Look, this isn’t opinion. It’s totally observational. When most people see a retarded person they gawk from the corner of their eye in utter revulsion. Meanwhile, their parents get the sympathetic smile and condolencing nod for their pitiable luck in the breeding pool. Served low-grade nausea by prejudice, most people will go out of their way to avoid interacting with Down’s syndrome children, objectifying them as nature’s misfires. But, if you’ve given them the opportunity to be humanized through basic interaction, you know they aren’t without charm. Generally innocent to a T and incapable of cynicism, their presence can be both refreshing and invigorating. Too simple to judge or deceive, I look at this good natured breed, which accepts anyone and everything with open arms, and I can’t help but think that a lot of the well-born motherfuckers are more handicapped by their cunning and selfishness than these people ever will be. Sorry, people, but retarded is right. So very few will ever understand the redeeming qualities of a retarded child by choice. In order to exist, antipathy requires a safe distance from its focus.
That said, Hitler probably would have steam shoveled my entire VHS collection into a mass grave on the basis that most of these movies are by average definition “flawed,” and therefore unredeemable. I have a strong belief that if Adolph had been provided a dissertation on the joy of bad movies, it would have saved a lot of lives. In the realm of cinema, flaws can redeem. They can be endearing. They can even entertain on a subtle level. People are similar in that respect. Now, don’t take that out of context. I’m not saying that the Jews are the human equivalent to “Blackenstein.” Besides, I’d rather sit through "Blackenstein" any day than endure some critically lauded bullshit like "Gone With The Wind." Perfection can be dull, honestly.
I’ve referred to the tapes in my den as orphaned children. I should clarify that my “orphanage” specializes in deformed and retarded children. These are “special needs” movies, so to speak. Given enough patience and understanding, even their manic pants shitting fits become part of their overall charm. True love is warts and all.
Of all the howling mongoloids lining my shelves, "Rock N’ Roll Nightmare" has demanded more time than many others, and I’ve learned to cherish this movie to the bone. A slim eye-over might yield the opinion that not much is going on underneath this movie’s jagged seams. I’d counter by insisting that this is an odd masterpiece of incompetence. The fact that this thing somehow reached some form of completion is miracle. This movie’s sheer ineptitude approaches the genius level. Its general clumsiness arouses a bizarre feeling of innocence and naivety that overshadows its adult nature. Sheer enthusiasm, unbridled by the pretense of how to make a good film, adds up to a euphoric mess. Technically, “Rock N Roll Nightmare” qualifies as the cinematic equivalent of “Botchamania.” Every fucking spot in this movie is totally blown, and to this day, after dozens of viewings, I’m still picking out things I hadn’t previously noted.
To really appreciate a movie like this you have to purge your mind of the negative connotation behind the word “mistake.” Whenever I watch this with friends, we acknowledge every flaw, but it’s not in a critical manner. To rectify any error in this film would greatly compromise its appeal. Indeed, every fuck up in "Rock N’ Roll Nightmare" is celebrated like the familiar face of a beloved friend.
The film launches into tedium almost immediately as rockers Triton wheel through the Canadian countryside toward a reclusive destination. Finally landing at a quaint farm house, we’re introduced to the band members and their hideous girlfriends. Everything works up into a supernatural game of ten little Indians, with band mates, girlfriends, and groupies falling victim to a sinister force. All this sounds simple enough, but then comes an ending that can only best be described as proto M. Night Shyamalan horse shit.
I’m going to ruin this for you, so stop reading if you really want to be “swerved.”
So, at the film’s conclusion, John Triton, played by the inimitable Jon Mikl Thor, is confronted by Satan, who kind of looks like Colonel Sanders. It is Beelzebub who has been bumping off his band mates in classic slasher fashion. Triton then reveals that he’s actually an ARCH ANGEL sent to smoke the Devil himself out by using HOLOGRAMS based on horror movie archetypes. Yes, that’s right, Satan fell for the bait! After a lesson in Mesopotamian Demonology, Jon Milk Thor CLASHES with his great nemesis in a battle that’s as close to epic as you can on a 50,000 dollar budget.
So, after sitting through seventy or so minutes of bullshit character interactions, we find out NONE OF IT REALLY HAPPENED. It’s the ultimate middle finger in the face of the audience, and it’s totally hilarious.
The main thing that continually blows me away about “Rock N’ Roll Nightmare” is just how poorly edited it is. I often tell people that watching terrible movies has taught me more about writing and directing than any fine cinematic achievement ever has. This is almost a text book example of what NOT to do, in terms of editing. I’m not sure what the fuck was going on in that cutting suite, but I suspect a lot of weed was involved. And I mean A LOT of weed. I’m talking pounds of ‘Lumbo, dude.
There are MOUNTAINS of unnecessary establishing shots littered throughout this thing, with characters walking from the house to the barn, and from the barn to the house. And they’re fucking long, too! There’s an establishing shot of groupies walking to the house, which is immediately followed by yet a SECOND establishing shot of them walking toward the same fucking house! And they’re like five minutes long! If you cut all of these shots out, the movie would probably clock in at around sixty minutes, so I suspect a lot of these drawn out back-to-back shots were probably there to pad the running time.
But it doesn’t stop there. The continuity is totally fucked. The audio mix is awful. The guy who did the score tries to pull some Bill Conti shit by overlaying his score over the soundtrack selections, only he has no fucking idea who Bill Conti is. The boom mic should have gotten a credit for all its screen time. The script is littered with illogical dialog, including this gem:
“That sounded like it came from down here... (without pause) Let’s go up stairs.”
Even the songs don’t make sense!
So, let me get this straight. Energy takes you where you want to be, and she’s where you want to be, because she gives you energy? How the hell does that even work? How do you get the energy to get where she is if SHE has the energy in the first place? What kind of mind games are you trying to play here, Thor?
And then there are the women. Jesus Christ, did you get a look at that keyboard? Looks like Rocky Dennis inseminated Sheila E. The fact that Jon Mikl is the hottest chick in this movie does not bode well for the prospect of female nudity.
I may kid Thor a lot, but he’s a super nice guy, and he’s still touring with a band. I’ve seen the guy perform twice, and it’s always a ton of fun, especially if you’re familiar with his catalog. Granted, his stage show has tamed considerably, and you won’t see him bending metal bars with his teeth or a precession of eighteen white horses, but it’s a beer drinking good time.
“Rock N’ Roll Nightmare” was directed by John Fasano, who was also behind the superior horror metal opus “Black Roses.” “Black Roses” is certainly a more competent production, but in spite of being vastly superior, technically, it’s still just as charming and enjoyable as Frasano’s first effort.
Surprisingly, 2005 saw the release of a sequel titled "Intercessor: Another Rock N' Roll Nightmare," once again featuring Jon Mikl Thor as arch angel Triton. I've never seen the movie, but fans seem divided on its worthiness. But considering that Evan "Pantsfish" Wade hates it, it can't be all bad, because that guy doesn't know shit.
Quote of the month: “whenever I see you doing something so domestic my boner can’t help itself.”