Sunday, May 22, 2016

Shock 'Em Dead (Mark Freed, 1991)

Finally, a movie with the guts to expose the ugly truth behind the popularity of hair metal. I always knew the genre's inexplicable run as the music of choice for America's youth was voodoo-related. I mean, how else can you explain the fact these bands sold millions of albums? Guitars and drums? Oh, how boring. Of course, I'm being somewhat facetious. But deep down, you have to wonder, what if the reason so many L.A. hair metal bands became so popular back in the 1980s/pre-Nevermind early 1990s was because their members had made a demonic deal with a Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues? Personally, I could care less about hair metal and why it was so popular, as Shock 'Em Dead is probably one of the most stocking top friendly movies I've ever seen. And we're not talking bland nylons up in this joint, we're talking statement hose, yo. What's "statement hose," you ask? Statement hose is hosiery that makes a motherfuckin' statement, and the hose attached to the legs of the leggy floozies assigned to demonic rock star Angel Martin do just that... make a motherfuckin' statement. I know what you're thinking to yourself, how do I get "assigned" a trio of statement hose-wearing leggy floozies? Well, the first thing you have to do is run into a Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues. Granted, she doesn't have to have "mobility Issues," but it doesn't hurt. What I mean is, you have a better chance of running into a Voodoo Woman if she has mobility issues. It's simple physics. And from the looks of things, the best place to run into a Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues is outside Pizza Playhouse.

It should be noted that the Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues (Tyger Sodipe) in this film can grant you anything your heart desires. But seeing that this film takes place entirely in Hollywood, the majority of the Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues' "clients" are wannabe rock stars. Which, again, explains why L.A. was crawling with so many grown men in leather pants during that particular period in history.

Now, I don't mean to imply that grown men in leather pants is a bad thing. It's just that... Actually, uh... I'm sorry, but the image of Stephen Quadros (the scarecrow from Dr. Caligari) sitting on the couch in that sleazy record exec's office in a pair of leather pants just popped into my head. And, I have to say, what a glorious image it is.

In fact, if I was in charge of men's fashion, I would force everyone to dress the way Stephen Quadros does after the Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues makes his dream of becoming a rock star come true. I liked how his look combined classic L.A. hard rock stylings with traditional Gothic fashion.

To put it another way: Type O Negative? More like, Type O Positive, as am I positively in love with Stephen Quadros' gothic doom metal attire in this movie. Gorgeous.

And to think, before he met the Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues, he was just a lowly pizza chef without big hair who lived in a rundown trailer park. 

Speaking of being without big hair, what's up with Traci Lords' hair in this movie? I mean, why isn't it big like her co-stars? At first I was annoyed. Then it dawned on me. Not only is Traci Lords' hair awesome, it's precise as fuck.

Look at her bangs, goddamn it! Have you ever seen anything so meticulously crafted? I don't know who did Traci's hair, but the fact they bucked the big hair trend that was literally polluting the atmosphere in 1991 needs to be recognized (I love the smell of Aqua Net in the morning...). And since I'm only one here at the moment, it's up to me to get the word out about Traci Lords' hair in Shock 'Em Dead.

As for Traci's wardrobe. While it's a tad on the conservative side, especially when compared to Stephen Quadros' assigned leggy floozies and even the Jonny Crack (Markus Grupa), the flamboyant soon to be ex-lead singer of Spastique Kolon, I did like how she mixed vests and jeans with old Hollywood glamour. If I had to pick two people who clearly inspired her looks in this movie, I'd have to say, Debbie Gibson and Veronica Lake.

In case you didn't know, my favourite cover version of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" is by The Fibonaccis. But if I had to choose a second favourite, it would have to be the one by Spastique Kolon that opens Shock 'Em Dead. While it's nothing all that special musically (the guitar work is weak), the sheer enthusiasm of their aggressively campy frontman, Jonny Crack, is hard to ignore.

Seriously, how do you ignore a man in a teal crop-top?

