As a quick break from reviewing films, this week's entry is going to look at a couple of forgotten tie-in music videos for 80s movies.
Coupe DeVilles - Big Trouble in Little China
First up is the title song from Big Trouble in Little China, performed by the Coupe DeVilles. Yep, you're not mistaken that IS John Carpenter singing the lead part. Famously Carpenter has scored a great deal of his own films in the past – often using synthesisers (see Halloween) – but this was the first and only time he sang. Along with him is Tommy Lee Wallace (Guitar) – who producer Halloween II and directed part III. And Nick Castle (Keyboard), another friend of Carpenter's who played Michael Myers in the original Halloween film and directed The Last Starfighter.
I've got to say this track truly rocks and really sums up the movie as a whole - cheesy American synthesiser meets a classic Oriental sound. I love how much Carpenter threw himself into this movie even going to the point of recording a title song and video. It's no wonder that the disappointing box office and reception of the film caused Carpenter to become disillusioned with Hollywood.
Anyway the videos set in an editing room. Carpenter's cutting the movie together when weird stuff starts happening, like Lo Pan trying to escape the film and attack him and Nick Castle finding the weird eyeball monster in a film can. Carpenter was 38 when he did this video but he looks more like 50 and the whole band dress a little like school teachers. Then again, I'm judging them from a modern perspective, a lot of music acts in those days didn't need to look like unaging 20 year olds like they do today.
You just don't get stuff like this nowadays. Michael Bay would never sing a cover of “The Touch” for Transformers 3 and Gore Verbinski would never sing a sea shanty for the latest Pirates of the Caribbean. It's disappointing because I think the idea of a director BEING FORCED to sing a theme tune for the movie they've just made would make the world a more interesting place.
If you want to hear some more Coupe DeVilles – do a quick search on google for “Waiting Out the Eighties” which was the name of a full album they put out in 1987 but was never made for public consumption.
Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd - City of Crime
Now this one is a little more unknown. Unlike Big Trouble in Little China, Dragnet doesn't have a special edition DVD, so this music video only exists on youtube. I can't help but wonder what other amazing movie tie-in stuff got shown on TV a few times and has been “lost”.
This one is, again, a gem. Dan Aykroyd is a great writer and performer but occasionally he really screws up – (see Nothing But Trouble). Dragnet was one of his best films and he really benefited from the loose, brash performance of Tom Hanks. One of the worst aspects of that film though was the opening rap remix of the Dragnet TV theme tune by Art of Noise. I get that they were trying to start the film off by accentuating that this was a comedic version of the original series but it's horribly dated an otherwise reasonably timeless flick and I always fast forward it.
Now it may seem schizophrenic but I love this rap song by Hanks and Aykroyd. Like the Big Trouble music video, the City of Crime uses copious use of footage from the Dragnet movie. Hanks and Aykroyd, in character as Pep and Friday, look up at a screen depicting events from the movie in a pitch black room and you start thinking “Man, what a lazy video”. Then the lights come up and we realise we're in a police station.
Aykroyd raps the way you'd imagine your 50 something father would – but then really he's just channelling his straight laced character. Hanks on the other hand decides it's best to shout loudly rather than rap lest anyone judge his rapping abilities. Over the chorus, everyone breaks into dance with a bit of a mockery of Michael Jackson's “Thriller”. And the video goes on until Hanks and Aykroyd are dressed in tight police costumes dancing on go go podiums. You know I love Dragnet but after seeing this video I REALLY love Dragnet.
Once, again, I'm going to make a suggestion that all major movie actors have to do an accompanying rap video for every film they do. Who's with me?