A broken watch is right twice a day, just as a lousy or mediocre film can have some redeeming qualities. Take Suicide Squad (please, take it). Despite reviews that compared it to all forms of famine and pestilence, it won an Oscar for makeup. Since apparently no other movies in 2016 used any makeup. Alongside this trend of technically superlative, creatively bankrupt films is the bad movies great soundtracks dichotomy.
Such is the case with the following movies, the soundtracks for which feature music so good you might forget the films that spawned them. All these terrible movies with awesome music owe a great debt to music supervisors, directors and producers with a good ear, parent companies that own record labels, and the consumerist masses, all of which played a role in ensuring an awful film had a chance to worm its way into pop culture relevance. Be sure to leave a comment with the best soundtracks and best movie songs from terrible movies not present here.
Now head to your preferred spot for streaming music and get ready for music that's better than the movies.
Terrible Movie: Brothers McMullen was one of the more charming independent films of the '90s. Writer, director, and star Edward Burns showed flashes of a star in the making on all three fronts. Although he’s had steady work in front of the camera since, his work behind the lens (and in front of screenwriting software) leaves something to be desired. This was never more apparent than in She’s The One, in which Jennifer Aniston is paired with two low-wattage stars from McMullen. It has the feeling of a cast from a middle-school Neil Simon production getting the chance to reprise its roles on Broadway, although Cameron Diaz pops up.
Great Soundtrack: Two words: Tom. Petty. The Heartbreakers contribute all songs on the She's the One soundtrack, which is considered a proper album for the band, not just soundtrack work. The record has a ramshackle quality that gives it a loose, laid back feel, and even includes two variations of the same song, twice (Angel Dream and Walls). There are boot-stomping rockers (Zero From Outer Space and Climb That Hill) and a plaintive Beck cover with a PG-13 title (Assh*le). She's the One's soundtrack caps one of rock’s greatest winning streaks - Full Moon Fever, Into the Great Wide Open, and Wildflower.
Best Tracks: Most people reading this might prefer/remember "Walls." It got some radio play back in the days of radio, and is one of those Petty tunes that feels like you've known it forever after hearing it once. The great deep cut classic is "Hung Up and Overdue," the love child George Harrison and Petty never got around to making in The Traveling Wilburys, featuring drums from Ringo Starr and guitar from Harrison. It's sprawling and lyrical, with gorgeous production.
Terrible Movie: Wherever there's an Internet troll, director Zack Snyder has an enemy. Alas, he didn't change many minds with Sucker Punch, odd mix of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and steampunk-laden Dr. Who, as played by a cast of strippers, Sucker Punch has some stylish moments, but is ultimately dumb trash. It was a warning shot, indicating what kind of movie Batman vs. Superman would be, but nobody was listening.
Great Soundtrack: Bjork's "Army of Me" (which was covered by Helmet for the MoM: Music for our Mother Ocean compilation) makes two appearances on this list (see: Tank Girl), though the Sucker Punch remake is superior. Female-led covers of the Pixies's Where Is My Mind, White Rabbit and Iggy Pop's Search and Destroy are perfect tonal hybrids. Don't bother with the movie. Listen to the soundtrack twice instead.
Best Track: Carla Azar's cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" would make John, Paul, George, Ringo and even Yoko proud.
#7 on Best Oscar Isaac Moviessee more on Sucker Punch
The Movie: The Twilight franchise started bad, got worse, and became insufferable. Despite all the characters who got killed off, this guy stuck around until the bitter end.
Great Soundtrack: As cringe-worthy as its dialogue, acting, and hair-dye managed to be, the Twilight franchise knew how to get top-tier bands to appear on its soundtracks. Eclipse, the third film in the series, had a great soundtrack, on which hipster indie bands collided with arena rockers. Metric, Muse, Vampire Weekend, Beck with Bat for Lashes, CeeLo and Sia all gave high end B-sides and unreleased tracks to the collection. It gives so much hope for a half-way decent film that never comes.
Best Track: UNKLE's "With You in My Head" is an atmospheric rock track that actually rocks, and stays in your head long after it stops playing. Unfortunately, it couldn't have been used any worse in the film, as background for a ridiculous training montage.
Also Rankedsee more on Eclipse
Terrible Movie: IMDB uses the following keywords in describing this "film":
- female frontal nudity
- public hair
- rich man poor woman
- duct tape
- son of a prostitute
- son of a crack addict
- merkin wig
Some of that is super fun. "Son of a crack addict" is where it all starts to get a little bit weird.
