Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)

Rock N Roll Nightmare

Directed by John Fasano

Taglines: “When you raise Hell … the Devil must be paid – in full!”, “When the Band Starts to Rock…Heads Start to Roll!”

Run Time: 83 minutes

Randy Let’s go check upstairs.
John Well, it sounded like the scream came from down here… You’re right, let’s go upstairs.

After watching this movie, oh, 3 or 4 times, I still couldn’t decide whether or not it warranted being closely examined in a cynical review. It is undoubtedly a bad movie, yet it was obviously made for a laugh and has that "hey guys, wadda ya say we make a monster movie?" innocence to it that in many ways deserves a bit of respect rather than ridicule, I mean: Hey! They went out and made a monster movie…have you?

After meditating (read: drinking beer) on the issue of whether or not to give this movie a going over, I realized that this film had several aspects which indeed warranted a roasting review:

Rock N Roll Nightmare1) It reminds me of all the things I hated about growing up in the 80’s: bad hair, bad music, bad clothes, and the whole "Hey! It’s the 80’s and aren’t we just soooooo freaking happy about it!" attitude that still makes me want to curl into the fetal position and groan.

2) There is a certain amount of smugness about Canadian born rocker/writer/director/producer/star Jon Mikl Thor that gets on my nerves. Simply put, he’s like the super-condensed aggregate of everything I hated in high school: heavy metal, buff guys that were bigger than me, and dudes with perms. (Ted, if you’re reading this, you know I’ll never forget the day you showed up in 9th grade with that perm! Ha!)

He’s like the singularity at the center of the Black Hole which I remember as the 1980’s.

To be fair, this movie’s DVD had an interview with Thor and he does seem like a nice enough guy who’s just out to have some fun, make some music, and dabble in a few bad movies. OK, fine. As Ali-G would say, "Respect."

But when he goes on to mention that he made this movie because he knew that he had the "talent and the skill to pull it off", well, that’s just asking for ridicule.

So here you go:

Open on a rather desolate farmhouse where a Normal Everyday Family is going about their morning routines. Unfortunately, this picture of country serenity is broken when a demon (read: rubber skeleton) pops out of the oven and pulls Mother inside.

Because, you know, a portal to Hell would most likely open from within the kitchen stove, because, uh, it’s hot and all.

Anyway, Mom is sucked into Hell, Pops is sucked into Hell, as little boy NoName watches with terror from the top of the stairs and lets out a blood curdling scream because, well, seeing your parents sucked into Hell via the kitchen stove would be distressing.

After the opening credits we immediately cut to John Triton, played by, Tada! Jon Mikl Thor, as he drives his van down the highway. A pair of handcuffs hanging from the rearview mirror over the velvet covered dashboard confirms that, yes, he is a rocker.

Did I mention that he is driving down the highway?

Well, he does.

And he drives.

And he drives.

And, man, does he drive the hell out of that highway.

Wow, watching a van drive down a highway is more exciting than you’d think. Really.

Hey, I went to get a beer and he’s still driving.

Man, this is gonna suck.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that the van finally arrives at their destination: a house they’ve rented for 5 weeks (!) in order to concentrate on their music and get a new album in the box. I hope you’re sitting down before I shock you with this bit of information: the house they’ve rented, are you ready for this? is the same house where the demons from Hell came out of the oven! No seriously. Man! What are the odds?! Boy, I sure hope that those tragic events from the past don’t have any negative repercussions for the band!

A quick count of the band, including the manager and band members’ girlfriends, totals to 8 people, which we are to believe were all riding in the back of the van on this road trip to the house.

Rock N Roll Nightmare

Now that must have been a comfortable ride…

Oh, and to whoever is playing the role of the band’s drummer Stig: You have the worst Australian accent I’ve ever heard. Ending every sentence with "mate" does not make you Australian. Sorry, mate.

Rock N Roll Nightmare

I’m from Australia, mate. Really, mate. I am, mate.

Naturally, Stig’s girlfriend, Lou Anne turns out to be a priss as she laments, "No hot tubs?! And no Dynasty!?" she complains, "Why couldn’t you have become a coke dealer or something sensible?"

Ahhh…the 80’s.

And really, if you’re going to seclude yourself so you could focus and get some work done, would you really want to have your girlfriend tagging along? Especially nagging prima donnas like her? I know, I know: she’s just demon fodder for later in the film, and eventually she does drop her top, so I guess I shouldn’t really complain.

The band makes their way inside, a horribly scripted argument over who gets which bedroom ensues (Excitement!) while the band’s manager, Phil, prepares dinner. (More Excitement!)

