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Bastards On The Beat: Maniacal Movie Maestros
(An Introduction To Genre Musicals)
By: Mickael
Let me start by saying that I don't like musicals. In fact, I fucking hate them. The spontaneous bursting into song, random extras suddenly becoming overcome by the desire to dance, and the hoe-downs. Fucking christ, if I never see another hoe-down, it'll be too damn soon. But the thing is, I really love music. Many years ago, I came up in the punk scene where I wrote for indie 'zines and published my own punk zine for awhile. My friends and I went to all the shows, from The Ramones to The Slackers to Less Than Jake. We witnessed the ascent and destruction of many a local band; like Bazooka Joe, 29 Steps, Strip Club Moms, 4:20 Brothers, Gymo, Bring Back Joel, and too many others to name. Minor Threat and The Exploited changed my life. I found an identity in that music that I never found in sports or school or with my family. In fact, Propagandhi wrote their songs specifically to erase the damage that our educational system was doing to my brain. I love music. But I hate musicals.
Your typical musical consists of elaborate dance routines, characters expressing their emotions or motivations through song, and a lot of elaborate sets and costumes. When people think of movie musicals, their minds probably jump right to things like Chicago, Rent, Moulin Rouge, Mama Mia, or Phantom of the Opera. But, Disney's Frozen is also a musical, as any parent can attest, and even though it's not playing to my sensibilities I can still see that it's not typical of the genre. Then again, neither is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Just when I think I don't like any musicals at all, there it hits me. Nightmare Before Christmas. That's a good movie, and it's a musical. Maybe I don't mind it because it's not live action? No that's not it, I like it because it's a horror-themed movie. I'm a sucker for that. Tim Burton gets a cheap pop from me simply for doing creepy things.
What other musicals don't suck? Well, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. It's great, and it's a musical. Hmm. The Blues Brothers, too. Then again, the music in that is phenomenal, not your typical sappy bullshit. You know, The Wizard Of Oz is a musical, too, and nobody can say a bad word about that. It's an absolutely perfect movie. A little lifehack regarding that: if you're hanging out with your crush alone and you want to "take it to the next level", put on The Wizard Of Oz. Being a film that everyone likes, that holds almost entirely fond memories, but that you have memorized in a way that you don't need to focus on it so you can converse or make out or do more while it's on... it's like viagra that works on either sex. I promise you this: if you want to have sex with someone, anyone, and they've so far agreed to chill with you, one-on-one, you don't need Netflix. You just need a copy of The Wizard Of Oz.
I guess what I'm learning is this: the musical genre is not my enemy. I can totally stand a musical, as long as it isn't a sappy romance, an uninspiring drama, or the same basic redemption story told in 4/4 time. When a musical either incorporates music that rocks or elements from our favorite genres, then I'm on board. So, I've compiled a fairly large list of films that meet that standard: a bad ass fantasy, sci fi, or horror musical. Keep in mind that I'm not recommending all of these films, you should make up your own mind for which are worth your hard-earned dollar and your precious time. I'm just trying to make your life easier by bringing cult film sensibilities to a genre that is typically reserved for West Side Story and Singin' In The Rain.
To avoid getting bogged down with the likes of Wizard Of Oz or Mary Poppins, I'm keeping this list simple. The film should have that "cult classic" edge to it, and should be a genre film. Action, adventure, sci fi, fantasy, horror, and more are the cost of entry to allow a film onto this list. Breakin', Beat Street, and Body Rock; which, while being goofy 80's hip hop musicals, simply lack the qualifications to come on board. Similarly I don't cover animation here, just live action films, so no Nightmare Before Christmas or Aladdin either. Shit, do you know what I've just done? I've just mentioned too many popular, classic, high-budget musicals in this intro. I've set a standard in the reader's mind to which the following films can never aspire. Oh well, fuck it! Prepare to be disappointed by these 35 genre musicals to help you step out of your comfort zone and into the Forbidden Zone...
PosterTitleYearDirectorMore InfoCountry

Phantom Of The Paradise
(aka Phantom, Phantom Of The Fillmore)

A "rock opera" fantasy remake of Phantom Of The Opera!

