Horror Movies and Heavy Metal: Suck
This movie is totally SFW. I promise.
Being in a touring band is incredibly hard. You love what you do, but sometimes what you do doesn’t love you back. You travel for hundreds of miles just hoping that there will be enough paying people there just to get you to your next destination where the hoping begins again. Cramped spaces, tight quarters, shifty promoters and bookers, questionable food, and venue bathrooms. You hear all sorts of horror road stories, from the smallest bands playing in basements in exchange for food and a place to sleep all the way up to national acts. It is all done in an effort to have their music head and enjoyed. With that comes fame, fortune, and stardom. Some would sell their soul to the devil in exchange for all of that and a few movies have delved into that idea. What if that exchange took place with another mythical monster?
Suck is a 2009 horror comedy written, directed, and starring Rob Stefaniuk (Superstar, Phil The Alien) as Joey Winner, the singer/guitarist for down-on-their-luck rock band The Winners. Joined by his bassist ex-girlfriend Jennifer (Jessica Paré, Mad Men, Brooklyn), guitarist Tyler (Paul Antony, Blade:Trinity, iZombie), drummer Sam (Mike Lobel, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Really Me), and roadie Hugo (Chris Ratz, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Tracey Fragments), The Winners bounce from terrible gig to terrible gig. Their alcoholic manager Jeff (Dave Foley, Kids In The Hall, Dr. Ken) is no help and a brutally frank assessment of his situation from an eerie Bartender (Alice Cooper) forces Joey to question The Winners future. At their show in Montreal, Jennifer meets a mysterious stranger known only as Queenie (Dimitri Coats from Burning Brides) and follows him back to his house. It turns out that Queenie is a vampire and transforms Jennifer into one herself. She rejoins the band the next day, much paler than she was the night before and enlists roadie Hugo to help procure her victims. The change serves as a catalyst for the band as her vampiric abilities draw in more and more fans. Soon, The Winners are being played on every rock station in the country. Emboldended by their new fame, Tyler and Sam also become vampires. Meanwhile, the band is being stalked by vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange, The Artist) who is looking to avenge his wife’s death at the hands of Queenie. Will Joey help Van Helsing kill Queenie to help turn Jennifer and his band back into humans or will he succumb to their lure of fame and become a vampire as well? What happens when you finally get everything you want at a terrible price? And how is that weird Bartender involved in all of this?
Suck is a very fun and enjoyable movie. Yes, it is just as weird for me to type that as it is for you to read it. It is well-written, smart, and genuinely funny. Suck mixes in a healthy amount of satire, self-deferential jokes, and references to iconic rock albums. The acting is good all around with everyone playing their parts well. The actors who portray The Winners play off each other well and no one really feels out of place. Malcolm McDowell is his usual delightful self and the musician cameos are all a lot of fun.
Calling Suck a horror movie is a bit of a stretch. It is not really meant to scare, though there are a few scenes that may unsettle those that don’t typically enjoy horror movies. Suck does manage to blend the world of horror and rock together with clever bits and references. For example, at one point the Winners are forced to sleep in a hearse which doubles as their tour van. Later, the band literally feasts on a groupie. It is things like this that are subtle, but so subtle that you miss it. Of course, the movie’s goal isn’t to scare, but to make us laugh. The absurdities of the rock and roll life are abundant and Suck does an able job of both pointing them out and making them even more ridiculous.
It is actually a bit of a shock that more people don’t know about this movie. Beyond being well-written and entertaining, the movie boasts a whole lot of well-known musicians. Other than Alice Cooper and Dimitri from Burning Brides, the movie also has Iggy Pop as the band’s producer, Henry Rollins as obnoxious radio host Rockin Roger, Rush’s Alex Lifeson as a border agent, and Moby as meat-loving over-the-top frontman Beef Bellows of the band Secretaries of Steak. Suck was part of the SXSW film festival and received positive press from places like Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, the movie’s popularity never grew from those moments. I can’t really figure out why it hasn’t picked up more steam as it definitely deserves at least a small cult status. Maybe the name is too generic or it got swept up in the last gasp of all those terrible mid-to-late 00’s spoof movies known as “Vampires Suck!” Not being widely released in theaters probably didn’t help either.
Suck is a fun movie that will appeal to musicians, rock fans, horror fans, and people who like a good reference. The soundtrack is solid, the special effects are good, and a healthy budget helps give the movie a realistic, yet sleek look. There are plenty of genuinely funny moments in the movie (seriously, Alex Lifeson, Moby and Henry Rollins are all great) that will elicit at least a few laughs from even the hardest of hearts. Do yourself a favor and seek this movie out. Just, um, make sure your privacy settings are working when you Google “Suck movie”.
Watch the trailer below. You can get the movie on DVD and through Youtube.