Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (John Fasano, 1987)

After sheathing my shapely legs in the most crotch-confining pair of black jeans I could find, I hopped on the subway and made my way over to the Bloor Cinema. And what pray tell did I do when I got there, you ask? Taking a seat near the front of the theatre, I partook in a sacred ritual that every Canadian must perform at least once during their lifetime. And that is: Attend a raucous screening of the abhorrently righteous Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (a.k.a. The Edge of Hell). I could it was going to be an interesting evening the moment I arrived, as the crowd outside the theatre had a slight quirkiness about them (a fluttering mixture of trucker-cap-wearing hipsters, loosely garbed neo-goths, breast-feeding nihilists and a dizzying collection of tight-panted degenerates). However, there was nothing quirky about their goal. They were there to bask in the shimmering light of Canadian metal legend Jon-Mikl Thor: Slayer of transdimensional demons and the self-appointed God of Rock. Yeah, that's right, Thor himself was in attendance to introduce the film and participate in a gnarly Q and A afterwards. A taste: "Thor, what does it feel like to rule so hard?" (an actual question asked by a diapered nihilist sitting behind me). The cinematic equivalent of a bejewelled chalice filled to the brim with freshly-squeezed headbanger sweat, the film is so inept, so disjointed, that it somehow manages to turn something that appears to be a steaming pile of recently defecated waste matter into something that resembles a mind-blowing piece of art–you know, the kind where much back arching and unpleasantness involving studded wristbands transpires.
To the surprise of virtually no-one, the film opens with the ridiculous sight of a stove demon attacking a clean shaven man in his kitchen. But the film soon mutates into a Abbas Kiarostami-esque fable about a metalhead's journeying in a white van (license plate: DUCKER), as first-time director John Fasano gleefully tests our tolerance for watching a white van by shooting the lumbering vehicle from every angle imaginable (each camera angle change garnered thunderous applause from the overly sarcastic audience). Oh, and to keep our ears entertained, a repetitious synthesizer-groove throbs and pulsates on the soundtrack.
This driving sequence is about ten minutes long and is an excellent indicator of the unholy brand of awesomeness that is yet to come.
When the glorified van commercial is finally over, John Triton (Jon-Mikl Thor) and the rest of his band, the aptly named Triton–Stig (Jim Cirile) on drums, Roger Eburt (Frank Dietz) on bass, Max (David Lane) on guitar, and the luminous and leggy Dee Dee (Denise Decandia) on keyboards–arrive at their destination: an isolated farmhouse just outside of Toronto; a city that, according to John Triton, is where it's at in terms of music, film and the arts.
Various girlfriends and spouses have also made the trip up north. And they include: the amourous Randy (Teresa Simpson), John Triton's gal, the conservative Mary Eburt (Liane Abel Dietz), Mrs. Roger Eburt, and the wonderfully disagreeable Lou Anne (Jillian Peri), Stig's girlfriend. 
If you're wondering who Max and Dee Dee brought along with them. Wonder no further. Judging by the way they were constantly making goo goo eyes at one another when they arrive, it's obvious that Max and Dee Dee have strong feelings for one another. You mean to say they brought each other? How cute.
The idea is to rehearse, cut a few tracks and consume as much rotisserie chicken as humanly possible. However, things start to get weird when their wacky manager, Phil (Adam Fried), goes missing while looking for drumsticks (actual drumsticks, the kind you use to play drums with). And before you can wail, "We live to rock!" in your shrillest, most heavy metal-friendly voice, the mighty John Triton finds himself battling an army of mischievous one-eyed penis monsters in a dimly lit basement in Mississauga Markham, Ontario while wearing a metal underwear.
On top of fighting one-eyed penis monsters, John Triton must contend with a not-so deadly armada of rubber starfishes, which are being thrown at him by a gangly-looking Satan; you might know him better as "Beelzebub." But not to worry, John Triton laughs in the face of this pointy threat and rips them apart, exposing a red gelatinous substance.
The fight between John Triton and Satan is an epic struggle that highlights the importance of maintaining a strict exercise regiment. Because when the prince of darkness challenges you to a duel (and, believe me, he most certainly will), you want to look your very best when humanity calls upon you to slip on an oversize silver codpiece and deliver Satan an overcooked truckload of creamy humiliation.
I won't lie, I've always been fascinated by metal chicks. The leather jackets with the frays, the Amber Lynn hair (ca. 1985), and the animal print stretchy pants tucked into well-worn pairs of ugg boots. Well, this fascination is nourished beyond recognition in Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare; as I was given not five, but nine metal chicks to rejoice in.
A brief yet agonizingly thorough tribute to the ladies of Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare, a.k.a. The Edge of Hell:
Hold on, nine metal chicks?!? Don't you mean four? The numbers don't add up. Seriously, where do you get nine from? And even four is pushing it, as Mary Eburt isn't what I'd call your typical metal chick. Doesn't that make her even more metal? Whatever.
When Cindy Connelly (Carrie Schiffer), president of the Triton Fan Club, and the rest of the fan club (Tralle O'Farrell, Lara Daans, and Nancy Bush) show up at the farmhouse unannounced, you'll agree with my math.
In case you were wondering, the confused brunette with the red fingerless gloves is my favourite member of the Triton Fan Club.
While in the bathroom, Stig comes face-to-face with Rusty Hamilton, a woman who oozes metal. According to the credits, she plays the "Seductress." And that's good enough for me.
It's obvious to anyone with half a brain that Lou Anne is jealous of Roger and Mary's love; you can see it every time she looks at them. This, however, does not dampen her fabulousness one bit, as Jillian Peri manages to instill her character with a quiet dignity.
Frustrated that she can't get John Triton to notice her, Randy patiently waits for the right moment to flash her tits him. Will this seemly desperate act get Randy any closer to the ripe dicking she deserves? Only time will tell.
The metal chick with the most credibility has got to be Dee Dee. It's simple, really. She's in a heavy metal band. If that weren't enough, she's got the bitchenest hair and the tightest wardrobe.


  1. This film is such a dream come true. I knew I was in love before they even entered the house, when Thor began extolling the virtues of Canada ("the ARrrtsss"). John Fasano's BLACK ROSES is equally triumphant.

  2. Black Roses, eh? I'll have to put that sucker on my radar.

    The audience I saw RNRN with loved the "the ARrrtsss" line. But then again, they loved every line.

  3. Kind a like Spinal Tap done by Ed Wood. I loved every minute of it.

  4. Thanks! I made this film on half a shoestring! The monsters were made in my basement. There was no rehearsing, clearly. The music & the fun monsters have kept this film alive for 35 years! Same team made Black Roses, RRNM, The Jitters, Zombie Nightmare. We went on to bigger things-but not necessarily better. These films were fun.
    I’ve got a RRNM page on FB, but it’s for all our old films.
    Join. This was a nice review, so thanks!
    Cynthia Cirile
    We live to Rock 🪨