Skip to main content

Songs That Could Be Movies: AC/DC

We've got a feeling that one day, Hollywood will run out of books, comics and other films to adapt, and they'll turn to music, weaving movie trilogies from three-minute pop songs.

So far, fey British pop has dominated our thoughts, with David Bowie , Blur and The Smiths benefitting from our storylining.

But with AC/DC dusting off their mightiest hits to soundtrack Iron Man 2 (out Friday 30th April!), this time we're going down under to focus on school uniform-wearing Antipodean rawk.

For those about to pitch, we salute you. As always, we claim copyright on the following pitches.

Rock 'n' Roll Damnation (1978)

Released in 1978, Rock 'n' Roll Damnation was one of the earliest hits for the band, then fronted by legendary hellraiser Bon Scott, whose dedication to the cause of rock is worth repeating:

"We just want to make the walls cave in and the ceiling collapse. Music is meant to be played as loudly as possible, really raw and punchy, and I'll punch out anyone who doesn't like it the way I do."

Which is as good a starting point as any.

The Movie:

Scott Bond is a teenager who only wants to play rock and roll.

However, his mother, Gertrude, is highly religious, and prevents him following his calling.

When his bandmates mock him for being Ma's own whippin' boy, Scott decides to hell with it and runs away from home.

With Gertrude left to pray for her son's eternal soul, Scott hits the streets and indulges in whatever sin he can find.

At first, he loves his new freedom, but gradually he loses sight of his music-making dreams.

His bandmates throw him out after he gets wasted one too many times, and he's left to wander the streets in a feverish state.

Gertrude pulls up in the car. A repentent Scott is ready to atone, but Gertrude has turned into a rock chick.

Turns out she's sold her soul to the devil to protect Scott's dreams, and will stand by him to ensure he has fun - just not too much fun.

The Cast:

Jesse Eisenberg's journey from geek to undead-slayer in Zombieland makes him an ideal fit for Scott, Susan Sarandon moves from Bible-basher to vamp-tramp as Gertrude.

Sample Dialogue:

Gertrude: "You left a happy home to live on your own! You wanna live in sin!"

Next: Back In Black [page-break]

Back In Black (1980)

After Bon Scott's death from alcohol poisoning, the band was on the verge of splitting up. Enter Brian Johnson of Geordie fame (that's a band, although he is from the north-east), who was asked to pen a tribute to his predecessor.

Johnson admitted, "I just wrote what came into my head, which at the time seemed like mumbo jumbo... The boys got it though. They saw Bon's life in that lyric."

But we're looking for something a little classier than mumbo jumbo, so how's this?

The Movie:

After two decades on death row, convicted murderer Tony Castle is granted clemency after mysterious new evidence comes to light.

He returns to his hometown of Black, to find much has changed. His high-school sweetheart Sunny is hitched to his old gang mate Duncan, with whom they have a teenage son, Alan.

Worst of all, his old gang - for whom he took the rap - think he's sold them out and chase him away.

With nowhere to go, Anthony sleeps in the back of a Cadillac, where Alan befriends him.

The gang attacks, but Alan intervenes, admitting that Tony wasn't the killer - he found the proof that Duncan had his old friend framed.

While he didn't want to see his dad put behind bars, he couldn't let an innocent man die so he sent the files to the Governor.

A fight breaks out between Tony and Duncan, which only ends when Alan is accidentally injured.

The gang threaten to kill Duncan, but Tony stops them, realising that Duncan's punishment is losing his son's respect.

Tony decides to leave town in the Cadillac, allowing the family to patch things up.

The Cast:

Russell Crowe has the combination of fuck-you attitude and soppy soul needed for Tony, while - as Wolverine fans know - Hugh Jackman's charming exterior can hide a feral dark side, perfect for Duncan.

Sample Dialogue:

Tony: "Forget the hearse 'cause I never die!"

Next: Thunderstruck [page-break]

Thunderstruck (1990)

Brothers Malcom and Angus Young are the spine of AC/DC, their veins pulsing with noise.

Thunderstruck - recently voted the greatest rock song of all time in Australia - is a case in point: "We came up with this thunder thing and it seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC=Power. That's the basic idea," explained Angus, helpfully.

