Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Even death and Hitler can't stop rock 'n' roll

Hard Rock Zombies (1984)
Starring: Ted Wells, E.J. Curcio, Jennifer Coe, Lisa Toothman, Jack Bliesener, Susan Prevatte, and Phil Fondacaro
Director: Krishna Shah
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Four rock musicians (led by E.J. Curcio) on the cusp of making it big are murdered by Adolph Hitler (Bliesener) and Eva Braun (Prevatte) who are alive and well and hiding in California with their sexy daughter (Toothman) who lures innocent travelers to their death with the promise of hot sex. However, underage metal groupie Cassie (Coe) plays one of the band's songs that is based on a medeival chant that raises the dead, so the rockers can take their revenge on Hitler and his clan, as well as play their big gig. Sooner than you can say "I can't believe this movie actually got made", the town is overrun by zombies, and the band's manager (Wells) must save not only the virginal Cassie but the entire world.

"Hard Rock Zombies" is one of those movies that's so bad it's good... or almost good in this particular case, because it has a fatal flaw. It doesn't take itself seriously, and the creators obviously knew they were making an incredibly goofy movie (with a werewolf grandma, midgets, zombies, and Hitler, how could they not?), and this sense of fun greatly helps the movie along.

Among the comedy highlights are the various members of the Hitler Clan; a Nazi zombie midget's pursuit of lovers in the woods and his later attempt to devour a cow; the townsfolks various schemes to escape death by the teeth of the flesh-eating zombies, and the manager's speech to the record label executive (who has been zombiefied).

However, what keeps this film from rising to the level of a truly good bad movie is the awful music. The songs that we are treated to (three of them, in their excrutiating entirety) are so awful that I thanked God for the 2x speed setting on my DVD player.

I never have understood why these films that feature a supposedly great band are so often plagued with the most atrociously boring songs. When I worked a music reviewer, I have dozens and dozens of tapes from up-and-coming and completely undiscovered bands in my office, and I'm certain that anyone of them would have let movie producers use their songs for very little cash. In fact, those songs may even have been acquired cheaper than those atrocities written specifically for the crappy movies in which they're heard. (And I'm certain a music critic such as myself would have directed a producer to one of his favorite "undiscovereds" for very little , or perhaps even just a thank-you in the credits of the movie.)

But, the producers of "Hard Rock Zombies" didn't do that. So, we've got long, tortourous sequences of this band that gets praised by a big time record producer as being great, something that breaks the audience's ability to suspend their disbelief (and this in a film featuring werewolves, Hitler, and zombie midgets).

(Another possible drawback to the film is the pedopheliac tendencies of the band leader, Jessie. My first thought was "he's a pretty nice guy" when he seemed to be friendly toward the shy, very underage Cassie. But then he started writing love-songs to her and borderline stalking her. I can't quite get a read on what the intention of the writers and director was with Jessie's attraction to jail-bait, but it's disturbing upon reflection. Although I'm sure it would be Roman Polanski's favorite thing about the film.)

This review was posted as part of the an observance of the 65th anniversary of the final defeat of Nazi Germany.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite B-movies ever. Only place you can get wheelchair bound werewolf grannies, pervert Nazi midgets, death via weedwhacker, a borderline pedophiliac romance, and Adolf Hitler. Grab a ton of friends and have a ton of fun.