By: BabyRuth (Six Pack) –
This is bodybuilder and “Legendary Rock Warrior” Jon Mikl Thor. Known for his stage performances that include breaking bricks over his head, bending steel pipes with his teeth, and blowing up hot water bottles like balloons until they burst, Thor is also the inventor of “muscle-rock.”
Somehow, SOMEHOW, I never heard of this guy until I recently learned about a little movie from 1987 called Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, which Thor not only stars in, but also wrote and produced. That’s not all! His band, called (what else?) Thor, performs the soundtrack. The one thing Thor didn’t do on this movie was direct. That credit goes to John Fasano, who would go on to acquire quite an extensive resume of writing and producing credits, before his untimely death in 2014 at the age of 52. The film was shot in seven days with a budget of $53,000 and it is every bit as incredible as that sounds.
Originally titled The Edge of Hell (which is still in the opening) Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare tells the story of world-famous band The Tritonz, who take a road trip to a secluded (pay no attention to that visible highway in the background) farmhouse somewhere in Canada. Canada eh? Why yes, because as lead singer John Triton (Thor) points out, Canada is where everything is happening: “the music, the entertainment, the arts.”
The Tritonz are there to record exactly ten minutes of new material for their upcoming album. Their manager Phil (Adam Fried) explains that the detached barn has been converted to a recording studio used in the past by the likes of Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart. Phil’s a geek who dresses like Duckie from Pretty in Pink so naturally he is the “comic” relief of this film.
Let’s introduce the rest of the band and their traveling companions, shall we? I’ll even list the name of the actors, even though for nearly all of them, this is their only role. There’s guitarist Max (David Lane). Max has a thing for the band’s keyboardist Dee Dee (Denise Deicandia), who is always braless and dressed in spandex. Dee Dee likes Max too, but for some reason neither has revealed their feelings for the other. There’s a boring bass player named, I shit you not, Roger Eburt (Frank Deitz) and his even more boring new wife Mary (Liane Abel Dietz). The Eburts are on their honeymoon and seriously, they suck so much. Roger does get a pretty great line though. When he sees Mary washing dishes (Oh my god, the dishwashing—I will talk more about this later) he grabs her from behind and says “When I see you doing something so domestic, my boner can’t help itself.” With a poet like Roger in the band, I don’t understand why they are having so much trouble coming up with a new love song.
Moving on, there is also John’s girlfriend Randy (Teresa Simpson), appropriately named because she just can’t get enough of John’s rippin’ bod and amazing clothing. But John has no time for that. He’s all about the music, man.
Finally, we have drummer Stig (Jim Cirile) whose terrible, ever-changing British Australian no fucking idea accented line delivery must be heard to be believed. Stig’s girlfriend Lou Anne (Jillian Peri), is your standard big-haired 80s movie bitch. She’s wonderful.
Wow, that’s a lot of people! I haven’t even mentioned the groupies who show up for exactly one scene and are never heard from again. Of course, the reason there are so many characters is so they can be picked off one by one by the dark, mysterious evil that lurks in the deserted home.
And here it is:
I know. Terrifying.
I have made it one of my life’s missions to see as many bad movies as I possibly can. I’ve slogged through a lot of shit (don’t even get me started on After Last Season) trying to find the gems among the turds. And this one is a fucking diamond you guys.
This film combines so many wonderful things: 80s cheese, hair metal, low-budget practical effects, first-time auteur passion-project ineptitude, puppets, dishwashing, I can go on and on. I’ve already watched this movie four times and there’s always something new to discover.
From what I’ve learned about Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, it was a fun experience for everyone involved and that shows through. Everybody here knew they were making a silly horror movie with limited resources but were sincere in their attempt to make it as entertaining as possible. And entertaining it is.
As we learned with Manos: The Hands of Fate and Birdemic, when a movie starts with extended footage of driving, you know you are in for something special. And boy is there driving.
Lots and lots and
lots of driving.
Turns out the movie ran about four minutes short of officially being labeled feature-length, so they went back and shot four minutes of the van driving to the farmhouse. Problem solved!
Know what’s overrated in movies?
Consistency, that’s what.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare has no time for that (as I mentioned, they only had seven days, just like God).
So it does not matter one tiny bit that when victims are attacked they either:
A) go back to normal as if nothing happened to them.
B) go back to normal but with increased musical ability/sexual stamina
C) presumably die but then come back to life as demons
D) presumably die and are never seen again.