There's actually already a film called Thunderstruck , starring then-unknown Sam Worthington, about a bunch of lads making a pilgrimate to bury their best friend next to Bon Scott.

We're keeping the friendship theme for our version, but in homage to the Youngs, our heroes are brothers.

The Movie:

After witnessing a Mob murder, brothers Mel and Sid go on the run.

Escaping to Texas, they fall in love with two dancers, Adelaide and Bris, who give them a good time.

Falling in love with them, the brothers temporarily forget their troubles, but the bad guys inevitably find them.

The two are beaten up and left for dead, but the villains haven't counted on their girlfriends.

Adelaide and Bris go on a revenge mission; one by one the Mobsters are defeated.

Crime boss Taz kidnaps the brothers in a foolish attempt to stem the tide of blood, but the girls go on the rampage to rescue their fellas.

The Cast:

Owen and Luke Wilson will do for Mel and Sid. It's the women we're interested in, and we like the sound of Scarlett Johansen and Jessica Biel as a kick-ass double-act.

Sample dialogue:

Mel: "Yeah, the ladies were too kind. You've been thunderstruck!"

Next: Highway To Hell [page-break]

Highway To Hell (1979)

AC/DC have never been shy about their hard-living lifestyle, and this song emerged after they compared the trauma of touring with being like "a fucking highway to hell."

When the accompanying album depicted Angus in full-on devil gear (red facepaint, horns, the works) rumours circulated that the band were Satanists.

So, which is better? A smelly tour bus? Or a literal highway to hell? What do you think?

The Movie:

Gig's girlfriend Tori is taken hostage by bank robber Sonny and killed alongside the crim in the shootout.

Gig can't believe it's the end. Neither can Tori. She returns in a vision, explaining that she's been accidentally taken to Hell with Sonny.

So Gig packs his bags and heads for the Underworld, accessed via a boarded-up manhole in Times Square.

He goes on a perilous journey, fighting Satan's henchmen, while New York is overrun with all the ghouls that Guiliani had banned.

Eventually, Gig is brought before Satan who gives him an ultimatum - Tori will be freed if he replaces her.

He refuses, claiming that as he's a rock musician, he's already paying his dues. He grabs an infernal guitar and plays it until fire shoots out and engulfs Satan. The lovers escape, chased by Sonny who also wants out.

Back in Manhattan, a pitched battle rages that is only stopped when Satan rises from Hell.

Gig uses the buildings and billboards of Times Square as a giant monitor to amplify the sound of his guitar and drive the ghouls - and Sonny - back to Hell.

The Cast:

Doesn't Gig sound like the perfect role for Bruce Campbell? Let's keep the cult credentials throughout, with Chloe Sevigny as Tori, Danny Trejo as Sonny and Richard E. Grant as an ultra-suave Satan.

Sample dialogue:

Gig: "I'm goin' down, all the waa-ay-aay..."

Next: Guns For Hire [page-break]

Guns For Hire (1983)

The band has always had a reputation of being womanisers, and it's not hard to see why with songs like Guns For Hire .

The way to do this one: a screwball comedy with plenty of sex appeal.

The Movie:

Hunky gardener Bruce Rock is struggling to make ends meet. Evicted from his house, he's taken to sleeping in customers' garages.

But when a wealthy female client propositions him, he realises there's money to be had as a stud.

With his ads promising to "shoot you with desire," he becomes the gigolo of choice for the desperate housewives of Beverly Hills.

But soon Bruce's eye is caught by the beautiful Angelica, the Mexican cleaner of one of his regulars.

He loves her, but she's a sassy, strong-minded lady who doesn't want used goods.

Bruce is torn between his love for Angelica, and the fortune he's making as a smooth operator.

Until he realises that the women's pillow talk is giving away their husbands' professional secrets, and he storms the stock market using insider knowledge.

Finally, he can woo Angelica without having to sell his assets for cash.

The Cast:

Wish-fulfilment whatever your orientation - Gerard Butler as Bruce, and Salma Hayek as Angelica.

Sample Dialogue:

Bruce: "I'm a real entertainer."

Angelica: "A mischief maker."

