Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987)

... aka: Arch Angel
... aka: Edge of Hell, The
... aka: Face of Hell, The

Directed by:
John Fasano

Leather, spandex, sequins, rubber, eye shadow, highly questionable music sensibilities, terrible acting, several gallons of hairspray and one astronomically high ego; just a few of the ingredients that went into making Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare, Canada's most famous entry in the 80s 'heavy metal horror' subgenre. This seven-day-wonder was produced by, written by and stars Jon Mikl Thor aka "The Legendary Rock Warrior" aka “Thunderhawk” aka "The Man with the World's Most Protruding Rib Cage." Thor started out as a bodybuilder who earned the titles of both "Mr. Canada" and "Mr. USA" before moving on to a career in glam / hair metal with releases like "Muscle Rock" and "Devastation of Musculation." See a recurring themes there? He also wrote, produced and starred in a couple of 80s horror flicks (the other was the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 favorite Zombie Nightmare) clearly meant to showcase his musical abilities as well as his writing skills and his, a-hem, sex appeal as an actor. The good thing is that he fails so hard on all counts that the movie itself is pretty hilarious and only gets more and more laughably absurd the longer it goes on. So will you be able to endure sitting through 83 minutes of poorly-made vanity project hair band cheese overload? I don't know, but you should still aaac-cept the challlllennnnnge!

Thor plays John Triton, the bleached-out lead singer of the band Tritonz. Having accepted an advance for an upcoming album, he and his band mates (two guitar players, a drummer and a female keyboard player), plus a few of their girlfriends and their manager, retreat to a secluded farm house for five weeks to work on their music. There's no telephone, but there is a recording studio in the barn where the likes of Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart supposedly performed where they can fine tune their awful hair metal anthems like "We Live to Rock" and "You Give Me Energy." What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters the place is infested by an evil master demon and a bunch of its hand puppet rubber mini-minions, which possess, impersonate and kill. The first to go is the band manager, who's seduced, possessed and then disappears, prompting one of the ladies to comment "I'm sure Phil's not dead or anything or he would have called" (?!) Phil appears one more time to intercept four female members of the Tritonz fan club, demanding they show him their "bazooms" before luring them down into the basement where they're presumably killed.

Everyone else - save for our hero - eventually dies but the filmmakers refuse to show us any of it and the murders all take place off-screen. There are just two lame gore effects here; a guy getting a chunk bitten out of his shoulder by a demon and a giant clawed hand popping out of a guy's chest, and that's it. I don't even remember so much as a drop of blood anywhere. Receiving much more screen time are a slew of truly awful-looking little rubber critters that look plucked right from a child's toy box. The main one has one eyeball, smokes a cigarette and drools in a guy's drink, another looks like a cross between a snake and a Pterodactyl and a few more finally show up with Troll Doll hair. All of this leads up to a truly laughable finale where Jon Mikl battles against a plastic demon he keeps calling "bub" while wearing an outfit consisting of a cape, a jewel-encrusted speedo, knee-high boots and arm bands, heavy eye makeup and teased out hair.

Sadly, the above ensemble outfit isn't even the worst thing Thor wears. That honor goes to either the unbuttoned silver tuxedo jacket with black spandex pants or the pink polka dotted silk blouse that looks like something Blanche Devereaux would wear on a date. Thor also makes sure to write himself a shower sex scene where he awkwardly paws and tongues the poor actress playing his girlfriend, but the less said about that the better. There's not much else to say about this one. It's truly terrible in every way but with lots of that bad movie charm fans of this kind of stuff look for. If you want to see something along the same lines that's similarly cheesy but more competently-made make sure to give Trick or Treat (1986) or Shock 'em Dead (1991) a gander.

Director Fasano went on to contribute the better-made but perhaps less-memorable BLACK ROSES (1988) to the metal horror cycle. He also made The Jitters (1988), which hoped to introduce Western audiences to “hopping vampires,” which were huge in Hong Kong at the time. Thor returned to star in and produce the belated sequel Intercessor: Another Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare, which was released in 2005 to little attention and apparently no audience considering almost nobody has seen it. Thor will also be the subject of an upcoming documentary / biopic titled I Am Thor.

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