Welcome back as we continue our journey though the abysmal decade, the 80s. The 80s was an era of excess that produced an excessive amount of bad movies that should never see the light of day again. Despite the bad acting, the cheesy dialogue, and a predictable plot, several movies from this era rose to pop-culture royalty only because of a great soundtrack. So, let us continue through the eighties exploring bad movies made great by their soundtracks and theme songs.
Rocky 3 embodies the machismo attitude of the eighties and gave every young suburban guy the confidence in believing they could take on the world and win. In this third installment, Rocky is cashing in on his fame after defeating Apollo Creed in the second film, while Clobber Lang, the primary protagonist, waits in the shadows for a shot at the championship; he is like Rocky was in the previous two films, young and hungry.
Although the film did much better at the box office than its predecessors, Rocky 3 lost its edge and is a watered-down imitation of what made the first two films so memorable: the ravenous boxer from Philadelphia’s south side.
However, the theme song, “Eye of the Tiger,” with its heart-pumping guitar riff, is by far the finest sports movie music ever written and lifts the film. Performed by the band Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger” drew you into the movie and seated you among the audience members in the arena. The song propelled a lackluster sequel onto the list of best sports films.
Ghostbusters premiered on June 8, 1984, starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. The movie is a mix of science fiction, horror, comedy, and action, yet it couldn’t find its place within any of those genres.
Furthermore, if a giant marshmallow destroying New York doesn’t scream, “This movie needed a script doctor,” I’m not sure what does. No amount of revision would have helped the plot anyway; not even the sci-fi goddess Sigourney Weaver, who also appeared, couldn’t improve this menagerie of loosely stitched genres.
However, thanks to the theme song and Bill Murray’s dry humor, the movie was a massive success. Written by Ray Parker Jr., who titled the theme song “Ghostbusters” after the film, it is one of the most plot-specific theme songs of any movie from the 80s. With its up-tempo beat and easily remembered lyrics, it helped pull more people to the theater and sent the song to the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, where it spent three weeks at number one.
Mannequin, the most lifeless film of the 1980s, is next on our list. Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy feature in this 1987 fantasy romantic comedy. The film is about an artist named Jonathan Switcher who takes a job as a window designer at a department shop and falls in love with a mystical mannequin who only comes alive when they’re alone. The film’s idea is a poor reinterpretation of an already overused euro-centric fable about curses being undone by true love or a miraculous kiss.
Mannequin took this overused trope and turned it into a frog of a movie. This film would have been better in the hands of Disney. There was no link between the cast members; they seemed to collide on purpose. Despite the film’s ridiculous concept, overt “Judy” fetishism, and widespread condemnation from critics, Mannequin fared pretty well at the box office, debuting at number three on its opening weekend.
As an eff you to critics, however, Gladden Entertainment made a sequel that was even terrible than the first. The one redeeming quality of Mannequin is its theme song, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” performed by the band Starship, which reached number one on America’s Hot 100 Billboard list and infused new life into an otherwise lifeless film.
Loosely based on the Lincoln County War of 1877 in New Mexico, Young Guns was expected to be young Hollywood’s breakthrough into leading man status at the time. Young Guns can hardly be called a biographical western. The Lincoln County War was turned into a western Breakfast Club by Hollywood’s stylized recounting and superficial pandering to a younger audience.
Unlike its successor, Young Guns 2, there was no epic soundtrack or theme song in this picture; if there had been, it could have made the film palatable.
And there you have it, folks, a lot of bad 80s movies made better by their soundtracks or theme songs. The 1980s produced a slew of terrible films that should never be seen again. Despite this, there were some good films, which I feel were because their soundtracks or theme songs were on par with, if not better than, conventional albums, elevating them to pop-culture royalty. And yes, I watched all of them in a weekend, and by the end, they had me banging my head against the wall.
© 2022 William Saint Val