3 out of 5
Directed by: John Fasano
Somewhere on a stretch of road in Canada, there is a car perpetually driving. Perhaps a repeated loop of 80s hair metal music is playing. Perhaps the van contains a muscled man with feathered hair and fantastically loud clothing, doing his best to deliver some deep dialogue which is a mixture of low-key Canadian humor – yes, “eh?” features at the end of sentences – ‘commentary’ on the music industry, and sudden rants on the many names of Satan. Occasionally a foam puppet will appear and attempt to spit out some goop. Also occasionally, we break for 5-minute long scenes of 80s nudity and making out.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare exists at this bizarre crux of what-the-hell-am-I-watching tolerability – almost every scene is kind of a drag of uncut shots and plotlessness, which become entertaining for exactly that reason – and B-movie gusto admirability – people spending time and money (however little of each) putting this together, borne out of at least some degree of passion.
…And in the case of writer / producer /star Jon Mikl Thor, perhaps an excess of passion: clear exuberance for the horror genre from which this “kids in the cabin get killed off one-by-one” setup vaguely and directly nibs; a desire to show off his hair metal chops thanks to the plot centering around John Triton – Thor – having gathered his in-movie bandmates (a mix of goofy / drunkard / innocent types who would probably not be in a band together in real life) at this remote Canadian farmhouse for a recording session; and a bonus desire to remind of his bodybuilding career, with plenty of shirtless opportunities. Boil all of this with an, er, eager script that goes for a bug-out ending, equally ambitious puppetry / practical effects work, and the kind of self-belief that you’re making a quality (or clever) film, and you’re clearly in cult territory.
Which toggles back and forth with “bad movie” territory, depending on your tastes. But I think anyone can get on board with a 30-minute edited version of this, plucking out its greatest highlights to laugh at; more discerning viewers can go for the 90-minute treatment.