ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE Will Love You ‘Till Yer Ass Is Thor

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If Ed Wood had lived to see the 1980s, he would have laid eyes upon Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and felt like he had come home. A genuine masterwork of Wisconsin’s finest export, here is a movie made with big ambitions and loads of good intentions but almost no money. Yes this sucker was filmed in 10 days on a budget of $53,000 in the coldest reaches of the Great White North and you can be damn sure all the money ends up on screen. So why is Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare considered a cult film? It’s because even though the movie doesn’t make a lick of sense but it can still bring the thunder like a motherfucker.

The movie begins at a farmhouse in Toronto. A family is about to sit down for breakfast when strange things start to happen. Creatures emerge from the refrigerator and kill the mother and father, leaving the fate of their only son to the viewer’s imagination. Some years later the farmhouse has some new occupants. Rock group the Tritonz, led by John Triton (Jon Mikl Thor), has rented the house as a living quarters procured by their hapless manager Phil while they work on material for their new album in the 24-track recording studio set up in the barn. For company the band members have brought along their respective wives and girlfriends. After a hearty meal it’s off to work. During their first session the demonic forces that have lay dormant in the house emerge in the form of a Evil Dead-style roving POV camera shot and several dorky looking one-eyed puppets. Phil wanders off to the basement to get a new pair of drumsticks for the overzealous drummer and encounters a beautiful seductress who approaches him from the darkness. She bares her breasts and starts to kiss him when suddenly her face turns into a hideous monstrosity that takes a meaty bite of Phil’s shoulder. His screams alert the rest of the band but when they reach the basement Phil is gone. Figuring Phil went to town to get supplies the musicians and their spouses go about the rest of their evening. During the next two days more dime store demons from the Skid Row netherworld will come out of hiding to possess each member of the band and their companions one by one until only their valiant leader remains to battle Satan himself with the fate of the world, or something, hanging in the balance. Time to rock!

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Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare! One of the most amazingly awful and shamelessly entertaining films of the 1980s this cheddar-tastic slice of balls-out insanity was conceived jointly by director John Fasano and star/writer Thor. Thor had been a minor cult figure on the 1980s hair metal scene having once appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show” and even cutting a few albums during the decade. Thor and Fasano had worked together previously on several other shitty no-budget films, but Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare remains their crowning achievement.

Like I mentioned earlier, they had huge ambitions for this movie but they never had the budget to fulfill those ambitions. Of course that was never going to stop them from at least trying, and try they did! Naturally the majority of their funding had to be used to realize the variety of hideous beasties Triton and his bandmates encounter in the film. Oh are they so awesomely bad!

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From the hilarious oven monster to the costume store demons roaming the house, the creatures on display in Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare won’t cause you to have any nightmares of your own but they are guaranteed to leave you rolling on the floor laughing your ass off. Wait until you see the baked chicken that tries to eat you before you eat it. Yes this is one of the great unintentional comedies the decade has to offer. Unfortunately the best moments in the movie are few so most of the time we’re subjected to time-wasting filler such as long and pointless love scenes and drawn-out attempts at establishing our cannon fodder metalhead characters as more than the miserable clichés they are. But once again budgetary limitations and the need to pad out the running time to reach feature-length result in not a single scrap of film being wasted. Then again, Indiana Jones had to cross a lot of rough terrain before he found the Holy Grail.

They save the best for last. After everyone else has either been killed or possessed it’s time for the ultimate battle between good and evil. In this corner, John Triton aka the archangel Triton sent to Earth to vanquish the forces of darkness in the guise of a well-oiled muscular milquetoast metal maestro with poofy hair that would make Jessica Hahn weep with envy. And in this corner, the devil himself, ol’ Scratch, the demon who’s always steamin’, Satan. LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!

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Not since Bela Lugosi tussled with the inanimate wading pool octopus in Ed Wood’s Atomic Age trash classic Bride of the Monster has there been a mightier cinematic throw down between man and cheap special effect beast. Triton, with oily pectorals enthusiastically a-bulgin’ and manly eye shadow in place, and Beelzebub get into quite the brawl. See Triton dodge and tear apart rubber starfish from the bowels of Hell with all the passion of a man in sorry need of some Metamucil! See Satan get his legs pulled from underneath him! See the greatest battle of all time reduced to a cosmic high school wrestling match! Shot from the lowest of angles to make Triton and Satan’s grappling fight seem more dramatic than it really is with only another of Thor’s power ballads to underscore the mayhem, this can truly be called a clash of the titans.

Did I mention the movie is loaded with wall-to-wall tunes by the great Jon Mikl Thor himself? It’s not every man who gets dressed up in full stage performing regalia for a recording session, but you have to admit Thor gives 110% to the movie. This is not an ego trip, this is a man who loves what he does. The righteous hard rockin’ tracks are one of the movie’s highlights and they are plentiful. Whether it’s a love scene or an otherworldly donnybrook, this movie thrives on the rock. The best songs include “We Live to Rock”, “Energy”, “Gonna Steal Your Thunder”, “Heads Will Turn”, and “We Accept the Challenge”, the almighty epic that underscores the final battle.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare lives on! Bow before this paean to goofy 80s hair metal and Z-grade monster flicks for you are not worthy to receive, or don’t. Feeling courageous? Give this puppy a peek.

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