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Top 10 Weirdest Movie Musicals

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Samantha Hines
Spontaneous song and dance numbers have rarely seemed so out of place. Take a look as we count down the Top 10 Weirdest Movie Musicals.For this list, we’re looking at silver screen musicals that are just plain odd, from premise to execution. Whether it’s a film about the end of the world or a cult classic so bad that it’s good, there are two things that all these films have in common: a bizarre story and killer music.
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Top 10 Weirdest Movie Musicals


Spontaneous song and dance numbers have rarely seemed so out of place. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Weirdest Movie Musicals.
For this list, we’re looking at silver screen musicals that are just plain odd, from premise to execution. Whether it’s a film about the end of the world or a cult classic so bad that it’s good, there are two things that all these films have in common: a bizarre story and killer music.

#10: “Rock 'n' Roll High School” (1979)

It’s the school where the students rule! “Rock 'n' Roll High School” plays out like Ramones fanfiction with a healthy dose of rebelling against ‘the man’. Riff is on a mission to give her celebrity idol Joey Ramone a song she wrote for the band, appropriately called “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”. She enlists her best friend and much of the student body to cover for her as she skips school to get tickets, only to have them confiscated. Naturally, it all comes to a head with a big middle finger to the establishment. The reception was so good, it not only earned the respect of Ramones fans but also an eventual sequel!

#9: “Rock & Rule” (1983)

“Rock & Rule”, also known as “Ring of Power” is certainly one of a kind. In a post-apocalyptic world with anthropomorphic animals seemingly picked right from “The Goofy Movie”, an evil rockstar kidnaps a beautiful musician to summon a demon. Yes, you heard that right. This movie features songs by the likes of Cheap Trick, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, and more. Though it didn’t do well in theaters, it gained a cult following and helped to prove that animation needn't be family friendly. Seriously, don’t put your kid in front of the TV for this one. The PG-13 rating didn’t come out until 1984, but boy does this movie deserve it.

#8: “Phantom of the Paradise” (1974)

You have Phantom of the Opera in one hand and Rocky Horror Picture Show in the other. Slap them together and what do you get? Phantom of the Paradise. Also… throw in a little Faust, because the main antagonist is not only evil but also literally satanic, having made a deal with the devil to keep him young forever. The main elements that make this film so unique are the character designs, rock themes, and the fantastic music. The music was so good in fact that, despite its box office failure, it was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

#7: “The Apple” (1980)


The Devil has a name, and it’s Mr. Boogalow. The Apple is very much in the same vein as Jesus Christ Superstar, just focusing on a different story. It retells the biblical Creation through the perspective of working in the music industry. The serpent is a record label’s leader, the forbidden fruit comes in the form of the music industry, and spoiler alert! The movie ends with God flying in on a Rolls Royce. Though it’s often cited as one of the worst films ever made, it’s taken on a second life as beloved, unintentionally campy film in a similar vein to “The Room”.

#6: “Xanadu” (1980)

Xanadu was so weird it literally inspired the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards, better known as the Razzies. To summarize, it’s about one of the mythological Muses coming to earth and falling in love with a man who she encourages to open a nightclub to get away from his mundane job. This movie is punctuated by some impressive stars, wild effects, and music so good that the soundtrack actually became a hit around the world. As for the film itself, it’s the epitome of “so bad it’s good” entertainment and a cinematic experience unlike any other.

#5: “Cannibal! The Musical” (1993)

Before “South Park” and “The Book of Mormon”, Parker and Stone created “Cannibal! The Musical”. They’re known for their tongue in cheek and often offensive humor, and this movie is no different. It’s a black comedy loosely based on the true story of Alferd Packer, who returned alone from a prospecting trip, claiming the group was driven to cannibalism in the cold of winter. The film quality is charming, the songs are catchy, and it received not only a huge fanbase, but also inspired stage adaptations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. It also enjoyed a VHS, PSP, and DVD release complete with a “Drunken Directors Commentary”.

#4: “Labyrinth”(1986)

If you’re a fan of Jim Henson, David Bowie, or new age fairy tales, “Labyrinth” may just change your life. Although it initially did poorly and proved to be Henson’s last film, it lived on because of its faithful audience and enduring merit. Its practical effects refuse to look dated and its music sublime. It even received a comic sequel called “Return to Labyrinth”. At its worst, it’s a glorified David Bowie music video, co-starring the Goblin King’s crotch. But at its best, it’s an original take on fantasy tropes that makes the girl the hero of her own story, helped by a supporting cast of charming creatures that only Henson could bring to life.

#3: “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986)

There are many interpretations of the message behind Little Shop of Horrors, from the dangers of capitalism to the country’s fear of integration. This cautionary tale, adapted from the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical, was ultimately nominated for two Academy Awards. The story features a nerdy florist, a sadistic dentist, and a bloodthirsty extraterrestrial plant. A modern take on a Greek Chorus accompanies us on the journey. Test audiences convinced director Frank Oz to change the original musical’s ending, where Audrey II is victorious, with a happier one. However, in 2012, a special edition DVD was released with the original ending, met with nothing but praise from old and new fans alike.

#2: “Repo! The Genetic Opera” (2008)

“Repo! The Genetic Opera” can only be described as an emo kid's fever dream. Inspired by the repossession of property, Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich spin a tale where even unpaid organ transplants are ripe for the taking. This rock opera is a gore-fest set out like a cinematic graphic novel. The passion behind it is evident, the costumes avant-garde, and the music is equal parts solemn and absurd. Throw in Spy Kid Alexa Vega and a pinch of Paris Hilton and it somehow works. Despite its limited release and Razzie nominations, the film inspired such a cult following that it returned to theaters with shadowcast performances and even had a successful Road Tour.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Can’t Stop the Music” (1980)

“Head” (1968)

“Cry-Baby” (1990)

#1: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

Rocky Horror Picture Show is a deliciously incoherent movie that goes a little something like this: a couple gets lost and find themselves at the house of an alien mad scientist and his ragtag crew, including a satanic handyman in love with his sister. They also host a birthday dinner where they are treated to a meal of Meatloaf- literally. The film’s reception spawned a pseudo-sequel, also co-written by Rocky Horror’s Jim Sharman and Richard O'Brien. Of course, the audience callouts, props, and physical gags in the shadowcast performances make for a unique experience that you just can’t get from watching the movie at home.
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