Friday, August 3, 2007
Hard Rock Zombies is a tough zombie movie to review. I want to like the movie for its ridiculous title and DVD cover, but the reality is that even a dedicated zombie movie fan can see that this movie is a piece of crap. It isn’t even able to pull off the “it’s so bad it’s good” factor. If anything, it could have been a “so bad it’s good” short. But trying to stretch the “plot” (if you can call it that) into a full length movie is just too much.
The movie revolves around one of the lamest hard rock bands ever. Amongst their many flaws, they are incapable of mimicking real musicians. They look ridiculous in any of the live performance scenes and for some reason they are never given a band name. After a gig one night, a young girl from Grand Guignol named Cassie tries to warn Jessie, the band’s lead singer, not to go to the band’s next tour stop, her hometown. Jessie of course ignores her warning. As you might imagine, Grand Guignol is an unfriendly place, complete with a gang of locals that hate “sinful” rock music. One of the local men especially hates Jessie, who ends up falling in love with the man’s teenage daughter, Cassie.
En route to Grand Guignol, the band picks up an evil female hitchhiker who offers to put them up at her house. Although a few scenes earlier the guys hated having to deal with half naked screaming fans, they are suddenly pumped at their newfound chance to get laid. The only problem is their hitchhiker buddy lives with Hitler, Hitler’s fuck buddy who turns into a werewolf from time to time, two midgets, a sadistic photographer, and a gigantic, scary looking Nazi.
After dropping their gear off at the house full of crazies, the boys embark on a wild musical montage, get locked up in jail, and are bailed out by the evil hitchhiking babe. They head back to the house to meet the girl’s roommates. Before long, they’re all brutally murdered. Luckily for them, Jessie happened to record a demo of a resurrection song before his death. He read about it in a book…or something. Cassie goes to Jessie’s grave, boom box in hand, and plays the resurrection anthem. Before long, our hard rock zombie heroes have risen from the grave. The only difference after they turn into zombies is that they now have face makeup. They also walk around in weird robotic movements…almost like they’re dancing. Confused yet? Good, so was I. From there, the band gets its revenge on Hitler and his minions while the entire town of Grand Guignol turns into zombies and eventually dies in the process. Only Cassie and the band’s manager are left at the end.
This movie may be guilty of sucking a lot, but there are some parts that are worthwhile. One such positive is the montage, which features the band miming, disco dancing, roller skating, and beer can juggling all over town while local tough guys look on disapprovingly. It’s excessive, even by 80’s montage standards, but it made me laugh convulsively the first time I saw it. The montage is the films main saving grace and almost makes it worth renting. Almost.
Hard Rock Zombies also boasts one of the most age inappropriate love stories ever seen in a low budget horror movie. Jessie and Cassie’s love affair features several jaw droppingly creepy moments, the worst of which happens after the montage sequence, when the band gets arrested. When Cassie comes by the band's jail cell, Jessie sings a tune he wrote for her called “Cassie’s Song”. Written from the heart, this catchy number features lyrics like, “I’m so in love, but you’re so young. When you touch my hand, does that mean were in love?” “Cassie’s Song” is hilarious, but the love plot line becomes disturbing at a certain point. Cassie and Jessie hardly knew each other before Jessie became a hard rock zombie, and he looks like he's about twice her age. That didn’t stop director Krishna Shah from having the band perform “Cassie’s Song” a grand total of three times, once as zombies.
"Cassie's Song" (While the band is in zombie mode)
If you’re reading this review, you’re somebody who knows what to expect with a film like this. That being said, even if you know what to expect, watching this entire flick without generously exercising the fast forward button is a huge time sink. When viewed with the right group of people, parts of it can be fun. But give yourself a medal if you can make it from start to finish. Hard Rock Zombies doesn’t have any of the gore or kick ass music you’d hope for from a movie like this. The attempts at humor fall flat, and the only laughs come from how absurd the whole production is. For most zombie fanatics, this film will do nothing but disappoint. It’s inept film making that doesn't live up to the promise of its epic title.
Hitler Beat Down
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
While most people associate Peter Jackson with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, any zombie fan worth his salt knew of Jackson well before his directorial adventures with Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam. Jackson was recognized early in his career for insanely gory horror films like Bad Taste and Dead Alive (also known as Braindead). Considered by many to be the one of the goriest zombie films ever made, Jackson’s imagination and flare for the unusual help separate Dead Alive from other run of the mill horror movies, and make for an unforgettable viewing experience. Don’t believe me? Check out AskMen.com’s Top Ten Zombie Movies article, where author James Bassil ranks Dead Alive at the top of the list. Also worth noting is the fact that Bassil chose the remake of Dawn of the Dead over the original, which doesn't make the list at all.
Dead Alive (Braindead) Trailer
If you're looking for a solid online horror film reference with lots of reviews and interesting features, check out Best-Horror-Movies.com. I'm a big fan of this site, and especially enjoy their Top 100 Horror Movies section. Although I don’t agree with the ranks of certain movies, such as Candyman being ranked after mediocre horror flicks like The Fog and Final Destination, it is a useful reference that’s fun to read and browse through. Most importantly, they list George Romero’s Dawn of The Dead as the fourth greatest horror movie of all time.
To read their review of the film, click here.
I'm a big fan of Michael Showalter. I check out his blog from time to time, and he has a great post where he talks about how zombies shouldn’t have intelligence like the main zombie in 28 Weeks Later. I must confess I have yet to see the film, but his review is definitely worth reading. Check it out by clicking here.