If you need a dose of immature potty humor and ’80s metal nostalgia, or if you don’t, check out my story “Not With a Bang, But a Squeaker,” finally published in fully unexpurgated form at the beautifully designed Schlock Magazine‘s Apocalypse issue.

They got Marco Attard to draw a stunning tableaux of our four heroes and their dark lord before they embark on the metalest armageddon ever. Meet Carl, Arf, Eddie and The Incredible Hersch as they bargain with the devil himself to become The Four Horsemen, which they only know about from the song on Metallica’s first album.

And check out the whole issue, they did a great job…

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

so metal

Glenn Danzig buying kitty litter. For his fucking metal kitty cats.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Occupation: Viking! Severed Ways

I had planned this Viking project many months before finally renting Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America. I heard it was about Vikings vs. American Indians, and was set to metal. I though it would be something like Pathfinder (full review) only less stupid. It was much less stupid, but it was also less entertaining. My alternate title for it would be The Blairviking Poopwitch Project.

It too recreates the meeting of Vikings and Native Americans (called Skraelings here) in 1007 A.D., only this time the Vikings flee, riddled with arrows by a force with superior numbers and a proclivity for fighting in choked forests instead of farm villages. Two men are left behind, and decide to make their way north to a settlement, through enemy territory. At first, the slow camerawork and over-saturated colors reminded me of a parody of Terence Malick, and I was very patient with it. It has a documentary feel in parts, and is entirely in Norse with subtitles.

The colors, children! The colors!

A short time later, we get to watch him take a dump in the woods, as graphic as Pink Flamingos without any of the shock humor, and wipe with leaves. At first, I thought, alright. It’s a survival picture; we never get to see the mundane and boring stuff in movies about survival. This could be interesting, in a primitive survival sort of way. They spear some fish, we watch them cook on hot rocks by the fire, and thankfully they make fire a lot quicker than Tom Hanks in Cast Away. And then, while they are cutting firewood, metal starts playing and one of the Vikings starts headbanging.
Now, I love me some Scandinavian metal. Dimmu Borgir, Moonsorrow, drone like Sunn O))) and folk like Korpiklaani. And I applaud the inclusion of Dimmu Borgir on the soundtrack. But until now the tone has been utterly different. A few hours later they see some monks, attack them because hey, we’re Vikings, and burn the only shelter they’ve found. Milky explained it best: Why are they burning the church down? Because metal is playing. The rest of the story plays out with helpful title cards like “Separation,” so you know they’ll get separated. One guy gets captured by “Skraelings,” and a woman ties him up and hops on his Viking sword. No, you don’t see anything.
I liked arty films better when it meant gleeful nudity, instead of a guy taking a dump in the woods. Will our boring Viking comrades find each other? Can they escape the wilderness? Do American Indians see in weird tunnel vision, as the cinematographer would have us believe? You’ll never know unless you rent this. For Odin’s sake, don’t buy it. Even if you’re a freak with a Viking poopfetish, I’m sure you can find it online. I wanted to like this, but it’s a tedious and pretentious mess. The idea and the concept are pretty cool- even dubbing the entire thing in Norse- but the characters never manage to evoke a personality, and the pointless plot is predictable and so sparse that its running time is mostly filled with shaky footage of a guy lugging a camera around in the woods. And filming poop.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America on Netflix

All reviews in the Occupation: Viking project

Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me some heavy metal to eat!

