This Canadian heavy metal horror film belongs to that special group of movies that are so ineptly made, that they have become cult sensations. As a testament to Rock N Roll Nightmare‘s popularity with schlock fans, it has appeared on the majority of the American bad movie sites, and the film’s notorious reputation has put it in almost the same league as esteemed bad films like Plan Nine From Outer Space, Robot Monster, and The Corpse Grinders. However, as any bad movie afficionado will tell you, these films may suck, but generally they are a pleasure to watch, and Rock N Roll Nightmare is no exception.
Rock N Roll Nightmare was made in seven days, with a paltry $53,000 budget. Canadian hair metal personality Jon Mikl Thor (of the band Thor) stars as Jon Triton, lead singer of a band called The Tritonz. After starring in Zombie Nightmare, an infamous Roger Corman film made in Quebec, Thor wrote and produced Rock N Roll Nightmare as a showcase for his musical talents, although both “wrote” and “produced” are used in their loosest senses here. Not surprisingly, the film is filled with Thor songs, and he is the focus of almost every scene.
The film begins as Jon and The Tritonz drive a custom van down a rural Ontario road. The Tritonz consist of Stiggy, the drummer with a bad Australian accent, Roger, the bassist, the guitarist Max and the only female member of the band, keyboardist Dee Dee. Along for the ride are Phil, the band’s manager, and the band’s girlfriends Randy, Gwen and Mary. After a curiously drawn out trip, the van arrives at it’s destination a barn just outside of Toronto. Why Toronto? Jon tells his bandmates that “Toronto is where it’s happening, man. The music, the entertainment, the arts…” Why a barn? Well, this is no ordinary barn, it has been converted into a 24-track recording studio, and The Tritonz are here to record a brand new album.
Wasting no time, the band goes directly in the high-tech barn decked out in their classiest hair metal outfits, including wrist bandanas(?!). There, they perform the first Thor song of our program, ” We Live to Rock.” As Thor’s heavily sequined antics fill your screen, the camera creeps along the floor giving us a POV shot of a loveable little cyclops puppet. Running around behind the band, this creature spits into Phil’s coffee mug. After the song ends, Stig’s slutty girlfriend Gwen lures Phil down to the basement and comes on to him. Instead of lovin’ though, she turns into a monster and takes a generous bite out of his shoulder. When the rest of the band notice Phil is missing, they figure he went into town for more drumsticks.
That night, with more Thor riffitude playing constantly in the background, the band retires for the night with their respective others. Roger and Mary have sex because they are newlyweds and Dee Dee visits Max in the middle of the night, but hard rockin’ Thor and his girl Randy don’t make sweet hair metal love, despite Randy’s obvious hints. Stiggy gets busy with the demon Gwen, but she insults his sexual prowess. Afterwards in the bathroom, Stiggy is killed by a cyclops puppet who appears as a heavy metal slut.
But don’t worry? Phil’s not dead, and neither is Stiggy. Rock N Roll Nightmare seemingly can’t decide what to do with the characters after they have been attacked. Depending on the needs of the scene, characters have either vanished, become demons, or are still normal. Although it’s painfully unclear, it seems like the cyclops creatures keep taking human forms to kill the band members, and occasionally replace the freshly dead rockers to kill the others. One by one, the remaining members of the band (as well as the “Mississauga Members of the Tritonz Fan Club”) are killed by costume store “scary” rubber gloves that yank them off camera. Dee Dee and Max are done in by a “wolf boy” for whom no explanation is offered.
Oblivious to the evil doings a’ transpiring, Thor finally succumbs to Randy’s randiness and they take a shower together. T& A fans hold on to your hats, because this scene features quite a bit of nudity. Thor’s nudity! Thor doesn’t realize that everyone has been turned into a zombie until later that night. As Thor pens another celebration of his bitchin’ rockitude, more cyclops puppets show up. When even they can’t get his attention by leaping at him, Randy appears and explains in a demonic voice that she is Satan, and to prove it, she turns into a laughable devil puppet in a flash of light.
In quite possibly the most unexpected plot twist of all time, Thor astounds everyone by announcing that the first 50 minutes of the film were an elaborate ruse of shadows to trick the devil into a showdown? he is actually Triton the archangel! Thor turns into the “Intercessor,” a bare chested barbarian. And they fight, or rather they imitate professional wrestling grapple holds, to the strains of Thor’s “We Accept the Challenge.” The devil throws play-doh starfish creatures at Triton, and he pretends to struggle in removing them from his oily chest. Finally he locks up with the devil and starts punching the puppet in the head. Since he is but a spindly armed puppet, and is no match for Triton’s play fighting, the devil gives up and disappears in another blaze of pyro.
Plenty of continuity errors, plot holes and some of the most amateurish special effects ever committed to film outside of a college campus make this film pretty ludicrous, but also generally enjoyable. While the movie probably seemed silly when it was released, age has not been kind to Rock N Roll Nightmare, a film quite rooted in mid-80s viking metal cheese. The saving grace of Rock N Roll Nightmare is that Thor doesn’t seem to be taking himself too seriously. On paper, what seems like a tremendous ego project probably had Thor laughing just as hard as the viewers.
Even still, this movie does occasionally seem like an extended infomercial for Thor albums, with what could be seen as several ” videos” and a steady barrage of Thor songs in the background. This even leads to a cacophonous scene where the film score and a metal ballad start playing simultaneously, resulting in complete confusion for the audience: Am I scared, or should I just rock through the tension? While this film sserves up several laughable moments, I can’t help thinking that I might have enjoyed the proceedings a little more if only I could somehow wipe Thor’s shower scene from my memory. That is the only real “rock n roll nightmare” you might get from this entertaining, low budget Canadian video thriller.