This Samhain, when darkness falls across the land and the midnight hour is close at hand, Birmingham’s most glamorous sons want to dance you into the (devil’s) fire. Just in time for your spooky parties, Duran Duran are releasing an entire Halloween album to give you chills.
With covers of Billie Eilish’s Bury a Friend, Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer (featuring Victoria De Angelis of Måneskin), The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Spellbound, Cerrone’s Supernature and The Specials’ Ghost Town, plus a few of their own creepy additions, you should be sorted for a Transylvanian twist or two.
But what about those of us who want to get our creep on with a celluloid thrill?
When The Big Issue sat down with Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and John Taylor for next week’s cover feature (available from your local vendor from 30 October), we persuaded them to programme our seasonal screens too. Behold, if you dare, Duran Duran’s favourite scary films!
The best Halloween movies… picked by Duran Duran
Dir: Roman Polanski
The only Halloween movie to get an emphatic thumbs up from both founding members of Duran Duran was based on Ira Levin’s 1967 Satanic novel of the same name. Roman Polanski’s take on Rosemary’s Baby, starring Mia Farrow, was released just a year later.
It’s both an occult thriller, and an astonishing effective representation of the horror of domestic abuse, coercive control and forced domesticity as (in the real world) women fought for liberation. It’s possibly the best cinematic representation of Joseph Heller’s iconic line from Catch-22, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
Frank Sinatra famously served Farrow with divorce papers whilst she was on set.
“Do you know what I think is really one of the greatest horror movies ever made? For sure, it is Rosemary’s Baby. I mean that,” says Rhodes. “If anyone hasn’t seen it, it’s a masterpiece, really. Because it’s a psychological thriller as well as a horror movie. I love it.”
Taylor says he could have predicted his spooky bandmate and long-time friend would have chosen Polanski’s finest film. “I’m not really into the paranormal. I don’t actually believe in things outside the physical self,” he says. “But I really like Rosemary’s Baby. I used to like a good Satan. Like The Omen, The Exorcist. There was a there was a time when you could get away with that, wasn’t there?”
Elsewhere on these pages, I’ve argued this grand concoction of blood and romance is the most beautiful film ever committed to celluloid and the pinnacle of gothic filmmaking, so it’s no surprise to find it has a special place in Rhodes’ heart. “I suppose I’m the furthest out onto the goth side of the band,” he admits. “Gothic wear always makes life a little bit more pleasurable for me.”
Any Halloween movie night at the Rhodes household would have to include this 1992 classic. “I love the Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula,” he says. “It’s exquisitely beautiful. And the performances! Well, Gary Oldman is so great in everything isn’t he? But, what a dream getting the Dracula role. Perfect.”
John Taylor was right there in the front row on opening night when how we see “fava beans and a nice Chianti” changed. “I had no idea what I was going to see,” he remembers.
Having been talked into coming along by “a couple of the guys from Spandau Ballet” who told him the film was “something about lambs” but had Jodie Foster in it, he was in for a shock. “That was a terrifying movie,” he says. “There was some gear changes in that film where you could feel the whole room gasp.”
On the walk back to their hotel, the Duran Duran bassist and Spandau agreed that Anthony Hopkins should get the Oscar [which he eventually did] for his blood-curdling performance as serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
“We were like, ‘He’s gonna be on the cover of People magazine.’ You just knew,” says Taylor. “I’m not into kitschy scary movies like Friday the 13th, you know, but that was proper scary.”
Dir: Stanley Kubrick
Horror maestro Stephen King may have hated Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, but Nick Rhodes is on the side of most of the movie-going public. “I mean, I don’t think of it as a traditional horror movie by any means. But, boy, that’s a great movie,” he says.
Like many of the great scary films, The Shining is at risk of being reduced in the popular imagination to a few shocking scenes – chief among them the endlessly imitated moment Jack Nicholson axes his way through a door to mug, “Here’s Johnny!” An improvised reference to the introduction of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson that went over the heads of many international audiences, it’s now indelibly linked to Jack Torrance’s unravelling mental state.
“Stephen King,” says Rhodes, “is a master of that sort of psychological tension and madness.”
Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Dir: Terence Fisher
Another pick from Duran Duran’s gothiest, but one he says the whole band can get behind. “We all love Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cure and Hammer Horror,” explains Rhodes. “That’s a middle ground and then you know, we go in different directions from there.”
Rhodes loves “virtually the entire Hammer catalogue”, but Christopher Lee’s 1966 outing as the Count gets his ultimate vote. The third entry in the UK studio’s Dracula series, it is notable for Lee never uttering a word as the titular vampire, bar a few hisses. “The reason was very simple,” Lee told the crowd at Shock It To Me!, San Francisco’s horror film festival, in 2008. “I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much mistaken.”
Duran Duran’s Halloween album Danse Macabre is released on 27 October via Tape Modern for BMG.
Read the full interview in The Big Issue, featuring an exclusive Duran Duran image on the cover, from Monday 30 October.