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The Old Cult Mixlist: Songs from and inspired by classic cult films

A few weeks back we ran a piece called "The Old Cult Canon" designed to bring readers up to speed on the roots of Scott Tobias' weekly New Cult Canon column while Scott took a week off. It occurred to me later that there are a lot of songs from and about these and other old cult movies. Enough to make a playlist? Indeed. Here's what I came up with, using mostly movies from the list, with a few others thrown in for good measure. I'm sure I'm missing a lot, so consider this side one and feel free to drop in your suggestions for side two.

1."You Can't Live In Isolation" (Dialogue from Carnival Of Souls)
We probably should have thrown one-film-wonder Herk Harvey's great low-budget horror movie Carnival Of Souls onto the list. The soundtrack album is a guaranteed room-clearer when the party's gone on too long, consisting almost entirely of spooky dialogue from the film and formless organ playing. Here's a bit of dialogue to kick things off.

2. "Chicken Grabber," Nite Hawks (from Pink Flamingo)
If you haven't seen Pink Flamingos this probably sounds like a suggestive, mostly instrumental rock tune. But if you have….

3. "Pinhead," Ramones (inspired by Freaks)
Before they came to hate one another, Joey and Johnny Ramone bonded over their love of old horror movies, a love that led to this song.

4. "Hell Of Prostituted Angels," Alejandro Jodorowsky (from El Topo)
El Topo's probably my least favorite movie on the list, but I have to give credit to Jodorowsky as a renaissance man. His talents even extended to EZ-listening cocktail jazz, the perfect soundtrack to psychedelic Westerns, right?

5. "Science Fiction Double Feature," Richard O'Brien (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
This is the one Rocky Horror song I never get tired of in any context.

6. "Lady In The Radiator Song," The Pixies (from Eraserhead, originally)
The Pixies were David Lynch fans, which you might have guessed even if they hadn't covered this Lynch original from Eraserhead.

7. "Aguirre I (L'acrime di rei)," Popl Vuh (from Aguirre: The Wrath Of God)
Krautrock/new age meets South American music in this weirdly effective track from the soundtrack to Werner Herzog's classic.

8. "Night Of The Living Dead," The Misfits (inspired by Night Of The Living Dead)
Could the Misfits have existed without George Romero?

9. "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out," Cat Stevens (from Harold And Maude)
Can you hear this without running the movie through your head?

10. "Main Titles," Vangelis (from Blade Runner)
Vangelis and Ridley Scott probably noted how well ambient synth underscored unsettling imagery in Aguirre.

11. "You Can Get It If You Really Want," Desmond Dekker (from The Harder They Come)
I know Jimmy Cliff does the version in the movie, but any excuse to put some Desmond Dekker on a mix is okay by me.

12. "Incense And Peppermints," The Strawberry Alarm Clock (from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls)
It freaks me out.

13. "Suspiria," Goblin (from Suspiria
Goblin provided the proggish soundtracks to Dawn Of The Dead and several Dario Argento movies. This is the best movie and their best moment.

14. "Memo From Turner," The Rolling Stones (from Performance)
The Stones have sounded this creepily decadent elsewhere. But rarely.

15. "Haunted," Gene Moore (from Carnival Of Souls)
See above

16. "Don't Cry, Drive" Will Oldham and Alan Licht (inspired by Two-Lane Blacktop)
This from You Can Never Go Fast Enough, a whole album of songs from and inspired by Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop (and probably what most inspired this list.) Will Oldham opens and closes with a Will Oldhamish reading of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from Evita. In between, someone named Alan Licht recites what may be all of James Taylor's dialogue from the movie. It's a weird combination of elements that works far better than it really should, kind of like most cult movies.


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