A couple of really, really lame False Scares later, the band and their babes are gathered around in the living room having a couple of beers and chatting away. (Characterization!) In some lovely examples of Clumsy Product Placement, a couple of the girls choose to drink Coke instead of beer, which naturally obliges them to hold the cans with the Coca-Cola logo front and center, no matter how awkward the angle to which their wrists and fingers have to conform. But hey, somebody had to pay for this cheese, so why not the good people at Coke? (Note that all the labels on the beer cans are conveniently obscured by fingers and objects on the table.)

Rock N Roll Nightmare

Yes, we always drink Coke like this.

Anyway, after dinner John whoops out that timeless rocker Call to Arms: "Let’s rock and roll!" He and the band head out to the recording studio in the barn (don’t ask) to try and get some tracks down on tape. Phil and the girls are relegated to dish duty, all except for the Lou Anne because she feels KP is beneath her. (Conflict!)

(Phil and the others wash the dishes accompanied by the songs of Jon Mikl Thor’s real-life band named, imaginatively enough, "Thor", where he bills himself as “The Legendary Rock Warrior”. You may now go to the bathroom and throw up now.)

Cut to the film’s first music video featuring John and the rest of the band. If I remember correctly, Jon Mikl mentioned in the DVD’s "Making of…" extra feature (and yes, of course I watch those things!) that he wrote the songs just for the film. So count yourself lucky to hear these limited release hits. Or else buy the Rock-n-Roll Nightmare soundtrack. Go ahead. I dare you.

As the song drones on, we see a POV shot of something scurrying across the floor of the stage. The critter moves up to the sound booth and barfs some goo into Phil’s drink. I’m sure Freud would have something to say at this junction, but I’m not gonna go there.

Rock N Roll Nightmare

ROCK-N-ROLL NIGHTMARE!!!!

OK, Phil gulps down his drink along with the monster’s, er, sputum, so I guess he’s infected now or something. Who knows.

Unfortunately, the song is ruined when Stig strikes a cymbal for the closing note and breaks his drumstick. (Humor!) Phil comes to the rescue and makes his way down into the dark, spooky basement to fetch another pair while the other band members sit around sucking face and making me nauseous.

Speaking of nauseous, as Phil walks by one of the band members remarks, "There goes Wonder Manager." Taking the bait, a girl responds, "Wonder Manager?!" to which he replies…wait for it…"Yeah, it’s a wonder that he’s our manager!" Har dee har har . I haven’t laughed this much since I found out I had to take a 10% pay cut.

Down in the basement Phil discovers not only a box of extra drumsticks but also Stig’s girlfriend Lou Anne. I assume Lou Anne is possessed because she’s acting really spaced-out and she also, to my great relief, rips off her shirt. Phil makes a few token protests but ends up smooching with her but doesn’t notice that she’s now wearing a rubber monster mask. Sorry. What I meant to write was that Phil doesn’t notice that she’s transformed into a Hideous She-Demon from Hell.

The Horrible Rubber Mask Demon From Hell bites Phil in the neck causing him to scream. John and the others run downstairs to investigate. Incredibly, Phil (and the monster) are nowhere to be seen. (Huh?)

After a thorough search which lasts all of 2 seconds Jon and the others conclude that Phil is probably playing a prank ("Like the time he booked us all into the same hotel room in Boston!" chuckles One Of The Girls…ho ho). So, yeah, like I said, even though Phil walked right by them and went down the stairs to the basement, they decide that he probably didn’t go down there after all. (?)

"Let’s go check upstairs," John’s girlfriend, Randy, suggests.

"Well, it sounded like the scream came from down here," John retorts, but after a pause he adds, "You’re right, let’s go upstairs." (I can’t figure this out. My brain hurts.)

Upon going upstairs the band quickly discovers that their van is missing. Now, obviously this plot device is meant to "cut them off" from the outside world so that they can’t simply jump into the van and escape the demons. Unfortunately, whenever an exterior shot of the house is presented, you can see cars driving by on the main road a mere 100 feet away.

Like I’ve said many times before: I’m willing to suspend belief for the sake of having fun, but c’mon…you gotta meet me half way.

Anyway, the missing van is interpreted to mean that Phil has simply driven off into town "to get plastered." Yeah, boy, now that’s something a band manager would spontaneously decide to do while going to get a new pair of drumsticks. And really, even to suggest such a thing shows how little faith the band has in Phil…so if I may ask, just why the hell do you have him as your manager in the first place if you have so little trust in the guy?

Yes, that’s correct: I’m a grown man getting into a debate, with myself, about a movie called Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare. Kids beware: think twice before starting a bad-movie review web site.

Phil’s disappearance forces the others to call it quits. (Why? Can’t they continue without him?) Anyway, this gives the various boy-girl couples a chance to cuddle up for the night. In an amazingly fresh turn of events, the women want sex but the men are too distracted to go along with them. Get it? Because, you know it’s always men who want sex and now it’s the women and, and, …oh screw it.

