HARD ROCK ZOMBIES
Everyone has that pothead friend who, when he puffs some chronic, goes off on rambling tangents, describing ideas that he has movies that have no chance of ever being filmed, although, secretly, you wish that they would. It seems that from one of these THC-soaked diatribes that the wonderfully transcendent Hard Rock Zombies must have come from; it’s so utterly bizarre and unintentionally hilarious that someone must have been smoking something as they sat at the typewriter.
A metal band–and I use the word “metal” very loosely–have been on a huge tour of all the 50-person capacity roadhouses in the country. Lead singer Jessie is tired of playing “groupie passaround” and falls for a 14-year-old girl named Cassie in the most awkward courting scene since Eegah tried to get that chick to drink sulfur water. With his ultra-fey come on lines and massive mane of feathered hair, it’s no wonder that Cassie falls for him immediately.
And as pure and holy as a love this is, you know it’s doomed from the start when we learn that Cassie’s dad also just happens to be the metal-hating sheriff of the next town they’re playing in. And who can blame him: as soon as the band gets to town, they are literally kicking their heels and dancing around in fast-forwarded, choreographed skits (think the Monkees, only, well, lamer) designed to showcase the playfulness of the band. They pose on skateboards, kick up their heels and spray beer on a crowd of Mexican children. It’s almost like they ripped a page right out of Motley Crue’s The Dirt, minus, you know, all the butt-fucking on heroin.
Also, I have to note that Jessie is working on a song called “Morte Ascendere”, a chanting dirge that he claims to have cribbed from some “creepy old book” and is excited to record for his next album. Right now, it’s seems like inconsequential that this was mention, but oh, you just wait, Buster Brown!
It’s also a good thing that they get that prance-fest out of the way, because soon enough Hitler (yes, that Hitler!), along with his werewolf wife and two perverted midget children show up and murder the band. Be it through the means of electrocution, rape or Psycho-inspired shower murder, Jessie and the gang get theirs one by one.
Meanwhile, at the town hall, the Pasadena Playhouse players have gotten together and are acting out scenes from a one-act about a town hall meeting, which includes such komedy klassics as the doddering old guy, the doddering old Jewish guy and ribald plays on words not seen since the final episode of Are You Being Served?
Down, but not out, Jessie’s love for Cassie somehow resurrects the band and now, in full Norwegian black metal-by-way-of Melrose Ave. garb, the march, in choreographed steps, to the school auditorium where there big gig is. As this is going on, zombies begin attacking the small town, but even that is small potatoes when a comic relief big time record exec (you know he’s big time because he has a cell phone and says “Let’s do lunch babe!” and “Tell Polydor to eat my nuts!” and so on. Braving the zombie hordes, the band shows up for their gig and wows the exec, who promptly jizzes his pants as they play one synth-drenched rote number after another.
Just as he’s about to offer them a lifetime contract—doh!—he’s attacked by the unwashed zombie masses.
Meanwhile meanwhile, the townspeople have all gathered to come up with a plan to defeat the undead, one of which is to get giant posters of celebs like John Lennon and John Wayne, and sneak past them, because, and I have no idea where they got this info from, zombies are afraid of giant heads. No wonder why Easter Island is so secure from the walking dead.
Oh yeah, before I forget, one of Hitler’s midget monster brood jumps on top of a cow, rides it backwards and then tries to eat it. Yeah, I don’t know either.
Somehow, this is all because Hitler has created a new installment of mustard gas showers inside an old abandoned cave. How or why, we don’t know, but it’s definitely a freaky-deaky sub-plot that I’m not so sure needed to be introduced. But it was, so, luckily, Jessie and the other hard rock zombies grab their gear and decide to play an impromptu concert at the cave’s mouth. They need to play a song that will draw the zombies into the cave—something that maybe came from some creepy old book of magic spells. Well, quicker than you can say “Abraca-shit!”, the gang has busted out that old chestnut “Morte Ascendere”, which turns out is like the pied-piper’s calling for the undead. That was lucky, fellas!
