Matt “Count D” Montgomery doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. It’s on his chest. “I have a jacket that I wear almost every day — I’m wearing it right now,” the host of Gibson TV’s original series Metal And Monsters tells HollywoodLife. The jacket in question bears a patch that could essentially be the Metal And Monsters mission statement. “It’s from a t-shirt from the first time I saw the band Carcass on the Hard Work tour,” he says. “I cut that t-shirt up and sewed it on two different jackets that I still wear all the time. I’ve worn them for 25 years now.”
With a laugh, the man who has played alongside Rob Zombie for nearly two decades – and who, after chatting with HollywoodLife, will take the stage with his band The Haxans – reflects on how for most of his life, he’s “walking through the airport every other day with a t-shirt with my first Carcass t-shirt on my chest.”
Twenty-five years after seeing Carcass, Matt admits he’s still “the same guy” who bought that shirt from the merch booth, wore it until it was threadbare, and turned it into a patch that accompanies him to this day. He is still the same man who spent his afternoons watching 1994’s Ed Wood with his friends and the same man who helped care for Maila Nurmi, aka Vampira, while forging a bond with the horror host that has continued beyond her 2008 passing.
That passion, loyalty, and love have gone into Metal And Monsters. The Gibson TV series is the lovechild of Headbanger’s Ball, VHS recordings of Night Flight, and newsstand haunts like Fangoria, Rue Morgue, and RIP Magazine. The first episode coincided with the 35th anniversary of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and featured a discussion with Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, and Don Dokken, whose band Dokken wrote the “Dream Warriors” song for the film.
Matt also spoke with the team behind Super7, whose “ReAction Figures” line has immortalized metal icons like King Diamond, Cliff Burton of Metallica, Paul Baloff of Exodus, and Lemmy of Motorhead. And, true to form, the debut Metal and Monsters includes an interview with Bill Steer of Carcass. The result is an hour-long tour through the October country with boogie men and battle vests, midnight screenings, and import LPs. Against a backdrop of short attention-span media, Metal And Monsters is a deep dive into the history of all things heavy and horrific.
“[Metal And Monsters] is not about serial killers and heavy metal and monsters. It’s about those who love what they do so much that they’re studied in its top-shelf delivery,” explains Matt. “It’s as thoughtful as it could possibly be. That’s what really, really gets me off with the whole thing is that [Nightmare On Elm Street] is not just a guy in a mask. It’s a guy that knew what the f-ck he was doing. There’s a reason why there are all those movies. There’s a reason why Freddy Krueger a cultural icon and it’s because of Robert’s love for what he was doing. And that to me is so special.”
What really makes Metal And Monsters shine is the host at the center. It’s as clear as midnight that Matt is a fan, and his authentic love for everything in the series is undeniable. Matt is the host of Metal And Monsters, but his role on the show is that of the fan. He is there alongside the viewer in excitement to talk to Freddy Krueger, learn about the next toy from Super7, and revel in the unironic awesomeness that is 1986’s Trick or Treat.
“Even in my most frustrated moments, I’ve never really forgotten where I came from or who I am, and I’m proud of it,” Matt tells HollywoodLife. “I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud that I’m an Ed Wood nerd. I’m proud that I wear my Carcass t-shirt every day somewhere. I’m just that guy. So when I say it’s the most honest thing I could be doing, the fact that there’s a Carcass segment in the first episode with Robert Englund, who I’ve… Robert Englund was my generation’s Vincent Price.”
“I’m sitting in awe of the things that have defined me,” continues Matt, “and being the ringmaster of those things for another generation makes me feel so complete. Even if the show only lasts a few episodes — but to have this opportunity to go back home, so to speak, and speak to the things that influenced me literally my whole life and talk about them to an audience that maybe was also was influenced by them — or people that have no idea — it really does feel like the most honest thing I could be doing with my time.”
Metal And Monsters could also be considered Matt’s foray into the “family business.” He has played alongside some icons of the music world, including Alice Cooper (“Keepin’ Halloween Alive”), John 5 (The Devil Knows My Name), and the aforementioned Rob Zombie. As Count D, Matt has brought terror and delight to metal maniacs worldwide. But perhaps, he was truly meant to terrorize all those monster kids as a horror host.
“People can become magnets for things in their life based on what they celebrate,” Matt tells HollywoodLife. “I knew who Vampira was at a young age. I read a book about horror hosts, and I knew who she was, and I found her very interesting. This is pre-Internet, so I couldn’t exactly look up clips of The Vampira Show or anything like that, but I would trade videotapes. I had a guy who could find me anything I wanted to get my hands on.”
Maila Nurmi’s Vampira is often considered the first “horror host,” a ghoulish guide who appears on your television screen every week to introduce the latest fright out of Hollywood. Along with John Zacherle’s Zacherley — considered the other originator of the artform — Vampira would plant the proverbial pumpkin patch that would yield offspring like Svengoolie, Ghoulardi, Count Gore de Vol, Dr. Gangrene, Penny Dreadful, Margali, Morgus The Magnificent, and countless other cemetery creeps.
