Article by Shaharaine P. Abdullah
From the visually arresting images of “Tonight, Tonight” to the avant-garde “Stand Inside Your Love,” songs by The Smashing Pumpkins have always been accompanied by groundbreaking music videos, demonstrating the band’s propensity for weaving stunning imagery and sound together for an enduring cinematic experience.
Not surprisingly, the visceral music of The Smashing Pumpkins translates well into the big screen – after all, the band’s penchant for compelling lyrics and innate arcane appeal make great ingredients for cinematic scoring.
From the obscure to the mainstream, the following are a range of diverse films that The Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Corgan have written, produced and contributed musical material to:
Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Singles is a romantic comedy centering on a group of twenty-something friends whose lives unfold amidst Seattle’s expanding grunge-era scene. With its derivative plot and lackluster characters, the film’s soundtrack is what redeems it from being forgettable; featuring a stellar roster of grunge heavyweights like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, etc. As one of the bands routinely lumped in with the grunge movement, The Smashing Pumpkins make an appearance in Single’s OST with their track “Drown,” a song that debuted after Gish was released. It’s included in the bonus CD of the 2011 reissue of Gish, the 2001 Rotten Apples greatest hits compilation and it’s early demo format (originally 8:58 minutes in length) was also released through the SPRC (Smashing Pumpkins Record Club).
Salto al vacío (1995)
A Spanish drama about a woman from a poor neighborhood named Alex who supports her family by drug-dealing and arms trafficking; on the side, she is also in love with Javi, a man whose life is constantly marked by violence. The movie revolves around the lives of both characters as they struggle for survival in the slums and try to deal with the bleak prospect of an uncertain future. The Smashing Pumpkins appear in the film’s soundtrack with their single “Disarm” off the album Siamese Dream.
Long before Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic meltdown, he starred in critically acclaimed movies like Ransom, a crime thriller about a millionaire who goes to unusual lengths to save his young son’s life after the latter is kidnapped and held for ransom. Originally, Howard Shore wrote and recorded a full score for the film but Director Ron Howard rejected it and went with notable composer James Horner instead, who collaborated with Billy Corgan. As a result, there are 7 tracks written, produced and performed by Corgan that all appear on Ransom’s soundtrack; namely “Lizards,” “Rats,” “Rats With Tails,” “Spiders,” “Squirrels,” “Worms 1” and “Worms With Vocals.”
Lost Highway (1997)
Known for his cryptic plots and unique cinematic style, American filmmaker David Lynch reprises his surrealist trademark with Lost Highway, a movie about a jazz saxophonist framed for his wife’s mysterious murder. The rather disquieting mood of the film is echoed by its dark soundtrack listing, which features the track “Eye,” one of The Smashing Pumpkins’ singles released during the aftermath of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Originally a programmed backing track loosely inspired by Dr. Dre, Billy Corgan began work on “Eye” for a supposed collaboration with then aspiring rapper Shaquille O’ Neal, which eventually fell through. Lynch, in collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at the time, was working on the compilation of Lost Highway’s soundtrack when he rejected Corgan’s initial submission, “Tear” (which eventually ended up on the album Adore). Corgan then finished “Eye,” which he also submitted to Lynch, who loved it and ended up using the song for a nightclub scene in the movie. The filmmaker refers to Corgan as a “magical musician” after their collaboration on the Lost Highway’s OST. To date, the track “Eye” is occasionally included in The Smashing Pumpkins’ set lists and appears in the band’s greatest hits compilation album, Rotten Apples.
The Saint (1997)
The movie is an espionage thriller about a master thief, Simon Templar, who adapts the moniker of different saints to elude capture. In his next job for a Russian billionaire who is bent on rallying support against the current Russian president, Simon is tasked to steal a revolutionary cold fusion formula discovered by a young scientist but ends up falling for the latter instead, creating a dilemma. The Smashing Pumpkins’ cover of “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” by The Cars appears on The Saint’s OST.
First Love, Last Rites (1997)
A couple of drifters are disenchanted in their relationship and lives, which they continue to aimlessly squander through intimacy and mindless conversations. The cinematography and soundtrack are what makes the otherwise boring and nonsensical plot bearable, with The Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan perking up things a bit by lending his vocals to the track “When I Was Born, I Was Bored” with the band Shudder To Think.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Director Joel Schumacher’s second helm on DC’s popular Batman character, this installment features a star-studded cast led by George Clooney as Batman, with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the antagonist role of Dr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as the sultry villainess Poison Ivy. Despite the movie’s prominent roster and extensive marketing, Schumacher’s campy and family-friendly take on the franchise didn’t sit well with critics, earning the film negative reviews. It also drew heavy flak from fans, prompting Clooney to vow to never to reprise his role as the caped crusader. However, the film’s soundtrack had the opposite reaction, with The Smashing Pumpkins’ track “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” winning “Best Hard Rock Performance” at the 1998 Grammy Awards. It also garnered nominations at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Editing,” “Best Cinematography,” “Best Special Effects” and “Best Direction.”