Actually, to my great joy, Stig the Fake-ass Australian Drummer is killed by a monster in his bathroom, which I must admit made the whole movie worth watching. Ok, well, he isn’t killed but a monster takes him over or something so he/the demon goes in and screws his girlfriend. Yes, this movie it that charming.

In a truly ludicrous scene, a gaggle of 4 groupies finds out that Triton (the name of the band, if I haven’t mentioned yet) is staying at the house. So…they show up to pay their respects (No…not that way) and party a little bit.

Rock N Roll Nightmare

You can just feel the energy in this film, cantcha?

Anyway, Phil, who previously had his shoulder bit off by a Lou Anne Demon while looking for drumsticks (Remember? No? Don’t worry.) let’s opens the front door and invites them inside. Oh, and he’s acting really weird so I guess that means he’s possessed.

Or something.

How the hell do I know?

Phil freaks out the girls by demanding to see their boobs (not making this up, folks) so the four groupies turn tail and flee the house in disgust. (As they run back to their car, the camera pans down to show Phil’s hand is all ‘demonized’ or something: i.e., he’s wearing a green rubber glove bought at a local Halloween shop by the special effects crew. (In fact, it’s the same rubber glove worn by the monster that killed Stig upstairs in the bathroom. Now that’s getting your money’s worth from a prop.)

Rock N Roll Nightmare

Mwuhahaha! I have an eeeeeeeevil hand!

The next morning a couple of the girls are washing dishes and discussing Phil’s whereabouts. "I’m sure he’s not dead or anything or else he would have called," remarks one of the gals. I’m pretty sure that line isn’t exactly what she meant, but you get her point.

Oh, and the band’s keyboard player (Rod?) and his girlfriend (Mary?) get killed by Phil-Demon. Naturally, all you see is that damned green glove come into the scene and pull them out of the shot because to actually, you know, show them getting killed would’ve cost money.

Music video number two. This time it’s the legendary rock song "Energy Takes Me Where I Wanna Be". Never heard of it? Me neither.

If you’re watching this movie at home, now is a wonderful time to go get a beer. Or take out the garbage. Or bang your head against an exterior wall of your house. Do anything you can to avoid watching the next 3 minutes of the film featuring ‘Triton’ singing "Energy Takes Me Where I Wanna Be".

The aforementioned song concludes and the band pairs off for a 10 minute break, i.e., to screw each other. Stig and Lou Anne head outside where he wants to show her something special. No, he doesn’t shove a pair of drumsticks into his brain as I had hoped. Rather, Stig starts taking his clothes off as a giant rubber hand bursts out of his chest, grabs Lou Anne’s boob (+1 gratuitous tit shot), and then kills her off screen due to budget constraints, natch.

Let’s see, a couple other people are laying in bed grinding on each other. Oh, yeah, it’s the keyboard player and some other dude. And yes, it’s awesome when you’re nearly an hour into a film and you still don’t know the characters’ names. I think they mentioned that his name is Max, but I’ve been so distracted by rubber hands and phallic monster puppets that I must have missed it.

Rock N Roll NightmareOh gee, Jon and his girlfriend have made their way into the shower where they too start making out and (presumably) having sex…all to the stomach-churning sounds of a "Thor" rock ballad from 198-x. Oh gee, and a quick cut to the shower head reveals it to be one of those cheesy "message" shower heads that everybody had back in the 80’s. You remember, the kind that you could rotate a ring around the head and the water would vary from stream to ‘massage’. And yes, Jon and Randy have theirs set to the ‘massage’ setting for an added bit of cheese.

OK, if I’m getting this right, it looks like the kid from the beginning of the movie, you remember him? The one who saw his parents get sucked into the oven by a Rubber Demon from Hell? Yeah, him. Anyway, he shows up inside the house, lures Max and his Main Squeeze out into the barn where, as you can see by the picture to the left, he’s transformed into a Monster. To my great relief, Max and his squeeze are quickly dispatched by Rubber Monster Boy.

Now that everybody is gone, Jon and Randy are getting a little nervous, but decide that Phil is behind it and that they’ve all gone to town or something. This is all so stupid that I can’t get into it because my brain hurts. With nothing else to do, Jon grabs a Coke (after mentioning "I think I’ll have a Coke" numerous times in order to fulfill all the clauses of the product placement contract) and heads out to the barn to work on "that love song" he’s been trying to finish. Terror ensues when he reaches into the fridge to grab a Coke and a little monster tries to bite his hand. TERROR, I say…TERROR!

Rock N Roll Nightmare

Blrghghhhh! Blaaaghghghhh!

OK, since this review was supposed to be a short one I’m going to cut to the chase. Jon plays it cool in the basement while little monsters humorously try to attack by jumping at him while he’s busy working on his latest song. (They miss because he <cough> drops his pencil and bends over to get it just as the monster springs. Oh, and one little Penis Monster tries to grab Jon but gets crushed by, yes, Jon’s Coke can. Har dee har.)

