Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE (1987) - quite ironically, a fable about living your heavy metal dreams

Here's Thor performing a song of his. He used to bend steel rods and pop hot water bottles between songs because, well...why not I guess.

Jon-Mikl Thor is a fucking closer. If need be, he'll drive a tank onto your front lawn late at night and blow your house straight into the sky, rendering it townhouse space junk, and leaving only the foundation and your teeny bopper Ikea furnishings. As you jump out of bed, he leaps from his tank, splitting your skull with a metaphoric foam battle axe. As you lay momentarily dazed, he pulls out a boom box, pops in a cassette, and pumps the rewired volume knob to 13 (fuck you Spinal Tap).

What's that song playing? ANOTHER FUCKING THOR EPIC. It's blowing through your eardrums and out your ass. THAT'S the name of the song. You drive a Hyundai to work? Thor drives a fucking TANK to work. That's
HIS name. His job is heavy metal...and he's number one on the board. Enjoy the steak knives poseur.

For those that need their evidence to be of the visual variety, look no further than his cinematic epic
Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare, no doubt the heaviest film ever made on the cheap on the outskirts of Toronto. Thor and his bandmates head for a house in the middle of Bumfuck, Canada to lay down some scorching tracks for the new album. They require this type of isolation in order to be able to fully concentrate on laying down the perfect performance, without the distractions of modern life in Toronto circa 1987 (hockey, I guess). They do bring along some smoking Canucklehead chicks (well, at least the brunette is) and cases and cases of brewskis (one of those moose leaf whatever brands), as sort of a dual headed muse.

As I have said before (although I forget where), fooling around with big haired honeys in a tub of Molsen Ice is perfectly acceptable within Thor's heavy metal lifestyle
as long as it doesn't interfere with rehearsals. It's the Poison's of the world who lack heavy metal spirit, instead using the music as a springboard to snag chicks and free drugs. The true punters are in it for the musical long haul, and if two sixteen-year-old girls happen to borrow mom's station wagon and drive into a Thor show all the way from Winnipeg, they are to wait until all metal demons have been vanquished and all fists have been pumped. The girls might even be immortalized in a future song (maybe "Valkyries That Hath Looketh No Younger Than Nineteeneth, Officereth").

Not everyone is immediately on board with this artistic plan. The brunette girlfriend of one of the band members immediately complains that "there's no hot tubs and no Dynasty", and asks her boyfriend "why couldn't you have become something sensible, like a coke dealer?" Circa 1987, this was a legitimate question to ask someone. However, while she's a special brunette brand of Canadian hotness, she doesn't quite understand the heavy metal ethos, although she starts to get it a bit when she finds herself bobbing her head to a transcendent take of "Energy". She realizes that, in some small way, she's part of a team of warriors that will rule the heavy metal apocalypse. Or something along those lines.

However, the film's central musical number is "We Live to Rock", a statement of musical ethos of the truly direct variety. While many songs written before this one made allusions to real events and maybe contained an attempt at poetry, Thor has the balls to cut to the chase, refusing any sort of symbolism. It's called "deconstruction", where lyric and band and performance and audience are one in the same. It comes as little surprise that the engineer during the "We Live to Rock" take is pumping his fists in the control room, getting so into the song that he ignores all of the knobs and fancy effects. Frankly, dude, Thor doesn't need that shit. Lay it down dry baby, and let the engineer air guitar his ass through the entire session. A Jon-Mikl Thor song produces itself.

Of course, "the man" can't handle Thor's onslaught, and by "the man", I mean FUCKING SATAN. He invades the recording house, with the help of some evil hand puppets (to the extent that hand puppets can provide assistance). Why would Satan want to stop a heavy metal god from recording an album? You'd think they would make natural allies. However, Satan is really just a selfish jerk, and doesn't want earthly humans to experience heavy metal immortality. He wants whatever power he can cobble together in god's wake, and Thor is grabbing a piece of his action, so to speak. Despite the occasional bit of faux-satanism, heavy metal is an earthly religion of it's own. Speaking of which, most satanism seems to be of the "faux" variety. Then again, what the hell do I know about religion.

So, various characters get possessed by Mr. Beezlebub, as he is too much of a pussy to confront Thor head on. My favorite bit is when the engineer gets possessed and happens upon a group of young girls who claim to be members of the Thor fan club. They drive in from wherever in mom's station wagon, managing to find the secluded house and hoping to "hang out" with the band. The engineer lays down the law via Satan, explaining to the "fan club" that if they wanna hang out with Thor and the boys, they need to cut up some coke while their tits are hanging out. I guess that's how Satan parties. What a jerk. If these girls were to party with the real Thor, granted, they would need to keep the beer flowing, with some vodka thrown in, but cocaine wouldn't be allowed (drugs are bad for you after all). They would also be free to pull out their tits but only if they feel comfortable doing so. That Satan guy really has NO respect for women. Well, these girls smartly get outta dodge, as a little groupie fun with the band would've been awesome, but these respectable Canadian high school girls simply refuse to snort coke with Satan's minions. Thankfully, they also don't fall back on the old "if the cocaine abuse gets outta hand, it's no big deal since we can just hit up some free national health care" excuse.

Now if you know me (and you may not), you may have heard me declare that Luis Bunuel's
Simon of the Desert has the greatest twist ending in the history of cinema. Fuck you The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game can go eat a dick (spoiler alert!), and The Usual Suspects can go drive a Hyundai to work. However, quite possibly, Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare places number two on the list (or at least top three, although I'm blanking on the other contender). I don't want to give it away, but the final showdown with Satan is such an anarchic mindbender, a complete defilement of time and space, that, yes, it is worthy of a Luis Bunuel, while still somehow keeping within the internal logic of a man screaming at the top of his lungs wearing a codpiece. Oh yeah, Thor wears a codpiece in the movie. I probably should've mentioned that.

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare
is one of four important heavy metal horror movies, along with Black Roses, Rocktober Blood, and Trick or Treat (probably the masterpiece of the bunch). I have now reviewed all of them, maybe because I have nothing better to do, but probably because no one else would bother. Well, the jokes on them, because I have learned a few important life lessons along the way. In the case of this particular epic, Thor's battle with Satan is a vanquishing of some asshole who wants to interfere with his artistic process. You can metaphorically insert whoever you want in this dynamic, whether it's a studio suit insisting that you tone down your heavy metal antics, or your parents yelling at you to turn down your guitar amp when your practicing in your bedroom, or your boss telling you to cut your hair. The attempt to squash your self expression comes from all directions, and it takes the spirit of a true warrior to stand up and tell these people to go fuck themselves.

P.S. This is horror movie review number six in my Halloween countdown. Only five more to go in this set of a lazy baker's dozen. Why go lazy baker 11 instead of a nice rounded 10? Well, the "man" would want a logical well rounded sequence, but he's a jerk, and I don't take math advice from a jerk.

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