A hard rock band travels to the tiny and remote town of Grand Guignol to perform. Peopled by hicks, rubes, werewolves, murderous dwarves, sex perverts, and Hitler, the town is a strange place but that doesn’t stop the band’s lead singer from falling in love with a local girl named Cassie. After Nazi sex perverts kill the band to satisfy their lusts, Cassie calls the rockers back from the grave to save her, the town, and maybe the world
Letâs pretend, for just a moment, that Hard Rock Zombies was a definitive moment in horror history. Letâs pretend that the film isnât popular today because it was just misunderstood, that the philosophies that it expounds upon are so avant garde and political that there were people who just werenât ready to accept it back in the â80s. The focus on Hitler and Nazism and zombies attracted to loud music is a statement, isnât it, about government interference of free speech and the Satanic connotations of heavy metal?
In reality, probably not. Hard Rock Zombies doesnât seem like it has a whole lot going on in its brain, as the zombies in the film can attest – theyâre âallergicâ to brains or something like that. Instead, the filmâs really about how much tight spandex and hairspray a film can pack into a 90-minute running time, and how long viewers will sit through entire songs of repetitious rock ballads. I can tell you that, if I didnât have to review Hard Rock Zombies, I would have shut it off long before the zombie lead singer belts out a love song for his living mistress Cassie.
Thatâs because Hard Rock Zombies is the kind of movie that you donât want on your resume, a film that can really kill your career if you donât make a comeback. Like Tromaâs equally terrible Redneck Zombies, this movie from director Krishna Shah (with his name spelled wrong in the credits) takes a terrible premise and runs with it for over an hour and a half. Yes, thatâs right – if you thought that Hard Rock Zombies would be a short affair, a get-in-and-get-out film, youâre damn wrong: the horror comedy winds its way through various stages of really, really strange scenes before finally and mercifully ending with a whammy bar snarl.
If one good thing came out of the film, itâs that Phil Fondacaro got an early start here as the midget Mickey, who hangs out with a creepy-looking dwarf guy with a boiled face. Fondacaro doesnât show up much, and he doesnât even use the same name in the credits, so perhaps he was as ashamed with Hard Rock Zombies as Iâm sure rocker E.J. Curse was.
Hereâs the thing – the film never takes itself very seriously, which is good, because thereâs nothing about it that anyone could ever take seriously. But thereâs no relevant theme to the film at all, because Shah jumps all over the place; the town of Grand Guignol (very subtle) has werewolves and Nazis and Hitler and zombies and demons, all at once, and itâs so oddball and wacky that itâs tough to concentrate on the real plot of the story.
The zombies come into play about halfway through, after the werewolves and Nazis kill all of the band members. Those dudes come back from the dead, maybe because of some song that lead bassist Jessie was playing before he died, and then all of the townspeople turn into zombies. Along for the ride is Elsa (Lisa Toothman), a killer girl who likes to dance in the streets in spandex and do aerobics during rock concerts.
Did I mention that all of the band members do a macarena-style dance as they kill people?
Itâs hard to write all this out as an explanation for what youâll see in Hard Rock Zombies. Thereâs all of this and more, and you can expect to be confused and bored throughout. If youâre drunk or high or a huge fan of â80s rock, you might feel transported back to a time when people were judged by the length and height of their hair, when dancing meant doing a spider walk down the street in what some people might consider pajamas, or when people snapped their fingers to hard-hitting âmetal.â
For those who arenât on some sort of hallucinogenic drug, itâs going to be pretty hard to get through all of the musical numbers and montages. Yet Hard Rock Zombies does efficiently make a mockery of Hitler and his Nazi regime – I guess thatâs a positive thing, right?
Hard Rock Zombies (1985)