Eventually the main demon who’s behind all these shenanigans makes his appearance, and it’s no less than Beelzebub himself. Once again, due to budget constraints the Prince of Darkness has been reduced to a rubber puppet smeared with Vaseline, so it’s hard to get tooooo scared, but I’m trying.

Rock N Roll Nightmare

The Prince of Darkness. No. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Beelzebub, being the Prince of Darkness and all, immediately begins feeling his oats and going on and on about how he’s going to kill all the humans and blah blah blah. No wonder he can’t conquer the world: he’s too busy running his damn mouth all the time.

Oddly, Jon doesn’t seem to be at all phased by this strange turn of events.

"You’re wasting my time, Bub." (!!)

I bet you’re wondering why he’s so calm and collected, aren’t you? Admit it. You are.

Well, take your heart medicine, and sit down if you’re pregnant, because here comes the super duper plot twist:

Jon is really the archangel Triton, sent down to do battle with the Devil himself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll let you catch your breath.

What about the band?

"They’re shadows I created to entertain your little friends," Triton informs, "Just characters I drew from horror movies."

"I…am the Intercessor!" Triton continues as he transforms into the true Nightmare of this film: namely an oiled up muscle-head wearing a cape and spiked jock strap. (!!!)

Rock N Roll Nightmare Rock N Roll Nightmare

Before the inevitable Battle Royale begins in earnest, Triton reads Beelzebub the riot act:

"You overstepped the line again, Bub. It’s the Creator’s highest law that keeps you in your dark place…and yet you and your brethren still insist on coming into this world and trying to steal a place in the world of the living," Triton takes a dramatic pause and gives a very coquettish glance towards the camera before concluding, "When will you ever learn?"

Rock N Roll Nightmare

"When will you ever learn?"

Beelzebub finally hears enough of Triton’s verbal abuse (and frankly, I am too), and as the lovely restrains of yet another Thor song fills the air, the Dark Lord begins tossing what looks like green rubber starfish at our hero. As is revealed by the "Making Of…" extra, and also easily observed, the attacking starfish-thingees wouldn’t ‘stick’ to Jon Mikl, so he would have to actually catch them and hold them against his body in order to simulate being ‘attacked’. And yes, it looks as hokey as it sounds. Actually, it looks wayyyyyy worse than it sounds.

Rock N Roll Nightmare

Hazzah!

Beelzebub’s starfish-flinging gambit fails and he’s forced to resort to hand-to-rubber-hand combat. If thing’s weren’t bad enough just having to watch this nonsense, there are plentiful ‘artsy’ camera shots of the 2 combatants from the floor looking upward, giving the weary viewer many unwanted glimpses of Jon Mikl Thor’s spike-bedecked groinaticle area.

Triton eventually wins the match, by, well, basically punching Beelzebub in the face about a gazillion times. Having had enough abuse for one movie, the Evil Overlord disappears in a shower of sparks (read: Roman candle).

"I’ll see you again, old Scratch," Triton murmurs as we fade to black.

Oh yeah, and there’s a SUPER SURPRISE open ending where we hear a scream as the camera zooms out from somebody’s house in Suburbia. So, yeah, old Scratch is back, I guess.

Or something.

Blah.

Dennis Grisbeck (June 2007)

Afterthoughts

To be honest, this film is sort of, kind of, in a way, a weird way, kind of fun. It has major 80’s cheese factor. And, hey, a dude wearing a spiked jockstrap? Now there’s something you don’t see everyday. (Well…maybe you do. At least not where I live.) I also give this film credit for not taking itself very seriously. There is an air of ‘let’s just get through this film and have some fun" which I can respect.
But still, Mr. Thor, You’re wearing a spiked-jock: you gotta expect a little pepper for that.
Quick notes:
To aspiring film makers: If you’re going make a film where people are ‘cut off’ and have ‘no way out’…don’t have establishing shots with cars driving by on the road right next to the house.
What’s with the Penis-Monsters? Like I said, Freud would’ve had a field day with this film.
Ditto for the spiked jock.

Read more about Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at

IMDB

2 comments to Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)

  • guts3d

    …To be honest, this film is sort of, kind of, in a way, a weird way, kind of fun. It has major 80′s cheese factor. And, hey, a dude wearing a spiked jockstrap? Now there’s something you don’t see everyday. (Well…maybe you do. At least not where I live.)

    Best line in the entire review! I know to steer clear of this stinker. It kind of reminds me of the crap-tacular band in “Pod People” a bit.

  • Guts3d

    “I’m sure he’s not dead or anything or else he would have called,” remarks one of the gals. I’m pretty sure that line isn’t exactly what she meant, but you get her point.

    Missed that line the first time! Found a copy of this stinker in a dollar bin, will watch it this weekend!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>