Trick or Treat is the king of the Heavy Metal Horror movies of the ’80s. It’s not the scariest, nor does it have the best music, or the best monster make-up, but it has Ozzy and Gene Simmons, so it wins by default.
I’ve wanted to see this movie for years. Like the infamous Black Roses, where Vincent Pastorelli gets eaten by a wall speaker, Trick or Treat was infamous for Ozzy, Gene, and a scene where a girl gets raped by a demon in a car parked on lover’s lane. That scene turned out to be sillier than scary. I mean, after the tree rape from The Evil Dead, the bar is set pretty high on the disturb-o-meter for this sort of thing. But nothing brings back the mid-late ’80s like reminiscing about when Al Gore’s wife colluded with the religious right to protect children from “porn rock,” leading to some of the most hilarious Senate hearings ever recorded.
But the movies took a different tack; they went for the idea that maybe our heavy metal bands were demons sent to possess and kill us. Trick or Treat does even better. It begins with loser metal kid Eddie Weinbauer getting teased and bullied in school by the jocks, for well, being the only metal head. They prank him into running naked into the gym while the girls are playing volleyball, and for a moment I thought the story was going to be good and disturbing in a Stephen King sort of way, because he looks really pitiful as he squirms belly first back into the locker room. But no, it quickly reverts to exactly what you’d expect from this kind of picture.
And that’s not bad. Movies are all about expectations; sometimes we’re joyfully surprised. This isn’t one of those times, but if you want to see a demonic heavy metal singer return from the dead, it certainly delivers. Weinbauer’s idol is Sammi Curr, a hair metal douche who testifies before congress that if they try to censor him, “we will take you down!!!” It was a cute nod to the PMRC circus that Tipper created, which eventually led to those “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics” stickers on certain CDs. Shortly thereafter, Sammi dies in a hotel fire, and Eddie is crushed. He thinks about suicide, but instead visits his one metal buddy, the DJ named Nuke- played by Gene Simmons. Nuke gives him a tape that has Sammi’s latest song on it.
At home, Eddie plays Sammi’s new record over and over, until the backmasked track summons his evil spirit back from the grave! First it seems like nothing much. When the jocks try to get revenge for Eddie leading them on a wild chase through school that ends with them spraying the faculty lunch room with a fire extinguisher, the metal shop comes alive (heh, get it? METAL shop?) and threatens to drive a spike through Lead Jock Douche’s eyeball. But Eddie’s a pussy, and calls off his metal minions. But soon, Sammi’s spirit has a mind of its own, and wants to get his evil mix tape played on the radio, so he can… I dunno, come out of your radio and look like the undead member of Motley Crue? Sammi doesn’t really do much when he manifests his power except zap a few people into dust and ’80s clothing.
The one girl who takes pity on Eddie gets demon raped into a coma by Sammi, after he lends her that tape before knowing its power. Sinister stink lines ooze out of the stereo and seduce her, taking off her clothes for our amusement, and then solidify into a Satanic Sammi slug monster that slips her the supernatural salami. It wouldn’t be a heavy metal horror movie without the boobies, and it manages to jam every ’80s fear about the music- suicide, porn lyrics, backwards tracks, and Satanism- into one package. So while the story flops all over the place, unsure whether Eddie Weinbauer should be a villain bent on revenge or a sympathetic dork turned hero, it is a lot of fun for fans.
Part of it is worth it just to see Ozzy with his hair neatly parted, playing the part of a smarmy religious figure attacking his own music, and Gene Simmons playing a DJ. They have small roles, however, and evil Sammy gets defeated by a toilet at one point. He’s not really that scary, doesn’t have any cheesy lines like in latter-day Freddy Krueger movies that might make him better company if he’s not going to be frightening. No such luck. It also doesn’t help that our hero is Marc Price, “Skippy” from Family Ties. He’s decent enough, but he’s no Steven Dorff in The Gate!
Trick or Treat is decent fun for metal fans, with music by Fast Eddie from Motorhead and Dave King of Flogging Molly. It’s sadly lacking in gore, as the demonic singer’s power mostly consists of zapping people with electricity and making them turn to dust. Nowadays it’s most worth watching for the cameos, which also includes Glen Morgan- director of Final Destination– as Eddie’s nerdy pal and only friend. It’s pretty obvious why he went into directing, but he’s better than most of the cast!

Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Could it be remade today? only if hair metal returns…
Quotability Rating: low
Cheese Factor: Motorheadcheese
High Points: Cameos
Low Point: lame villain
Gratuitous Boobies: one scene, but they are nice 


Black Roses

I watched Freddy Got Fingered right before this. It is generally considered one of the worst major releases ever made. I’ve never gotten Tom Green’s humor, either. But that atrocity of a movie was more watchable than Black Roses, the story of a demonic heavy metal band that comes to a small town, turns teacher’s pet students into parent-slaughtering zombies.
Sometimes I really stretch the envelope with ’80s trash, sticking in a perfectly good classic, but this is really worthy of the title. It has the production quality and idiotic script of Troll 2 without the tongue in cheek humor. The movie begins with a bunch of demons in Rob Halford gear playing onstage, turning the audience into emaciated zombies- until the police barge in and shut them down. We then cut to the sleepy town of Mills Basin, where nothing ever happens and the parents don’t like this new hard rock music their kids are getting into.

Damian, where have I heard that name before?

The band is Black Roses, helmed by Damian- a pretty boy with some seriously impressive ’80s hair. And I know from ’80s hair, as I had some that entire flocks of swallows could nest in on their way to Capistrano. Damian has hair ostriches could nest in. They arrive in town in their Lamborghini Countachs and act all wholesome and stuff, and soon their music is playing from every kid’s stereo. And the changes begin…

This music is turning our children into zombies!

The teacher who “really cares about the kids” is Matt Moorhouse, who looks like John Stossel with his porn ‘stache; he tries to teach the kids to love poetry. But soon after Black Roses arrive, they care even less than usual. He thinks something is up, and won’t take his fellow teacher’s admonishments- that this is just like The Beatles- without investigating. It doesn’t take long for weird shit to start happening.

Don’t stand so. Don’t stand so. Don’t stand so close to me.

For example, Vincent Pastore- Big Pussy from the Sopranos- chides his son for having an earring. “Only fags and pirates wear those, and I don’t see no ship in our driveway!” Bad move, Dad. The Black Roses record starts bubbling on the turntable, then a demon bug jumps out of the speaker and pulls him right in, loafers and all. There’s a crude joke in there somewhere, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Va fongool!

The girls start getting loose and the boys start getting violent. A girl starts spontaneously playing “strip gin” with her friend’s Dad, culminating in a heart attack for the lecherous old man. I’ve never heard of strip gin, only strip poker. But that’s part of trashy movie charm. Maybe there’s strip bridge, too. ’80s trash always manages to stick in truly gratuitous nude scenes, so even “strip gin” is an explanation of sorts; they do one better next, when one of the girls decides to play with her pencil eraser nipples for 5 minutes in front of a mirror shrine to Black Roses. “Hey, we’ve got a few minutes of film left– play with your tits for a while!” Don’t worry, they’re all after the cut if you want a peek.

fig.1: the heavy duty pecker wrecker.

The teachers are too stupid to notice that something is wrong when the kids chant “Damian!” in class instead of learning. Even Matt is clueless until his teacher’s pet, Julie, forces her way into his house and tries to force a demonic blow job on him. He pushes her away just in time to see her fangs, and then she transforms into scaly monster before his eyes, in a blur of purple light. Then he beats her to death with a tennis racket. Let’s face it, you’re not much of a demon if a high school English teacher can beat the crap out of you.

That’s some weak-ass metal if the demons can be killed with a tennis racket.

Mr. Matt is pissed off that he blue-balled during his enactment of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” and goes to the hardware store to get gas cans and flares, to put an end to this evil heavy metal for good. At the concert, Damian dresses like He-Man, but they pull out all the stops once they realize the jig is up- and Matt has to fight off the zombie students and the demon band with only his two English teacher fists. Thankfully his porn ‘stache gives him power, because he is triumphant.

And Damian is beaten up with a gong hammer. Pom pom and all.

This movie is best known for its soundtrack, Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge slumming as the demon drummer, and Vincent Pastore getting eaten by a speaker. It’s very low budget and very tedious, with plenty of actors who’d never disgrace the silver screen again and very few laughs to ease the pain. The soundtrack is pretty good for late ’80s metal, consisting of Lizzy Borden, King Kobra, Hallow’s Eve and Bang Tango. The band Black Roses itself was King Kobra with Carmine Appice on drums, and the songs are pretty good, which makes the movie more tolerable.

