Take a Rocket Ride to the Extremely Extreme Side of “Planet Wax”

Some readers may recall how high Decibel was on Aaron Lupton and Jeff Szpirglas’ jaw-droopingly gorgeous, revelatory metal-heavy tome on soundtracks from the dark side of cinema, Blood on Black Wax.

Well, the dynamic duo have now followed up that triumph with the equally brilliantine essential Planet Wax: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Soundtracks on Vinyl from the insanely amazing 1984 Publishing.

To celebrate the upcoming special edition Record Store Day release, we offer up a few extremely extreme pairings for the expertly curated selections within.

1. Robocop (1987)

Here Lupton and Szpirglas (correctly!) praise composer Basil Poledouris’ main theme “one of the most hair-raising and iconic in movie history.”

“It’s first heard as Murphy dies then it explodes with might when Robocop hits the streets for the first time in an epic crime-annihilating montage,” they write. “The theme is all comic book heroism but with the determination of a man seeking revenge on his murderers with the help of his Auto 9 firearm (the clanging effect is reportedly Poledouris tapping a fire extinguisher with a metal hammer).”

Our move, creep: We could probably populate an entire list just with songs from Graf Orlock — see, also, “Dutch and the Demon,” “Game Time,” “I Think I’m Going to Love the Future,” and a host of other insane homages — but going here with “Rotten Kid” a sick track that opens with a sick extended Robocop sample.

2. Clash of the Titans (1981)

“This score could not be trivial; it had to be in the grand manner,” composer Laurence Rosenthal tells Lupton and Szpirglas in a fascinating interview. “Mythology speaks of major themes in the life of Man.”

So, too, do our pairings here.

First, you’ve got to give credit to Joey Belladonna, whose highest note could probably take out the Kraken as well as any Gorgon’s head. But why choose if you don’t have to?

And then we’d be remiss if we didn’t give props to the epic title track from Paradise Lost’s own 2017 meditation on perhaps the most famous inhabitant of the River Styx.

3. Outland (1981)

“In this overlooked 1981 sci-fi/western has up,” Lupton and Szpirglas write, “Sean Connery plays a Federal Marshal assigned to a mining outpost on one of Jupiter’s moons, where he discovers the miners are being fed drugs to make them work harder — only it turns them into psychotic killers instead.”

The authors describe the Jerry Goldsmith score as “mostly dissonant, atonal work with slightly cheesier sounds sprinkled throughout — which totally fits — but the tagline EVEN IN SPACE THE ULTIMATE ENEMY IS STILL MAN is crying out for the space death metal of…well, you’ve likely figured this out by now.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“Even if you haven’t seen the film, the grand opening title music — Richard Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra,’ which also plays during the famous ‘Dawn of Ape’ scene that follows — is now woven into modern pop culture fabric,” Lupton and Szpirglas write. “This tone poem is based on Friederich Nietzschhe’s book of the same name, offering the idea that mankind will one day be surpassed by a new ‘superman,’ hence its inclusion in the evolution scene as well as when man is reborn as a ‘star child.'”

You know what else primordial hammering, evolution, and star children calls to mind? This goddamn core-of-the-earth-to-the-farthest-reaches-of-space jam right here:

5. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Lupton and Szpirglas praise John Williams’ “spritely score” here. And it is delightful. Let’s face it, though: As far as the film itself goes, if Jack Nicholson wanted to pick a fight with a real adversary he would’ve skipped over Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfieffer and gone straight for Doro — “Outside she’s looking pretty/Inside a beast of hell” indeed!

6. Lord of the Rings (1978)

Tempting as it may be to dunk on the guy who wrote Aske for naming himself and his band after a series of YA novels, the Planet Wax entry on the film describing how close Led Zeppelin came to scoring the film rather than composer Leonard Rosenman entices us instead to the foot of Mount Metal where Black Sabbath awaits…

“When writing ‘The Wizard’ for Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album, bassist Geezer Butler was reading Lord of the Rings, which inspired him to base the lyrics off of the wise wizard and Istari Order member, Gandalf,” Katy Irisarry noted in this (presumably/hopefully) exhaustive list of Tolkein-obsessed metal. “The song is a bit of a double entendre as it also serves as a metaphor for the band’s own personal wizard — their drug dealer!”

Proof/pudding: Can’t help but feel director Ralph Bakshi missed an opportunity by not putting in a call to Geezer…

7. The Crow (1994)

Decibel‘s Andrew Bonazelli already wrote the definitive appreciation of the Crow soundtrack on its twenty-fifth anniversary and Lupton and Szpirglas cover other rock-heavy soundtracks (Repo Man/Heavy Metal), but, fuck it, any chance to include Rollins Band is one we’re taking! Imagine if this is what had blown up instead of “Big Empty”!

We’ll throw in the sick/slick Pantera cover for good measure:

“It was a dark, gritty film that captured the zeitgeist of the mid-90s, a time when mainstream and ‘alternative’ cultures were beginning to merge,” Lupton and Szpirglas write.

Rated: True!

8. The Beastmaster (1982)

It isn’t any surprise The Beastmaster kills. You’ve got trailblazing director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm/Bubba Ho-Tep), animal telepathy, swords n’ sorcery…

“I instantly liked what I saw very much,” Lee Holdridge, a Neil Diamond collaborator who wrote the film’s score, tells Lupton and Szpirglas. “It had a great sweeping look. I did notice that there might be some long sections without dialogue. I asked Don what happens in those sections and he pointed to me and said ‘You!'”

Coscarelli clearly pointed at the right guy!

That said, there was some serious crossover audience potential that went untapped…