High Score

Sometimes the worst movies have the best soundtracks.

Raising Helen
Even box-office bombs can hit the mark with music.
Even box-office bombs can hit the mark with music.
If the world remembers the Porky's movies at all, it remembers them as precursors of the American Pie films -- way stations between Animal House and the most recent crop of movies that encourage us to laugh at young people and their obsession with their genitals. The more savvy film lover may remember Porky's 2: The Next Day for its genre-defying scenes of intellectual debate over sexuality in Shakespeare and the Bible, as well as a very genre-defying, straightforward scene of lovable virgin Pee-Wee performing a Puck monologue from A Midsummer Night's Dream. No foolin'.

But no one on this floating mudball remembers Porky's Revenge, the third movie in the series. It's not even available on DVD (parts one and two are available on a bargain-priced single disc, thanks for asking). So why has Columbia Records just decided to re-release the soundtrack to Porky's Revenge? With bonus tracks?

Because it's awesome. Sometimes you get a great movie with a great soundtrack (Pulp Fiction, Lost in Translation). Sometimes you get a fun movie with a tin ear (such as last year's Spider-Man). And, like pickle-faced Steven Tyler spawning luscious Liv, sometimes the worst movies are responsible for creating some of the best albums. Here's a look at some of those notable soundtracks to stinkers.

The film: Porky's Revenge (1985)

Why it sucked: It's the third Porky's movie.

Why the soundtrack rules: Retro-mad rocker Dave Edmunds was given a sackful of cash to produce the '50s-themed soundtrack, and he went hog-wild with it, getting Carl Perkins into the studio to redo "Blue Suede Shoes," George Harrison singing the previously unrecorded Bob Dylan song "I Don't Want to Do It," and an undercover Robert Plant and Phil Collins (recording as the Crawling King Snakes) laying down a way-cool version of "Philadelphia Baby." Only slightly less mind-bogglingly inappropriate for a Porky's movie is Jeff Beck's version of the instrumental "Sleepwalker" and Willie Nelson singing "Love Me Tender." You may not be able to polish a turd, but you sure can make it sound swell.

The film: Judgment Night (1993)

Why it sucked: Lamely pitting suburban everyman Emilio Estevez against crime boss Denis Leary in a wholly unbelievable gritty thriller.

Why the soundtrack rules: Ah, 1993, when the possibilities of fusing rap and alternative rock seemed like such a good idea. Judgment Night paired 11 alt-rock acts with 10 hip-hoppers (Cypress Hill performs with both Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam) and just sat back to see what would happen. While not all the songs are winners (Therapy? and Fatal don't pull off the gangsta sound nearly as well as Faith No More and the Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. do), there are enough ideas here to fill several good albums. The real standout track is "Missing Link," in which Dinosaur Jr. just jams out behind a spectacular Del Tha Funkee Homosapien flow. Oh, the possibilities that existed in that moment. Thanks a lot, rap metal.

The film: Natural Born Killers (1994)

Why it sucked: Oliver Stone could have created one of the all-time great exploitation flicks, with a script by Quentin Tarantino and hyperkinetic style and violence that are fascinating. Unfortunately, Stone didn't want to admit how much the violence gets him off, so he ruined the film with dollops of unwarranted self-righteousness.

Why the soundtrack rules: Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor never minded admitting that violence turned him on. So he takes Stone's kitchen-sink style and throws out the doubt, putting together one of the greatest mix tapes of the '90s. Opening with Leonard Cohen's "Waiting for the Miracle," closing with "What Would I Do?" by the Dogg Pound, and stuffed in between with everything from L7 to the Cowboy Junkies' version of "Sweet Jane" to dervish Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Natural Born Killers soundtrack is all of the fun of the film with none of the guilt.

The film: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

Why it sucked: Although now restored in a director's cut, Sam Peckinpah's last western was hacked by the studio prior to release. Even in its fully realized version, the film lacks the visceral energy of earlier Peckinpah greats like The Wild Bunch and features a rather annoying performance by Bob Dylan.

Why the soundtrack rules: Dylan might be considered a better musician than an actor, and among his many contributions to the soundtrack, you'll find the first appearance of a little song called "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

The film: I Am Sam (2002)

Why it sucked: Also known as Sean Penn's entry in the I'm Playing a Mentally Challenged Character so Give Me My Oscar Now Goddamn It Sweepstakes, I Am Sam argues, quite falsely, that if you try enough and love enough, anything is possible.

Why the soundtrack rules: It's wall-to-wall covers of Beatles songs. Sure, a scheme like that is going to conjure up some bad apples ("You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" by Eddie Vedder) and some pretty so-so apples ("Golden Slumbers" by Ben Folds). But this album also bears a couple of juicy Red Delicious, most notably Rufus Wainwright's gossamer version of "Across the Universe." Throw in an Aimee Mann/ Michael Penn duet and Sarah McLachlan pulling off "Blackbird," and you've got a soundtrack that makes the movie look, um, retarded.

The film: Shrek 2 (2004)

Why it sucks: An unneeded sequel to an overhyped kid flick that never held a candle to its Pixar competitors, Shrek 2 contributes to Mike Myers's rep as a cash-hungry sequel whore.

Why the soundtrack rules: The first film's soundtrack paired the horrid Smash Mouth cover of "I'm a Believer" with the sublime Rufus Wainwright version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Likewise, Shrek 2 has a bizarre Frou Frou cover of "Holding Out for a Hero" and a lousy Counting Crows song, yet it also has Pete Yorn delivering the best version of "Ever Fallen in Love" since the Fine Young Cannibals. "Rule" is a pretty strong word, but the soundtrack beats the film.

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