Horror Movies and Heavy Metal: Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare
There is nothing inherently wrong with making a low-budget horror movie. There is something wrong with making a low-budget horror movie when the same person writes, produces, provides the music, and acts in the lead role.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (originally titled The Edge of Hell) is a 1987 horror movie starring Jon Mikl Thor (Zombie Nightmare, 80’s metal band Thor) as John Triton, lead singer of the band Triton. Triton, along with their girlfriends and manager, have driven out to an isolated barn house to record new music. Unbeknownst to them, a family was mysteriously murdered several years before by an evil force. After a mediocre recording session, various monsters begin appearing in the house. One by one, the band becomes possessed by the evil presence and their personalities start to change. On the bright side, the band sounds better than ever. Unfortunately, the good times end as everyone in the house disappears, leaving John as the sole member still alive. The evil spirit finally reveals it’s true form, that of the Devil himself! How will John be able to defeat the Prince of Darkness?
Calling Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare a vanity project for Jon Mikl Thor doesn’t do the term justice. He’s the writer, producer, and lead acting role. To the surprise of no one, Thor is not good at all three of these things. The movie cost a little over $50,000 to make, a paltry sum for a horror movie that includes multiple monsters. You may be surprised to find out that the movie took a week to film. If I had to guess, I would’ve said it took a solid afternoon.
In terms of acting, you have your standard c-level horror movie crappiness. The director purportedly hired some of his friends to act and I completely believe that. Lines are delivered poorly, usually with a lack of proper emotion or projection. I think Thor knew he wasn’t much of an actor, because despite being the hero of the movie, he actually isn’t in it all that much. There are times throughout the movie where the dialogue is drowned out by music.
Speaking of music, Thor manages to cram in as much of his as possible. If we’re being honest, it’s not that bad. It straddles the line between hair metal and late 70’s cock rock. I’m not a fan of either genre, but the music manages to be tolerable, bordering on enjoyable at times. Probably because it distracts from the poor acting and lack of story. Beyond the metal music, Rock N Roll Nightmare also injects cheap Casio keyboard hits that would make Varg Vikernes nether regions tingle like the first time he read Mein Kampf. The cheap keyboard music pops up at random times throughout the movie and consistently made me laugh. Probably not what they were going for.
On top of all that, Thor is the main image on the poster. He beats out the Devil for top billing! He’s practically saying “Out of the way, Beezlebro, I gotta flex these pecs! You may bring the lightning, but I’ve got the thunder! Drink it in! UGGGHHHHH!” To be fair, when you’re a former bodybuilder that writes like Helen Keller after a night of heavy drinking, you might as well pose as much as possible. And pose he does. The final battle between John and the Devil is a chance for Thor to take off his shirt, put on some sort of chain-mail loincloth and do his best Mr. USA poses. Think I’m kidding? Look at this picture:
With all of these things out of the way, what about the story? Well, there isn’t much story. There really isn’t much build or anticipation. Things just kind of happen and then we move on. The demons/monsters are Halloween store surplus. The Devil is downright adorable. And this guy? Subtlely was thrown out of the window into a dump truck filled with rat tracks. It’s literally a one-eyed penis-shaped monster. What else can you say? I mean, besides “What in the throbbing purple fuck?!”
I won’t spoil the big twist, but it comes out of nowhere and makes very, very little sense. It actually causes more plotholes than fills them in. It does lead to one of the best fight scenes since Roddy Piper vs. Keith Davis in “They Live”. It’s less a find and more of a “John makes funny faces while holding the arms of the paper mache Devil. And it goes on for 10 minutes!
Rock N Roll Nightmare is a funhouse mirror in Jon Mikl Thor’s world where he is the best at everything. Really, though, can you be annoyed by a movie this goofy and inept? Yeah, you can. With a group of friends Rock N Roll Nightmare can be a good time. It’s poorly acted, poorly written, and downright silly. It’s absolutely fun to laugh at and can be enjoyable if treated as such. But as a genuine horror movie? It’s woefully and hysterically bad. And may you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re flexing.