Wednesday, September 11, 2013

REVIEW: Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987)

Do you ever wish the 80s would come back? Well, this will probably make you reconsider.

Director: John Fasano
Starring: John Mikl-Thor VS THE DEVIL!!!

Yes, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, the best movie ever to feature John Mikl Thor, the Canadian rock/metal performer who got almost no exposure but has kept on releasing material anyway in the underground, refusing to buckle to trends. Or, apparently, to indecent exposure laws. The film is filled with music that’s about what you’d expect from looking at this thing’s cover. That’s right, it’s gangster rap with techno elements.

We start off our movie with a bunch of quick shots of a family in an idyllic suburban home, reenacting scenes from Troll 2. Don’t believe me? Check out the little kid’s impression of the famous “Oh my GOOOOOOOOOD!” scene:

Props for the flaming, melted skeleton popping out of the oven though. I didn’t expect that at all. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t clean your oven for too long. You just miss things.

It's like if you skinned a Gremlin alive and then stuck it in an oven...what kind of monster could be so cruel?

Then after that we get the true identity of the killer; the tracking shot from the beginning of Halloween:

Of course, it was Michael Myers all along! I never thought John Mikl Thor would go so low as to steal the whole killer from a separate film though. And also, I have to say this whole ‘show some tracking shot footage and then cut to black for a title credit every few seconds’ thing is a bit stupid. It’s kind of like watching a film editor have a seizure while trying to do his job.

And finally we get our title screen, which of course will showcase the brilliant name of this movie for all to---

What? The Edge of Hell? What the hell is that? Pfft. Well, my trust in this movie has gone majorly down as of right now…if I can’t even trust a film to get its title right, then what the hell can I trust it to do? It’s almost like movie studios can mess with a movie or something…feh.

Next we see a bunch of people whose fashion will never go out of style.

Truly they are hip and attuned to the coming storm of the future.

So, apparently, these people are here to stay in this cabin and write rock songs for a week, or some shit like that. I dunno. It’s basically a ripoff of the 2010 movie Don’t Go in the Woods, and how dare this 1987 movie rip off that 2010 movie! The gall of some people. The characters are all kind of interchangeable. The women all sport haircuts that would be better suited to characters in blacksploitation films and wear color-coded dresses – you still won’t be able to tell them apart though.

The guys pretty much just talk about sex a lot. One of them has a fake sounding Australian accent and he literally just sounds like a character off of Sesame Street. Not to mention the acting is about as credible as emails from Nigerian princesses asking you for thousands of dollars so she can win a beauty pageant or something. I mean really, I expect professional acting quality from a movie like this. How long did it take to make? IMDb says seven days. Seven days is more than long enough time to hire good actors, Thor!

Ahem…I’m sorry; I seem to have been taken over by the vengeful spirit of a modern Internet-age nitpicker with a stick up his ass. Excuse that.

I also love how one of the couples on this trip is on their fucking honeymoon. Yes, that’s right, they used their honeymoon to come to this cabin with a bunch of smelly 80s rockers and write music. Are you shitting me? Girls, maybe I’m just not in tune here, but…wouldn’t this be the sort of thing that sends you running to divorce court? I mean, it’s just not that good of a sign for the marriage. All I can see as the future for this marriage is lots and lots of cocaine and marriage counseling. But hey, I’m not an expert.

Then we get one of the movie’s favorite things – a scene of the band playing a song while Thor wears a jacket that looks like he skinned a disco ball alive. The song is actually pretty good; I’ll be honest. I hope they don’t remake this movie in the 2010s. Then it would just have a bunch of Myspace-era alt rock trying to rip off Neutral Milk Hotel or At the Drive In as the soundtrack.

Be honest, you wish your band could look this awesome while playing.

So while you’re busy wondering how a band practice jam turned into basically a music video for one of Thor’s new songs at the time, the band members decide to partake in some recreational activities. Especially this nerdy guy, who has a hot chick approach him on the roof and then denies her sex. I think this is basically a Litmus test for how straight you are.

Ew, cooties!

But it’s OK, because the woman is not actually a woman at all, but a rejected Troll 2 claymation monster!

You know the old saying…rock music gets you chicks. And horribly deformed and insane monsters.

So then we see that fake-Australian accented guy having loud, irritating sex with his girlfriend, never shutting up throughout the whole thing. Then he gets up and tells her he has to go “drain the dragon,” because yeah, that’s really a metaphor that needed to exist, right? He goes to the bathroom and then sees a hot chick waiting for him in the doorway. But then it turns out it’s just a rotting, decaying green zombie. I’ve made the same mistake lots of times.

Fuck this character anyway. He got what he deserved!

Meanwhile the couple on their honeymoon is having fun listening to everyone else have sex all around them. And by fun I mean the girl is probably regretting her decision to marry this bunghole. He even makes a joke about how they could’ve been somewhere romantic and exciting like Hawaii or the Keys! He’s admitting that this whole thing was an asinine excuse for a honeymoon! Somehow that doesn’t make it okay. It’s like an alcoholic going “Yeah, I sure do drink a lot!” Doesn’t really make it any more excusable or better.

Luckily for me, the movie has another surprise right up its sleeve – the one single girl and single guy in the group meet up when the girl comes in and says she couldn’t sleep and wants to “talk.” Heh. Yeah right. “Talk” in a movie where characters have sex more often than they exchange dialogue? Please. You’re being so obvious about a cliché porno scene set-up that even a blind person could see it bright as day – hell, in glowering neon letters even! C’mon movie. Stop jerking us around and get to it already! Just have them fuck like we know they…

Wait a minute. What’s going on?

