|HARD ROCK ZOMBIES
|Copyright 1984 Patel/Shah Film Company
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 1 January 2007
- Jessie - Our hero, the pedophile. Killed by a weedeater and put to rest the second time (he becomes a zombie) by deadly gas.
- The Band - I think that one of them was named Chuck. They are killed in various ways, brought back as zombies, and finally given the roach fogger treatment. Check it out - it's the band!
- Cassie - Imagine a teenage Jennifer Grey, but with thicker eyebrows and a hair style I nicknamed "raccoon hat."
- Ron - The manager is always the square guy.
- The Townsfolk - A group of goat-loving inbreds who hate rock and roll. Most are killed by zombies, then gassed into oblivion.
- Hitler - What in the heck is Hitler doing here? Killed and partially dissolved by gas.
- Grandma - She turns into a werewolf, then uses switchblades to slice up her prey. Euthanized, then gassed.
- Killer Blonde - She helps lure passers-by into situations where they can be killed by the Nazi family. Guess what? You got it: slain, resurrected, gassed.
- Hitler's Extended Family - Midgets and an adult Hitler Youth. More participants in the two deaths program.
|Make no mistake; this film is an oddity worthy of note in the bad movie world. In many ways, it is the cinematic analog of a platypus. You wonder how it ever got made and comment to your friends about the way it looks.
The movie begins with two guys cruising along in a classic Firebird. They pick up a blonde female and stop off at a lake for a bit of skinny dipping. Across the water, apparently so far away as to go unnoticed, a man and two midgets are playing leapfrog. All three of them are dressed in tuxedos. The three voyeurs stop playing to watch as the girl kills each of the guys who picked her up, then rush over to join Killer Blonde.
Change to Jessie and his band, playing in a club full of screaming women (all ten of them). The hard rockers soon retire to their graffiti-adorned dressing room and, well, get dressed. There is no way to avoid this, the scene jumps right in with Jessie and some of the others in their underwear. Why do movies feel compelled to inflict this sort of thing on me? One particularly sadistic fellow is wearing a thong or sumo wrestling loincloth! Now Jessie is reaching down to stuff his junk into his tight jeans! Ahhh! Cthulhu fhtagn! Make it stop!
It did, quite thankfully, stop before my mind was driven screaming from my body by a horror unspeakable in the tongues of men. A horde (well, six or seven) of screaming groupies rush into the locker room. The band members are soon happily signing body parts, except for Jessie. He puts up with the women for a short period before stomping out and encountering Cassie. She warns him that the band must stay away from Grand Guignol, where their next concert is scheduled. Before you can say "registered sex offender," the young girl disappears again, leaving Jessie confused and forlorn.
A most disturbing aspect of the movie is Jessie's infatuation with Cassie. She is obviously supposed to be fourteen or fifteen. There is a reason that society dissuades thirty-somethings from having relationships with much younger partners. It is not a meeting of equals; the adult has loads of experience with liaisons and years of integrating into the "mature" community. The young teen wants those things and has less experience with the "tricks of the trade." In a nutshell, it is the same reason there are divisions in professional boxing. To make it a fair match, you do not put a featherweight in the ring against a heavyweight bruiser. Sometimes the featherweight will win, but the odds are not in his favor.
The brief warning does not convince the band to avoid Grand Guignol. They load up the van (half their gear appears to be missing) and hit the road. Along the way, Jessie tries out a new riff he based on an ancient chant to raise the dead. The other rockers groove to it, except Ron, who is forced to squash the same fly over and over. Jessie works on the chords later and has to deal with a tarantula that is resurrected repeatedly. He plays a few notes, smashes the creeping spider, returns to the guitar for a bit, then stops to crush the arachnid again when it comes back to life. The lead singer wisely decides to make a tape of the riff, because that could come in handy.
Killer Blonde makes another appearance at the roadside and is quickly offered a ride by the band. She takes them to her family's home, a sprawling estate inhabited by an odd array of characters. (Midgets and werewolves and Hitler, oh my!) Apparently, this is what Hitler has been doing since Germany fell to the allies. He has been living in California, making love to his lycanthrope wife, and raising an extended family that lures in unsuspecting travelers and murders them.
The citizens of Grand Guignol are not happy about the sudden appearance of a disruptive influence in their town. By "disruptive influence," I mean the band skateboarding and making a music video in the street. The sheriff tosses the musicians in jail. Um, who arranged a concert in this town? Besides the hostile reaction of the council and law enforcement, it is obvious that very few of the residents would attend. Forget it, because Killer Blonde posts bail for the group and they leave the jail post haste. Jessie does stop to speak with Cassie for a while, even trying his ultimate pickup lines of "I thought about you all day." and "You're neat." His infatuation with the girl and methods of interacting with her are creepy.
