Monday, April 4, 2011

Horror Film Review

Hard Rock Zombies (1985):  This is a bad one, folks.  Train wreck bad.  But also like a train wreck, you can't help watching because that perverse part of your brain wants to see how bad it can get.  It's a cult, B-movie that, I must admit is so bad it's almost good.  Almost.

A lot of this film's awfulness stems from the fact that it was made in the 80s.  Mullet alert!  Driving to a gig in a small town, a hair band picks up a hot babe hitchhiking.  She lives in the town and offers them her house to stay in.  They readily agree.  The mansion and her relatives make the Addams Family look like the Cleavers.  But they stay anyway.  Why?  Because it's a bad movie.

Not content to be just a bad movie, Hard Rock Zombies felt it necessary to also be an incredibly weird movie.  Here's what happens (hold on to something).  Lead singer Jesse (E.J. Curcio) has been dabbling with a medieval song that reportedly can bring the dead back to life.  He falls for local girl Cassie (Jennifer Coe) and gives her a tape of the song and tells her to play it if he dies.  All four rockers are knocked off by their creepy host family (Jesse gets it with a weed-whacker), Cassie later plays the tape at the grave site, and the boys climb out of the ground.  Not that it matters, but I thought it strange they were buried without coffins and only about a foot deep.  Why would they have done that?  Because it's a bad movie.

So Jesse and the boys are pissed and head back to the mansion to exact some revenge.  Now might be the time to explain about the family of crazies that killed them.  There's the hitchhiking hot babe who's actually pretty normal looking, two super freaky midgets in tuxedos, a psychotic groundskeeper, a pervert with a camera, and an old German couple who run the place.  The old woman is some kind of werewolf and the old man turns out to be Adolf Hitler.  I really wish I was making this up.  It gets better.  The rockers kill everybody and then go play their gig to an audience of one, a slimy record label representative.  Trouble is, Hitler and his lot are really ghouls and are as hard to kill as zombies.   They proceed to turn the rest of the town into ghouls to start the Fourth Reich.  Still with me? 

After the gig, the mullet men return to their graves.  The surviving townspeople think the only way to stop the marauding ghouls is to sacrifice a virgin (Cassie) to them.  They tie her up on top of a ridge like Fay Wray in King Kong.  The band manager rushes back to Jesse's grave and convinces the rockers to save her.  Like the pied piper, the band plays the medieval undead song and lures the ghouls into Hitler's underground tunnels where some kind of concentration camp gas is used to finally kill them all.

There are so many WTF moments in this film that I couldn't possibly list them all.  Here are a few.  One of the midget ghouls somehow leaps onto the back of a cow and proceeds to snack on it.  The other midget ghoul spends the rest of the movie at a dining room table eating himself.  As zombies, the mullet rockers walk like they're marching in a Russian military parade.  Why?  Because it's a bad movie.  A really, really bad movie. 

The Breakdown
Acting:  Oh, my goodness.  I suspect that the actors were instructed to perform badly.  It's the only explanation.  Except for Coe as Cassie.  She's genuinely terrible.  Can't fake that. 
Story:  LSD, shrooms, and some mary jane must have been involved. 
Direction:  See above.
Production Values:  Properly awful.  Bad lighting, poor sound quality, cheap sets, film stock from the early 70s that would have been rejected by the sleaziest porno filmmaker.  Also, you can see the boom so clearly in one scene that I thought it was done on purpose.  It wasn't.
Gore/FX:  There is blood, no doubt about it, but it's silly.  The other FX are of the bargain basement variety, especially the zombie make-up.
The Ending:  Typical 80s hogwash.  Coe at Jesse's grave...holding his hand.  Not even one of those last second "gotcha" scenes.  I felt a bit cheated.  In the end, however, all that mattered was that it ended.
The Verdict:  Should you watch Hard Rock Zombies?  Tricky question.  You'd have to enjoy 80s cult B-movie crap and enjoy it a lot to stomach this one.  Maybe the best reason to watch it is for bragging rights when you find yourself in a conversation about bad movies.  Someone will say, "I saw the worst horror movie the other night."  You'll just smile and say, "Let me tell you about Hard Rock Zombies..."

My Rating1 out of 5 stars.

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