The reason, by the way, that guitar work is weak on their "Purple Haze" cover is because Spastique Kolon are in the process of auditioning a new guitar player at their rehearsal space. And what we hear as the film gets underway is another in a long line of terrible musicians.

Since the band have an important show tomorrow, the band, desperate to fill the position, let a dorky pizza chef named Martin (Stephen Quadros) audition. To no-one's surprise, Martin is awful, and is openly mocked by Jonny, who usually let's the auditionees down easy.

Unable to get his job back at Pizza Playhouse (he quit in order to go to the audition), Martin decides to consult the mysterious Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues. Asking him what he wants, Martin tells the Voodoo Woman with Mobility Issues that he wants to be "the greatest rock star in the world." And, after a brief ritual and a freaky dream sequence (a green-eyed Michael Angelo Batio is shown at one point playing a double-guitar in a graveyard), Martin wakes up with big hair in a mansion that contains three leggy floozies who are there to do his bidding.

Did I mention that Martin's leggy floozies are never not in lingerie? No? Hmm, that was stupid of me. Anyway, greeted at first by Michelle (Karen Russell), Martin eventually meets Monique (Laurel Wiley) and Marilyn (Gina Parks), and is told that he can have anything his heart desires. Well, anything but food. I'll explain that in a minute (if there's time). In the meantime, Martin, who now calls himself "Angel Martin," wastes no time heading down to Spastique Kolon's rehearsal space (with his leggy floozies in tow) to show off his newly acquired talent. Of course, the members of Spastique Kolon, including the aforementioned Jonny, their bass player Greg (Tim Moffett), drummer Dustin (Christopher Maleki), keyboardist Izzy (David Homb) and manager Lindsay Roberts (Traci Lords) have no idea that Angel Martin is the pizza guy who auditioned earlier. Nevertheless, despite giving Jonny plenty of attitude (this scene reminded me of the interplay between Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus), the band hire Angel on the spot.

To celebrate, Angel invites the band over to party at his mansion. While this might seem like a nice gesture on his part, what Angel really wants is to put the moves on Lindsay. Unfortunately, just as the party is about to get underway, Angel learns that his new life as a rock star comes with a price. And one of the biggest is that he has to kill (using special daggers) in order to survive (something about absorbing their souls through their stab wounds). Now, you would think that learning that he's a soulless rock demon would put a damper on his love life. But it doesn't. If anything, Angel seems to be more determined than ever to woo Lindsay away from Greg the bass player.

Will the now demonic Angel be able to shred his way into Lindsay's heart? How do the leggy floozies feel about Angel's obsession with Lindsay? Aren't they enough for him? Normally, I would say that the leggy floozies have a point. But you've got to remember, Lindsay is played by Traci Lords, who, in this film, is at the height of her post-porn foxiness.

Oh, and get this, I recently learned that Linda Blair was the first choice to play Lindsay, but her manager at the time was trying to get her non-horror roles, so, he or she passed on it. Sure, Traci Lords is amazing. But imagine Linda Blair as Lindsay. Dang, that would have been sweet.

All right, where was I? Oh, yeah, the spurned leggy floozies. Don't feel too bad about the leggy floozies. They seem content to serve their metal master, especially Marilyn, who performs exemplary work during the film's epic finale. And she does so while wearing lingerie.

It's true, I'm not the biggest fan of hair metal (a.k.a. glam metal), but as far as hair metal fashion goes, you're not going to find a more appealing aesthetic. And if wasn't for that aesthetic, I don't think this film would be as beloved as it is. I'm not kidding around, the way the Hollywood hair metal aesthetic, which, unlike other metal scenes, manages to include punk (Angel Martin wears a T.S.O.L. t-shirt at one point), goth (the outfit Angel wears to the office of the record company his band signs with practically screams Andrew Eldritch... well, the leather pants do) and new wave (the leggy floozies wear radioactive lingerie-esque lingerie) styles is the key to its success. And, of course, it's the key to this film's overall success.

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