11 Movies That Should Be Musicals

Films that need to shift from screen to stage...


The trend of filming musicals is still going strong, but there's also a growing taste for the reverse journey...

Spiderman, The Addams Family and American Psycho are all planned to move from movie theatres to proper theatres in the coming year.

So here's a few pitches for slightly less mainstream movies that really need to be musical-ified...

 

Eraserhead (1977)

The film: Much loved surrealist horror written and directed by David Lynch.

A man (Jack Nance) experiences weird dreams and hallucinations, punctuated by the unbearable screams of his newborn mutant child.

Why it ought to be a musical: What about Eraserheaddoesn’t scream ‘musical’?

Imagine the dinner scene with a line-dancing troupe of blood-spewing roast chickens…

Or the dream sequence at the pencil factory with a singing dismembered head - and a morose soliloquy by the mutant baby.

Music & lyrics by... Lynch himself. Layering the famous howling wind, white noise and screaming baby sound effects to build an unsettling, unforgettable - and extremely trying - score.

Hit songs: 'Screaming Baby Blues', 'Loneliness Of The Man In The Planet', 'I Don’t Know Much Of Anything' and 'My Sweet Eraserhead'...

Producer’s notes: Should be minimal budget, and take five years to produce. Should only play at midnight.

Next: Blade Runner[page-break]

 

Blade Runner (1982)

The film: Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired 'Blade Runner', a type of cop who hunts down rogue cyborg ‘replicants’.

When four replicants steal a spaceship and return to earth in search of their maker, Deckard is asked to hunt them down and terminate them.

Why it ought to be a musical: Sci-fi is not a genre well represented in musical theatre. Unless you count Starlight Express… which we don’t.

It'd be a thrilling challenge for set designers, who would have to create the 'used future' look of Blade Runner, with none of the sugary glaze of many stage musicals.

Music & lyrics by... Vangelis, who composed the original score, working with Jon Anderson from Yes. The pair collaborated on a couple of essential albums in the early '80s and they'd nail that retro-synth sheen.

Hit Songs: 'Unicorn Dream', 'Attack Ships On Fire Off The Shoulder of Orion', 'Put Your Hands On Me' and 'I’m In Love With A Replicant”. Also, the heartfelt existential theme from Roy Batty - 'I'll Find My Way Home'.

‘The Replicant Slide’ will become a dance-floor sensation in clubs the world over.

Producer’s notes: After a limited initial run, should be re-released in ten years to great acclaim and audience adulation.

Next: The Big Lebowski[page-break]

 

The Big Lebowski (1998)

The film: When perennial slacker ‘Dude’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is mistaken for his millionaire namesake, two thugs urinate on his favourite rug to coerce payment on a debt he knows nothing about.

With The Dude out for compensation, Millionaire Lebowski offers him a one-off job with a high payout, and The Dude drafts in gun-nut best-buddy Walter (John Goodman) to help.

Why It ought to be a musical: With a cast of original and idiosyncratic characters, dream sequences and a cowboy narrator known only as ‘Stranger’, The Big Lebowski was made for the eccentric world of musical theatre.

The bowling sequences alone would be a gripping stage spectacle.

Music & lyrics by... Composer and Coens collaborator Carter Burwell, with words by the Coens themselves.

Or, go populist and splash out on music rights and use the pop songs featured on the film’s soundtrack: Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stones, Captain Beefheart...

Hit songs... 'Shut The Fuck Up, Donny!', 'All I Need Are White Russians And Weed', 'Fuck Sympathy!', 'Who Pissed On My Rug?', 'Nobody Fucks With The Jesus!'.

Also, a touching love ballad performed by little rich-girl Bonnie Lebowski - 'I'll Suck Your Cock For A Thousand Dollars.'

Producer’s notes: White Russians should be served at the concessions, and the smoking of illegal substances encouraged during performances.

