Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

Do you remember when zombies weren't mainstream? Yeah, believe it or not, there was a time when the flesh craving rotters were a niche thing. What changed? I'm not really sure. At some point I think Hollywood began to notice fans' fascination with zombies, which invariably led to the concept getting run into the ground. I won't blame it entirely on Hollywood though, as we've gotten quite a lot of shitty zombie films from smaller companies. Most of those companies do have the excuse of being independent productions, but considering our last film, that really shouldn't be an excuse. Indie horror can be great. But thanks to studios like The Asylum, I find myself thinking "wow, I am sick of zombies".

So let's talk about a zombie movie.

Now, after that, you might assume I hate zombies and zombie movies, but I don't. Zombie movies are one of my happy places I go to when the world drives me to the edge. If it weren't for Return of the Living Dead, I may have lost all sense of self after watching a recent "superhero" film. But I should add an addendum to that: I like good zombie movies. Films with creativity, clever humour, great effects, or even a cast that are completely likable. But the vast majority of films on the subject tend to not really deliver on those things, which leaves me feeling exasperated as I reach for George Romero's classics to remind me that there are still good things in this sub-genre.

Please protect me, pale bald zombie!
That's not to say that all the bad zombie movies are from the more recent crop of filmmakers though, as there were quite a few that stunk about as bad as zombies themselves back in the day. Whether they were from Italy, America, or Japan, no country is immune to the plague of the bad zombie movie. I will say though that America has made the construction of bad zombie films into such an art form that even Brad Pitt wanted to be in one. But we're not looking into that festering heap today, because instead we're going to look at a movie about a hair metal band. Zombies are also involved. And Nazis.

That's right, Dead Snow! You're late to the party because this movie did it first!
Our film opens simply enough, showing some 80s dudes picking up a woman on the side of the road, who she then brings to a lake where a creepy guy and some midgets watch her drown them. And because drowning someone makes them bleed, the water fills with blood and then they dismember the corpses while she sings "I wanna hold your hand". After that, we then flash to our heroes as they play a show where the song, "Shake It Off Baby", seems tailor made for the audience watching the film as I really need to shake off that opening. Our main hero, the lead singer, is named Jessie and he's super dreamy...if you find mustachioed men with epic mullets dreamy. Following their show, Jessie gets tired of all the groupies hanging on them as their manager rambles on and he meets a girl who looks like looking at her too long will get you stuck on one of those lists that guarantee you'll be introducing yourself to all of your neighbors by court order. Of course, because of this, Jessie and his pedo-stache are immediately smitten.

His eyes say "love", her eyes say "call the police".
You may think I am just kidding or judging her by her youthful appearance, but no. Jessie literally calls her both "kid" and "little girl", so yeah, our hero is a pedophile. We're off to a great start. She tells him that they shouldn't go to play their next gig in a place called Grand Guignol. Yeah, that place sounds like bad news. It sounds like the sort of place where the Necronomicon Ex Mortis might pop up to summon some deadites. But Jessie doesn't listen, as he and the band go out on the road. While on the road, Jessie plays something that gets his band's attention, leading him to explain that he reads books and that he learned the song from a book that said it was supposed to bring the dead back to life. I've seen what happens when music brings the dead back to life.

It's a truly horrifying experience.
Along the way they end up picking up the crazy "hold your hand" girl from the opening, which doesn't lead to her killing them but instead leads to them staying at her family's house outside of town. Guess who her family are? The creepy guy, the two midgets, and their dad who is a big fan of axes. Spoiler: they're all Nazis. And their grandparents, who also live there, are Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Are you even serious, movie? Hitler and Eva Braun are hiding in the middle of bumfuck nowhere with their crazy grandchildren who go around murdering strangers? I'm not going to defend Hitler, but I'm fairly certain the Nazis weren't slasher movie villains. Grandma Eva Braun is also a werewolf.

I'm sure that makes perfect sense somehow.
But enough of that, the band has to go advertise their show! They do this via a montage, which consists not of them posting flyers but instead just badgering the people of the town. Apparently that's illegal though, as they soon get arrested. Personally, I blame Jessie and his bridge prancing. I mean, just look at that shit.

The best part of it is the band member who is jogging like he just filled his diaper.
It seems the town hates hair metal, so they get locked up for daring to partake in the practice, but jailbait girl comes to bail them out because her and Jessie just needed more time on screen together. In return for this act, he passes her a ring and a cassette tape that contains both the song that raises the dead and also a song about how he's totes in love with her. Take a look at these lyrics.


I'm so in love but you're so young
When you touch my hand
Does that mean we're in love?
For you it's known there's so much I've been through
But I can't hold back the feeling of wanting you

Now you cut that shit out right now, dammit!
If that wasn't uncomfortable enough, we also get a lovely scene of Grandma and Grandpa Hitler fucking while their creepy midget grandsons watch. They're not hiding, the grandparents know they're there. They are literally letting them watch as they bang. For the love of fuck, someone please summon some Candarian demons because deadites aren't this demented. So, the big plot twist is out and the fact they're Nazis gets shown off as they summarily kill the band in a number of ways. The death scenes are edited in with Hand Girl dancing in the desert, for a reason that escapes me.

