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Sinister Seven: Ghost’s Tobias Forge

Friday, September 27, 2019 | Interviews


If you don’t already know Ghost, you must have been sleeping in a coffin for the last decade or so. The Swedish band is one of metal’s most popular outfits today. In addition to an array of changing masked musicians (the nameless ghouls and ghoulettes), the band is led by corpse-painted masked leader Tobias Forge (Repugnant, Subvision, Magna Carta Cartel), who incarnates a different character every time his band drops a new record. Their old school heavy metal—you can call it melodic doom or occult rock if you want—is usually way closer to ’70s classic hard rock than anything seriously satanic, like Scandinavian church-burning black metal. Ghost is about everyday-Halloween, stadium-size melodies and always having a whole lot of horrific fun. And it’s all that really matters. Today, he dropped a new EP called SEVEN INCHES OF SATANIC PANIC (reviewed here).

During Heavy Montreal 2019, RUE MORGUE had the chance to sit down with Forge, who’s also a rabid horror-memorabilia collector (including many posters and movies)—just like his pal Kirk Hammett from Metallica, with whom he was touring Europe when RM called him a month later to resume this horror conversation. Here is some of his favorite horror-related stuff.

Favorite film featuring ghosts?

One that I really liked, just recently, was THE ORPHANAGE [2007]; it’s a fantastic film, a heart-crushing movie. Even though [Guillermo] del Toro only produced it and didn’t write or direct it, most of the things he puts his hands on has the same sort of nerve, where the antagonist in the end becomes the protagonist. That’s a twist I always like. It’s smart, very emotional. ORPHANAGE is a good film if you wanna speak of ghosts. 

Favorite satanic or occult film?

It’s probably THE EXORCIST and/or THE OMEN—all three films up until the ending. THE EXORCIST is a classic, obviously; I lack superlatives to explain how cool and how good that film is. But OMEN, especially as a young teenage Satan-worshipper, y’know, with extreme hatred of the world, when I saw those movies back to back to back… They had so many moments when you’re just like, “Yes!” I believe that the shitty ending of the third film [THE FINAL CONFLICT, 1981] is because there was a panic, like, “Wait a minute, what are we saying here?” Because when Damien speaks to the Jesus statue about who the mean one is, which side represents oppression, it’s pretty clear that Satan, in a way, does not represent oppression. He or she represents rebellion against the establishment. And I got the feeling that, toward the end of the writing, they were just like, “Whoops, no-no-no-no-no, we can’t have that!”

So [SPOILERS AHEAD] God’s hand coming down and just stopping everything, it’s completely…it defies logic! It’s like having your main character just die. Which is like, yeah, it’s cool if you just want a dramatic ending. But it’s like you’ve paved the way for the viewer to feel warmly about his task, I believe. It’s such a cockblock.

Favorite embodiment of evil in cinema?

Oh. The second PIPPI LONGSTOCKING film is called PIPPI ON THE RUN, and in that film, she runs into a travelling salesman, played by Hans Alfredson [THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST]. For anyone my age, he was for 40 years one of the favorites whom everybody loved—he just died a couple of years ago. He was also a book writer, and most of his stories are actually quite gnarly. One of them made it to film, and it was called DEN ENFALDIGE MÖRDAREN [THE SIMPLE-MINDED MURDERER, 1982], which he also directed, and where he plays this really, really evil character, who is just abominable. He’s not a serious killer, but he’s like half-Nazi, just this incredibly mean rich man; very Trump-ish. He treats people like shit. It’s a very good film, with Stellan Skarsgård as well.

Favorite shock rock artist?

Alice Cooper, probably. And KISS. As much as I love KISS, Alice Cooper, his records, especially the early ones, like KILLER [1971], WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE [1975] and BILLION DOLLAR BABIES [1973], they still stand the test of time. I believe some KISS stuff is not as timeless.

Favorite horrific album-cover art?

Oh, that’s hard. There are so many… I have quite a lot of records, actually. That first Black Sabbath record just has that eerie vibe; It looks very haunted, very witchy. That’s very unoriginal…everybody knows that, of course.

Favorite horror film poster?

I’d say maybe THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY [1981] or something like that. I like a lot of those Italian ones, those paintings. I would probably say SUSPIRIA [1977] is a good one. Especially the original, where you have the lady—it’s just a graphically good-looking poster.

Favorite horror film ever?

My sort of top five is a lot of the better-known films. I mean, I love a lot of Lucio Fulci, like ZOMBIE and stuff like that, because it’s fun and it’s got cool music. If we went to film school, there are obviously a lot of films that are better. Therefore, I’ll always hold in high regard BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA [1992] and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS [1991]. I saw them both when I was like 10-11 years old. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is just a perfectly crafted film.

Stay tuned for more on Tobias Forge on movies and other exciting new projects to come…