Bill and Ted Bogus Journey Wyld Stallyns

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11 Movie Bands That Rocked

Rock out with the Bill & Ted movies this week during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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It is the rare film that succeeds in creating a fictional band that taps into our primordial need to bop our heads and for a brief moment in the theater, live out our teenage rock n’ roll dreams of groupie chasing, hotel room trashing and agent firing. In honor of those Wyld Stallyns Bill & Ted kicking out the jams during IFC’s Rotten Fridays, check out some fictional bands who rock hard enough to earn being on a list that — like Spinal Tap once said — goes to 11.

11. The Lone Rangers, Airheads

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

The former high school burnouts/metal heads/wannabe rock stars who take over the radio station in Airheads definitely have the proper reverence for the metal god that was Motorhead frontman Lemmy. In fact, Lemmy actually has a hilarious cameo as part of the crowd of metal fans waiting to see the Lone Rangers play. Brendan Fraser had more than his share of goofy performances in the ’90s, but he looked the part as the Lone Rangers frontman, which also consists of Steve Buscemi on bass and Adam Sandler on drums. You have to like any movie that casts Joe Mantegna as a Dr. Johnny Fever-type DJ who delivers the prophetic line about rock that, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.”


10. Steel Dragon, Rock Star

Based on the true story of Tim “Ripper” Owens, a singer in a Judas Priest tribute band who went on to replace Priest frontman Rob Halford, Rock Star tells the epic tale of a fan of fictional ’80s metal band Steel Dragon who gets a shot at playing with his idols. In a memorable scene, Mark Walhberg’s Chris Cole auditions for the Steel Dragon members, including founder and guitarist Kirk Cuddy (Dominic West). Cole rocks out the Steel Dragon tune “We All Die Young,” a song written and performed by real life metal band Steelheart.


9. Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow, Get Him to The Greek

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Despite being fictional, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) is the quintessential British rocker. He’s got loads of charisma, and an impulsive personality mixed with an inclination for heroin, awkward threesomes and putting his record company rep (Jonah Hill) in uncomfortable positions (like sitting in an airplane with heroin stuffed up a body cavity). Brand was the perfect choice to make Aldous Snow a pompous rock star who performs songs like “Bangers, Beans & Mash,” “The Clap” and of course “Furry Walls.” Brand stole all his scenes in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and this spinoff film tells Snow’s rock star story as Jonah Hill’s Aaron Green has to get him to The Greek theater to perform. In the end, both Aldous and Aaron learn the important life lesson that “when the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry walls.”


8. Citizen Dick, Singles

Singles didn’t just try to reflect the Seattle grunge rock scene of the ’90s — it was at the forefront of a new rock explosion that was taking hold with music fans ready to embrace bands that rocked without hair spray. Several of the biggest Seattle bands of the time were not only on the soundtrack but appeared in the movie, including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. The plot of Singles revolves around a group of Seattle twentysomethings experiencing life and love in flannel shirts, all while being lucky enough to go out to shows in a city where Alice in Chains just happens to be playing their local bar. Sure, Citizen Dick frontman Cliff Poncier (Matt Dillon) might have been too wrapped up in his music to say “Bless You” when his girlfriend Janet (Bridget Fonda) sneezed, and he might have earned less stellar reviews than his bandmates (including drummer Eddie Vedder), but he did lead the group to huge acclaim in Belgium.


7. Cassandra and Crucial Taunt, Wayne’s World

“And her name was Cassandra,” sang the smitten Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers). There’s good reason that Wayne heard the song “Dream Weaver” the moment he saw Tia Carrere bring out her inner Joan Jett onstage as Cassandra Wong. She was not only a “fox” but she wailed as the lead singer and guitarist for Crucial Taunt. Sure, Crucial Taunt may not have the bizarre historical knowledge of Milwaukee that Alice Cooper displayed but they certainly rock harder than The Jolly Green Giants and “The Sh—y Beatles.” There may be have been two Darren Stevenes on the show Bewitched but there was only one Cassandra to rock Wayne’s world.


6. Wyld Stallyns, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

The Wyld Stallyns are Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan and if you read this in the year 2668, you would totally know both dudes since the music that Bill and Ted created became the foundation for a world that lives in peace and harmony. In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the duo, played by Alex Winter and someone named Keanu Reeves, travel in a phone booth time machine to retrieve historical figures (and some princess babes) who they bring back to San Dimas to help them with their rockin’ history presentation. By the end of the sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the dimwitted boys can finally play their instruments, and are joined by Death, Rufus (George Carlin), some aliens and their robot doppelgangers for an epic concert performance.


5. School of Rock, School of Rock band

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

The kids are more than alright in the musical comedy School of Rock — in fact, it’s their teacher who’s a mess. Jack Black is at his animated best as Dewey Finn, a failing rocker who pretends to be his roommate in order to take a substitute teaching job. Under the initially misguided tutelage of Black’s substitute teacher, the class of private school fourth graders come together to form a kickass rock band that embraces breaking the rules and learns to “get mad at the man.” They also piss off their uptight principal, played hilariously by Joan Cusack, who lets her inner Stevie Nicks loose in a classic scene. Of course the School of Rock band wins over the crowd at the Battle of the Bands, with an amazing lead guitarist, a tight group of backup singers and a sufficiently snarky manager.


4. Sex Bob-omb, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

“We are Sex Bob-omb. 1,2,3,4!” Sure Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) plays a mean bass and is dorky cool (for a Canadian) and Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) is the front man with “the talent,” but even Sex Bob-Omb’s two hardcore fans know that the ferociously angry drumming of Kim Pine (Alison Pill) is what gives the band its punk/garage rock edge. Most of their shows are interrupted by fights, except it’s not the music that instigates the aggression. As Scott shows off his video game martial arts skills to battle Ramona Flowers’ (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seven evil exes, the band continues to play hard and fast on songs that “make you think about death and get sad and stuff.”