I gave up trying to make any sense of this when Eva Braun started howling.
Now, I may be wrong, but I seem to recall Cassie saying these people are her family. I could go check that information, but I really don't care. This means that she's either Hitler's daughter or his pretend son Himmler's daughter. Either way, Cassie's from a family of crazy Nazis. Now, where she gave them cryptic warnings not to come, she could've just said "oh hey, my family are Nazis that will probably murder you guys, so maybe you should skip our town?", but that would mean one of the characters in this film had some kind of sense. As he dies, Jessie tells her to play the tape over their graves, which leads to the moment we've all been waiting for.

THE HARD ROCK ZOMBIES AND THEIR AMAZING COLD-CREAM MAKEUP!!
Yes, like the hero from Altered Beast, our heroes "RISE FROM THEIR GRAVE" to go robotically hunt down some naughty Nazis. That right there? That's how they actually move. Guys, I'm sorry, but zombies don't walk like that. Oh well, at least they aren't running over one another in a big CGI tidal wave, because I can only handle so much stupidity and the line was drawn with the incestuous Nazi werewolf granny. Despite their slow, non-threatening movements, the zombie heroes manage to hunt down their killers and kill them all right back. But, the Nazi family comes back to life...which makes no sense as there was no virus or anything...and they begin biting and killing people in town. Well, all but one of the midgets.

He sits at home and eats himself. Well, I can definitely say that's something I don't see often in zombie movies.
The zombified heroes, meanwhile, hop in their van and go to play their show, where only Cassie attends due to people there either hating hair metal or because there are Nazi zombies eating them all. Either way, their robotic movements cease during the music, meaning these guys can't quite pull of that act like Steam Powered Giraffe does. During the song we get shown what I assume is Cassie's fantasy about how her life with Jessie could've been if he hadn't died. And maybe if she wasn't underage, making their relationship fairly illegal. Somewhere along the way the record executive guy mentioned earlier wanders into the movie and he gets killed by zombies, the remaining townsfolk gather up and some old asshole says the only hope is to sacrifice a virgin.

But where are you guys gonna find a volcano in the middle of Kentucky?
Of course, they try to give Cassie to the zombies, but her zombie beau shows up with his boys to save her as they lead the other zombies into a gas chamber that Hitler had, and the horde gets gassed to death. Because zombies sure need to breathe, right? Mourning Jessie again, Cassie weeps over his grave and his hand pops out with the ring from earlier. She nuzzles his cold undead hand and the movie ends.

Still a better love story than Twilight.
In the end, this movie was a really strange sit. Sure, it gave us zombies, but the outbreak of them didn't really make any sense, as the Nazis had no clear reason for even coming back to life. Jessie and his band were brought back to life via a song. There was no virus or anything, nor was the Nazi family even bitten. Hell ,the song wasn't even played for them, so even in that context it makes sense. And then they start biting people, turning them into zombies, make it make even less sense. And since Jessie seems to still be "alive" in the end, does that mean the others are all going to pop back up? Or was he just revived with the power of underage love? He better watch out or the undead police with arrest him for that.

"You're coming with us, bad reviews or not."
I don't really know what to think about this movie, honestly. It had a lot of really dumb parts, but it also had a lot of really strange shit too. Things that I never expected to see together. Nazis, incest, werewolves, pedophilia, human sacrifice, and self-cannibalism...I just...what do I say about this movie? Well, it's not a good movie, I can say that. But, somewhere in all the weirdness, I found myself wanting to keep watching just to see what happened next because this film was so batshit crazy that it had me glued to it. I needed to see how this played out. And, for all my mocking the romance in here, the song Jessie writes about Cassie is actually a pretty good ballad. If you try to ignore the fact that he's singing it to a 14 year old girl then you can actually find yourself feeling wistful. But then the movie reminds you that Jessie is in love with a young girl and that this isn't a dramatic story about how wrong and taboo that is. This is a zombie movie that is romanticizing a relationship that would only end in jail-time. The effects aren't much to write home about, with the only real effects coming in the monstrously disfigured midget and the Eva Braun werewolf. There's not bad effects but they're definitely not impressive, as the same year this came out we got Day of the Dead and Fright Night, which both had incredible practical effects work.

But they didn't have Phil Fondacaro as a Nazi, so obviously this is way better.
I'm not sure I'd recommend this one, but I will say that it is an interesting experience. Hell, in a mountain of shitty zombie movies that follow the same formula, this movie throws some curve-balls that caught me off guard. Keep in mind, I saw this as a child and a lot of this movie still surprised me, because I really didn't recall most of the fucked up things present in this film. All I really remembered was that the zombie band looked silly. If you're curious, give it a watch. It's not the worst zombie movie out there and it will give you something to talk about when people ask you about what movies you've watched recently. I guarantee they will be speechless when you describe this one to them. So, until Weekend at Bernie's III comes out where Bernie joins Jessie's band as they take on real life zombie band, the Rolling Stone, I'll be here trying to get that Hitler sex scene out of my head. Later days, bleeders.

This was the one gangbang I never expected to see.

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