Posted at 11:50 AM on April 9, 2007
by Euan Kerr
Tarantino did it again. Back in 1992 he took a fine song by Stealers Wheel, featuring a young Gerry Rafferty, called "Stuck in the Middle with You" and used it as the background music for a stomach-churning torture scene.
It's an elegant little song, with a jaunty melody paired with smart lyrics about how going to parties can be a wretched experience.
I really used to like this song - still do in fact. But if you have witnessed "the ear scene" in "Reservoir Dogs," it's hard to avoid a feeling of unease every time you hear the songs opening acoustic guitar riff.
Tarantino is known for taking the minor pop hits of yesteryear and using them to add even more octane to his adrenaline-and-blood-soaked stories. "Pulp Fiction" did for surf music what "The Exorcist" did for Mike Oldfield and "Tubular Bells," moving it from 'fun in the sun' tunes to 'I'm being chased by mob killers' music.
Now we have "Grindhouse" Tarantino's double feature with Robert Rodriguez which simultaneously honors and spoofs 1970's schlock thrillers. Quentin's offering "Death Proof" features Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike, a stalker who gets his kicks offing carefully selected female victims using his souped up stuntcar.
Early on Stuntman Mike meets up with a group of young women in a bar, and then takes off after them. As the women ride along unaware of the impending danger, they begin to sing along to "Hold Tight" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, one of the great underappreciated British pop bands of the 1960s. The story went that they couldn't think of a name and so they just strung together their nicknames and left it at that.
Anyway, as with the Stealers Wheel number, the song comes on and very soon really nasty things happen. Another tune inextricably linked with bloodshed! On the other hand it reminds me I need to replace by Dave Dee etc Greatest Hits collection which I had on a cassette which now must be in the great audio archive in the sky. (It includes one of their greatest songs "Zabadak" which has to be heard to be believed.)
Should you see this film? It depends. Tarantino and Rodriguez fans will revel in the latest mixture of profanity, blood, smartalec oneliners and high calibre weapons. Film buffs will enjoy the 70's spoofs.
But this is spectacle rather than plot (the 70's spoof includes missing reels, leaving some things to your imagination and freeing the directors from the rigors of logic.) This is fun if you are in the mood, but not a must see.
I guess it's too bad that the song is associated with one of the more gruesome scenes of the movie (and there are many)... But my take away was more "Wow, what a great song..." Maybe that's because I was previously unfamiliar with DDDBMT.
Still trying to find any evidence of Pete Townsend actually considering leaving The Who to join them though...
Thanks for that bizarre link, Euan. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick's "Zabadak" is...something to behold, and insanely catchy.
To a lesser extent, other movies have laid waste to other songs. "Silence of the Lambs" ruined Tom Petty's "American Girl" for me.