3. Stillwater, Almost Famous

Stillwater runs deep and so does director Cameron Crowe’s love for music. Almost Famous is Crowe’s love letter to his experience as a young rock journalist in the 1970s. Watching the film through the eyes of William Miller (Patrick Fugit) will make anyone wish they could have toured with the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers Band. The actors portraying the fictional ’70s hard rock band Stillwater don’t just look the part — Crowe made sure they could play together as a band before filming. 1970s guitar superstar Peter Frampton served as a technical consultant and Crowe’s wife at the time, Nancy Wilson of Heart, co-wrote some of Stillwater’s songs. “Fever Dog” has an authentic classic rock sound and all the songs in the movie will take you back to a time of bellbottoms, vinyl records and groupies loving a band so much “it hurts.”


2. Tenacious D, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny

The comedy/guitar rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass get their feature film debut in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny as their epic story is told in the form of a rock opera with songs that will make you bang your head and laugh your ass off. JB and KG have always paid homage to the gods of metal in their songs and sketches and their love of all things thrash is in full display in the song that tells the origin of KG’s path to rock greatness. Not only does Meatloaf play JB’s Bible-thumping father but legendary Black Sabbath front man Ronnie James Dio emerges from a poster on the wall to send him on his journey to Hollywood. JB and KG team up to form “The D” and embark on their quest to pay the rent and defeat the Devil himself (Dave Grohl) in the rock-off of all rock-offs. (Catch Tenacious D at the 2016 Festival Supreme on October 29th in Los Angeles.)


1. Spinal Tap, This is Spinal Tap

MGM
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Embassy Pictures, StudioCanal, MGM Home Entertainment

If there was a heavy metal Mt. Rushmore, Spinal Tap would clearly be on it. (Or at the very least, they would have a tiny 18-inch version of it next to the real thing.) David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) need no introduction to hardcore rock and comedy fans. The groundbreaking mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap follows the fictional veteran rockers as they promote a new tour, discuss amps that “go to 11” and get lost inside of a concert venue. Spinal Tap’s performances are so loud that their drummers tend to explode although it may not be related to drumming, as “dozens of people combust each year. It’s just not that widely reported.”

Catch Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey this Friday at 8P on IFC’s Rotten Fridays
!

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Rocky IV Paulie Robot

Mr. Roboto

5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss

Catch Rocky IV Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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Photo Credit: MGM/UA/YouTube

When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.

Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.

5. That Opening Shot

Rocky IV
United Artists

It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.

In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.


4. So Many Montages

Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)

During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…


3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams

Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.


2. Rocky Ends the Cold War

Rocky IV speech
United Artists

In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.

To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!


1. Paulie’s Robot

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!

Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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Swimming To Cambodia Spalding Gray

Gray's Anatomy

Everything You Need to Know About the Movie That Inspired “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”

Brand new Documentary Now! airs Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

This week Documentary Now! spotlights a master monologist with “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything.” Before you tune in at 10P this Wednesday on IFC, check out our guide to Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film that captured writer/performer Spalding Gray’s acclaimed one-person show.

Spalding Gray 101

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures

Actor and renowned monologist Spalding Gray spent two years on stage perfecting his Obie Award-winning “Swimming to Cambodia” monologue. In it, Gray tells the story of his eight weeks in Southeast Asia while shooting the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie The Killing Fields. He had a small role, but the experience gave him several anecdotes about hanging out with the film crew and experiencing the local culture, all while searching for “the perfect moment.”

Directed by the Silence of the Lambs Guy

Hannibal Lecter
Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme took Gray’s two-night, four hour performance and crafted it down to 85 minutes. His use of dramatic lighting, stylish camerawork and a score by performance artist Laurie Anderson was praised by critics and earned the film a cult following. No stranger to groundbreaking docs, Demme also directed the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, which Documentary Now! pays tribute to in this season’s episode “Final Transmission.”

All about the Voices

While it may have been a one-man show, Gray created a repertoire of characters all with distinctive accents. (He portrayed conversations between himself and others just by turning his head.) Our favorite impressions are of his demanding girlfriend Renee and Ivan Strasberg, the South African director of photography on The Killing Fields who, as depicted by Gray, sounds a bit like a Jamaican surfer.

The Original Cranky New Yorker

In one memorable scene, Gray rants about how his noisy upstairs artist neighbors are driving him and Renee crazy. Even in the mid-’80s, there were New Yorkers complaining that the city wasn’t what it used to be.

Show and Tell

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures/YouTube

A big fan of visual aids, Gray used pull-down maps to illustrate his travels. This helped to bring Swimming to Cambodia to life, since he’s basically sitting at a desk the entire time.

Inspired One-Person Shows

Gray’s groundbreaking performances in Swimming and other documentaries like Monster in a Box and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Gray’s Anatomy (about Gray’s struggle with a rare eye condition) paved the way for future one-person shows. (We wouldn’t have everything from Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” without him.) Even Doc Now! star Fred Armisen got into the one-person show act for his recent SNL monologue.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Spalding Gray when “Parker Gail: Location Is Everything” premieres Wednesday, September 28th at 10P on IFC. 

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Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Burning Heart

10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: United Artists/Everett Collection

Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.

Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.

1. The Greatest Opening Ever

How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.


2. Montages!

We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.


3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number

This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.


4. The Soundtrack

The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.


5. Abs!

Rocky IV weights

Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.


6. Two words: Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago
United Artists

Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.


7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass

Rocky saw
United Artists

Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.


8. Rocky’s Beard

Rocky IV Beard

Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.


9. There’s a robot!

Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.


10. Rocky Ends the Cold War

If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?

By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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