[Mourning Jams] Day 13: “Yoo Hoo”

October 2019 is a celebration of horror and musicThis October, Daily Grindhouse is celebrating the collision between music and horror with a series of posts under the banner of Rocktoberfest 2019. There will be daily features, recurring bits, and some special posts around the subject.

Mourning Jams is your daily kick off every morning with a different music video that has some horror elements to it. Crossing genres, decades, and more, it’s a good way to get in the spooky mood this Halloween month.

Sugary pop rock never tasted so bitter as Imperial Teen’s 1998 song, “Yoo Hoo.” Sounding like descendants from The Pixies and Weezer, Imperial Teen is comprised of Roddy Bottum (also of Faith No More), Will Schwartz (also of hey willpower), Lynn Truell (also of The Wrecks), and Jone Stebbins (also of The Wrecks). They are still around but were indie pop rock darlings of the LGBTQ music scene in the late ’90s. Favorably reviewed by multiple publications, and profiled by outlets like The Advocate, the band often put queer shades on their lyrics through pronoun usage and talking about gender/sexuality (and lead singer/guitarist Bottum has been out since 1993) in ways most acts weren’t.

Imperial Teen’s sense of dark camp wrapped up in alternative versions of bubblegum pop rock made them and their song “Yoo Hoo” perfect for the 1999 dark comedy, JAWBREAKER. Written and directed Darren Stein (G.B.F), the film is basically HEATHERS with dayglo visuals, less social conscience, and a cavalcade of genre performers. Rose McGowan, Julie Benz, and Rebecca Gayheart fake kidnap their friend for her birthday, and accidentally kill her with a jawbreaker. Soon there’s a Pygmalion sub-plot making over Judy Greer from a nobody into a Regina George-prototype in order to protect the secret, while detective Pam Grier is on the case. Also throw in William Katt and P.J. Soles from CARRIE (1976), a dash of Carol Kane, a pinch of a Marilyn Manson cameo, and it’s a melodramatic dark comedy with machiavellian teens scratching each others’ eyes out as they climb social ladders. It was not a big hit in the day, but it is becoming a burgeoning cult sensation due to its obsidian humor, outrageous ’90s fashions, a performance by The Donnas, and it all adds up to a pretty sweet slice of camp.

The song “Yoo Hoo” was featured prominently in the film, trailer, and ad campaign. McGowan also stars with Imperial Teen in the “Yoo Hoo” music video from writer/director Rocky Schenk (who has worked with a ton of acts like Alice In Chains, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Joni Mitchell, and a Supersuckers’ video featuring Linda Blair as a dancing devil). It’s not a straight up bit of horror, but instead a type of reverse home invasion (think THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW or THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE) where Imperial Teen’s car breaks down and instead of finding help at McGowan’s house, they are trapped in a bizarre bit of psychosexual torture that mostly involves rope, Polaroids, and dancing. The video is also vaguely/oddly reminiscent (to me) of DEATH GAME (1977)—which Eli Roth remade as KNOCK KNOCK in 2015—in its use of sexuality and grim sense of humor (like when the band just starts playing suck & blow with the fatal jawbreaker). “Yoo Hoo” is a fun song from a good band and a groovy video that hopefully will lead more people to watch JAWBREAKER.

Tune in tomorrow and every morning in October for a new music video to help start the day on the frightening foot as Halloween swiftly approaches.

Rob Dean
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