The director of A Dolphin’s Tale and A Dolphin’s Tale 2, Skippy from Family Ties and one of the stars of A Chorus Line made the most metal film ever. Let that sink in.
I grew up a fat, bespeckled child in a small town with crushing self esteem issues, a love for gore movies and a sarcastic mind that loved the way people treated me when I started dressing all in black. Every single situation that Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price, the previously mentioned Skippy) endures in this film…I lived it. If a monster Glenn Danzig (Verotika) could take over shop class and kill my tormentors, I would have gladly welcomed such mayhem and menace.
Eddie is a big fan of Sammi Curr, a superstar who went to the same high school Eddie is in, was tormented and bullied the same way Eddie is, became a big star and then died in a mysterious fire. Radio DJ Nuke (Gene “inventor of the devil horns*” Simmons, who played a great transgendered bad guy in Never Too Young to Die while wearing his girlfriend Cher’s clothes) gives Eddie the only vinyl copy of Sammi’s satanic masterwork “Songs in the Key of Death.”
Eddie does exactly what I’d do: he listens to the record and falls asleep. He has a crazy dream about the fire that killed Curr and awakens to the album playing backwards, telling him how to gain revenge on the bullies that torment him.
Eddie chickens out though — he doesn’t want to kill the jocks who have made his life so rough. Sammi takes matters into his own hands, creating an electric surge that allows him to escape the record and come back to our reality. Eddie responds by smashing his stereo. Sammi’s response is as fucking perfect as it gets: “No false metal.”
Sammi’s friend Roger gets involved and unwittingly plays a cassette — fucking metal — at the school dance, causing Sammi to leap out of a guitar amp and take the stage. The crowd goes wild before Sammi starts killing audience members, shooting lightning at them and revealing his burned face. Holy shit — I saw this scene at the drive-in this year and the exuberance of hearing Fastaway blasting from car stereos in the fog at 5 AM is an experience I recommend to every single person reading this.
Can Eddie stop Sammi from being played on the radio and attacking everyone that hears it? Of course. It’s an ’80s horror movie. But man — I’m all from more Sammi Curr (sadly, Tony Fields died of AIDS in 1995).
Oh I forgot – Ozzy is a preacher in this that Sammi attacks. It’s a small cameo, just like Gene Simmons’ role, but that doesn’t stop my DVD cover from claiming they starred in this.
If you’re an 80s metal fan (and if not, man, thanks for reading this far), there are so many band logos and posters to spot in this, from the expected like Anthrax and KISS to the out of left field like Raven, Exciter and Savatage. You’ll also be much more likely to not dismiss this film as a piece of shit.
Me? I quote from this film almost every day. “The bait is you. Let the big fish hook themselves. You’re the bait. The bait is you.”
BY THE WAY…check out my friend The Eccentric Owl over on You Tube.
If you like what I write about, you’ll love what he has to say. Plus, you can always join a great Facebook group, Cult Movie Utopia for more of the same.
Update: Upon the August 14, 2020, death of UFO and ex-Fastway bassist and founder Pete Way, we reposted this review with a career tribute-forward to Pete. So, if you’d like to learn a little bit more about Pete’s brief “supergroup” tenure with Motorhead’s Fast Eddie Clark and Humble Pie’s Jerry Shirley, do check it out.
*Dio has always claimed that he got the gesture from his Italian grandmother, who claimed it warded off the evil eye.