Free Tibet (1998)
A documentary where different bands and musicians unite under one cause: to end the Chinese occupation of Tibet and to support the fundamental human rights of Tibetans. With their songs “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “Silverfuck,” The Smashing Pumpkins join the likes of Sonic Youth, Cibo Matto, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys, Björk, etc. in a concert that aims to promote awareness of the plight of Tibetans among the youth through music.
American Pie (1999)
Perhaps known as the film that forever immortalized apple pies, band camp, “Stifler’s Mom” and the term “MILF,” American Pie is a coming-of-age comedy about four boys on a quest to lose their virginity before their high school graduation. The movie’s soundtrack features staples from teenage playlists at the time, including Hole’s “Celebrity Skin,” which is co-written by Billy Corgan.
Faith and the supernatural collide in this horror film directed by Rupert Wainright about a young woman afflicted with stigmata after acquiring a rosary formerly owned by a deceased Italian priest, who also suffered the same phenomena. Billy Corgan provides music for the movie by co-writing the track “Identify” (performed by Natalie Imbruglia) with Mike Garson.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
A drama about a fictional professional American football team, Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday offers an unconventional insight on the athletic world and trappings of fame. It also features an eclectic soundtrack where the single “Be A Man” (performed by Hole and co-written by Billy Corgan) appears.
Homicide: The Movie (2000)
Based on the series “Homicide: Life on the Street” that chronicles the work of a fictional version of the Baltimore Police Department’s Homicide Unit, this TV movie serves as the American cop-drama’s finale. “Crestfallen” by The Smashing Pumpkins appears on the end of the movie and can be found on the band’s fourth album Adore.
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
A parody of several teen movies and stereotypical characters, Not Another Movie is an underrated comedy that combines all the elements we love and loathe in teen movies, while maintaining plot cohesion. The Smashing Pumpkins cover of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” appears on the satire’s soundtrack and as a B-side to the band’s single “Rocket” (from the album Siamese Dream).
On The Edge (2001)
Directed by John Carney, On The Edge is a film about a group of suicidal patients who discover themselves again after undergoing therapy at a treatment facility. Stellar performances by the cast, witty dialogues and a superb soundtrack will endear you to this movie. The track “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins is played at the beginning of the movie during a scene where the lead character, Jonathan Breech (portrayed by the talented Cillian Murphy), is riding his bike.
This film debut by acclaimed music video director Jonas Åkerlund is a dark dramedy (drama-comedy) about the intertwined lives of a group of meth heads, which is originally inspired by creator/writer Will De Los Santos’ 3-day stint of driving a methamphetamine cook around Oregon. Billy Corgan penned most of the original songs (performed by The Djali Zwan, an acoustic incarnation of Zwan) from Spun’s OST, including “Freedom Ain’t What It Used to Be,” “Think You Know,” “Revolve,” “Jesus, I Have Taken My Cross” and “Wasting Time.”
The SP leader also makes a hilarious cameo in the film as a doctor who utters “That’s gotta hurt” while examining one of the characters, Frisbee, after the latter gets shot in the crotch.
On a side note, Åkerlund has also directed the The Smashing Pumpkins’ music video for “Try, Try, Try,” which explores the same dark themes as in Spun. It is originally adapted from Åkerlund’s short film “Try” and portrays the life of a homeless drug-addicted couple named Max and Linda from Sweden. Due to graphic scenes of drug overdose, prostitution and larceny, the extended version of the video never saw much airtime, while the music video edit only had limited rotation. The extended version also featured a bleaker, alternate ending in comparison to the music video’s conclusion – both cuts are available on The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991 – 2000).
Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003)
A documentary that chronicles the life of Rodney “Rodney on the ROQ” Bingenheimer, a radio DJ from Los Angeles’ KROQ station who was a fixture on the west coast’s evolving music scene. Hole’s “Malibu” (co-written by Billy Corgan) appears on the documentary’s extensive soundtrack.
National Treasure (2004)
A historian and amateur cryptologist, Benjamin Gates (portrayed by Nicolas Cage) is a descendant of a long line of treasure-seekers who are on a quest to find a lost treasure that dates back to Ancient Egypt and is hidden by The Knights Templar. This adventure film features the track “Forget It” performed by the band Breaking Benjamin and co-written by Billy Corgan.
American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005)
This direct-to-DVD spin off from the American Pie series focuses on the shenanigans of Steve Stifler’s younger brother, Max. This film also features the track “Forget It” performed by the band Breaking Benjamin and co-written by Billy Corgan.