Great Soundtrack: Sexy isn't a word anyone would use to describe Fifty Shade of Grey, even if you met your partner at a glory hole. The soundtrack, however, is super sexy. AWOLNATION is no Bruce, but the group's cover of I'm on Fire does the tune justice. The Weeknd's Jacko-esque falsetto is right at home on this album. Ellie Goulding's Love Me Like You Do is just the right amount of pop (and 1.4 billion Youtube views agree).
Best Track: Annie Lennox - always one of music's coolest - does nothing to lose that title with her cover of "I Put a Spell On You".
Also Rankedsee more on Fifty Shades of Grey
Terrible Movie: Wim Wenders appears elsewhere on this list (see Until the End of the World), despite having made some phenomenal films. His seminal drama Wings of Desire was given the Hollywood treatment in City of Angels, directed by Brad Silberling, with Nic Cage donning wings and Meg Ryan as the Earthly object of his affection. Spoiler alert: she dies. In a better movie, that might elicit a tear or two. In City of Angels, you'll take solace, and maybe even joy, in her death, since this tragic moment signifies the movie's almost over. Second spoiler alert: this movie sucks.
Great Soundtrack: Even the song titles on this album are beyond cheesy, but there are some great guilty pleasures here, such as the Goo Goo Dolls's Iris. Paula Cole and Sarah McLachlan might make you look into Lilith Fair tickets, while Alanis Morisette shows she's more than a one-rage pony.
Best Track: And then there's Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve," which is the master showing his pupils how a weepy ballad is really done. He also released the song on his album Up, but the version on City of Angels is better.
#62 on The Best Movies of 1998see more on City of Angels
Terrible Movie: Not sure anyone left in the world needs an explanation about what makes this franchise so putrid. Exhibit A: See the DVD image cover. Exhibit B: HIM
Soundtrack: The bands on this soundtrack must not have read the book or script, or met Jackson Rathbone. Or maybe they just wanted to be heard by 100 million teenagers / lonely spinsters, which you can't hold against them. The result is a terrific and moody mix over which even the most ardent hipsters will swoon. Why pay through the nose for Coachella when you can hear Muse, The Killers, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, and Death Cab for Cutie all gathered here?
Best Tracks: Thom Yorke's haunting "Hearing Damage" is Radiohead-level good, not just Thom Yorke solo material good. Lykke Li's "Possiblity" is a fantastic track, though the movie only captured 10% of its dark beauty.
Also Rankedsee more on The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Terrible Movie: Yes, Sean Penn was nominated for an Oscar, and little Dakota Fanning is amazing. But I Am Sam is exactly the kind of movie Tropic Thunder's Simple Jack so adroitly mocked. For those who don't know the film, Penn plays a mentally handicapped barista who fights a protracted legal battle to keep his young daughter. The movie means well, and cast some mentally impaired performers, but this backfired for some, thanks to a character who's a dead ringer for Raymond Babbit (Rain Man). You'll spend the whole film trying to figure out if he's an actor imitating Rain Man or an autistic person who likes to imitate Rain Man.
Great Soundtrack: As concept soundtracks go, this one nails a fantastic premise, while avoiding all the schmaltz of the film. Every song is a classic Beatles tune covered by a modern singer. Sarah McLaughlan (See: City of Angels) does a beautiful rendition of "Blackbird," Ben Harper's "Strawberry Fields" gets it right. Rufus Wainwright's "Across the Universe" would be the album's highlight, but...
Best Track: Eddie Vedder covers "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," and every other performer on the soundtrack has to fight for second place.
Also Rankedsee more on I Am Sam
Terrible Movie: The '90s weren't a great time for comic adaptations (see Spawn, Roger Corman's Fantastic Four, or Captain America). The arrival of Tank Girl only put more flowers on that grave. Lori Petty - so sharp in Point Break and so shrill in A League of their Own - ensured her place on TV (back when that was a step down) and straight-to-video flicks by starring in this disasterpiece. In a post-apocalyptic future, survivors all become insufferable smart-asses or kangaroo people like Ice-T:
If you've got a couple of minutes you don't want back, check out the trailer.
Great Soundtrack: A terrific thumbnail of mid-'90s grrl rock. Bjork, L7, and Hole bring the fire. Veruca Salt, Belly and Portishead bring the ice. And DEVO brings the DEVO. This album gave so much hope for the film, and the film gave such little hope for the fate of comic book movies.
Best Tracks: Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg positively kill the old classic "Let's Fall in Love," but L7's "Shove" wins points for having the most moxie and roller-derby-ready lyrics.
"Some guy just pinched my ass (Shove)
Drunken bums ain't go no class (Shove)
The club says I won't get paid (Shove)
It's been months since I've been laid (Shove)"
#69 on The Best Movies of 1995see more on Tank Girl