The film The Misfits is a wreck. Written by noted playwright Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman and one-time husband of Marilyn Monroe - see below), the movie suffers a lack of cohesion. Legend has it that Hollywood veteran Clark Gable (Gone With The Wind) was so stressed by the antics and traumas of his co-star, Marilyn Monroe, that he suffered a fatal heartache shortly after the '61 film was completed. Others say Gable's hard living and the rigors of performing his own stunts took its toll on the 59 year old actor. Yeah, that's probably what happened but the Monroe angle is far more interesting. Lurid, you might say; a screen legend taken down by an insecure, reckless, self-centered actress.
It's no coincidence that The Misfits vocalist Glenn Danzig used Monroe as a touchstone on a couple occasions during his storied career. The group had a similar history. But more to the point, The Misfits were off the track from the start and made little effort to right things, except for constant personnel changes. Even recording a full length debut album, following numerous EPs, proved difficult.
The Misfits were formed by Danzig and bassist Jerry Caiafa (later Jerry Only) in '77. The Lodi, NJ, band then added drummer Manny. This line-up recorded a single ("Cough Cool") before Manny was dispatched, being replaced by Mr. Jim Catania. They also added guitarist Frank "Franche Coma" LiCata. The group played crude Metal while racing through B-movie themes and splatter lyrics.
An EP, designed to be part of a larger project, had no label interest. So The Misfits brought in a new guitarist, Bobby Steele, and drummer Joey Image. A three song EP "Horror Business And The Night Of The Living Dead" was released on Halloween.
An aborted UK tour in support of The Damned was yet another set back as was the frustrated departure of Image. There were singles and another EP before The Misfits finally made their full length album debut in '81, "Walk Among Us." That same year Danzig released a solo single "Who Killed Marilyn." By this time band members were coming and going with increased, nearly alarming, frequency. The band, or what was left of it, finally pulled the plug in '83. Danzig, of course, formed the group named after himself achieving a fair measure of success.
Here's where the story gets interesting. By '85, Misfits compilations, distributed by Caroline Records, were building interest in the group. Their image as an over the top, out of control, weird as hell band that was no longer around loomed large (or at least larger than when they were active). Later, Metallica and Guns N' Roses covered their songs ("Last Caress" and "Attitude" respectively).
The temptation grew too great. Jerry Only formed a Danzig-free version of The Misfits to cash in. It was a nice try. Vocalist Michael Graves could do a fair Danzig impersonation, but in the end, that's all it was. The group issued "American Psycho" in '97, and four years later, "Famous Monsters." This edition also released its own compilation, "Cuts From The Crypt." A late edition of The Misfits even had Marky Ramone on drums.
Graves made unwanted news in '12 when he was arrested for possession of 6 grams of marijuana while on a solo tour in Texas. He was released the following day on a $750 bond but had to return to Texas to answer to the charges.
The next year saw the arrival of "Dea.D. Alive!," The Misfits first "proper" live album since the '80s. The 14 track effort contained a concert filmed on All Hallows' Eve, at Times Square, as well as tracks from a hometown show in NJ.
Dez Cadena (Dennis Paul Cadena) ended a fifteen year run with the group in '15 and was replaced by Jerry Only's son, Jerry Jr. So The Misfits were now Jerry Only, his son and drummer Eric "Chupacabra" Arce, who had been with the band since '10.
1982 Walk Among Us
1983 Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood
1997 American Psycho
1997 Static Age
1999 Famous Monsters
2003 Project 1950
2011 The Devil's Rain
1998 Evillive I I
2013 Dea.D. Alive!
The Misfits can be viewed as a Speed Metal take on Alice Cooper with ghoulish images, horror movie themes and tales of aliens (not the ones from Mexico), delivered with a sick sense of humor. In the end, Rob Zombie (White Zombie) took this concept to the bank.
"Walk Among Us" is The Misfits legacy. So over the top, but executed in such a perverted way, this album is one of the most entertaining messes ever created. "Vampira," "20 Eyes," and the ever popular "Mommy Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight" are among the reasons.
Since a good chunk of The Misfits work was originally released on EPs it makes sense to find a compilation. "Misfits," and the more extensive "Legacy Of Brutality," do the job.
The post-Danzig edition of The Misfits works hard, but without Danzig's melodic bellow or demented viewpoint, it just doesn't have the same rush to oblivion.