Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare (1987)


ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE also known by the more badass and rocking title THE EDGE OF HELL is a bizarre Canadian production by Jon-Mikl Thor who also was the screenwriter.  John Fasano, who had previously worked with Roberta Findlay, handled directing duties.  It would be folly to say Thor merely “wrote” this script.  Nay, the heavens broke open and the hand of the Almighty himself reached down to the humble Canadian and turned Thor into his golden avatar on earth to bring NIGHTMARE to the masses.  Jon-Mikl then offered the undefiled text to Fasano who would be his prophet.  Only then does the truly wondrous film, which I have viewed for you, take its true form.

A family is wiped out by a charred stove demon with vampire teeth in an isolated farmhouse on one of the busiest roads in Ontario… Ten years later the band Triton is out on the road to rehearse for their next album before their deadline passes.  No one has inhabited the place for the past decade but at some point Alice Cooper dropped by and put a high tech recording studio in the rickety assed barn.  Fasano makes the daring decision to show the Tritonz make the commute from Ottawa to Toronto in real-time in order to build tension as they approach their destination…and their doom.  

Once disembarked the band is eager to do what they do best…exposit…followed by rawking… Stigg, he of the silver Australian tongue, is incredulous.  Being a red-blooded Austro-American he wants to know, “But why Canada?”  Why indeed.  Thankfully Pater Jon is there to enlighten his charges, “‘Cause Toronto is where it’s happening, man.  The music…the film industry…the arts.”  Ah-ha!  That’s where they got the $53 Gs to make this flick-the Ontario Tourism Board-this is just one big Canuck infomercial…you sneaky bastards.

Jon divides up the room assignments like the flaxen haired, strict chaperone he is.  The newlyweds, Roger (Frank Dietz from BLACK ROSES) and Mary Eburt (I shit you not), get the best room, Maw and Paw Triton get a room, Stigg and his groupie get a room much to Jon’s chagrin and Dee Dee and Max get separate rooms.  Phil gets the couch because fuck Phil.  Jon then goes outside to lock the van for ten minutes or so.  He has a moral compass as strong as his biceps but he can’t lock vans as good as most folks.  Weird, little, slimy, dildo like demons begin puking in coffee and possessing wanton women leading to the slaughter of the Tritonz one by one.  But not before some promiscuity and gratuitous nudity.  One of the harsh realities of this world is that if you are a female in A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE you have to show your jublies even if its in the most awkward and uncomfortable consensual sex scene imaginable.  I give you Randy.  In between being a positive role model for the young Tritonz and looking all matronly at times, Randy is a hot bodied, loyal wife to Jon.  The scene I’m referring to will be forever burned into you brain and nothing will scour it away.  She strips down and looks good before becoming supremely uncomfortable (and not hiding it well) while facing down Triton in the shower before she gets stabbed by his trident.  It’s pretty much the nastiest and most bizarre consensual sex scene caught on film.  

The narrative is bizarre as hell with a twist that would force M. Night Shyamalan to take pause.  Here’s a spoiler alert and its the only one you’re getting.  Worry not if the kids and creeps who came out to inhabit the farmhouse have pissed you off with their carefree rockitude.  They weren’t even fucking there to begin with…I’ll give you a moment to come to grips with the fact that the first 70 minutes or so of this flick was a smoke and mirrors puppet show by the the Archangel Triton to draw Satan into one on one, puppet on viking battle.  Triton reveals that he is not Jon Triton, badass rocker, but the Intercessor and the Tritonz were merely fictional projections to entertain the devil.  Didn’t he notice that all of them were archetypal horror characters from films such as the one with the guy in the hockey mask and the killer robot?  Silly Devil can’t remember the names of them (or more likely the $53,000 budget couldn’t cover mentioning them…).  Well in a flash of white light Jon Triton transforms into the oiled, feathered and studded diaper wearing Intercessor and it is fucking on.  The Devil raises his puppet arms up and down in futility and due to a complete lack of articulation.  As Satan flings foam starfish at the Adonis like avatar, Triton dutifully grabs them out of the air and clutches them to his body as he tries to sell this as a legitimate and potentially lethal attack.  He grimaces and tears the starfish from his chest before punching his foe into submission.  The end…right?  Wait there’s an extra $20 left after principle shooting and Stigg said they could shoot some menacing exteriors at his house in order to give the illusion of a forthcoming sequel (which did happen eventually, see INTERCESSOR: ANOTHER ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE). 

One of the more impressive, and probably expensive, special effects gives the Tritonz the illusion of being Americans.  The band’s van has Ontario license plate is DUCKER and under it is another plate that says “USA*1.”  Yee haw or yippikayay or something.  The cash had to go for special effects or craft services on this seven day shoot because it didn’t go towards acting.  Some choice lines from the pen of Thor follow below:

“It sounds like the scream came from down here…you’re right.  Let’s go upstairs.”
“I’m sure Phil’s not dead or anything or he would have called.”

This ain’t Shakespeare but at least the music is a hoot.  ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE is pretty much a vehicle for Jon-Mikl Thor’s brand of Canadian-Viking-Muscle Rock.  There is even a rip off of Tubular Bells playing through out and it just illustrates how much Tubular Bells rocks. Check this trippy flick out.

Synapse’s all regions release of ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE boasts a hi-def anamorphic widescreen transfer from original 35mm materials.  It has both English 5.1 Dolby and 2.0 mono sound options.  Features include a commentary with John Fasano and Jon-Mikl Thor, “Revelations of a Rock ‘N’ Roll Warrior” an interview and history of Thor, “Creating A Child-Wolf” BTS featurette, BTS footage from the set, and music videos for “Energy” and “We Live to Rock.”  The DVD also includes an brief intro by Thor.  It is available at Synapse’s site and also on Amazon.

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