NO FALSE METAL MOVIES WEEK: Rock ‘n Roll Nightmare (1987)

I’m 2:25 into this movie and I’m already screaming at the TV in glee. A farmhouse, somewhere that feels like Canada, with a mother — who has hair that feels like the 80s — is making eggs and calling everyone to eat. Then, a scream, to which her husband replies with all the intensity of someone answering a telemarketer. He opens the stove to a skull faced demon and screams as his son watches.

Cue the credits — it’s time for Rock ‘n Roll Nightmare!

This film stars Jon Mikl Thor, who Wikipedia tells us is “the first Canadian to win both the Mr. Canada and Mr. USA titles. During his bodybuilding career, he has achieved over 40 titles around the world. As a musician, he is the front man for the heavy metal band Thor, billing himself as “The Legendary Rock Warrior.”” Thor used to appear in the back pages of 80s metal mags like Hit Parader and Circus, but no one I knew had ever heard any of his albums. You may know him from this insane clip of him dancing and singing that the Found Footage Festival has uncovered:

Let me further quote from Wikipedia: “Thor started the concept Thor in 1973. He combined strength feats, props, costumes and showmanship with music: his feats included bending solid steel bars in his teeth and having solid concrete blocks smashed off his chest with a sledgehammer.” Seriously, Thor sounds like the greatest man who has ever lived. And his latest band is called Thor and the Ass Boys, so he has that going for him. Seriously, I do believe Thor himself descended from Asgard, down the Rainbow Bridge and used Mjolnir  to write his very own Wiki page.

Getting back to the movie, the credits sequence ranks among the longest and worst shot credits I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s even worse than the credits in fellow Canadians Bob and Doug McKenzie’s Mutants of 2051 A.D. It’s shot after shot of pre-Go Pro footage of a camera racing along a dark house, as if we are to find some terror in the accoutrements and candles and bric a brac.

What follows next can only be described as fetishistic shots of a white custom van — complete with DUCKER license plate — as it grooves and grinds and rocks its way down the highways and byways of Canada, complete with the ever beefy Thor at the wheel. I’m writing this at 5 AM and my reality is always a bit skewed, but these shots go through more than one song, which is like a wrestling match lasting three commercial breaks. It just isn’t done. If the director’s intent was to show us how remote the farmhouse they’re travelling to is, he succeeded with three and a half minutes of watching a white van slowly drive. I’m shocked we didn’t get a slow motion scene of turn signals going on and off or break lights slowly being depressed. These are the moments in genre films where you wonder: am I watching an auteur or a complete hack…and do I even know the difference any longer?

Just when you think that this will be an entire film of all establishing shots, the band emerges from the van to learn that they’ll be staying at this farmhouse for 5 weeks of recording. It has gas. It has electric. It doesn’t have a phone or TV…but it does have a 24 track recording studio! The band has grown soft in the city and needs Toronto to make it happen — no hot tubs or Dynasty! After a “comedic” sequence about what bands have been to the farmhouse, I have been led to wonder if this is what life is always like in Canada. Keep in mind — my brief time in the Great White North has not debased me of my belief that everything and everyone is from SCTV and Kids in the Hall.

You know how in most films, they’ll do a brief cut to something ominous to change the tone? This film has these cuts lasting two to three minutes — dark skies, Omen like choirs, more dark skies and wind. These scenes stretch off into eternity.

Rod, Max, Stig and Thor — and their respective lady friends — have a meal with awkward toasts as we get to know all about them. But now, it’s time for them to tune their weapons and play us a song. Also — their manager has cooked from them and is wearing a paper burger hat (he also had on a sweet Archies leather jacket earlier, so for some reason he’s the 1950s element of the band).

Instead of the band playing, as would normally follow such a setup, we’re presented with the manager and girls doing a synchronized dishwashing scene. Thor emerges outside to tell them they’re almost ready. For some reason, he’s changed into his stage clothes, exposing his pecs in a costume that can only be compared to the High Energy garb of Canuck superstar Owen Hart.

If you loved the long musical sequences in, oh, let’s say Son of Dracula, you’re in for a treat here. “We Live to Rock” is played in its entirety while band groupies get angry, a band wife sews and a weird flesh/sock puppet pukes in a cup of coffee. A broken drumstick later and manager Phil has to go to the basement to get more. Phil is like if Harry Anderson wore pork pie hats and did competitive improv. Lynn, Stig’s groupie, meets him and comes on to him.

Lynn takes her top off in the most awkward, unsexy manner that I’ve ever seen in a film. Seriously, she gets he outfit stuck and it takes a really long time for her to get it off. One wonders if perhaps a second take would have improved this scene. The chemistry between her and Phil can only be described as impalpable. She takes a huge bite out of his shoulder and Phil’s gone. So’s the van. It looks like Triton is totally trapped in Toronto!

The band retires to their bedrooms. Thor’s girl can’t get him to stop reading lyrics. The keyboard player comes to talk to the guitarist. but he passes out on her. The married couple is making out. And Stig rawdogs Lynn, yelling “As usual, the best!” before going to “drain the dragon, baby! Yeah! I’ll be back!” He then goes to the bathroom where he speaks in a combination of Arnold and Australian, making me yearn for his death. I’m rewarded as a blood puking zombie gives him a clawhold, which possesses him and makes him a better lover. Zombie Stig goes back and the noises of their lovemaking wake up the whole house.