Carmine Appice slum-drumming

It’s an interesting relic from the late ’80s when Al Gore’s wife Tipper helped start a crusade against “porn rock,” which led to the eventual “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics” stickers on CD’s. The movie does have a parent’s meeting where they talk about the “evils” of the music and if it was just a bit more tongue in cheek, or even a bit clever, it could have been a minor classic. But as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap says, “There’s such fine line between clever and stupid.” And Black Roses is a long way off on the wrong side of the line.

The Mentors- one of the obscure filth-bands the PMRC made me aware of

Beers Required to Enjoy: 6
Could it be remade today? DethKlok: The Movie
Quotability Rating: zero
Cheese Factor: Velveetica
High Points: Big Pussy getting eaten by a speaker
Low Point: Gahh!! demon boobies!
Gratuitous Boobies: 3 pairs… gin!


80s Trash of the Week: Reform School Girls

“You’re just a shit-stain on the panties of life.”

Now these are the kinds of ’80s movies I truly miss; over the top exploitation films that would go direct to video today. The “caged women in heat” concept, played for the younger generation and set to bad-girl metal bands, was ripe for the plucking in the hairy days of ’86. Wendy O. Williams, the sexy metal queen of the Plasmatics, would team up with the unlikely addition of Sherri Stoner– who would go on to voice Slappy Squirrel in “Animaniacs” and be the live model for Disney princess Belle, and Ariel the mermaid. With the fearsome Andy Warhol fag-hag Pat Ast playing Edna the cruel prison matron, Reform School Girls is a deliciously over the top prison drama, a ’50s exploitation film filthied up for the trenchcoat and hand-lotion crowd, and a ’80s girl-metal soundtrack for the teens.

The story begins when bad girl Jenny gets caught helping her boyfriend rob a store, and gets thrown into reform school (Never mind that all these girls look like they’re in their early 30s, and Wendy O is pushing 40). There she hooks up with fellow fresh meat Nicky and takes the fragile Lisa (Sherri Stoner) under her wing. Immediately they get drubbed down by the towering matron Edna, who could be the love child of John Waters regulars Divine and Edith Massey, with a dose of Hatchet Face from Cry-Baby thrown in. Every line of hers is over the top campy drama, and she informs her prisoners that she believes in “complete control.” She’s the underling of the severe Warden Sutter, played by ’70s hot heroine Sybil Danning- probably best known for her cameo as the “Werewolf Women of the SS” in Grindhouse– who dons Nazi-esque gear and struts around looking serious.

Wendy O as the tough bitch Charlie

The school nurse is the lone bleeding heart who cries out against the torture and abuse the girls undergo, and she is stymied at every turn by the sadistic leaders of the “school,” which is run more like a prison camp. The girls make license plates and dig the fields, but we never see a teacher or a class. There are however, lots of shower scenes. Within the first 15 minutes the new girls need to be hosed down and sprayed for lice, and whenever we need a break from their hard life of hanging around the dorms in lingerie and bondage gear, they take a shower. It’s sweaty work, and their boobies need constant washing, rinsing, and re-soaping.

Director Tom De Simone knows what viewers of a movie called Reform School Girls are looking for; not only was his directing background in porn, but he was the screenwriting genius behind Chatterbox, a movie about a woman with a talking vagina. Not only does it talk, it sings. And more embarrassingly, I know about this movie because my Dad bought it on laserdisc. I sadly never got to watch this masterpiece, but from what I can see, Reform School Girls is actually much better. Which isn’t saying much.