Though many have haunted late-night broadcasts and live streams since her, Vampira’s impact hasn’t been forgotten. It’s why she was among the inaugural class of inductees for the Horror Host Hall of Fame.
“She was just one of those mythical creatures that you didn’t know where she was or what she was doing, but you knew she was out there somewhere,” he continues. “And the, the Ed Wood movie came out. I saw it in the theatre, opening weekend, and man, did it speak to me. Ed never gave up. He had sand kicked in his face, and he just walked through the world doing what he knew how to do. And I subconsciously adopted that attitude.”
“I was completely obsessed with the story. And finally, I could see more Vampira even though it was Lisa Marie,” says Matt. As fate would have it, he was working at a Halloween store in the early 200s – “It was 2003 or 2004,” he says – when he got a phone call from out of the blue. Matt remembers someone telling him, “ ’Hey, this guy, Dana Gould, wants to know if you want to help him take care of Vampira?’”
“I was like, what the fuck?’” says Matt. “I mean, this is just an incredible moment. When I met her, she was this older lady who walked with a cane but had the sweetest disposition, Just the sweetest woman. I got to know her over the course of a couple of years, along with Dana.” Together, Dana (“such an incredible role model for me in my late 20s,” says Matt) and Maila became part of Matt’s family at a very pivotal moment in his life.
“I was a starving musician just trying to survive in LA and getting to know [Dana] and what he did for [Maila] — he financially supported her for years, checked up on her every few days. He was one of the busiest people that I had ever met in show business at that time, but he dedicated his time, his energy, and his money to help this woman live a better life,” recalled Matt. “It reminded me of how Ed looked after Bella. It was almost this same story, and, man, it was so powerful.”
“She just kind of became a grandmotherly energy and would give me advice,” says Matt. “I got the job with Rob Zombie during that time, and she was so excited about it. She knew who Rob Zombie was. She said, ‘oh, I like him. He’s interesting.’”
Sadly, Matt was on tour when Maila passed away in 2008. “I was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, when I got the call. I’ll never forget it. And as soon as I got home, we cleaned out her apartment,” he said. “And she had told us all these stories about Marlon Brando and Anthony Perkins and these crazy stories — which will come off as hearsay if I repeat them. But I found evidence that they were all true. Everything we thought was Maila in her later years just spinning yarns to entertain us. They were true stories.”
The spirit of Vampira and the horror host tradition lives on with Matt at the helm of Metal And Monsters. It also exists within the show’s fans.
It should surprise no one that the metal and horror fandoms are full of die-hard, committed, and unabashed lovers of their respective genres. Horror conventions continue to haunt all corners of the world, and heavy metal festivals have been doing what Coachella does – but louder – for decades. There’s also a heavy crossover between the two communities. You may often find an Evil Dead 2 or Zombie patch on a metalhead’s battle denim vest, or they’ve paired it with the latest t-shirt from the horror-inspired Fright Rags line.
Both the metal and horror fandoms also share a desire for community. When recording the first episode last fall, Matt posted “a kind of cryptic Instagram post” when he asked fans if they had any questions for Don or Robert. He also posted the Fang Mail address, the same address that fans need to send postcards or letters to qualify for the show’s giveaways and contests.
“We got, like, 130 pieces of mail by Christmas, and no one knew what it was for. No one knew what the show was or what it was called. That was just me going, ‘hey, if you want to ask a question, ask a question to these guys,’’ says Matt. After the Metal And Monsters debut episode, that number of mail has since tripled.
“And people not just sending a letter wanting self-addressed stamp envelope of wanting free guitar pick or something,” says Matt. “People sent packages. One girl had cut out pictures of Vampira shellacked on the envelope with packing tape. People were writing ‘Metallica’ real big across the back of the envelope.”
People also included their own experiences. “They didn’t say anything about the show,” says Matt.” The fans wrote about when they saw the fourth Nightmare On Elm Street movie for the first time, when they first witnessed Dokken on stage, or unrelated stories about their own metal and monsters journey. People wrote in just on the offhand chance that someone would read their own story and share in the experience.
Matt and the Metal And Monsters’ producers had discovered their show was a beacon in a moonless night, one that invited creatures to come out of the shadows and sit down by the fireside.
“So if any of us were on the fence about if snail mail was still a thing or that that would reverberate with the audience, all questions were answered. We were like, ‘oh, my God. I’m going to need another set of hands and a couple more pens,’ because I promised in the show I’d write everybody back.’ It might take me till Christmas, but I’ll write them back.”
“I was absolutely blown away,” he adds before revealing perhaps, the true goal of Metal And Monsters. By creating this show, Gibson and Matt have created a haven for people looking to “share stories amidst the turmoil of what I would consider a very broken world now. All I wanted to do with the show was unite people around the campfire and where everybody can hang out and warm their hands for an hour.”
“Kind of like me watching Ed Wood. I want to be here. I want to be around, and kind of listen in,” he concludes. “We used to all show up in the same place, at the same time to do the same thing together, and I missed that. I missed the unity. I missed the unity that would go through the world when movies would come out, and records would come out. I feel like, in a tiny little corner of the universe, we might have found it again — even if for a minute, we can get together.”