Half the experience of a truly memorable movie is its score. Sometimes the music becomes even more memorable than the film it represents. As fun a flick as Tron: Legacy is, there's no denying its true amplitude comes from Daft Punk's heroic cyberscore. A lot of people remember Grease more for its cavalcade of fifties-via-seventies pop smear than the fact it's a pretty hilarious popcorn film. Then there's anything bearing the name of either John Williams, Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer where the cinematic experience is gelled by an equally triumphant musical vehicle. Many consider the Forrest Gump soundtrack the creme de la creme of all, while I lean more towards American Graffiti for the all-encompassing atmosphere gained between celluloid and audile textures.
Given the fact most movie soundtracks are gimmicky ventures to pimp new bands the host label has "carefully" selected (the more recent Saw and Punisher soundtracks come to mind), said film soundtracks are dubious by nature. Not every soundtrack can be wholly representative of the films they decorate, such as Repo Man, Return of the Living Dead, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Spartacus (Alex North's gorgeous and valorous score from the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film), Goodfellas, Stand By Me, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gladiator, Blade Runner, John Carpenter's chum-dripping take on The Thing and the aforementioned Tron: Legacy.
Heavy metal has historically been exploited as a tool in films, largely threaded towards horror and action than most other genres. The opening of Adam Green's Hatchet II wastes little time jumping into Ministry's "Just One Fix" for the opening credit roll. Gloriously, it ends with Overkill's jokey jam "Old School." Bands ranging from Static-X to Rob Zombie, Fear Factory, Type O Negative, Napalm Death, Deftones, Rammstein, Soulfly, Marilyn Manson, Ill Nino and Mudvayne are scattered upon one if not many of the Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat and Valentine soundtracks. Consider the Roadrunner Records mutant dance party that was the Freddy vs. Jason soundtrack featuring Killswitch Engage, Slipknot, Stone Sour, Powerman 5000, Hatebreed, Type O Negative, Sevendust, In Flames, Sepultura with Mike Patton and Blank Theory.
Somehow those metal-glommed film soundtracks are skullcrushers, wisely used by their benefactors to juice up the more intense scenes if not the films at-large. Then you have the soundtrack to The Crow, which might be one of the finest collections of metal and alternative groups there is. Consider the samplings of Helmet, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, For Love Not Lisa, Rollins Band and Stone Temple Pilots hobknobbing with The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Jesus and Mary Chain, Violent Femmes and My Life With Thrill Kill Kult. Strange, though, how Dio's "Hungry For Heaven" appeared in 1985 on a virtually un-metal film soundtrack for Vision Quest, strange until you find Sammy Hagar's "I'll Fall In Love Again" and Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" on the same slab.
Still, there are few films birthed of pure metal culture from which a truly damned good soundtrack derives. The original Heavy Metal soundtrack comes to mind, even if not every tune is metal. You can't go wrong with the Devo, Donald Fagen, Cheap Trick and Blue Oyster Cult tracks, admit it. Fastway's happy-go-lucky fist pumps throughout the Trick Or Treat soundtrack is always a sure bet, even if they swiped a couple of previously-released tunes to fill it out.
I personally recommend the 1987 soundtrack to The River's Edge, a chilling story of disturbia before such a term was ever coined. Consider the soundtrack is largely culled from early-years Slayer, tunes like "Tormentor," "Die By the Sword," "Evil Has No Boundaries" and "Captor of Sin." Groovy? Yup. Add some Fates Warning, Agent Orange, Hallow's Eve, The Wipers and reggae-splashers Burning Spear and you have yourself a cult classic soundtrack with some teeth.
Of course, we can't overlook Penelope Spheris' scary-accurate 1988 documentary film The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Even though her punk-oriented first Decline is perhaps more important as far as the bands and the scene she profiled, it was well overshadowed by its metalhead counterpart. It helps Spheris' cause she has the sounds of Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Rigor Mortis, Lizzy Borden, Metal Church, Queensryche, Armored Saint, Seduce and Faster Pussycat booming throughout.
Lizzy and Hallow's Eve return on the seldom-seen Black Roses soundtrack, along with King Kobra, Tempest, Bang Tango and the namesake pseudo band, Black Roses. Speaking of pseudo metal bands as star of a movie, does anyone else come to mind before Spinal Tap?
For an overall metal-meets-film overview, I'm tempted to hang with Spheris since the broad perspective is gained through both the visual and audile senses, even if I'm stupidly nostalgic for Heavy Metal and Trick Or Treat and well, big bottoms, baby, you know what for.
So chime in, folks. What film do you think has a damned good metal soundtrack?