Tacky Songs From Trashy Movies!

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR’s “Everybody But You” is part of a “great” tradition.

On Tuesday, January 3, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn, New York presents the 1985 cult horror schlocker Night Train to Terror (buy your tickets here!), for which three different fright flicks (at least one of which was never completed) were hacked down to about a half hour each and combined for one omnibus—or omnitrain—feature. But its camp reputation has come to rest most strongly on the wraparound material shot for the movie, thanks to repeated renditions of a truly terrible but frighteningly catchy pop song called “Everybody But You.”

Performed by Joe Turano, “Everybody But You” is part of a long line of cheesy tunes from exploitation flicks of the 1970s and ’80s. Years back, fellow film journalist and B-movie maven Chris Poggiali and I dreamed of putting together a compilation CD of these tracks called "Tacky Songs from Trashy Movies". We never fulfilled that ambition, but thanks to the glory that is YouTube, a number of these musical marvels can be assembled here. First up is “Everybody But You” itself:

Title song from The Glove, performed by Ernie Andrews

Once you’ve recovered from “the kiss and rape” of the song, check out the amazing B-movie cast and wonder why this 1979 actioner isn’t more of a cult item. John Saxon plays a bounty hunter out to make a big cash score by tracking down an ex-con (Rosey Grier) who’s been using a steel “riot glove” to murder the guards who once abused him in prison.

“Oriental Boy” from They Call Me Bruce, performed by Mia Kim

Not to be confused with Bruce Campbell’s My Name is Bruce, this vehicle for Korean-American comedian and Tonight Show regular Johnny Yune was a big hit for distributor Film Ventures International in 1982, even though it demonstrated about as much racial sensitivity as its opening-credits ditty. Kim, one of the singing Kim Sisters who were big hits in Las Vegas and on The Ed Sullivan Show in the ’50s, is the wife of Bruce composer and veteran bandleader/session musician Tommy Vig.

“Indian Woman” from Haunted, performed by Billy Vera

As Vera (of Billy Vera and the Beaters, who had a #1 chart-topper with “At This Moment” in 1987) sings his heart out, you might imagine that that Native American girl is treated as a figure of strength and pride. In fact, she’s a vehicle for gratuitous nudity as this 1977 cheapie opens: stripped, tied to a horse and sent to die in the Arizona desert. One hundred years later, her spirit returns to prey on the sparse residents of a ghost town/movie lot, led by a wildly overacting Aldo Ray.

Title song from Joysticks, performed by Legion

“Wiggle left, jerk it right!”…well, what did you think you were gonna get, subtlety? Taking quick advantage of the arcade-game craze of the early ’80s, longtime B-meister Greydon Clark shot this T&A comedy as Video Madness in October 1982 and had it in theaters under the salacious new moniker the following March. This year, its soundtrack had the honor of being the debut release (on digital and vinyl) of the recently formed Eczema Records.

“Identity Crisis” from Monster Dog, performed by Alice Cooper

The man who welcomed rock ’n’ roll fans to his nightmare in 1975 made the jump to horror-movie leading man nine years later. He plays Vince Raven, who travels with his band and a music-video crew to a remote mansion, where they are beset by both hungry wild dogs and a lycanthropic canine creature. Cooper/Raven’s opening number is not among the artist’s best, though it’s about what you’d expect from a movie by director “Clyde Anderson,” a.k.a. Troll 2’s Drako Floyd, a.k.a. Claudio Fragasso. 

“The Winner” from Graduation Day, performer uncredited

This triumphant tune and the accompanying ADD-edited athletic-meet footage suggest a sports-hero story, only for the punchline—a high-school runner pushed till she literally dies—to lead into a slasher/revenge scenario instead. Not much else in the 1981 film has the energy of this opening montage, though it does feature the teen-kill genre’s only death-by-pole-vaulting.

“King of Kool” from Black Roses, performed by David Michael Phillips

Phillips, a.k.a. Dave Henzerling, has had a long career as a hard-rock guitarist with the likes of King Kobra and Big Cock, which made him a natural for the soundtrack of the 1988 flick about a heavy-metal band that literally plays the devil’s music. Unfortunately, the lyrics for this attempt at bad-ass swagger are so hilariously tame (“I got fine ladies at my place/I’m so bad, I’m in ya face!”), they give the impression of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Young, Dumb & Ugly” played straight.

“Poor Albert” from I Dismember Mama, performed by Rocket Roden

The tackiness here is all about context. Before that more exploitative title was arrived at, this 1972 psychorama was known as Poor Albert and Little Annie—Albert (Zooey Hall) being a psychopathic killer, and Annie (Geri Reischl, who would go on to be “Fake Jan” on The Brady Bunch Hour) being the young daughter of one of his victims. The childlike Albert strikes up a friendship with Annie and falls in love with her, and his theme song tries to convince us that he’s just a romantically confused soul, when what we’re actually watching is a violent sex maniac frolicking with a preteen girl. Ew. 

“Neon Slime” from Vice Squad, performed by Wings Hauser

The actor who so vividly plays mad-killer pimp Ramrod in the 1982 LA-sleaze-o-rama attacks these lyrics with the same intensity. Yet while the movie is a pretty damn solid treatment of trashy subject matter, boasting slick craftsmanship, strong acting from Hauser on down, and plenty of mean-streets authenticity, its opening number’s attempts to convey that nastiness are…contrived, for want of a better word.