"Aw man, I can't even get sex when a woman walks into my room wearing no pants? I must really be hopeless."

They’re really just talking and all she wants to do is sit on his bed with him and have a conversation? Huh. I did not see that coming. Good play, movie…

Next scene we get Thor and his girlfriend sleeping in what looks like a coffin together (which is never explained or even brought up, so I guess it must be the norm). Apparently the book he’s reading is really good, because every time she says something, he replies with “what was that, honey?” He doesn’t even miss a beat. She says something and then he just responds with that right after. She gets annoyed that he isn’t listening. Personally I think this is a subtle commentary on the repercussions of playing and hearing too much loud rock music. He isn’t an insensitive douche. He just has a huge hearing loss!

Also I’m not sure Thor can read, so I don’t really know what they’re playing at here.

The next day after another music video, the possessed Australian guy says in a creepy voice that he wants to take his girlfriend on a walk by the lake. The way he says it, it’s more like a child molester inviting little Timmy into his van. Eugh, who would fall for that? Apparently these girls’ huge hair is cutting off the flow of blood to their brains, because the chick just goes along with it without questioning a thing. She immediately strips her top off and, not to be outmatched, he rips himself apart from the inside out!

Well, it’s more like a demon hand thingy that comes out, but eh, who’s nitpicking? Its first move is to grab her boob. So it can’t really be that far off from the human part of him. I guess it kills her, but the movie doesn’t really go into too much explicitness about it or anything.

After that we get a scene with some fans of the band coming to the house. The nerdy guy – who is really the demon at this point, as we haven’t seen him in a while and the last we did see was him getting killed – lets them in and then demands they all take off their clothes so he can judge if they look good enough to be groupies. They’re really offended at it and end up leaving. I love how the nerdy guy just lets them go. What kind of evil villain in this guy? He just shouts at them to strip and then lets them go when they get mad? He doesn’t even try that hard! What on Earth was the point? I bet these girls didn’t want to do anything sleazy at all. They just wanted to have a sophisticated conversation on the merits of literature with the band. But alas, sexism wins again…

"What do you MEAN we get objectified when we act like groupies of a band and go to their house in the middle of the night? WE ARE RESPECTABLE FEMINISTS!"

Next scene we get two of the other morons having sex when they hear a little kid run by. I’m surprised that isn’t one of their fetishes. They assume he just let himself in off the street, because you know that happens all the time. They go and search for him, and figure out the answer to the mystery: he’s not a little boy at all. Just a character from Where the Wild Things Are.

Meanwhile, Thor and his girlfriend take a shower. I’ll give you a prize if you can tell who’s the man and who’s the woman in this picture:

Eventually, I guess it just comes down to Thor and his girlfriend, as she gets taken over by the demon too and confronts him as he’s sitting in the shed trying to write songs. We get some legitimately scary bits when the girlfriend comes downstairs and her voice starts changing into something demonic as the world fades away behind her.

That’s pretty goddamned cool, and really makes me think this could have been a much better film if they had just stopped right there and not used special effects – just have the devil be something intangible and unseen, you know?

But of course that would be antithetical to the movie’s goal of being as stupid as possible. So instead we get this, which looks like something ET shat out whilst partaking in PCP:

We also get a couple of the devil’s minions, which look like phallic symbols crafted by Jim Hanson if he was starring in The Exorcist. I seriously just don’t get some of this imagery. I mean what the fuck is THIS supposed to be?

If someone doesn’t make THAT into a meme and slap some goofy self-aware captions beneath it, I’m calling BS on the entire internet!

So I guess the story here is that the devil toots his own horn a bit, expecting Thor not to know who he is, but gets a nasty shock when Thor starts rattling off a list of the devil’s names and proves he knows the devil probably better than anyone. Even the devil himself.

An even bigger realization is that none of the other characters have really existed in the movie at all. They’ve just been part of Thor’s imagination this whole time! Apparently he was just trying to lure the devil to come to him by pretending to be in a shitty slasher horror film and thus creating characters that would fit in that world. Well, I’ll give the movie that: I didn’t expect this at all. And what is the devil’s first move? To throw rubber starfish at him of course!

I don't get it either. I guess starfish was in the movie's budget, and anything that actually looked cool or made sense was not in the movie's budget. Does the devil just command all starfish? Does Patrick from Spongebob answer to a darker master?

But it’s okay, because Thor has the magical power of transforming into a male stripper!

Seriously movie - this face...I can't even...I just...okay, I give up.

They wrestle a bit. The only thing missing from this whole thing is a crowd of adoring fans and a pole dancing sequence – then it’d be just about perfect. The devil eventually just gives up and disappears in a poof of smoke. What a whiny little coward. So I guess Thor wins and can then go back to writing music that sounds like distilled 1980s in a can. What a happy ending. And really, no one actually died in the movie, so you can rest peacefully now.

So that was Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare – aren’t you glad you know this exists now? It’s a marvel. It’s completely bat shit insane and makes no sense, but it’s a marvel. It’s so cheesy and ridiculous, but it also has a real genuine passion behind it that I really like. I can get behind the surreal atmosphere, and while a lot of the scenes drag on a bit too long, there are some very cool shots here – all the ones of the blue-tinted house at night with the wind blowing are pretty damn chilling. The characters and dialogue are all awful, but then, I guess that was on purpose, seeing as Thor reveals he just made everyone up to trick the Devil into thinking he was in a horror film. That’s…almost clever.

So yeah, I like this one. It’s stupid and half-insane, but it has a real idea behind it and goes all the way with it. I can respect that. Plus, we all know what my REAL rock ‘n’ roll nightmare is…

Eugh. Just watch Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare instead.

Pictures copyright of their original owners; I own none of them!