Fragile Lisa has a stuffed toy bunny that she keeps in memory of her dead brother, but Edna keeps tormenting this obviously disturbed child out of pure sadism. First she burns the bunny, then she puts her in solitary, and finally sets her gang of bull dykes loose on her. Led by Wendy O., they’re straight out of campville, dressed in lingerie and S&M gear as they serve iced tea to Edna, while the rest of the girls slave in the hot sun on the farm. Out in the wild the girls find trouble; Jenny sleeps with the guy who drives the work truck, hoping that he’ll sneak her out, but of course he just uses her for a quick hop in the sack, and turns her in. They also find a kitten wandering in the field, and sneak it back to the dorm. Leading one of the sassy black chicks to say, “the last thing this dorm needs is another pussy!”

Would you like the TWA coffee or the TWA tea?

The film does have a sense of humor about itself, and its audience; the first time the new girls bed down in the dorm and Edna turns out the lights, she bellows “Keep your fingers above the sheets. We only change them once a week!” to tease the prurient viewers hoping to see the gals pleasure themselves. The sheets stay clean- this won’t be running after 1 AM on Skinemax. If only it took itself a little less seriously, or had the subversive genius of a John Waters behind the helm, it would be more than a nostalgic hard rock and hard nipples trip.

Edna and Sutter keep spiraling into further sadism, and when the kitten is discovered, the fat matron chases it down and stomps on it. Wendy and her girl gang force poor Lisa into their initiation, and brand her ass with a hot coat hanger- fittingly a circular “O” as in Wendy’s middle initial. This drives the poor girl over the edge, and when she tries to escape, the evil Edna chases her up the guard tower, where she tumbles to her death. This is the final straw for Jenny, who leads the girls in destroying their dorm. Warden Sutter seals her own doom by throwing Wendy in solitary for joining in the mayhem, and the girls decide to march on the prison reform board who is visiting, to tell the truth about the vile goings-on. This leads to a fiery and violent climax, with the girls attacking the guards with garden tools- ho’s wielding hoes- and a delightful ending with Evil Edna hollering “COMPLETE CONTROL!” from the burning guard tower as she fires about 80 shots from a shotgun.

Poor kitty.

If you like trash, this is an ’80s classic. Back then we loved it; heavy metal music (we still used the ‘heavy’ prefix then) and lots of boobies, with the cast strutting around in lingerie the whole time? If HBO had a pause button, this would have been burned on the TV screen of many a teen boy, and I’d be one of them. It’s a veritable spankfest if you don’t double over laughing at the bushy ’80s hairstyles (above and below!) The incomparable Pat Ast would reprise her role in the Motley Crue “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” video, and Wendy O would go on to sing with Lemmy and go on stage wearing only whipped cream. The soundtrack by Wendy O. Williams, Girlschool, and the Screamin’ Sirens is quite good, and the generic synth that plays when someone is sneaking around is hilarious.

Wendy leading the riot

The best quote of the film by far is when Edna sells out Wendy: “You’re nothin’ but a dumb-ass kid from Cleveland, a shit stain on the panties o’ life.” To which Wendy replies, “You should know, you lick ’em every night!” It’s good trash if not great trash, and MOJO+ is playing it in HD. So give it a watch instead of Skinemax, you pervert.

R.I.P. Wendy, shock rocker extraordinaire

Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Could it be remade today? It would be horrible and PG-13
Quotability Rating: medium
Cheese Factor: sharp cheddar on a tuna melt
High Points: Sherri Stoner getting her ass branded
Low Point: Sybil Danning not getting a bigger role
Gratuitous Boobies: A-plenty!

Stunt Rock!

A blistering rock concert. Death-defying stunts. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Stunt Rock.

I found the trailer for this on youtube last week and decided to find it. I knew it would be trashy, but I thought it would be better than this. I went through a “this movie is so bad it’s good!” phase back in the 90’s. I am long since past that. Unless Joel & the bots are shadowed on the screen, I can’t waste my time with it. Some bad movies are genuinely entertaining, such as Troll 2, or parody bad movies, like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Then there’s stuff like Stunt Rock, which was destined to be drive-in theater filler and is substandard even for grindhouse flicks.
The film is a puff piece for Aussie stuntman Grant Page and the Aussie hard rock band Sorcery, who are both in dire need of one. The thin plot involves Grant moving to Los Angeles for work, and Sorcery going there to play. It begins in Australia, with a death-defying stunt being performed- sliding down a rope over the ocean.

