When rock and film collide it can get quite interesting and downright dull. With the hit film “Rock of Ages” making it to DVD, this seemed like a good time to take a look back at the lists for Best and Worst rock films ever made. Which list did Cruise and his new film land on? Keep reading.
This is a list of rock and roll based films, so things like “Grease”, “8 Mile” and “Purple Rain” were not considered. Likewise, anything that went straight to DVD was skipped over, otherwise the pool would get to deep to wade through. This is why a brilliant rockumentary like “Iron Maiden: Flight 666” did not make the cut.
I have tried to cover all manner of rock film from fun and campy, to cult classics, to serious documentaries.
1. This is Spinal Tap (1984) There simply isn’t a better rock and roll movie out there. Funny and packed with shtick, it’s an 11 out of 10.
2. The Last Waltz – Martin Scorsese set the template for rockumentaries with this masterpiece work. Brilliantly done with grand performances and epic film making.
3. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004) – In the midst of a band meltdown, Metallica opened its normally quiet circle to look at the inner turmoil the band was wrestling with during the departure of Jason Newsted, the recording of St. Anger, and the auditions for a new bassist. Released at the band’s creative low point it was an eye opener for fans and band alike.
4. A Hard Day’s Night – The best Beatles movie ever made. Forget “Help!” and “Magical Mystery Tour”, this is the masterpiece.
5. Gimme Shelter (1970) – While 2008s Scorsese filmed “Shine a Light” is a wonderful glimpse into the Rolling Stones, it has nothing on this gritty look at the bad boys of rock and the Altamont concert which ended with the murder of a fan.
6. Almost Famous (2000) – Filmmaker and author Cameron Crowe may have taken artistic license to new levels here, but the film was still brilliant. “High Fidelity” (2000) deserves a nod as well.
7. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2007) – The story of the real band that might very well have inspired Spinal Tap. The film is an insightful look at the real life of musicians who forsake everything for the dream of being rock stars. At times sad and gritty and at other poignant and inspired, the film is a reminder to all aspiring musicians that the life of a musician is both a blessing and a curse.
8. Heavy Metal (1978) – An excellent soundtrack, a fun animated film, and a cult classic.
9. Phantom of the Paradise (1974) – A campy cult film with some great music from Paul Williams (yes, Paul Williams) It is tragically overlooked, but a hidden gem to be sure.
10. Rock and Roll High School (1979) – A film driven by the music of The Ramones. How could it not be on this list? You wanna be sedated? Check out the “worst” list below.
Just missed: “Tommy”, “Stop Making Sense”, “Don’t Look Back”.
1. Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978) – Easily the biggest mistake of the band’s career. Even the most diehard fan cringes at the memory.
2. Rock of Ages (2012) – Pure Velveeta on film. Great fun with the music, but truly fodder for the fondue pot. Tom Cruise as a rock star = Mission Impossible V.
3. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) – The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, need I say more?
4. Woodstock (1970) – More beloved for its nostalgia than its content, the event was a historical gem, the movie, not so much.
5. Rock Star (2001) Despite some incredible tunes written for the film, the storyline (a shoddy nod to the infamous hiring of Ripper Owens to replace Rob Halford in Judas Priest) was just a mindless bit of b-movie fluff. Generic ad naseum.
6. The Song Remains the Same (1976) – While many would insist this go on the “Best of” list rather than the worst, clearly they were too stoned at those ubiquitous midnight showings because this film is a better sedative than a tryptophan coma after that Thanksgiving meal you just ate.
7. The Doors (1991) – Jim Morrison was actually still alive in seclusion when this Oliver Stone film was made and he immediately slit his wrists. Pretentious dreck.
8. U2: Rattle and Hum (1988) – A modern day version of T”he Song Remains the Same”. Who needs Ambien when you can throw this on?
9. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) – I’ve seen this on numerous Top 10 lists. I’m not sure what film they watched. This one made me want to claw my eyes out.
10. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) – Not without appropriate mind altering drugs, thank you very much.
Any such list is going to meet with critics, and this one shall be no different, so readers are highly encouraged to add their hits or misses below.