Exclaim!'s Top Ten Rock Movies
Published Dec 30, 2009What makes a great film? Well, a compelling story line is pretty important. A cool cast never hurts either, and, of course, there's gotta be a kick-ass soundtrack.
Maybe that's why rock flicks are always so great. They pretty much have it all: a rad story, wicked personalities - acting notwithstanding - and super-rockin' tunes.
Naturally there are the kitschy films such as Almost Famous, Sid & Nancy or that stupid Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park that are hilariously bad, but we're talking about those scripted movies that are crucial to a rocker's existence - that branch out beyond fandom to the point where even Joe Schmoe is taken in.
And with that, we present our list of Top Ten Rock Movies:
Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare, 1987
Okay, this flick featuring Mr. Universe/hair metal vocalist Jon Mikl Thor is pretty friggin' close to the Kiss-tastrophe previously mentioned. The acting is atrocious and the plot - a battle between heaven and hell that takes place in a farmhouse while the rock band Triton records an album - is questionable at best. But sometimes you need that sub-par, best-of-the-worst kinda stuff for a chuckle. And the wicked twist at the end is enough to make even M. Night Shyamalan jealous.
Light of Day, 1987
Were it not for Joan Jett, this one would be a stretch - and it still might be at that - but you can't argue about that kick-ass title track or the premise: siblings who disobey orders and responsibility to tour and rock the fuck out. Bonus points for an early Trent Reznor sighting.
Whale Music, 1994
Not so subtlely based on Brian Wilson, this flick (originally a novel) about a genius rock star-turned-hermit is brilliant. It's a love story, a comedy and rock opera all in one. Even ladies love the Whale Music.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982
Three young girls learn the rigours of road life after their attempt at fleeing home lands them on a national tour opening for a washed-up glam act and a punk band played by two former Sex Pistols. As they become hardened and change their appearance, the Stains' image soars and insanity ensues. It's also pretty cool.
Alice Cooper's The Nightmare, 1975
The film adaptation of the Coop's album Welcome to My Nightmare, The Nightmare pretty much plays out as expected: main character Steven falls asleep and enters this weird dream fantasy where he is confronted by a very sinister, "is he Satan?" gentleman performed by Vincent Price.
The Blues Brothers, 1980
Two former criminals on a "mission from God" end up pissing off Nazis, singing with Aretha Franklin and causing the biggest series of car crashes in the history of Hollywood films. Even if they are a soul band, that's pretty rock'n'roll.
Pink Floyd's The Wall, 1982
Rock superstar Pink Floyd goes nuts and alienates himself from the world. With the multimedia presentation (film, animation and the like), it's pretty trippy and has been the focal point of more than a few acid trips in the last three-plus decades.
Rock 'N' Roll High School, 1979
A classic teachers-versus-students struggle ensues after a raucous student introduces her cronies to the Ramones. The band shows up at the school, they rock out and then blow the joint up. It's everyone's teen fantasy.
Hard Core Logo, 1996
A decrepit Canadian punk band reunites for one more tour. Nothing goes as planned and there's a surprise ending. Shot documentary style, it's shocking, stunning and pretty fuckin' hilarious. Oh, and it has a Joey Ramone cameo.
This Is Spinal Tap, 1984
Basically the same idea that Hard Core Logo stole but 12 years earlier, This Is Spinal Tap follows a decrepit metal band on their tour of America. It goes disastrously but in a hilarious, not-so-dark kinda way. Every band since has their own "Spinal Tap" moment... even Spinal Tap who became a bona fide band after the film's release. Essentially, this movie is a prerequisite for everyone wanting a career in film, television, radio, music, the arts. If you can't recite any scene verbatim on a whim, you're fired.
These films don't quite fit the mould (they're either documentaries, aren't quite about rock or are loosely associated via fans' perspectives or whatever), but are still vital to any potential musical troublemaker. Research and/or revisit them.
The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey
Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
Heavy Metal Parking Lot
GG Allin: Hated