Rock 'N Roll Nightmare (DVD)
Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Jon Mikl Thor and a bunch of other people you don’t care about.
Directed by John Fasano
Released by Synapse Films
I knew it would be bad. Just take a glance at the cover and you know what lies inside is not a piece of cinematic brilliance. Still, I held out some hope that perhaps Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare or, as it’s called in the title sequence on this disc, The Edge of Hell, would at least be fun. How very, very wrong I was.
A bit of history; growing up, this is one of those films I’d stop and stare at every time I went to my local video store to find the latest hidden treasure (it was a mom ‘n pop store with a better than average selection), but I never bothered to actually check it out. If I had, perhaps I would have been able to enjoy it more since I was younger and less jaded about things like plot, story, characters, realistic special effects, etc. I did mange to check out director John Fasano’s other metal/horror hybrid, Black Roses, which had a profound effect on me as a youngster because of a certain scene with a girl in front of a mirror (those who have seen it know what I mean).
The plot of Rock 'N Roll Nightmare is one we’ve seen thousands of time before and since; a metal band called The Tritons, led by the mighty Thor, take up residence in a secluded farmhouse for five weeks of rehearsals so they can come up with 10 minutes of new material. Seriously, ten minutes is all they need, five weeks is what it’s going to take to get there. Things start going wrong pretty much right away as the band’s Harry Anderson circa "Night Court" wanna be manager is done away with by a vicious looking demon. Slowly all the band members perish in one form or another, though usually off-camera and hardly ever with any actual blood shed. Of course, they all take the time to rock out once or twice before being dispatched, forcing the viewer to sit through (or, as was the case with me, fast forward through) not one but two songs done by The Tritons, such as "We Live to Rock".
Of course, the boys in the band aren’t there alone, they also brought their extremely ugly and unsexy girlfriends/wives with them, which is just more food for the evil entity that has it out for them all. It also allows said rock stars to "get busy" and get in situations which the viewer does not want to see because, as stated earlier, none of these girls are pretty. Well, maybe one of them… but her unnatural hairstyle detracts from whatever natural beauty she possesses.
But wait, there’s a twist! If you really don’t want to know what it is, skip the rest of this paragraph. If you don’t care because you’ll (hopefully) never bother to watch it anyway, here you go; Thor is actually The Intercessor; an archangel come to Earth to stop the demon who is feeding on the souls of humans. All his friends and badnmates? Merely figments of The Intercessor’s imagination, conjured from horror movies he’s seen and used as fodder to draw the beast out. Once this shocking revelation is had, Thor and the most incredibly crappy looking demon I’ve seen since The Golden Child proceed to lock arms for a seemingly endless… struggle. I wouldn’t call it a battle by any means, as all the two really do is grasp one another and make faces while yet another crappy Triton (aka Thor) song plays over the "action". Eventually good prevails over evil, and the final shot of the movie is…well, it’s a nondescript house in the suburbs for no reason whatsoever. Roll credits (and another Thor song).
So the movie is shite, but I will give points to Synapse for polishing this turd as best they could; it looks really damn good, print wise. If only someone could have gone back and made the movie itself unshitty, this might be worth a watch. Sadly, such technology is still being worked on. The sound is great, as well, which unfortunately serves as a detriment in this case because all it does is make Thor’s crappy music that much louder and clearer.
On the features side of things, we have the mini-doc "Revelations of a Rock ‘N Roll Warrior", which I guess is referring to Thor since he is the featurette’s subject matter, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out where they get the "warrior" title from. Essentially it’s a history of Thor’s beginnings, how he got involved in our genre, and just how sad his career is now. Sure, that may be harsh, but some of the modern "backstage" footage shown is quite clearly shot in a really grungy bathroom in what I can only assume is a dive bar. Still, the featurette manages to make Thor seem slightly less delusional than I’ve heard he actually is, though that could just be good editing.
Both "Creating a Child-Wolf" and "Rock N’ Shock Memories" are just behind-the-scenes footage shot during the making of the film, the first focusing on one of the better makeup jobs of the movie, the second an overall look at just how hellish it was to film Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare. Both go on for too long and don’t do anything to really add to your overall enjoyment of the film, save to point out that the filmmakers were at least having some fun while it was being made. Too bad the same can’t be said for the audience who watches it now.
Finally, we have the absolute best part of this entire DVD; the commentary track. This is one of those very rare examples of commentary track that actually makes the movie better, and gives me a good reason to sit through the entire thing again. Why? Not because of John Mikl Thor, who is still somehow taking himself too seriously, but because of director John Fasano. I think, almost 20 years after making the movie, he’s realized what garbage Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare is and has no qualms self-deprecating until the cows come home, pointing out flubs and technical issues I didn’t even notice the first time through. I knew it was going to be worth a listen when he immediately addressed the first thing that really pissed me off about the movie; the 10 minute scene of a van driving and driving and driving some more, intercut with footage of the farmhouse, which is essentially what opens the film. We know the van is headed to the farmhouse, but have no idea why it’s taking so long to get there. Fasano explains this in a sly and sarcastic tone that he keeps in place for pretty much the entire commentary, and damn if it didn’t help me appreciate the movie just a bit more knowing how ridiculous even the director thinks it is today.
Would you call that a reason to get the disc? That’s really up to you, I guess, I’m just here to give you my take on it. I wouldn’t spend any money on it myself, but I know that this film has inexplicably got legions of fans that have been dying for a decent DVD release, and this is definitely more than just decent, so if you’re one of them I suggest you get on this baby stat. If you’re like me and avoided this movie for most of your life, now might not be the best time to discover it; there are just way too many problems with Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare to really be able to enjoy it.
Commentary by Jon Mikl Thor & John Fasano
"Revelations of Rock N' Roll Warrior"
"Creating a Child-Wolf" featurette
"Rock N' Shock Memories" featurette
1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5
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