Rock Movies: So Awful They’re Great

Watch these films on a Friday night while you're organizing your sock drawer.
Watch these films on a Friday night while you’re organizing your sock drawer.

By Peter Gerstenzang

Social scientists call it the Law of Unintended Consequences. It can be something good, like a sudden rainstorm making crops grow. Or something bad, like hearing George Zimmerman is going on a lecture tour. Instead of being sent to the violent offender’s ward at the Okeechobee Correctional Facility.

The same goes for rock and roll movies. Good ones are okay. But awful ones are so much better. I’m not talking sort of bad, like Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story. But the kind of horror the New Testament describes as “an abomination in the sight of God.” Here are some truly unspeakable rock movies, should you need a laugh.

Eddie and the Cruisers (Aurora Productions 1983)
The entirely plausible story of how a 60s rocker, with a single-digit IQ, makes the first concept album, inspired by French Symbolist Poetry. Made by the same director who did that biopic of Beethoven, starring Andrew Dice Clay. Still, this film is sublime. Because it’s so inaccurate about the music scene, it makes Valley of the Dolls look like a prize-winning documentary about the movie business. High praise, by the way.

Rock Star (Warner Bros 2001)
The story of long-haired photocopier, Mark Wahlberg, who goes from being in a metal tribute band that imitates a supergroup, to actually being in that famous band. Then things get really implausible. Watching miniature muscleman Wahlberg, you’ll feel the need to look up the term “Dwarf” on The Net. Not only does it seem to describe him, but on the same page you’ll also see the definition for “Cretinism.” Which strangely enough, was the movie’s original title.

Hard To Hold (Universal Pictures 1984)
Rick Springfield plays a rock star who falls in love with a female doctor who only listens to Tony Bennett. I know, it does sound suspiciously like Birth of a Nation. This film is so completely wrong when it comes to rock and roll details, it makes you long for the blazing honesty of Eddie and the Cruisers. Rick’s bandmates look a little like rockers. But more like middle-aged dudes who hang around for the buffet at The Golden Corral. Nobody does drugs. The guys eat pizza during band breaks. This was the 80s, man! Nursery school teachers, nuns and Wall Street brokers were all doing coke. As was Stevie Nicks. Who went so crazy she claimed she’d been a member of all those professions. Not to mention, the Queen of Spain.

Purple Rain (Warner Bros 1984)
It has the plot a soap opera writer would reject as too melodramatic. The dialogue is so awful, it would’ve made Ed Wood take his name off the credits. And at the center is a performance by a guy whose acting teacher was caught and immediately returned to Bellevue. Add great songs, stir thoroughly. And you have a movie so cheesy, it actually performs the unprecedented feat of getting worse every freakin’ time you watch it. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do.