Fantasy
1974Brian De PalmaIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
USA

Lisztomania

Fantasy
1975Ken Russell


UK

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Sci Fi / Horror / Comedy
1975Jim SharmanIMDb


Buy @ Amazon

UK
USA

Tommy
(aka Tommy by the Who)

Fantasy / Sci Fi-adjace
1975Ken RussellIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
UK

Quadrophenia
(aka Quadrophenia: A Way Of Life)

Action / Crime
1979Franc RoddamIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
UK

Forbidden Zone

Sci Fi / Comedy
1980Richard ElfmanIMDb

Buy @ Amazon
USA

Stunt Rock
(aka Crash, Sorcery)

Action / Horror
1980Brian Trenchard-SmithIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
Australia
Netherlands

Terror On Tour
(aka Demon Rock)

Horror
1980Don EdmondsIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
USA

Shock Treatment
(aka The Brad And Janet Show)

The Rocky Horror sequel.

Sci Fi
1981Jim SharmanIMDb

Buy @ Amazon
USA

Murder-Rock: Dancing Death
(aka Slashdance, The Demon Is Loose, Giallo A Disco, Murderock: Uccide A Passo Di Danza)

Horror / Suspense / Slasher
1984Lucio Fulci

Italy

Rocktober Blood
(aka Rocktober Blood Paradise, Rockill)

Horror
1984Beverly Sebastian

USA

Streets Of Fire

Action
1984Walter Hill

USA

Voyage Of The Rock Aliens
(aka Attack Of The Aliens, Rock Aliens, Attack Of The Rock 'n' Roll Aliens)

Sci Fi
1984James Fargo

USA

Hard Rock Zombies
(aka Rock Zombies)

Horror
1985Krishna Shah

USA

Labyrinth

Fantasy
1986Jim HensonIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
USA
UK

Little Shop Of Horrors

Horror / Comedy
1986Frank Oz

USA

Trick Or Treat
(aka Ragman)

Horror

Music from Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne!
1986
Charles Martin Smith

USA

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare
(aka Arch Angel, The Edge Of Hell)

Horror
1987John Fasano

Canada

StageFright: Aquarius
(aka Bloody Bird, Deliria, Sound Stage Massacre, Stage Fright)

Horror / Slasher
1987Michele Soavi

Italy

Black Roses
(aka Freakshow)

Horror
1988John Fasano

USA
Canada

Slaughterhouse Rock
(aka Slaughter House, Hell Island, Alcatraz Horror)

A heavy metal ghost helps a man fight a cannibal demon that has possessed his brother, while visiting Alcatraz prison.

Horror
1988Dimitri LogothetisIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
USA

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
(aka Dudes, The Adventures Of Bill And Ted)

Sci Fi / Fantasy / Comedy
1989Stephen Herek

USA

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
(aka Bill And Ted Go To Hell, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure II)

Sci Fi / Fantasy / Comedy
1991Peter Hewitt

USA

Shock 'Em Dead
(aka Rock 'em Dead)

Horror / Slasher
1991Mark Freed

USA

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Drama, but...
A must-see.
2001John Cameron Mitchell

USA

Intercessor: Another Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare

Horror, but...
Whatever the opposite of a must-see is. A must-ignore?
2005Benn McGuire, Jacob Windatt

Canada

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Horror
2007Tim Burton

USA
UK

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Sci Fi / Comedy
2008Joss WhedonIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
USA

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Sci Fi
2008Darren Lynn Bousman

USA

Sci Fi High: The Movie Musical

Sci Fi
2010Dan Bellusci, Steve Dispensa

USA

The Devil's Carnival

Horror
2012Darren Lynn Bousman

USA

The Ghastly Love Of Johnny X

Sci Fi
2012Paul BunnellIMDb


Buy @ Amazon
USA

Stage Fright

Horror
2014Jerome Sable

Canada

Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival

Horror
2015Darren Lynn Bousman

USA

Deathgasm

Horror
2015Jason Lei Howden

New Zealand
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