Judgement Night vs The Crow - Round 8
Stone Temple Pilots, Machines of Loving Grace, and the legacy of both soundtracks.
When I started this series of posts about The Crow and Judgement Night soundtracks, I thought that pitting one song from each album against each other in a fake shootout would be fun. Of course, The Crow has 14 songs and Judgement Night only 11. I knew this when I started out and figured something clever would come to me over the following weeks on how to resolve this mismatch. How clever this turns out to be, is up to you, dear reader, to decide. Anyway there’s no article about a particular Judgement Night song this week, but there are two songs from The Crow soundtrack left to discuss.
Machines of Loving Grace were one of the early Industrial Metal bands. Formed in 1989 in Arizona, USA, they went on to release three albums. They had two big tunes with ‘Butterfly Wings’ and ‘Golgotha Tenement Blues’. ‘Butterfly’ later featured on the soundtrack to Punisher: War Zone, in 2008.
Like The Jesus and Mary Chain with ‘Snakedriver’, Machines of Loving Grace had read the screenplay a year before The Crow even started filming, and wrote ‘Golgotha Tenement Blues’ specifically for the soundtrack.
It’s a great song with a slinky bass line behind the aggressive guitar riffs, topped by dramatic vocals and clever drums.
The last song I’m going to discuss is ‘Big Empty’ by Stone Temple Pilots. STP were one of the biggest bands of the early 90s, and were at the forefront of that great wave of alt-rockers that for better or worse were labelled as grunge.
Stone Temple Pilots had actually decided to re-record an early demo of theirs called ‘Only Dying’ for the soundtrack. However after the death of Brandon Lee, it was determined that the track was inappropriate as it trivialised dying young. Instead they offered a track from their forthcoming second album. The provision for the use of ‘Big Empty’ on the The Crow, was that it wouldn’t be released as a single for the soundtrack, as STP had their own release schedule to promote the new album ‘Purple’.
However the song was leaked on radio, and in spite of STP and their label’s attempts to get the radio stations to cease and desist, it went global and massive. Ironically in spite of their best efforts to stop it, it became one of their most popular songs. They never made a video for the song, but MTV put their Unplugged performance of it on heavy rotation.
After watching the above video recently (for the first time since the 90s), I’m struck by how healthy vocalist Scott Weiland looks. When he appeared in 2003 as the vocalist for supergroup Velvet Revolver, I recognised his amazing voice, but not his face or body. He passed away in 2015 while on tour, due to drug abuse and related health issues. Billy Corgan, frontman for The Smashing Pumpkins stated as Scott’s legacy: “Lastly, I'd like to share a thought which, though clumsy, I hope would please Scott In Hominum. And that is if you asked me who I truly believed were the great voices of our generation, I'd say it were he, Layne, and Kurt.”
This is really high praise and well deserved.
Judgement Night and The Crow were not the first movies to release soundtracks commercially. That honour may in fact go to Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937. However, they may be the first examples of using original unreleased rock/rap songs to promote a movie.
Judgement Night in particular is an interesting case. The soundtrack has become part of lore in the music industry, whereas the movie itself has been largely forgotten (which is perhaps unfair, as it is a decent thriller and an example of the Urban Violence genre from the USA in the 90s. Other examples of this genre in cinema being 1991’s Boys in the Hood, 1993’s Falling Down, and arguably Quentin Tarrentino’s first three movies).
Judgement Night has often been touted as the start point for Nu-Metal. I don’t think this is quite correct, as there isn’t really a proper Nu-Metal band on the soundtrack, though bands like Helmet, Therapy?, and Faith No More all influenced this genre. As regards the fusion of Rap and Metal; the Boo-Yaa Tribe, Rage Against The Machine, and others predate the soundtrack.
However, Judgement Night definitely let the genie out of the box. The soundtrack format was copied multiple times with examples like Spawn, Demon Knight, and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.
The Crow trivia:
Actors considered for the role of Eric Draven included Christan Slater and Jon Bon Jovi. (Jon Bon Jovi… wearing face paint… and doing martial arts… a part of me wishes this is what actually happened).
The screenplay was rejected multiple times. On one occasion it was rejected for “being too gay”, because the protagonist had long hair. A horrible example of homophobia (weirdly directed at straight guys) that you’d think is a thing of the past but isn’t. It was eventually accepted and promoted by the Weinstein’s of all people! It was their first movie via their Dimension Films production company.
The Crow comic book by James O’ Barr was dedicated to Joy Division’s frontman Ian Curtis, and Joy Division were mentioned in the original comic book.
New Order, the band created from the ashes of Joy Division after Ian Curtis died, were asked to contribute a track to the soundtrack. When this didn’t happen, Nine Inch Nails cover version of Dead Souls was submitted instead.
