Top Ten: The Horror Of Movie Musicals
The musical movie is generally a genre many cult film fans stay clear of, only venturing to watch the classic wonderfully campy homage to schlock horror and sci-fi B-movies The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) once in a while or the lesser known but equally as campy Phantom Of Paradise (1974). But there are a number of other vintage musical movies with a horror or surreal sci-fi theme that deserve a viewing. Prompted by the inclusion in the Cult Film Friday list one of the worst movies ever made, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964). Billed as the first "monster musical", only just beating out the then second monster musical The Horror Of Beach Party by one month. I decided to dig deeper into the genre, if genre is the right word, to discover what other horror or sci-fi themed musical movie gems existed out there. There are some obvious inclusions in the list, a couple of purposeful exclusions, but for what's it's worth here is a truly eclectic list of ten. Having no idea whatsoever how to rank the list, should it be by the quality of their musical numbers? By it's cult status, it's obscurity, it's so-bad-it's-good rating? Struggling with categorizing the uncategorizable, I decided to leave to the reviewers on IMDb, and so this list is ranked by their IMDb ratings. So here it is, the Weird Retro Top Ten countdown of kitsch, campy, often crazy, and rarely cool, cult movie musicals. Enjoy!
The First Lord Of Horror Rock: Screaming Lord Sutch - Infamous horror rock musician, who had some of the greatest rock musicians in history pass through his backing band The Savages.
Bloody Good Scenes Of Mass Murder - When horror decides to turn it up to 11. Gallons of blood and high body counts. We present some of the bloodiest horror movie scenes ever.
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964): For no reason is this movie rated as one of the worst movies ever made, which just happens to have one of the longest ever titles. A monster movie, produced, directed and starring Ray Dennis Steckler (appearing in the movie under the bizarre name Cash Flagg). Featuring a creepy carnival, a stripper with hypnotic powers and her weird fortune-telling sister, the obligatory zombies and finally for good measure a dose of the occult. Made for a mere $38,000, the movie was promoted as the first "monster musical". As mentioned previously, only beating the second monster musical The Horror Of Beach Party (which is unsurprisingly next on our countdown) by just one month.
The Horror of Party Beach (1964): Directed by B-movie director Del Tenney, who purposely set-out to make his take on the beach party genre of movie. Beach party genre of movies had a brief popularity during the 1960s, and usually contained songs and an accompanying soundtrack album of surf style music. Despite The Incredibly Strange... coming out first, the makers still marketed the movie as the first monster musical. Originally entitled Invasion Of The Zombies, the monster in the movie are radioactive mutant plant-sludge humanoid hybrids, as the makers attempted to shoe-horn in every B-movie cliché they could think of at the time. The monsters hunt down and kill mostly teen beach bunnies, as they gather on the beach for slumber parties. And you wonder why this movie often makes it onto lists of some of the worst movies ever made?!
Nudist Colony Of The Dead (1991): A local judge orders the closure Sunny Buttocks Nudist Camp. The 'camp' members enter into a suicide pact, and vow to come back from the dead for vengeance. Jump five years forward, a group of Bible thumping campers on a retreat come up against the returned zombie nudists. A surprisingly well made low-budget flick, shot on Super-8 film on a budget of $35,000. An underrated musical-horror-comedy, with some truly witty moments. From the death by having the Bible shoved down one victims throat, to the naked singing zombies performing their big production number anthem Kill All The Zealots.
The Apple (1980): Also known as Rock Star, a musical sci-fi movie directed by Menahem Golan. (Better known for the classic 1986 Chuck Norris action movie Delta Force.) The Apple is a hard musical to pin-down, part homage to disco, part rock opera. It is set in a futuristic 1994, and like Nudist Colony Of The Dead has a religious element to it, as it attempts through allegory (the Adam & Eve story) to consider the twin themes of conformity and rebellion of its main protagonists journey through the music industry. Both campy and at times pretentious, the movie flopped. Released just a bit too late to take advantage of the late 70s vogue for musical movies, the movie has garnered a cult following more recently.
Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire (1987): A British musical comedy, and the only one of two on the list (if you discount Rocky Horror as being wholly British, which personally I think it is but don't want to argue about here.) Starring Phil Daniels, more famous for his role as Jimmy in the classic British teen rebellion movie Quadrophenia (1979). Playing to type, Daniels (Billy the Kid) is a cock-sure cockney wide-boy, who accepts a challenge to play the Green Baize Vampire in a winner takes all grudge snooker match. With obvious metaphorical and visual references to a deal with the Devil this one certainly deserves to make the list.
Toomorrow (1970): Directed by Val Guest, the director of the original Casino Royale (1967) and starring Olivia Newton-John. The story revolves around a band called Toomorrow, who perform with an instrument called a Tonaliser, the sonic vibrations of which are of interest to a group of dying aliens. The aliens abducts the group and forces them to play for the population of Alphoid, as the vibrations can save their planet. Due to legal and financial fights over the production of the movie, it too some two years to make. When finally finished it was shown in one cinema in London for just one week, and then cancelled. It was bizarrely shown on a couple of British military bases during the early 70s, but never again after that until a single showing in Los Angeles in 2000.
Little Shop Of Horrors (1986): The famous horror comedy musical movie directed by Frank Oz, adapted from off-Broadway musical of the same name. Which in turn was based on the low-budget Roger Corman movie The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), which famously featured an early performance by Jack Nicholson. The musical was packed with Hollywood stars, but central being the performance of Levi Stubbs (lead singer with The Four Tops) as the giant carnivorous alien plant from outer space, Audrey II. Seymour (played by Rick Moranis) is a florist who works at Mushnik's Flower Shop on skid row with his unrequited love Audrey. He eventually finds his chance for escape from the drudgery of life and a chance at romance when he discovers what becomes the giant man-eating plant, he names Audery II, who constantly demands to be fed human blood.
The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953): A bizarre and truly surreal little gem of a kid musical movie. It is the only movie written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss). A surreal storyline, surreal sets, and surreal acting. If Salvador Dali had taken LSD and decided to make a kids musical movie about a child's hatred of piano practice, this would be it. The Baltimore City Paper reviewed the movie in 2005, and wonderfully and succinctly called it, "space-age-by-way-of-Caligari ... on the delicious side of creepy."
Phantom Of The Paradise (1974): A horror musical movie written and directed by well known director Brian De Palma. The movie borrows elements from a variety of sources that are weaved through its storyline. There are obvious references to the Phantom Of The Opera, The Picture Of Dorian Grey and Faust. High literary stuff for what is a campy tongue-in-cheek piece of cinema that failed at the box office, only to later gain a large cult following. There are some that prefer this to Rocky Horror... for its deeper darker satire of the music industry. In the movie a badly disfigured composer agrees to sell his soul for the sake of the woman he loves. Betrayed by the record industry tycoon who steals his compositions, he reeks revenge into the venue the tycoon sets-up call The Paradise.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975): The most famous cult horror/sci-fi themed musical movie of all time. directed and co-written by Jim Sharman. Also written by Richard O'Brien, which he based on his based 1973 musical stage, The Rocky Horror Show. It was mainly shot at Bray Studios in the UK, and also at Oakley Court, both most famously used by the infamous British Hammer Horror productions. A flop on initial release, it got its lucky break in 1976 when it became one of the 6 key "midnight movies" to be shown on rotation at the lieks of Waverly Theater in New York City. It was there that audiences who came back night after night to see the movie started to "participate" with the action on the screen, a phenomena that carries on to this day. Establishing it as an absolute cult classic. The movie is a wonderful homage piece, jam packed with references to B-movies of the 1950s and 60s. Deservedly taking the No.1 slot in the list of the Top Ten: Horror Of Movie Musicals.
Top Ten: Freaky Frankenstein Movies - Bad art-house, B-movie cash-ins, comedies, blaxpolitation, horror and as much marvellously monstrous madness to satisfy everyone's Frankenstein needs.
Ten Lovecraft Movies You May Not Know - There are plenty of movies out there that are based on or inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Here's a few that you many not of come across.