Just then, groupies arrive to the strains of a ripoff of the theme to Phantasm. They’re let into the farmhouse by Phil, who we all thought was dead. He tells them that the band is tired from all the cocaine, but it’s 2 AM and they’ll be down in twenty minutes, so it’s time for them to “whip out those breasts, girls.” He yells at them that they need to cut the cocaine, scream in the crowd and keep the clothes looking good — there are positions to fill! They run off into the b roll night as we slowly — ever so slowly — pan to Phil’s zombified hand. To quote Jack Chick, “HAW! HAW! HAW!”

The married couple is washing dishes, but they’re quickly taken by a zombie. I was thinking, would this director be so bold and/or stupid to have the zombie’s hand come back in frame to shut off a boom box? I was rewarded with a hearty fuck yes, he would.

The first 44 minutes of this movie feel like 44 weeks. Would another music video performance help speed things up? Of course not. Allow me to share the lyrics for the song “Energy” with you:

I live by one simple rule
I don’t let nothing get by
I sometimes act like a fool
But that has kept me alive

I set my goals and I pace myself
I land out of all of my needs
And when I’m ready to just give
You give something I need

YOU GIVE ME ENERGY
THATS WHAT YOU DO
YOU GIVE ME ENERGY
YOU GET ME STARTED EVERYDAY

That’s “Energy” by Thor, everyone. Or Triton. Or whatever. I hope you are all as inspired as I am. And the wives. And the girlfriends.

Have you ever seen a couple and thought, “I hope that I never have to watch these people have sex?” Prepare to say that again, times three, as the various couples break off as yet another Thor tune blares onto the soundtrack. Seriously, for those of you who love Thor — I know that at least one of you found the hidden SEO/SEM codes I wrote in here — this is your boner fuel of a movie.

Stig and Lynn go to a very private part of the lake, where a demon claw emerges from his stomach, just as she quickly gets naked and instantly covers up. Too late — that claw grabs a knocker and she’s a goner. Then, the keyboardist and guitar player have a romp that’s about as sexy as eating a Pop Tart. Seriously, this makes the Showgirls hot tub scene look like Last Tango in Paris by comparison. Thor’s woman also gets him to take a shower with her to the strains of Thor’s “Somewhere Rises the Moon.” Thor makes love like some kind of lizard man — he kisses with the tip of his tongue, not his lips. He also moves like some kind of robot. And not the sexy fembot kind of robot. No, like a 1950s Robot Monster kind of robot. Meanwhile — in the midst of the sex scene — the camera moves to give us a clear three second shot of the shower head. No sex — just a shower head doing its job. I have no idea what the fuck kind of directorial choice that was, to be honest.

Hey! Remember that little kid from the beginning? Me either. He’s back, though and breaks up a romantic moment between the guitar and keyboard couple. For some reason, pan flutes start playing louder than the dialogue at this point. Oh man — just what this movie needs. A precocious child. Actually, he’s another demon, which the couple finds out after giving chase. Man. Thor’s gonna need a new band at this rate. Only he and his girl are left, as nobody else shows up for dinner.

Just because the script says that Thor is going to do the dishes does not mean we need to see him do the dishes. But that said — the next scene is Thor doing the dishes for nearly a minute. Narrative flow doesn’t mean shit in the world of Rock ‘n Roll Nightmare.  Thor also acts like someone who constantly reminds you they are acting. When he needs a Coke in a scene, he says, out loud, “I need a Coke. Gotta get a Coke. Yeah. A Coke.” Meanwhile, a piece of chicken comes to life and tries to bite his hand. Luckily, he’s so focused on that Coke!

He sits down to write lyrics while his girl is attacked upstairs, but he’s got his own problems. A penis-like monster with an eyeball where the peehole should be is stalking him (look — I can write mellifluous prose and use my vocabulary and come off as well educated at times, but when a penis demon looks like a penis demon and when it has an eyeball in its peehole, you have to call a penis demon a penis demon). Another demon, this one looking like a plucked bird, attacks just in time for Thor to drop his pen. Somehow, this movie has gone from horror to slapstick. Finally, his girl comes back to tell them that everyone is dead in a demon voice. HOLY SHIT! Now she’s a demon! And she commands an army of penis demons!

Here’s where this movie decides to blow my mind. Thor keeps ignoring the demon, calling him bub, then starts telling him all of his real names. Turns out that no one else in this movie was real, that his entire band and the girls were all shadows that Thor created, based on horror movies, to draw out Beelzebub. “I AM THE INTERCESSOR!” yells Thor, revealing his full stage majesty, all chain, a cape and bare chest and wind machine aided hair. He then makes the same faces I do when I’ve eaten a lot of cheese and can’t properly go number two. “I AM TRITON THE ARCHANGEL!”

Have you ever wanted to see a claymation demon battle a jacked up dude in a metal bikini? Then have I got the movie for you!

Thor defeats the demon, who leaves when a roman candle goes off in front of him. He then goes to a graveyard, where he says, “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. If you’ve died in vain — I, His messenger — have avenged your deaths.” We then cut to a totally different house as weird music plays. Roll the credits.

Wow.

I was wondering, what kind of maniac makes this movie? John Fasano, that’s who. He also made Black Roses, which was featured this week, along with writing things as diverse as one of Tom Selleck’s Jesse Stone movies and Another 48 Hours. Well, this is a veritable masterpiece. I daresay you’ve never seen a film quite like this. Watch it and be forever changed.

PS – There’s a sequel called ntercessor: Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare. I’m not sure that I’m ready to watch it yet, but I will.

PSS – You should just watch the end of the movie for yourself.

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