Next: T.N.T. [page-break]

T.N.T. (1975)

Explosive noise is at the heart of AC/DC's battering-ram music, and T.N.T. - the title track of their breakthrough second album - is practically the band's manifesto.

Only an OTT action movie can do this one justice.

The Movie:

After a botched experiment with dynamite, maverick scientist Terry Nathan Turner is missing, presumed dead.

However, he wakes on the far side of the world to find himself reborn with a superpower - he can explode at will.

Going under the name T.N.T. he fights crime, but like all superheroes he's misunderstood and becomes a wanted man.

But Terry's glamorous lab assistant Peri realises the truth and tracks him down using customised bomb disposal technology.

When America falls prey to supervillain Crowm - a metallic bird-man - Peri persuades T.N.T. to step in and save the day.

The Cast:

Dare we suggest it, but Nic Cage is surely the most combustible choice to play T.N.T. With Gemma Arterton as Peri and Jim Carrey as Crowm.

Sample Dialogue:

T.N.T.: "I'm dynamite and I'll win the fight!"

Next: Let There Be Rock [page-break]

Let There Be Rock (1977)

Teetering on the verge of self-parody, AC/DC were a key template for Spinal Tap , Bill And Ted , Wayne's World and, most famously, Beavis and Butthead , the latter never seen without his AC/DC tee.

Let There Be Rock goes Biblical with the creation of noise, but we thought it'd be kinda fun to take those bonkers lyrics literally.

The Movie:

Revered composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has radical new ideas for music, but the Russians won't allow it.

However, he is recruited by young revolutionary Lenin, who has invented a time machine in order to change the future.

Tschaikovsky is sent to 1955, where he realises that the white man's schmaltz and the black man's blues can be combined.

Getting involved with a guitar man and a business man, they work out the magic formula: light + sound + drums + guitar = ROCK!

Soon, 15 million fingers are all learning how to play and Tchaikovsky returns to Moscow a hero.

For the film's finale, he adds electric guitar to the 1812 Overture to sow the seeds for the Russian Revolution.

The Cast:

Will Ferrell should be suitably mental for Tchaikovsky, while Jason Schwarzman brings revolutionary zeal to his portrayal of Lenin.

Sample Dialogue:

Tchaikovksy: "All across the land every rockin' band was blowin' up a storm!"

Next: Shoot To Thrill [page-break]

Shoot To Thrill (1980)

These bad boys of rock were accused of everything from Satanic messages to inspiring a real-life serial killer.

Yet they've outlasted their critics, and this month sees them take off into stratosphere once again soundtracking Iron Man 2 .

The band actually influenced one of the film's big scenes, as director Jon Favreau recently revealed:

"When I was watching AC/DC with my wife and my son and they were playing 'Shoot To Thrill' at the Forum, I thought, 'You know this is how he Tony Stark should show up, right in the middle of this and take the armour off. That's the Tony Stark version of doing things."

For our own homage, we're going with a Bond-goes-mental vibe.

The Movie:

Harry Thrill was once the world's greatest secret agent, trained in covert ops, martial arts and seduction.

Long retired, he lives a playboy life of women and pills - but when Britain is threatened by a new terrorist threat, he's called back into service as an advisor.

His handler is timid geek Timothy Lowe, who briefs Thrill on the modern way of doing things: no sex, minimal violence, and a strict adherence to health and safety.

Harry's 'aving none of it, and swings into action. Timothy quickly realises that, beneath the charm, Thrill is a nut-case.

He fucks and fights his way to the heart of the bad guys' organisation, with an anxious Lowe in tow.

When Harry is taken prisoner, it's up to Timothy to try and do things old-school. Which he does, unleashing his inner maniac to save Thrill and Blighty alike.

Dressed down by his superiors, Timothy casts off his glasses, tosses the regulation book out of the window, and moves to the Riviera with Thrill to fight crime off-message.

The Cast:

Michael Caine, of course, is a shoe-in for Thrill. As Timothy, David Tennant rocks the geek-chic look, and he can battle baddies for sure.

Sample Dialogue:

Thrill: "Just keep coming and put your hand out to me, 'cos I'm the one who's gonna make you burn!"

Like This? Then try...

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter here .

Follow us on Twitter here .