Out this week from Scream Factory, just in time for Mother’s Day, is John Waters’ cult classic horror comedy SERIAL MOM, starring the great Kathleen Turner as a homicidal maniac mom who really, really thinks you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day.
It’s personally my favorite of Waters’ films, not only because it features an homage to the late, great Herschell Gordon Lewis, or because both Traci Lords and Ricki Lake are hilarious in it, or the fact that it has my favorite Don Knotts gag of all time, but because one of my favorite bands was featured in it!
The great L7 can be seen performing the track “Gas Chamber” under the band moniker “Camel Lips,” which refers to their… umm… tight pants? (See pic above!)
In honor of both SERIAL MOM and L7, I thought it’d be fun to remind you of some other great band appearances in cult flicks. Let’s have a look and listen, shall we?
L7 in SERIAL MOM
Well, might as well start with this one! L7 had already found success with their major label debut “Bricks Are Heavy” and had just released the follow up “Hungry For Stink” in 1994 when Waters asked them to appear as “Camel Lips” in the film. They wrote a brand new song, specifically for the movie called “Gas Chamber.” The only place to find the studio version is on the SERIAL MOM soundtrack CD, which consisted of the L7 track, Barry Manilow’s “Daybreak” and the full score by Basil Poledouris. I couldn’t find the scene on its own, but you’ll find the full track above, edited to scenes from the movie!
Offspring in IDLE HANDS
Back in 1999, Offspring were still a pretty huge band. And I kind of hated them. I’ve since come to appreciate them in retrospect! But because of my feelings torward them, it made it a bit more satisfying to watch singer Dexter Holland suffer a horrible fate at the hands of IDLE HANDS evil… well, hand! The band can be seen performing a cover of The Ramones “I Want To Be Sedated” and their own track “Beheaded” right as singer Dexter Holland gets… well, beheaded. Clever! PS: Director Rodman Flender rules!
Deftones in THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS
I bet you totally forgot about this one, huh? I think the soundtrack to the first CROW was one of those defining albums of the early 90’s. Everyone had it, everyone loved it, and everyone knew it by heart. So, you figure by the time they got around to the sequel, they had to try to accumulate a playlist of similar bands! Much like the movie however, they were unable to capture lightning in a bottle twice. Sure, there are a few cool songs on there like the Hole track, or NY Loose, but none of the break out hits like the first film had. However, one cool tid-bit, in the actual movie, you can spot the mighty Deftones performing the track “Teething.”
Medicine in THE CROW
Speaking of THE CROW, I mean… what a soundtrack, right? The Cure’s “Burn” is probably my favorite track by them. Nine Inch Nails cover Joy Division with “Dead Souls.” And a relatively unknown band called Stone Temple Pilots has a track called “Big Emtpy” on the soundtrack. Alas, the band in the actual movie with that catchy jangly guitar riff on delay is Medicine playing the track “Time Baby III.” Also of note, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult can be seen performing live during the later part of the movie.
The Dickies in 18 AGAIN
I’m cheating a little bit with this one as it’s, obviously, not a genre movie. But I’ll argue that 18 AGAIN is a cult film! I’m personally a big fan of the “switch” comedy, which became popular in the late 80’s. (BIG, LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, VICE VERSA) In 1988, around the same time The Dickies had provided KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE with their theme song, they also blew me away as the punk band that plays a track called “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)” in the night club scene from 18 AGAIN. This was my first introduction to them, and I’ve loved them ever since!
Oingo Boingo in BACK TO SCHOOL
I am, yet again, going with a “cult” comedy, if anything so I could incorporate a little Oingo Boingo into this article. And why not? It’s for a track called “Dead Man’s Party!” A Halloween and karaoke favorite among my friends. First time I saw Danny Elfman and company was in this movie performing this track, all while a young Robert Downey Jr makes a case for being the poster boy for birth control. (That’s a Rodney joke, bless him.)
Primus in BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY
Faith No More’s Jim Martin appears as himself in BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY, but the band that gets to kick off the epic music competition at the end is none other than the great Primus, performing the track “Tommy The Cat,” with Pam Grier MC-ing!
Cannibal Corpse in ACE VENTURA
I have to admit, my first introduction to death metal titans Cannibal Corpse was in the above scene from ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE. Rumor has it, because Jim Carrey was a big fan. Let’s not forget, Carrey also lip-synced some Guns N’ Roses in the Dirty Harry sequel THE DEAD POOL. But anyways, one of the funniest bits from Carrey’s star-making vehicle was his little dance to the Cannibal Corpse track “Hammer Smashed Face.” As a bonus, here’s a fun deleted scene in which Ace Ventura makes an escape while crowd surfing:
Twisted Sister in PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE
My earliest memories of MTV involved those wacky videos from Twisted Sister, such as “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” featuring that crazed teacher who also appeared in ONE CRAZY SUMMER. (What the hell ever happened to that guy?!) Anyways, even cooler was seeing them shooting the music video for “Burn In Hell” while Pee Wee Herman is avoiding studio security on the backlot in PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE! Easily, one of the many highlights and fun surprises of that movie!
Alice Cooper in WAYNE’S WORLD
I mean, can this guy party or what?! Everyone loves WAYNE’S WORLD. So, how cool was it to see Alice Cooper performing the track “Feed My Frankenstein” at the concert?! While that bit is fun, none of us can ever forget the history lesson he gives to Wayne and Garth about the history of Milwaukee when they pop backstage after the show.
Alice In Chains in SINGLES
Ah, how I miss the 90’s. What a glorious time. And at the height of the grunge revolution came Cameron Crowe’s SINGLES, which isn’t exactly about the Seattle music scene, but really more of an examination of the dating scene. (Back when an answering machine could ruin an entire relationship!) Sure, the members of Pearl Jam pop up as Matt Dillon’s band Citizen Dick, but the highlight has to be seeing Alice In Chains playing the tracks “It Ain’t Like That” and “Would?”
SERIAL MOM is now available on Blu-Ray through Scream Factory in a special collector’s edition! Get your copy right here!