Alisha Adkins is an author, gamer, and zombie enthusiast. She is currently pursuing her dream of writing and quietly starving to death.
Musicals That Won't Sicken You
Do you find musicals difficult to stomach? You're not alone! But not all musicals are cut from the same cloth. The following eight films should be enjoyable for even the most diehard opponent of musicals.
"He Has a Ph.D. in Horribleness"
8. Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog
Originally created for Internet distribution, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is a very short (just over 40 minutes) tragicomedy starring Neil Patrick Harris (a.k.a. Doogie Howser) and Felicia Day (of The Guild).
Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is a clever tongue-in-cheek take on superheroes and supervillians. This flick manages to be oddly cute, sweet, campy, and endearing all at the same time. It's definitely enjoyable and worth viewing, though it would probably be just about as good without quite so much singing.
Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - Act 1
He Is Driven by Revenge
Sweeny Todd - Have a Little Priest
7. Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
If you find the traditional musical unappealing, Sweeny Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street's offbeat approach may interest you.
Released in 2007, this film adaptation of the theatrical musical was directed by Tim Burton and features Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Depp is Sweeny Todd, the murderous barber, and Carter plays Mrs. Lovett, his accomplice.
Sweeny Todd is a Victorian-era serial killer who murders his victims by slitting their throats with a straight razor. He then deposits their remains in his basement by dropping them through a trapdoor that he can operate with a lever on his barber chair. After Todd has had a chance to rob their bodies, Mrs. Lovett neatly disposes of the evidence by baking their flesh into meat pies that she sells in her pie shop.
Somehow when people are singing about twisted and depraved topics, it really takes the sting out of watching a musical. This is certainly true of Sweeny Todd. There's something about watching an antihero sing as blood spurts melodramatically.
At the Moulin Rouge
6. Moulin Rouge
Almost as effective at making a musical bearable as singing about something sick is injecting 80's bubble gum music ironically into a period story. Pulling it off with a straight face is quite a trick, but Moulin Rouge succeeds.
Released in 2001, Moulin Rouge follows Christian, played by Ewan McGregor, an innocent young Bohemian poet who is drawn into the underworld of Paris' infamous Moulin Rouge club. There, he meets a motley array of glamorous, seedy, sinister, and strange people and falls in love with Satine (Nicole Kidman), the club's big star.
Moulin Rouge Trailer
In a World of Shadows
Dancer in the Dark - I've Seen It All
5. Dancer in the Dark
Dancer in the Dark is a movie that tells the tragic story of a Czech immigrant named Selma (played by Bjork) who is suffering from a hereditary degenerative disease that is causing her to lose her eyesight. She works in a factory to support herself and her son and saves every penny that she can in order to be able to eventually pay for an operation that will prevent her son from developing the same condition.
Bill, Selma's landlord, steals her savings. She confronts him, he draws a gun on her, and they struggle. When Selma wounds Bill, he begs her to take his life. She kills him and takes back the money in order to pay for her son's operation. Selma is eventually caught, imprisoned, and stands trial.
This is not a happy film, but it is an innovative one. It received polarized reviews, lauded as a masterpiece by some while panned by others. Whatever it may be, it is neither a typical movie nor a typical musical, and it is worth seeing.
All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!
4. Cannibal! The Musical
Loosely based on the true story,Trey Parker (credited as Juan Schwartz) stars as Alfred Packer, a man on a trip from Utah to Colorado who cannibalizes his fellow travelers in order to survive.
Cannibal! The Musical makes Sweeny Todd look like Sesame Street. It's weird, campy, and sometimes downright gross. This film represents a daring and delightful coupling of absurdity and over-the-top gore. With singing. And dancing.
Cannibal! The Musical - Hang the Bastard
3. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Once again, Trey Parker delivers a funny and twisted musical film. This time, he and co-creator of South Park, Matt Stone, teamed up to produce a feature length movie based on their popular South Park franchise. The result is an irreverent, funny, and satirical movie about censorship that contains a score of tunes that are often uproarously funny and sometimes downright catchy as well.
Put on Your Wig
2. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Exploring themes of human loneliness and identity, Hedwig and the Angry Inch has far more depth than it may seem on its surface.
Released in 2001, this film follows Hedwig, a small-time East German rock singer who reluctantly agreed to a sex change operation in order to marry an American G.I. and leave communist Germany. The doctor botched the operation, leaving him (her) with only an "angry inch."
Adopting his role as a woman, Hedwig begins to play music and forms a band. After a lover steals her songs, she travels across the U.S. playing dives and seeking acknowledgement.
This movie is full of energy, wit, and surprisingly great music.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Trailer
The Midnight Movie
1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an institution. Released in 1975, it is still in limited release (typically as a midnight movie) even today, making it the longest-running theatrical release in film history. If you've never seen this cult classic, you absolutely have to watch it. Seriously. Right now.
In the film, Brad and Janet are a newly engaged couple who get caught with a flat tire and stop to ask to use the phone at a mansion. They find the home filled with strange people who have gathered there for the Annual Transylvanian Convention. Soon Brad and Janet are swept up into this world by Dr. Frank N. Furter (played by Tim Curry), a "Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" who is building a muscle man. What ensues after that grows progressively weirder.
This is a musical unlike other musicals - it is creative, twisted, sexy, and playful. But the main reason it continues to enjoy popularity even decades later is the fact that its music is actually damned good.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Sweet Transvestite
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© 2013 Alisha Adkins
rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 20, 2013:
Great article! Some musicals drive me up the wall but I loved Moulin Rouge, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 20, 2013:
Didn't Trey Parker and Matt Stone also make 'The Book of Mormon" musical? They have always had a musical flair. Nicely written hub!