Better Off Dead is a 1985 teen cult black comedy starring John Cusack, written and directed by Savage Steve Holland. It tells the story of high school student Lane Meyer who is suicidal after his girlfriend breaks up with him. It is known for its presentation of a typical high school life, interspersed with the occasional absurdity.
Better Off Dead takes place in the fictional town of Greendale in "the state of Northern California" and centers on high-schooler Lane Meyer (John Cusack), whose girlfriend Beth (played by Amanda Wyss) dumps him for the arrogant and bullying captain of the high school ski team, Roy Stalin. Lane cannot get past this rejection and decides that death is the only way out of his misery. His half-hearted attempts at suicide, however, always manage to leave him alive, with comedic consequences.
Lane's family is odd: his mother (Kim Darby) is a sort of deranged Stepford wife, may be the world's worst cook; his genius little brother who never speaks but can build laser guns and attract trashy women; and his father who is convinced Lane is using drugs. Lane's best friend, Charles de Marr (Curtis Armstrong) attempts to inhale everyday substances, like whipped cream or snow, as if they were cocaine because he is unable to obtain drugs. The film also introduces two Korean drag racing brothers, one of whom learned English by impersonating Howard Cosell.
As Lane attempts to either end his life or win back his ex-girlfriend, he gradually gets to know a new girl: a French foreign-exchange student named Monique (played by Diane Franklin, who also starred in other 80's teen dramedies The Last American Virgin and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure). She is staying with Lane's neighbors across the street, who are so annoying that she pretends she cannot speak English. Monique turns out to be a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers (as she calls them) and is a tough, confident soul. She helps Lane fix up his 1967 Camaro, and rekindles Lane's confidence and will to live through "language lessons" in the international language of love.
The climactic scene involves a ski competition against the ski jock Roy Stalin on a treacherous slope called the K-12. As the two rivals race, a persistent paperboy pursues Cusack, repeating that he wants two dollars that is owed (spawning the catchphrase, "I want my two dollars!"). As Lane races down the mountain on one ski, he overcomes a life gone downhill to find happiness.
Most of the ski scenes were shot at Alta Ski Area; the parking lot is Alta's parking lot.
The movie's final scene was shot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
The opening track, "With One Look (The Wildest Dream)", was produced by Hine and features Cy Curnin and Jamie West-Oram of The Fixx on lead vocals and guitars respectively. Hine had previously worked with Curnin and West-Oram, and also contributed vocals to the song. The following track, "Arrested By You", as well as "Better Off Dub (Title Music)" and "Race The K-12 (Instrumental)" were performed solely by Hine.
"Come To Your Rescue" was performed by Thinkman, a group formed by, and including, Hine for the purpose of restoring his solo career without the music press knowing about it. West-Oram also provided guitar work to this song, as well as the instrumental "The Falcon Beat".
The only two tracks on the CD without Hine's involvement are "A Little Luck" and "One Way Love (Better Off Dead)." Valley Girl's Elizabeth Daily, credited on the soundtrack as E.G. Daily, sang lead vocals on both songs and also performed them "live" in the film during the high school dance scene.
Rod McKuen's "A Man Alone" (as made famous by Frank Sinatra) is also included in the film, although it is not listed in the credits. Additionally, the version in the film is performed by an uncredited Sinatra impersonator.