Friday, April 18, 2014 19:07

Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

Ah, bargain bin horror. How do I love thee? Well, actually, sometimes you confuse the hell out of me, but that’s by the by. Hard Rock Zombies is, by anyone’s reckoning, a bit of a wrong ‘un. It contains many of the major food groups when we’re talking exploitation film, but somehow it manages to drift along in a vaguely dreamlike way. That should be impossible. A film which glories in the fact that it has an underage heroine, whilst also introducing us to a were-gran, midgets, zombies, rednecks, heavy metal – oh, and Hitler – should be what critics tend to term ‘a roller coaster ride’. Instead, Hard Rock Zombies is a bewildering wait in line for something you never quite get. And yet, in a strange way, that oddball aimlessness is what makes it all rather watchable, even if the quizzical expression you’ll have on your face by the end will possibly cause you physical pain.

The plot here is thus: a hard rock outfit fronted by the grievously-permed Jessie (E.J. Curse, who is looking markedly better now than then!) is on the road, getting mobbed by literally three or four women at a time. LIVE THE DREAM. They’re about to take their show to a town by the name of Grand Guignol; yeah, town names in low-budget movies don’t go a bundle on being low-key. I swear this place is just down the road from Nilbog. Thing is, before they can saddle up, Jessie is warned off going to Grand Guignol by a female child with a perm. I mean, come on, Cassie (for ’tis her name) is not only playing an underage sweetheart to Jessie’s, what, 25? 30? year old character, but it’s happily referred to multiple times in the script, and the actress herself (Jennifer Coe) can’t be more than thirteen or fourteen here. We’ve got Special Registers for the types of men who flaunt their infatuations with girls this young these days! Call it a sign of the times I guess…

Anyway, Cassie’s warning isn’t heeded – far from it, because our Jessie’s a cherry-hound of the highest order and, besides, the show must go on. As for we, the audience, we’ve already seen the machinations of a batshit insane family who live in Grand Guignol, who send out their most normal family member (luckily a hot blonde straight out of a Motley Crue vid) to pick up guys which the whole family enjoy tormenting. She happens to be hitch-hiking when the band get to town; they pick her up, and she offers for them all to go and stay at their run-down mansion home, which they accept.

Not everyone is quite as welcoming, mind you. The rest of the inhabitants of the town don’t want no stinkin’ decadent rock band coming in there and seducing their youth (and actually, they’ve got a point in this case). So, where are we? Rock band are installed in house of killers, locals are on the warpath, Cassie is popping up from time to time to get chased by her ardent admirer…oh yeah, and one of the riffs Jessie is working on has the power to raise the dead. We know this because he keeps murdering the same, evidently seriously lost tarantula again and again as he practices it. So, you know, should anything happen to him at the hands of Hitler or anyone else hostile to rock and roll, playing the tape could revive him…

This is an example of a movie which is just out of kilter, unable to sustain all of the multiple threads it introduces with any sort of tension. It all feels as if it’s been put together by someone with very little idea about the music of the era, or the horror of the era, or indeed anything it cobbles together during the course of the film. I don’t want to cast aspersions upon director Krishna Shah (whose name is misspelled in the opening credits!) but perhaps this wasn’t really his area? He certainly seems to have lived and learned; there’s no evidence of any further forays into horror or genre film, and indeed most of the actors involved seem to have thrown in the towel. I imagine, once you’ve starred alongside Hitler in Disguise, there’s very little more for you to do. Saying that, there’s a certain Phil Fondacaro featured here who has gone from strength to strength…

Saying all that, Hard Rock Zombies is a worthy beer movie; it won’t matter too much if you’re asking your drinking partner to clarify what the hell you just saw as the next scene proceeds, or indeed if you ask them what the hell you just saw after the next scene. The 80s effect is in full sway throughout, and you can marvel at the hair and clothes, guffaw at the music, and wonder why Hitler might be married to a werewolf and living in Hicksville, USA. Serious film lovers need not apply. Now shush and watch your retro paedo love anthem:

2 Responses to “Hard Rock Zombies (1985)”

  1. jane says:

    Actually the actress Jennifer Coe was over 20 in this! She sure looks a lot younger! haha!

  2. Miss K says:

    You’re kidding?? Fucking hell. They must have been restricting her diet as a child!

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