In Mastadon’s video for Show Yourself, the Atlanta based four piece take the piss out of themselves and playfully mess with Metal Band stereotypes about the Grim Reaper and Death in a way that is an absolute treat for fans of 80s and 90s exploitation cinema. From the opening frame, horror buffs will get all warm and nostalgic that the aspect ratio of the video is set to your old television VHS format (or 4:3 for those of you playing at home) with black bars to the left and right of the main picture (fuck a letterbox. Don’t actually fuck a letterbox, it’s a colloquial term for widescreen aspect ratio).
But the feels don’t stop there.
Firstly, our Death character is reminiscent of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey buddy the Grim Reaper and not just in appearance. His awkward, loser status throughout the clip’s first half bares more than just a resemblance to old mate from Bill and Ted’s inferior sequel.
AND THEEEEEEEN we see Death at his day job where, over the course of the video, the boss taunts Death with the workflow chart and reward of coffee used famously in Glengarry Glen Ross – seriously, those Alec Baldwin flames are hotter than Hell itself.
The tanning bed death at 1:43 is lifted straight from Final Destination 3 and the toaster in the bath scene at 2:21 might (at a stretch) be some kind of homage to Bill Murray’s effort in Groundhog Day.
Now, the photocopier death at 2:05 feels reminiscent of John Waters’ ‘Serial Mom’ but there’s only so much ‘death scene’ you can google at work without alerting both departments HR and IT. I think that was actually a leg of lamb she beat her to death with. No matter, on deeper inspection, it would appear that a Z grade late 80s horror movie starring a third-billed actor called Brad Pitt called ‘Cutting Class’ also features a photocopier death scene. So let’s call it that, cos I’m sure it was the highly referential movie touch point they were going for.
The piece de resistance is definitely actor Brian Posehn’s death at the end. Not because it’s particularly memorable but because I am still trying to forget the last time I saw him die, which was during the first half hour of Rob Zombie’s ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ when he unexpectedly got his head blown off. It was really graphic but we can't find a clip of that particular scene, so here's another shot from the movie instead!
The grand finale aka ‘Death Bangs His Wife’ is of course the Mastodon boys having a crack at Titanic.
We’ve seen bands reference classic movies tonnes of times in the past before but what Mastodon and director Robert Schober should be congratulated for is seeing it through all the way. If you’re going to be impaled by a guitar please let’s see all the gore and have the guitarist finishing the solo in hell with the guitar still protruding through his ribcage, like the chicken without its head.
Mastodon’s album ‘Emperor Of Sand’ is out 31st March.