Sunday, April 27, 2008

Soundtrack Sunday – "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai"

Harold Faltermeyer. Jan Hammer. Vangelis.

These are all composers who hit it big during the 80s with their synth-based scores.

Although he never made it to the Top 40, Michael Boddicker deserves to be added to the list – thanks to his memorable and unique score for the equally unique cult film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), more simply known in most circles as Buckaroo Banzai.

It was one of those films you either loved or hated when it first came out. Some people couldn't get into it because of the complex plot machinations and heavy pseudo-scientific devices (Beings from the 8th dimension? And why did some of the aliens look like Rastafarians?) I have to admit that I had to watch it a second time before I completely understood what was going on.

But that was besides the point. The film is big campy fun – kind of like a comic book for the big screen, which it was designed to resemble.

The cast also made the film entertaining by itself. What other movie includes the likes of Peter Weller, Jeff Goldbum, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin and Christopher Lloyd? You've also got the bed-ridden President of the United States being played by Ronald Lacey, the evil Nazi in Raiders of The Lost Ark, Yakov Smirnoff as his national security adviser and Billy Vera (Mr. "At This Moment") as a member of Banzai's group, the Hong Kong Cavaliers.

To summarize it briefly: Weller is a scientist, brain surgeon, comic book hero and rock musician who needs to stop evil aliens from escaping from the 8th dimension after one of his experiments accidentally lets them loose. Inexplicably, the film ties in these aliens to the fake "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast in 1939.

Back to the music: Boddicker, a synthesizer player who worked with Michael Jackson, was hired by music coordinator Bones Howe to provide the music and some of the ambiance for the movie. His equivalent of "Axel F" came during the end credits which finds Weller and the rest of the cast walking around a dry Los Angeles aqueduct. According to IMDB, the music wasn't ready yet so Boddicker told the film's producers to blare out "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel for the filming because it would have the same tempo.

The song for the end credits that Boddicker came up with never became a big hit (just like the film itself), but it has become almost as fondly remembered as the movie itself.

Play "Buckaroo Banzai (End Credits)" by Michael Boddicker

Here is that final scene.

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