When I close my bloodshot eyes, the brain steps into gear, the sparking volts of electricity shooting into the deepest recesses of my gray matter. It’s at these almost pristine moments of clarity that I can smell the fresh popcorn and new carpeting. It seems like a million years ago that I stepped onto the hallowed ground of the first true video superstore. This was 1988, years before there was a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video lurking on every corner, of every intersection, of every village and town from here to Timbuktu. It was only a few short years before the dim niche of the mom and pop video shop would begin to feel the fatal bite of mass-market video chains. I’ll never forget the day, Prime Time Video has opened its doors, and with it they brought an opening weekend, rent-a-thon. Twenty-Five cents was all that was needed to procure a title from their vast library. It was a matter of only moments before my best friend and I strolled happily into the suburban white boys version of Mecca, cash in hand, destined to poison our hardly impressionable minds with the filth and fury of more, more, gore, gore.
As we feverantly perused the glistening shelves of Full Moon extravaganzas and video nasties, we set our sights on a film that seem destined to sear itself into our black souls forever – Rock n’ Roll Nightmare. The coverbox art was screaming into our brains at a pitch that would shatter glass. This was the definitive horror film melding all of our twisted pubescent interests into ninety bone crunching, earth shattering minutes. There were satanic harbingers, bloody beasts, buxom blonds and sonic blasts of molten metal music. Our world would never be the same again.
The plot, as if anyone in their right mind cares, follows a hot new heavy metal group – The Tritonz, who are taking a Canadian sabbatical to work on new material for their forthcoming album. The bands manager has decided to hold the group up in a reclusive farmhouse, where the distractions of the modern world will not interfere with the bands creative juices. Now, I don’t know about physical and mental distractions, but the carnal pleasures are front and center for the bulk of the film, taking appropriate shape as the bands, girlfriends, wives and random hangers on provide all the sexual delights that their positions demand.
After a night of drinking and debauchery, the Tritonz begin work on their new project. But wasting no time, the band members and their ladies quickly are picked off by a host of demons hellbent on resurrecting their dark lord. What comes next is a twist of inconceivable proportions, and one of the signature events that has lead Rock n’ Roll Nightmare from the misery of b-movie cheese to the majesty of unrivaled cult classic.
Synapse films has pulled out all of the stops to deliver a hard rockin’ special edition of Director John Fasano and Actor, Screenwriter and heavy metal impresario Jon-Mikl Thor’s ode to all things great about cock rocking carnage. The disc includes an all-new introduction to the film from Thor, as well as a raucous audio commentary. The disc also has two featurettes comprised of Fasano’s home videos, including a long look at the process of creating some of the films many FX sequences. Thor also takes us on a tour of his current career as well as offering up personal insights on shooting the film. Interestingly, he makes no mention of his 2005 shot-on-video sequel Intercessor: Another Rock n’ Roll Nightmare. The disc is rounded out with two signature music videos for “Energy” and “We Live to Rock” both tracks feature Thor and The Tritonz, which I should point out were not Thor’s true backing band but actors hired for the purpose of shooting the film. So the band may not be real, but the soundtrack provided by Thor is everything you have come to expect from this unholy union of rock and shock.
I can tell you that I felt more than a bit of nostalgia when I hear the rumor that the legendary Rock n’ Roll Nightmare was making its way back to the video universe nearly 20 years after if first shook the halls of horrordom. But I don’t think I could have ever imagined a release that showered the film with the cheeky reverence it deserved. But ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, that mission was accomplished the moment that the powers that be decided to include the music videos.
It’s been 18 years since I first sat down to watch Rock n’ Roll Nightmare and like Jon-Mikl Thor the near mythic man at the center of the film, much life has passed by, yet despite all the inevitable changes, very little alteration has occurred. My MySpace page still rocks out to a Poison tune, and Thor still travels the world, breaking down walls with his god-like stage presence. We’re both a little bigger and our hair is a little smaller, but in the end, heavy metal horror, still rules our lives.
After all of that, what’s left to say about the release of Rock n’ Roll Nightmare… Ok Synapse, you stepped up to the plate and shocked me raw, now how about getting a complimentary release of Black Roses to go along with it.