Next: Army Of Darkness[page-break]

 

Army of Darkness (1992)

The film: After the events of Evil Dead II, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is transported to medieval England, where he must once again do battle with the deadites.

Why It ought to be a musical: The slapstick and screwball humour will translate well to stage, and - imagine the hordes of deadites battling medieval knights through the medium of dance…

Kind of like Michael Jackson’s Thriller meets the video for Run DMC vs. Jason Nevins' ‘It’s Like That’. A multiple-styled, dance battle to end all dance battles.

Music & lyrics by... Danny Elfman, bringing some of the dark and witty lyrical stylings he used so well on The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Hit songs: 'My Name Is Ash... And This Is My Boomstick', 'Groovy', 'Goodie Little Two Shoes', 'Buckle Up Bonehead', 'Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart' and the roof-raising showtune 'I May Be Bad But I Feel Good'.

Producer’s notes: Bruce Campbell. If you cast him, they will come.

Next: There Will Be Blood[page-break]

 

There Will Be Blood (2007)

The film: In the early 20th Century, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) builds an oil empire from the ground up, stopping at nothing to get what he wants.

Why It ought to be a musical: If you enjoyed the mash-up of Kelis’ 'Milkshake' with Daniel Day-Lewis’ dialogue, this is the musical for you.

Replacing the long periods of silence in the film with frothy musical monolgues will turn an intense critique of capitalism into something light and lively for the masses.

Seeing Daniel dance under the rain of freshly struck oil would be an arresting image on stage, if a little messy for the front three rows (who would be provided with special branded umbrellas - at a small fee).

Music & lyrics by... Radiohead. Guitarist Johnny Greenwood provided the film’s jarring score, and could team with band-mate Thom Yorke for lyrics.

Hit songs: The singalong show-stopper 'I Drink Your Milkshake', plus 'I Have A Competition In Me', 'I Am A Sinner', 'The Oil-Drilling Song', 'I Thank God I Have None Of You In Me' and the slightly downbeat 'You Are A Stupid Man, Abel'.

Producer’s notes: Hire Daniel Day-Lewis to reprise his role. Anyone doubting his singing and dancing ability must view the trailer for his new film, Nine.

Next: There Will Be Blood[page-break]

 

The Thing (1982)

The film: American scientists on an Antarctic expedition encounter a shapeshifting alien that assumes the form of its kills.

Why It ought to be a musical: It's a prop designer’s wet dream. We’d buy a ticket just to see how they translated Rob Bottin’s monstrous movie animatronics to the stage.

Plus, seeing MacReady and crew battle it out with flamethrowers while belting out the songs is a mouthwatering prospect.

With enough blood and gore to satisfy fans of bloody gore, it's Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with more aliens…

Music & lyrics by... Working from Ennio Morricone’s broody original score, Stephen Sondheim's the man to explore the themes of inner rage, enemies within and, umm, shapeshifting aliens.

Hit songs: 'First Goddamn Week Of Winter', 'Maybe We're At War With Norway', 'Nobody Trusts Anybody', 'Voodoo Bullshit', 'I Just Wanna Go To My Shack And Get Drunk' and a triumphant, show-closing update of 'Burn Baby Burn'.

Producer’s notes: For authenticity, chill the theatre down to near-freezing and have the audience wear snowsuits. Health & Safety permitting...

Next: Dazed And Confused[page-break]

 

Dazed and Confused (1993)

The film: Coming-of-age tale set on the last day of high school in 1976.

Why It ought to be a musical: Could be to the '70s what Grease was to the '50s.

High school cliques, muscle cars, girls, hazing and great music - the potential for a smash-hit stage adap is enormous.

We just want to see Adam Goldberg’s character Mike utter the immortal “I wanna dance!” line, and then actually break out in a Footloose-style dance solo.

Music & lyrics by... Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, writing original songs for the stage version, with original director Richard Linklater as consultant.

