The Curious Case of Awful Movies with Great Soundtracks

We’ve all probably seen this at some point. You watch a movie, it’s a terrible movie, with schlocky acting, or poor production design, or stiff pacing (or all of that and more). But an hour after it’s over, you catch yourself humming the main theme.

What are your favorite soundtracks for otherwise bad movies?

I can think of several, but my go-to choice for this kind of conversation is always Krull, by James Horner, who takes a mostly uninspired Star Wars knockoff with cheesy acting and admittedly nice visuals and gifts it one of the most unabashedly entertaining scores of his career, filled with swashbuckling action and sweeping romance. It’s a real treat, and it’s a major reason that I enjoy the movie so much in spite of its flaws.

What say you all?

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Mission: Impossible III is… meh, but it has two (2) things going for it: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as the villain and Michael Giacchino’s score.

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Oh, any of a number of movies where Jerry Goldsmith wrote the score and orchestrated it (I suppose he did it by hand, delegating copying and transposing the parts to some underling). I think Rambo III was his, memorable theme, and so many others.

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From Under The Cherry Moon (and one of Prince’s most underappreciated songs) …

And Maximum Overdrive, one from AC/DC and the late, great Bon Scott…

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Always like hearing a John Barry score, even if it is on Starcrash.

I just re-watched The White Buffalo the other day, with Charles Bronson and Will Sampson, and that Barry sound was unmistakable (and added such atmosphere), even if you missed the credits, you’d recognize who scored it.

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Barry Gray was a frequent soundtrack composer for Pinewood Studios. He did most of the Supermarionation titles, for example, plus many others. He did a lot of great work, including this rocking number.

The films and shows aren’t necessarily bad, more “cheap BBC/ITV era” fare. But a few ended up on MST3K in the KTMA days.

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Xanadu–not the greatest movie, but the soundtrack, as they say, slaps.

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Starcrash immediately comes to my mind. Even before it was on MST3K season 11 and Tom Servo sang along to it, I’d seen the movie at a summer camp. After the movie, I found a girl in a piano practice room figuring out the theme by ear. Now it is stuck forever in my head.

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Krull is one of my favorite soundtracks too. In fact, it was what I was going to mention before I clicked on this topic! Since it’s already been picked, I will go with a more obscure one. The movie isn’t terrible, but it is pretty dull, aside from the music.

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Thought of another one. I will defend the 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth as a really entertaining film, but it’s actually a bad movie. It’s definitely MST3K fodder. Except for the Bernard Herrmann soundtrack.

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Nothing tops Vicious Lips

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While Queen of the Damned isn’t what I’d classify as awful, it is mediocre at best. A lukewarm film with laughably bad movement special effects that also has the sad distinction of being Aaliyah’s last movie (released posthumously, even). However, the soundtrack is amazing.

Heavy Metal 2000 had the potential to be a good film. It in no way lives up to that potential. It also has nothing whatsoever to do with the original movie for which it is named. While there is a lot (in terms of sentiment) to be admired about a director making a film that is basically a love letter to his wife (in terms of modelling a main character after her), casting her in the main part when she is NOT a vocal actress was his first mistake, and things didn’t improve from there. Despite all of this, the soundtrack is FAR better than it really has any right to be.

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Flash
Ah-ah
Saviour of the universe

Flash
Ah-ah
He’ll save every one of us

Flash
Ah-ah
He’s a miracle
(This mornings unprecedented solar eclipse is no cause for alarm)
Flash
Ah-ah
King of the impossible

He’s for every one of us
Stand for every one of us
He’ll save with a mighty hand
Every man, every woman, every child with a mighty Flash

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Well, it’s clearly time to mention Rollergator.

Wait.

That’s wrong.

But Death Promise counts.

East Meets Watts with Charles “The Mighty Burner” Earland taking complete charge of the sound.

Actually, I really like the Manos music: there’s a vinyl release from not too long ago with the soundtrack that I haven’t got around to picking up. A bit repetitive, but there are some good ideas in there.

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Good stuff here! Okay, so I don’t have a video clip of it unfortunately, but this is a topic that is, in a way close to my heart. My former band (37CITY), has about 30 seconds of one of our songs, “It’s Gonna be Alright” in possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen. The movie is called “Corpses are Forever”. Pro tip: When a small independent film company offers you money upfront or a small percentage of theatre and DVD sales, take the upfront money. I think our last royalty check was 11-12 years ago and it was for under a dollar.

Wish I had a link to our song, but I don’t. I do have a couple different recordings of it though.

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My go-to choice for a bad movie with a good soundtrack (though it’s not that bad a movie) is The Black Hole, which John Barry apparently decided to score somewhere between a Bond movie and something out of H.P. Lovecraft:

Bonus points for him using the blaster beam, so we KNOW this was made in at the end of the 70s.

Also, his intro for Game of Death, which is a tasteless hot mess of a movie, but man, that intro is epic.

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Thank you. I was losing my little remaining faith in humanity that this hadn’t been mentioned.

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The Teenagers series, as riffed by Mary Jo & Bridget, contains some great music courtesy of guest artists spliced into the film. You can tell the music is getting good when the camera isn’t on any of the cast.

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Gordon’s ALIIIVE!

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Flying blind on a rocket cycle???!!!

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