The Skull Cowboy was a character featured in an original cut of The Crow. Basically, a ghost that acted as a spirit guide for Eric Draven. When Eric Draven deviates from his role as avenger to rescuer (to rescue the 12 year old Sarah, played by Rochelle Davis), he breaks the deal of his resurrection and damns himself to walk the Earth forever undead. Naturally enough, in the wake of Brandon Lee’s death, it was decided this was a rather grim ending for The Crow and the Skull Cowboy scenes never made the final cut. But you can watch a clip here:
The Crow has spawned a tv show, three sequels, and is in pre-production for a reboot.
The character Eric Draven appeared in the original comic book run, the 1994 movie, and the 1998 tv series (where he was played by Mark Dacascos). However there have been multiple characters resurrected by the titular Crow. At my count 15 characters in the comic series, 4 in the movies, 1 (not counting Eric Draven in the tv show) and a further 6 in novelisations.
Judgement Night trivia:
Actors considered for the lead role included Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Christian Slater. Emilio Estevez was able to ask for $4 million as he was more or less a last minute choice. Shrewdly done Emilio!
Actors considered for the villain role included Kevin Spacey.
The script went through many changes. In one draft it was set in the desert with bikers and had a Mad Max vibe.
House of Pain rapper Erik Schrody (Everlast), starred as one of the gang members. Not really wanting to be in the movie, he was vocal about how unrealistic it was and clashed with the production team. He then decided to smoke a lot of weed and say very little. He contributed vocals to Helmet’s collaboration with House of Pain on ‘Just Another Victim’, and was influential in the coming together of the soundtrack.
Composer Alan Silvestri created two scores for the movie. His first score was an electronica effort never saw the light of day. He had recently composed the score for Predator 2, and he was harassed into making a score that was more like that movie. Therefore the score to Judgement Night is basically EXACTLY like Predator 2! Therefore Denis Leary (who played the villain in Judgement Night) and the Predator got the same entrance music. It almost makes casting Jon Bon Jovi as Eric Draven seem plausible.
During filming, a gunshot was heard which turned out to be the murder of a teenager nearby.
Also, during the initial theatre release of the movie there was a shooting at a cinema in the Bronx. As a result of these two incidents the movie was withdrawn from theatres. Because, you know, this was obviously all the movies fault. This was peak 90s logic (and still is a bit in some quarters).
Denis Leary went on to star in the tv show Rescue Me, and as Diego the sabre tooth cat in the Ice Age franchise, among many other roles.
The movie is considered to be a loose adaptation/remake of the 1972 controversial thriller Deliverance.
Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth is the only woman that features on the Judgement Night soundtrack.
Judgement Night was certainly a precursor to Nu-Metal, which exploded as a genre in the late 90s. Often maligned, Nu-Metal produced some cracking bands which achieved global success such as Korn, Linkin Park, and Evanescence. I’ll dip into Nu-Metal in a later post along with it’s cousin Emo music which I mention below.
It could be argued that The Crow soundtrack contributed to the growth of Emo music, though bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, and Weezer had already begun writing music before the movies release. The vibe of the movie and the soundtracks emphasis on songs with strong emotional resonance, insecurity, and despair were all features of the Emo scene.
The Crow is apparently about to be have a new entry in the next few years, with a new cast. Whether this turns out to be a true sequel or a reboot (as rumoured) remains to be seen. It’s doubtful the movie will have the emotional impact of the original (due to the absence of Brandon Lee), but it’s fun to imagine what they might do with the soundtrack. My vote is to have each act return from the first album with new music.
Judgement Night won’t get a sequel. This is mainly due to the movie sinking without a trace at the box-office upon release, but also because the movie plot has a natural conclusion and storyline wise is a wrap. Unless of course, they go down The Crow route and characters come back from the dead. Unlikely, but it would be fun to hear Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul do another collaboration. Maybe Tool and Rage Against The Machine would finish their track this time.
Out of the two albums I’ve definitely listened to The Crow the most. I loved every track on that album and probably wore out the cassette. I liked Judgement Night too, but at the time I preferred the heavier songs like the Slayer/Ice-T and Boo-Yaa Tribe/Faith No More tracks. Listening to the soundtrack again over the past few weeks I have to say I actually enjoyed the lighter songs more. Thirty years on it’s fun to hear the musicianship of Mudhoney & Sir Mix a Lot and Dinosaur Jr & Del the Funky Hompsapien.
Who won in this battle between the soundtracks? Perhaps there’s more firepower on Judgement Night. Is The Crow left riddled with bullets, bleeding out, and crying in the rain? Buried forever, until a jet black Raven alights on the Celtic cross gravestone and pecks upon the granite with its beak.
Because sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.
Feel free to comment below. Are you a Judgement Night fan? Do you wear a beanie, Slayer t-shirt, and camo cargo shorts? Or perhaps there is a black leather jacket with a mascara pen tucked into it’s breast pocket in your wardrobe…
Next week: Awaiting the hour of reprisal, Your time slips away