Hit songs: 'Melba Toast', 'Do The Air Raid', 'The Ballad Of Mitch', 'Dominant Male Monkey Motherfucker', 'Play Ball!', 'Spooky Shit On A Dollar Bill', 'Marijuana On One, Reefer On Two' and the tear-soaked mid-life lament, 'I Get Older, They Stay The Same Age'.

Producer’s notes: A cast of unknowns, with Matthew McConaughey on board to reprise the touchstone role of ageing lothario David Wooderson.

Next: Clerks[page-break]

 

Clerks (1994)

The film: Quickstop employee Dante (Brian O'Halloran) wasn’t supposed to be at work today. Pissed off and with his girlfriend on his case, he just needs to make it through the day.

Passing time with Randal (Jeff Anderson), the clerk from the adjacent video store, they discuss movies, deal with annoying customers, and play hockey on the roof.

Why It ought to be a musical: It's one for the college crowd, a cult hit from the word go.

No locations to worry about, and Dante and Randall's profane, scattershot dialogue would translate perfectly to the stage.

Music & lyrics by... Bruce Springsteen and Kevin Smith. New Jersey’s finest together at last.

Hit songs: 'I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today', 'Down At The Nudie Booth', 'I Can Do Without The People In The Video Store', 'Happy Scrappy Hero Pup', 'I Don't Care If She's My Cousin', 'Best Of Both Worlds', 'I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today (Reprise)'.

Producer’s notes: Stage the production in black and white for authenticity.

Next: Heathers[page-break]

 

Heathers (1988)

The film: Veronica (Winona Ryder) isn’t sure she wants to be a part of the in-crowd at school, and is offered a killer new perspective when she meets rebel JD (Christian Slater).

Why It ought to be a musical: It's the anti-High School Musical, showing those candy-coated, non-threatening Disney types what high school is really all about.

Dark and witty, this black comedy is the antithesis of HSM, and in JD, we have an antihero who would make Troy Bolton wet his pants.

Deserves the chance to usurp the crown of modern teen-fare as it did to the Brat-pack and John Hughes twenty years ago. It'd be hugely popular with slightly disillusioned mid-to-late teens and Twilight fans.

Music & lyrics by: Don Dixon, the producer who wrote and performed the song ‘Teenage Suicide’ (Don't Do It) from the film.

Hit Songs: 'Greetings And Salutations', 'Urge To Purge', 'Fuck Me Gently With A Chainsaw', 'Open Door Policy For Assholes', 'Brain Tumour For Breakfast', 'What Is Your Damage?', 'Lick It Up, Baby!' and 'I Just Killed My Best Friend'.

Producer’s notes: The two leads haven't exactly been busy lately, so they could be convinced to reprise their roles...

Next: Up In Smoke[page-break]

 

Up in Smoke (1978)

The film: Two stoners unwittingly smuggle a van made entirely of marijuana from Mexico to LA.

Why It ought to be a musical: The greatest stoner comedy of all time could be the best stoner musical since 'Reefer Madness: The Musical'.

The road trip scenario provides a challenge for staging, but there's plenty to mine here, including ready-made songs.

Of all the films on this list, this was the most popular choice in the totalfilm.com office, which perhaps says a bit too much about our writers...

Music & lyrics by... Flying way before The Conchords ever did – Cheech and Chong, man.

Hit songs: 'Earache In My Eye', 'Mostly Maui Wowie', 'Does Howdy Doody Got Wooden Balls, Man', 'We Can Be Punks, Man', 'Mellow Out, Man', 'Some Asshole Pissed On My Leg' and 'I Think He's The Antichrist'.

Producer’s notes: Pipe marijuana smoke into the auditorium - synchronised with the appearance of chocolate/crisp-selling usherettes. Ker-ching!

Next: Predator[page-break]

 

Predator (1987)

The Film: While on a black-ops mission in the South American jungle, a US commando unit encounter a deadly extra-terrestrial hunter.