Out of all the horrible, no good, cheesy films I have ever seen in my life, Hard Rock Zombies is in a bargain bin all its own. Like I said in the beginning—this has to have been the fever dream of Juggalo in the middle cannabis withdrawal. It’s as bargain basement as they come, made like a Bollywood comedy but with a distinct American zombie flair that begs the question, who did this film appeal to? Sure, now that there is a market for these type of films among the nerdy horror, MST3K contingent, but when this was made in the 80s, who went to see this? It’s such a brilliant mish-mash of all the most outré horror ideas possible, but it was obviously made with absolutely no irony, for any parties involved. It was obvious they were trying to make a real film, which just makes me want to track down director Krishna Shah and find out just what the fuck was his thought processes as he sat down to write the script.
The only answer I can think of? You guessed it: the pots. Please, do yourself a favor. See Hard Rock Zombies as soon as (in)humanly possible. Just hold the THC.
But don’t get too baked, because coming up next is another rock-n-roll disasterpiece, Rock’n’Roll Nightmare!
A typical American…um, I mean Canadian family is going about their morning activities, happy as can be, not a care in the world. Junior’s getting dressed, dad’s shaving and mom is making her world-famous scrambled-egg and bacon-chunk breakfast casserole with Mr. T cereal topping.
Yep—it’s a Norman Rockwell glimpse of Canadacana.
And then, who spoils the tranquility but a skeletonized Hellspawn, reaching out from the oven and pulling mom (and apparently, the whole family) to Hell. Why? I have no clue, but I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the best opening sequences I have ever seen in a movie.
Yes, it’s typical of our neighbors up north to live in haunted, evil farmhouses with possessed ovens, but unlike us here in the states, where we call a “priest” to “exorcise” the “house”, the Canucks have got a much better idea: hire an Intercessor!
What’s an Intercessor? Patience. I’ll get to it.
Canadian heavy-metaller Jon-Mikl Thor is, in all his uber-buff, blond-tasseled brilliance, John Triton, lead singer of the hair metal band the Tritonz. The band, in need of new material, decides to hole up in an old farmhouse, where, unexplainably, a demon popped out of an oven and killed a family ten years earlier. Not only is the farm a great place to stir those creative juices, it’s also a great place to stir bodily juices—non-stop sex is had by every band member. What better way than to celebrate the successful performance of a song like “We Live to Rock” than some simulated on-screen dry humping?
So in between the balls-to-the-wall rocking out and the walls-to the-ball cocking out, the band members are possessed one-by-one by various demons, most of which resemble the offspring of a Muppet and a dirty latex condom. Said demons pop out of chests, peep over counters and, most interestingly, take on the form of buxom metal sluts, all with the goal of moving Satan’s plan of…um, actually, I don’t know what Satan wants with the band. But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.
About an hour in the film, it’s pretty much your basic horror flick. No real deviation and, if you’ve never seen it before, you’re gonna think that you know what happens. But then, Rock’n’Roll Nightmare, out of nowhere, transmogrifies into a brilliant schlocker with a shocking, ludicrously awesome twist that I’m surprised M. Night Shyamalan didn’t have anything to with it.
Just when John Triton is about to be taken by the demon (while calmly writing songs and drinking Coca-Cola Classic), it is revealed that he’s no typical heavy metal singer—he’s a heavy metal demon-slayer! That’s right—John Triton is actually the God-sent angel Triton—an Intercessor!—who, instead of having a wussy wings and halo combo, has a metal loincloth and a penchant for dismissing the devil with his superhuman strength! It’s an epic battle of good and evil, God and the devil!
Filled with gloriously unironic hair metal, shimmering, chain-mail codpieces, dripping skeletal demons and more rockin’ than the Whiskey A-Go Go on a Friday night, Rock’n’Roll Nightmare is one of the greatest b-horror films ever. Ever, I say!