review) and myself (review) both chronicled the exploits of Billy Eye Harper. We even reviewed the never-made sequel, Rocktober Blood 2: Billy’s Revenge. Then we waxed over it again, as part of our “Drive-In Friday: Heavy Metal Horror Night” featurette. Then we named dropped it again in our review of AC/DC: Let There Be Rock.

Huh? What does this all have to do with AC/DC?

Oh, you didn’t know that Billy Eye Harper, aka actor Trey Loren, aka Tracy Sebastian, is responsible for helping break the Aussie rockers in America? True story. So, while Billy Eye duped us all with bogus, grey market-level DVD and Blu reissues and a bogus Rocktober Blood sequel, he did his part in unleashing AC/DC in America and, for that, we thank him. And forgive him.

Best part of the movie and only reason to watch #1 . . .

Anyway, as you can tell, the foreign distributor attempted to align our beloved metalsploitation classic with the ‘70s Giallo titled-classics of 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Files on Grey Velvet), Il gatto a nove code (The Cat o’ Nine Tails), Sette note in nero (Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes), La dama rossa uccide sette volte (The Red Queen Kills Seven Times), Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (Seven Blood Stained Notes, aka “Orchids”), and La morte negli occhi del gatto (Seven Death’s in the Cat’s Eye).

Of course, the direct-to-video “boobs and blades” shenanigans cooked up Ferd and Beverly Sebastian in California — while beloved by us, the once wee denizens of the ‘80s video fringe — is no “homage” to the likes of the masterworks of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Emilio Paolo Miraglia, Umberto Lenzi, and Antonio Margheriti by any stretch of all the colors of the dark. And let’s face it: Billy Eye ain’t no Jason Vorhees or Freddie Kruger, either.

Ah, but the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” (NWOBHM), featuring the violent, religious mania and bloody lyrics composed by the likes of Venom and Iron Maiden, complete with the requisite Satanic imagery on the album covers, was in full swing. And the dumbed-down American Slasher-cum-giallo-ripoff flicks colliding with heavy metal was the next logical match made in hell, as the music coming out of England was, in fact, Giallo musicals . . . but we ended up calling it “metalsploitation” here in the critically puritanical states.

Best part of the movie and only reason to watch #2 . . .

And let’s not forget where that musical sub-genre’s roots began: Dario Argento was the first to mix the hard rock peanut butter into the chocolate giallo with 1971’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet, which follows a musician (Michael Brandon of FM) that gets tangled in a murderous web. And how can we forget the late-in-the-giallo cycle Paganini Horror, with Luigi Cozzi’s Bon Jovi wannabes unleashing a curse from an ancient composition? And that Argento cranks up the Goblin to make our ear drums pulse in fear?

But before those films, there was Brian DePalma’s tribute to the likes of Alice Cooper and Kiss in the frames of his 1975 rock opera, Phantom of the Paradise. And there’s no denying that the exploits of Winslow “The Phantom” Leech and Gerrit “Beef” Graham influenced the frames of Black Roses, Shock ’em Dead, Terror on Tour, Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare, and Rock ’n’ Roll Zombies, and Trick or Treat, along with the non-classic Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal, in which a reviled Marilyn Manson-like gothstar becomes an international hero after saving a jet liner from a terrorist takeover (a film that needed a whole lotta Ray Liotta and maybe a little Danzig). Then there’s Don Kirshner’s rip on DePalma with his ABC-TV “Movie of the Week” two-fer with Song of the Succubus and its sequel, Rock-a-Die, Baby.

Hey, wait minute! Danzig just released his debut metalsploitation flick, Verotika (and now, in 2021: Death Rider in the House of Vampires).

Ah, yes. Satan’s music is still bloodying up our films. And we hail our Dark Lord . . . to the tune of seven red notes. Let the Acid Witch bless your soul!

We dig into the failed attempt at getting a sequel off the ground. True story, for reals!

Ferd Sebastian
July 25, 1933 — March 27, 2022

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.