Why It ought to be a musical: Stage musicals have rarely been a macho affair. In a sublime role reversal, this would have guys dragging their girlfriends to the theatre.

It’s got the lot: big guns, blood, gore, explosions, gunfire, quotable dialogue… and a healthy portion of singing and dancing.

Music & lyrics by: Metallica (circa 1987). Maybe Queens Of The Stone Age could hit the hard-rock/hard-dancing sweet spot.

Hit songs: 'Goddamned Sexual Tyrannosaurus', 'Dillon, You Son Of A Bitch!', 'If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It', 'Get To The Chopper!', 'Ain't Got Time To Bleed' and 'Come on! Do it! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! Do it now! Kill me!'

Producer’s notes: Could we get Arnie? Would Channing Tatum do?

Which movies would you like to see as musicals? Let us know in the comments...

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Comments

    • jollieoldtime

      May 20th 2009, 20:30

      They totally made Evil Dead a musical off-Broadway. They basically spent the entire time throwing blood on the audience. It was awesome.

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    • mic2803

      May 20th 2009, 22:49

      definately 300 the musical starring john barrowman as Leonidas. giant elephants with the same technique as the west-end lion king. music and lyrics by muse perhaps?

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    • ebrown2112

      May 22nd 2009, 9:35

      Kevin Smith's ok, but New Jersey's finest? You're forgetting John Sayles.

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    • Kelisha888

      May 22nd 2009, 12:11

      Well, at least you mentioned Sondheim - who at least knows how to write a musical. I can't help but thinking Andrew Lloyd Weber should write the music to Blade Runner.

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    • jws1272

      May 22nd 2009, 20:01

      There's a production of Evil Dead:The Musical playing here in Cleveland, Ohio, USA right now. I've got tix for May 29! Not in the Splatter Zone (yes, they do spray blood at the audience), but tix nonetheless. Can't wait to see it. I've seen some footage from the Toronto production, & they DO reference the Boomstick speech from AOD.

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    • Phoenixtorn

      May 22nd 2009, 22:28

      I saw the Evil Dead musical twice when it was here in Toronto (and saw the cast perform some of the songs at a convention). It was great and so much fun! An army of Darkness Sequel would be pretty spectacular. lol

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    • dgoodswen

      May 23rd 2009, 1:40

      It has become an unrelenting priority to get tix to the Evil Dead musical... in the splatter zone!

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    • MovieDearest

      May 23rd 2009, 7:07

      I'm pretty sure I just read recently that "Heathers" is being turned into a musical ... so one down, 10 more to go! And don't forget the odd rumor that "Fight Club" may be turned into a musical, as well as "Wet Hot American Summer".

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    • shovel

      May 23rd 2009, 23:12

      Heathers! the Musical. awesome. but it can't happen without "cornnuts," either a rock ballad or dancy number for heather's last words. ooh. perhaps the old jingle "bust a nut" can be used.

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    • magic8387

      May 24th 2009, 23:37

      "The Jerk". It's already got a couple of musical pieces in it, and room for so many more. Open with his black family singing on the porch, the big dance number where he finds his rythym, along with "I'm somebody now!", "He hates these cans", "I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit", A musical pitch of the Opti-grab, "I AM A n****r!" and of course "All I need is..." It'd be perfect.

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    • gwobblewopkins

      Dec 10th 2009, 5:22

      Get to the Chopper's already a song... Anyone else heard of Austrian Death Machine? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdZYvPZhT1c

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    • vicdoe

      Dec 30th 2010, 12:16

      I don't know about you, but I don't think that movies with a certain success should be turned to musicals. Usually, when things like that happend the success rate is very low. look at books written after movies. usually, those books, are awfull! imagine how would it be if No Ordinary Family would be a musical. it's true that this is a TV show, but it is a great success and someone could try something with it... either a musical or a book. i really think that musicals should be thought as musicals from the begining and books as books. never mix up.

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