The Misfits. One of the true pillars of the horror rock genre. Many consider them the progenitors of the genre, though they were definitely preceded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Alice Cooper as we have explored. But this in NO WAY detracts from their contribution to the scene. Though those artists may have led the way, The Misfits MADE the scene in many ways. Their fusion of the dark themes of horror and the nihilistic punch of punk is a match made in heaven that still seems progressively retro today.
Formed in 1977 in New Jersey by Glenn Danzig, The Misfits took what was happening in the American punk scene and brought their love of horror to it, creating a theatrical approach that made them unique among their early peers. Their image was built with a mix of makeup, memorable hair, great branding and horror imagery surrounding them. The songs formed the bedrock for this image though, leveraging grade B horror themes. Titles like “Vampira,” “Halloween,” “London Dungeon,” “Horror Business,” and “Night of the Living Dead” and a self-formed label named “Plan 9 Records” for the Ed Wood sci-fi horror classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space” showed this love for the genre at large.
As a creative professional with a focus on design who helps create brands every day, I can think of few bands EVER who did a more successful job of creating a visual icon to represent the band than The Misfits. Their “Fiend” symbol and typography for “The Misfits” is instantly recognizable and anchored the band’s visual identity in a truly iconic way. The symbol was based on a poster for the 1946 serial “The Crimson Ghost.” It first appeared on the single for “Horror Business.” Here is the original image that inspired the mark ::
Their appeal is not all theatrics and image, though. Not even close. The songs themselves were milestones among the American punk scene. Though the band’s finest work was their early output with Danzig still on board, the 90’s re-formed band carried forward the sound in a solid way. Listen to the anthemic growl and horror thematics ::
Here is the band live in a 1983 performance ::
Represent The Misfits, inventors of “Horror Punk!”