The first attempt to knock off the band through improperly grounded equipment is unsuccessful, but there will be more chances to stop the rock. Those happen later in the evening, beginning when Killer Blonde stabs the drummer to death in the shower (she was probably jealous of his hair). The other band members become victims in short order, including Jessie, though he put an insurance policy in place. Just prior to becoming weed whacker fodder, the lead singer gave Cassie his tape of the resurrection riff and asked her to play it at his grave.
Distraught by her true love's death, Cassie brings the band back from the dead by playing the music at their graves. Funny thing about the band, their faces now look like a poor copy of Kiss, but one is dressed like an outcast from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Anyway, the zombies march to the Nazi homestead and exact revenge on their murderers. Due to the nature of the undead, they also come back as zombies and begin killing the townsfolk (and even more zombies result). The situation quickly gets out of hand.
With nothing else to do, the band goes ahead with the concert. Cassie watches from the darkened rows of seats, until undead Killer Blonde sneaks behind her. The young woman flees screaming into the street. Since there is little choice to do otherwise, the surviving town residents make a few attempts to either stop or destroy the zombies. (Actually, the characters refer to the undead as ghouls.) One disastrous effort involves using large posters with famous entertainers on them. The ghouls shy away at first, but eventually get tired of having Elvis shoved at them. Scratch off a couple of townsfolk. Their next plan involves Cassie. Turns out that ghouls will sleep for a century after having sex with a virgin under a full moon (this is fatal to the virgin). Ignoring Ron's dissent and Cassie's screams, the handful of survivors tie the girl to a tree in a spot likely to incite ghoul romance.
I need to stop and mention one thing here and that is Killer Blonde's claim to fame. She can raise her leg far above her head, ala some sort of hard rock ballet step. The script offered multiple places for Killer Blonde to dance, slink, or gyrate onscreen. After a while this becomes tedious, but the one exception is when she stalks Cassie in the theater. The younger girl is sitting down front as Killer Blonde slowly creeps up from behind, stepping over each row with exaggerated care. Right there, it looks pretty cool.
Ron stumbles to the gravesite of his companions and pleads with Jessie to save Cassie from the ghouls. It works, raising the band for one last number. They use the lead singer's special riff to lure the ghouls into Hitler's secret gas chamber. Many of the evil ghouls partially melt or do something else that looks unpleasant; Jessie and the band just close their eyes and fall asleep.
The movie suffers from a lag in the middle, mostly caused by blowing all their aces early on. I mean, once you reveal that Hitler is alive and well, you have to do something with that idea. Killing him off quickly and simply adding him to the zombie ranks is a bit of a let down. Likewise, the director's insistence on completely finishing every song starts to test the audience's patience. If Jessie and the band start singing, you are looking at six minutes before anything new happens. A notable "running gag," which was carried through to the finish, is a midget zombie that begins devouring itself. The movie cuts back to him now and then, so we can keep track of his progress. He eats everything: arms, legs, torso, and even completes his repast by sucking the flesh off his head - leaving a bare skull behind. Man, talk about diminishing returns.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:
- Women are equipped with a rotary cutting implement somewhere below their bellybutton.
- Properly preserved, a human hand is indistinguishable from a rubber imitation.
- Never hire a midget roadie.
- One type of sex is physical sex; the other kinds are... (all you AOLers, be quiet).
- Shower rings are not used as carabiners for a good reason.
- California is the Fourth Reich.
- Ghouls are afraid of Elvis.
- Zombies are a textbook example of positive Gregoriataxis (being drawn toward Gregorian chants).
- PVC is often used in the construction of Nazi gas chambers.
- 1 min - I have seen this video before. Wait, midgets? Best video ever!
- 6 mins - They are going to play the entire song. Friends, this is a dangerous precedent.
- 13 mins - Oh no, not again.
- 15 mins - Just keep hoping that the car will come alive and kill them all.
- 27 mins - I think that they are trying to parody Larry, Darryl and Darryl.
- 34 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
- 37 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST RECORDING MEDIA!
- 71 mins - If only the entire movie had centered around the Phil Fondacaro zombie attacking cows.
- 91 mins - Take that, Hitler!
|Audio clips in wav format
|Starving actors speak out
|Jessie: "They said in the Middle Ages they used this music to raise the dead."
Band Member: "Raise the dead? What for?"
Other Band Member: "Probably to mop your floors or paint your house."
|Jessie: "How you doing?"
Cassie's Father: "Get the f**k out of town, you little pecker!"
Jessie: "Um, well, we can't do that, sir. We've got a real big concert tomorrow."
|Ron: "They've got her, Jess. They're going to tie her...tie her up and then let all the ghouls screw her to death! Is that what you want, ghouls you created screwing her to death?
|Cassie: "I meant everything I said, Jessie. You'll always be the only one. I'll come back and visit you here forever."
| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.
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|Scenes from the movie
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|MPEG video files
|Jessie and the other undead band members close in on Hitler. Your time is up! Das Fuhrer ist tot! Auf Wiedersehen! Hooray, good old American rock and roll overcomes the final Nazi boss!
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