Sliding down a rope in a Stunt Thong.

Now, it may be dangerous. I sure as hell wouldn’t do it, but it’s not what you think of when you hear “death defying stunts,” at least not anymore. The 70’s did have a period of stuntman chic, with Evel Knievel, and the cult classic The Stunt Man, but this is definitely on the low end, and is perhaps better at showing how thankless the job of a stuntman can actually be. He even says at one point, “If it was really dangerous I wouldn’t do it,” which isn’t the best advertisement for the stunts done for this movie. He also has a penchant for showing off his chest, which may entice the ladies, but is also a sign of the era. The 70’s were a hairier time, as Darth Milk has intoned. We had the good sense not to yank hunks of hair out of our bodies with melted wax back then. That sort of made up for the bell bottoms, don’t you think?

“It’s that big, alright.”

The film makes liberal use of clip footage from other movies that Grant was in. Any time he drives, he talks about car stunts, and the movie cuts to a montage of clips of various car crashes, including some from the original Gone in 60 Seconds, with the infamous ’73 Mach I being chased for 40 minutes with 93 crashes. Just rent that movie if you want car stunts, it’s actually quite watchable. Unlike this, which if it were a Spinal Tap album, would get the review “Shit sandwich.”

In Australia, the Road Warrior is a documentary.

Speaking of Spinal Tap, Sorcery could very well have been an inspiration for the film, if anyone had heard of them. The singer and guitarists look like generic 70’s rock types, but the drummer wears a white tuxedo and top hat, reminiscent of Cheap Trick.

The keyboardist wears a mask at all times, like a Mexican wrestler. Sometimes it is black, other times it is made of tinfoil. What really saves the movie are the stage performers who do the band’s live show- Merlin the magician, and the Prince of Darkness.

Merlin is sort of a magical douche, constantly pulling cigarettes out of people’s ears and ducks out of platters, with the camera carefully framing things to make the sleight of hand rather easy to pull off. Ol’ Satan has muttonchops and a Gene Simmons demeanor, but he’s one of the more tolerable characters.

Annoying people with magic!

The stage show with Merlin and Muttonchops Mephistopheles battling it out fill up at least 30 minutes of running time. There’s a lot of stage pyrotechnics and magic tricks, and it is worth watching them on youtube for Merlin’s smug expressions alone. Hey, I just blew up the friggin’ Prince of Darkness, can I get a little applause here? He even gets impaled and still kicks the Devil’s ass.

Stunts… and rock. Stunt Rock. Yeah.

Many of the stunts are in slow motion, but at normal speed I don’t think you’d miss anything. The stunts would be pretty good if they were in a movie, but they just aren’t very exciting to see them on a fake movie set. We’ve all seen people fall off a building into an air bag, seen a stunt man on fire, and seen someone slide down a rope. The stunt clip montages are pretty good, but I wish they listed which movies they came from.

I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you… FIRE!

Grant Page did work on Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, is unjustly hated as “the worst in the trilogy,” when actually they are both pretty damn good movies. He also did work on the original Mad Max’s insane car crashes, Jackie Chan’s Mr. Nice Guy, and The Pirate Movie (one of my favorite stupid movies from the 80’s).

When Grant asks for a date, don’t leave him hanging. Ha! ha!

If you get to see this movie at a home screening with lots of beer, or a place like the Alamo Drafthouse, with the right crowd it would probably be pretty entertaining. Unfortunately it’s pretty dated now, and the best parts are the Sorcery concert and the clip footage. This is the kind of thing you project on a wall at a party with the sound off, like Weng Weng’s Agent 00 movies. People who love metal bands ironically like Dragonforce will enjoy Sorcery.

This is if you like keyboardists with tinfoil on their face.

The movie might be hard to sit through twice, but I wouldn’t mind the poster on my wall.