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Car Seat Headrest's Ethan Ives Picks His Top Five Horror Movies

Following Car Seat Headrest's North American Tour last year, we caught up with lead guitarist Ethan Ives who tells us all about his top five favorite horror movies of all time.

Photo by Jessica Fredette

Since signing to Matador Records in 2015, Car Seat Headrest has ascended from a bedroom pop prodigy to arena-rock heroes. Within a short amount of time, they've done it all — from 2016's rock 'n' roll manifesto Teens of Denial to 2018's reworking of their rapturous magnum opus Twin Fantasy. Lead guitarist Ethan Ives' knotty, virtuosic guitar work pairs perfectly with frontman Will Toledo's Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies and blistering tales of heartbreak. Outside of his recent solo recording project Toy Bastard, Ives became a significant member in constructing CSH's sound over the years, especially with his spiraling rush of adrenaline-fueled and distorted guitar lines that claw through your skull — just listen to the jagged riffage on cuts like "Beach Life-In-Death" or "Connect the Dots (The Saga of Frank Sinatra)." Ives has also stepped into the role of providing lead vocals on "What's With You Lately," from the band's 2020 experiment, Making a Door Less Open, and with the band's blistering live cover of Neil Young's "Powderfinger."

If you follow Ives on social media, you may know he's into two things: Doom and horror films. Following CSH's North American Tour last year, we caught up with Ives to check out his top five horror films of all time.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

"I guess this isn't much of a secret anymore, but Halloween III is a lost gem! Unrelated to Michael Myers or any other Halloween film (humorously, it takes place in a world where John Carpenter's original Halloween exists) it's instead a bizarre, sci-fi-tinged, mood piece with robots and Stonehenge. Closer to The Twilight Zone than a slasher. You'll probably remember the ending forever. I adore its dark, gloomy atmosphere, and for my money it has John Carpenter's best score. The only thing really going against it is a truly superfluous and dumb romance between the two leads."

Phantasm (1979)

"BOYYYYYYYYYY! Through a dreamy atmosphere, '70s cool, and just the right amount of goopy horror stuff, this movie achieves maximum Halloween coziness. The perfect pick to snuggle up and watch with your buds. And though I'm fairly certain that any deep subtext is a happy accident, the more I watch this movie the more I sense a buried melancholy

and loss under the surface-level, balls-to-the-wall coolness. To me, it reads as a surreal story of a young kid struggling to process grief and death at a tragically premature age. The sequels get very dodgy, but Phantasm II is great fun."

The Exorcist III (1990)

"Another unjustly banished threequel that's basically a standalone movie (although there are nominally more series connections in this one). The franchise-heavy branding is really a shame, because this is by far one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen (there's only one jumpscare and it's generally agreed to be the greatest one in cinematic history).

Unlike the other picks, this one is distinctly not 'fun.' It's a somber film that touches upon themes of institutional decay, racism, and loss of faith — but the incredible atmosphere makes it a seasonal favorite for me. The sense of spiritual doom wrung from shots of simple statues is just deliciously spooky. Every performance is stellar, not just on a horror movie curve, but as an A-level drama. Come for Georce C. Scott's old man rage, stay for Brad Dourif (from Blue Velvet!) playing an insane demon."

It Follows (2014)

"The term 'dream logic' gets tossed out a lot, but few movies, I think, capture the specific feeling of a nightmare like It Follows. It's about that terrible moment between childhood and adulthood when, suddenly, death is real and you know that somewhere, some day, no matter what you do, it will eventually find you. To me, this is the best Halloween sequel that isn't actually called Halloween, and often feels like an homage to/updated take on a lot of the same themes. Both are interested in an indescribable evil hiding just beneath the surface of an anonymously modern, utterly unmotivated blankness. Easily the scariest pick of the lot!"

Army of Darkness (1992)

"I love evil skeletons. I LOVE evil skeletons. I fucking love, love, love evil skeletons. And the thing about this movie is that it's absolutely full of them. Evil skeleton puppets, evil skeleton costumes, stop-motion skeletons — every style of skeleton special effects is used. The plot is that Bruce Campbell fights the skeletons using techniques he learned from The Three Stooges. He says some funny stuff. Then he teaches skeleton-fighting to a bunch of medieval people after insulting them, eating their chicken wings, and calling them a bunch of screwheads. The fact that Campbell's character is a prick is the second best part of the movie, after all the skeletons."

Stream Toy Bastard's Life For Cowards below.


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