E) transform into tiny penis-shaped sock puppets.
An actual screenshot of Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare. I am TELLING you, it is so wonderful!
Of course with Thor (the band) providing the music for Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and being written by Thor (the man God), this film contains lots of music. Nearly every scene has a Thor song playing in the background (except for the Wolf Boy parts –he gets a magical flute! Oh yeah, there’s also a wolf boy in this movie because: see Beer Three) and we are treated to not one, but two FULL performances by the Tritonz. Costumes, lighting, and all because all great musicians know, if you are going to record ten minutes of material, you have to practice your presentation first dammit!
The songs: “We Live to Rock” and “Energy,” are both something. I dare you not to get either of these stuck in your head.
And the band! They rival only Miami Connection’s Dragon Sound in presentation (slight edge to Dragon Sound since they incorporate Tae Kwon Do) and by that I mean that no one’s (except for Thor) pretend-playing matches up to the music. This, of course, adds to the charm.
These rock stars sure like their coke.
No, no, no…Not cocaine.
Coca Cola, duh!
I’m not sure if Coke was an official sponsor of this film… I’m thinking “no,” but they were sure hoping it would be! Nearly every shot has a visible can and the label is always facing forward. Pay special attention to the scene near the end when Thor sits down to write his masterpiece while enjoying a nice, cold can of Coca Cola Classic. You can see him, ever so discreetly (not at all) turn the label so it is facing the camera. It’s incredible.
This is where I would mention the ending. The ridiculous, batshit, out of nowhere, M. Night Shyamalan-wishes-could-come-up-with-something-like-this ending. But I’m not going to. Because the less said about it the better for the first-time viewer. I repeat, DO NOT SPOIL THIS EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF!
All I will say is, there is absolutely no way in (The Edge of) hell that one can predict the thrilling conclusion of Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, so don’t even bother attempting to and just enjoy getting to it and then revel in all its studded codpiece, flying Play-Doh-starfish-monster magnificence.
Usually when there is a twist of this kind, if you go back and rewatch the movie, you’ll pick up on little details that you didn’t notice before that kind of foreshadow the ending. That is not the case with Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare. In fact, the ending makes even less sense upon multiple viewings. Please don’t misunderstand—I am not discouraging watching this movie more than once. In fact, it’s just as much, if not more, fun watching it over and over.
Shit! I ran out of beers before I can assign one for all the glorious dishwashing! Let me just say, if there is one thing that screams ROCK N ROLL, it is washing dishes.
Wait, that’s not right.
I mean, unless you do it like Kenny from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.
But kudos to Jon Mikl Thor for making sure to include many, many scenes of it to remind us all that before we can rock, we mustn’t neglect a sink full of dirty dishes.
I can’t believe it took me this long to become familiar with both this movie and Jon Mikl Thor himself. SHAME! This is a freaking masterpiece and I order you to watch it right now (it’s available on Amazon and YouTube). Then be sure to check out the legitimately good I Am Thor (Netflix) documentary for a look into the man behind it all. He’s had quite a life.
In addition, there is also a film called Zombie Nightmare that was actually the first collaboration between John Fasano and Jon Mikl Thor. I highly recommend checking it out. It has a much larger budget and even stars Adam West and Tia Carerre (in her first film role). It’s just as fun and silly, though slightly more coherent than Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare.
If you still need more Thor in your life, there is also a 2005 sequel called Intercessor: Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare. (I haven’t been able to check this one out yet but from what I’ve seen, it appears to have been made for $52,900.00 less than Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare).
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) Drinking Game
Drink Suggestion: Coca Cola mixed with your choice of alcohol. Just make sure to pour the alcohol in the can and drink with the label clearly showing.
Take a Drink: whenever you hear the ominous “ahhh” sound (you’ll know what I mean when watching.)
Take a Drink: whenever anyone washes dishes
Take a Drink: whenever someone tells a story about Phil
Take a drink: for every Jon Mikl Thor costume change
Take a Drink: whenever anyone mentions the whereabouts of the van
Take a Drink: for every (off-screen) kill
Take a Drink: whenever the camera zooms in and holds on Dee Dee’s nipples
Take a Drink: boobs! (Take two for Thor’s)
Take a Drink: for every prominently placed Coca Cola can
Take a Drink: whenever Stig’s accent changes
Take a Drink: deformed Muppet penis booger monsters!
Chug: during the sex scenes (trust me)
Do all the Shots: at the insane twist ending!