Air Guitar Nation (2006)
A documentary that traces the origin of the US Air Guitar Championships and chronicles the struggles of those vying for the title, this zany art form brings thousands of fans every August at Oulu, Finland, where colorful contestants duke it out for the Air Guitar World Championships title. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Cherub Rock” (first single from the album Siamese Dream) aptly makes an appearance in the documentary’s OST.
White Powder (2006)
White Powder is a short film about a couple, Mark and Cathy, and how drug addiction affects their relationship. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Believe” (written by James Iha, from the Judas Ø B-sides and rarities) appears on the film’s OST.
Clerks II (2006)
Written and directed by Kevin Smith (popularly known for his recurring role as Silent Bob in the “Jay and Silent Bob” comedy tandem), Clerks II is the sequel to Smith’s debut film Clerks and picks up 10 years after the events of the first film, which chronicles the misadventures of Dante Hicks, Randal Graves, Jay and Silent Bob. The movie also features The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” (from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) on it’s soundtrack; incidentally, the music video for “1979” was filmed in the same convenience store used in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, one of Smith’s other films.
When A Man Falls (2007)
A drama about the intertwined lives and disintegrating relationships of four people, When A Man Falls is a slow paced film that deals with disillusionment and self-destruction. Billy Corgan contributes three, previously-unreleased songs to the film’s soundtrack, which are “Shangra-La,” Sky Of Blue” and “Whisper.”
The first installment in Director Michael Bay’s hit franchise based on the popular Transformers toy line about two warring factions of alien robots, the Autobots and Decepticons. The Smashing Pumpkins make an appearance on the movie’s soundtrack with their single “Doomsday Clock,” the opening track from the band’s seventh album, Zeitgeist. The song can be he heard twice in the movie: during a climactic action sequence involving the character Mikaela Banes (played by Megan Fox) rescuing one of the Autobots, Bumblebee, and during the closing credits.
Paging David Cronenberg (2008)
A short film about Nicola Six, a self-proclaimed psychic who eerily predicted her parents’ death and is now plagued with dreams of her own imminent demise on the eve her 35th birthday. Now on her “final year,” she has narrowed down her murderer to 4 suspects, 2 of whom she interacts with during the entire movie. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Eye” appears on the short film’s soundtrack.
100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs (2008)
A countdown of the top 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs hosted by Bret Michaels of the rock band Poison, featuring a slew of artists and bands (including The Smashing Pumpkins in an archive footage). “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” (from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) appears on the soundtrack and ranks 91st on the countdown.
A dramedy about a group of Star Wars fanatics who take a road trip to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch so that their terminally-ill friend can catch the screening of Star Wars: Episode 1 – the Phantom Menace before its release. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” (from the album Siamese Dream) appears on the soundtrack.
Based on DC Comics’ Watchmen, this film adaptation is set in an alternate history of 1985 (during the height of Cold War) and chronicles a group of retired vigilantes that decide to investigate an apparent conspiracy against them – in the process, they uncover something more diabolical at a much larger scale. “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning” (originally a B-side for the single “The End is the Beginning is the End”) by The Smashing Pumpkins prominently appears in the film’s trailer, as well as OST.
An animated movie about E.B., the Easter Bunny’s teenage son, who doesn’t want to inherit his dad’s Easter Bunny title or duties and instead, decides to make his foray into Hollywood as a drummer for a rock band. Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” (co-written by Billy Corgan) is featured in the comedy’s soundtrack.
A remake of the 1984 musical drama film by Herbert Ross, Footloose tells the story of Ren McCormack, a teenage boy from Boston who moves to a small town where dancing is banned. His arrival serves as a catalyst for change in the community, particularly the movement to have the ban lifted for the local high school’s prom night. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Window Paine” (a B-side of the single “Siva” from the album Gish) appears on the movie’s OST.
The following are also some television series, episodes and video games that The Smashing Pumpkins’ have either been featured in or contributed songs to over the years:
Glee, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, South Park, FlashForward, Cold Case, Sputnik, Smallville, Crossing Jordan, The Simpsons, Polizeiruf 110, Saturday Night Live, Roswell, The O.C., Reunion, One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries, The Chicago Code, Masters of Horror” (Episode 3: “Dance of the Dead”), “Whale Wars” (Animal Planet)
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, Rock Band, Power Gig: Rise of the Six String, Grand Theft Auto IV, Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero 5
Disclaimer: All pictures/images used in this article are courtesy of Google Images (unless otherwise specified). The writer does not claim ownership for any photos and no infringement is intended. We respect all photographers and try to credit sources to the best of our knowledge; if necessary, we will credit or remove any pictures at the photographer’s or representative’s request. Please e-mail us: TheSPfreaksTeam@gmail.com to be credited for your work or to have your content removed.