Blu Release – 3.5/5
Hard Rock Zombies
Director – Krishna Shah (American Drive-In, Ironside)
Starring – E.J. Curse (Bones, Rules of Engagement), Geno Andrews (Dr. Alien, Martial Law), and Sam Mann (Roller Blade, Roller Blade Warriors: Taken By Force)
Release Date – 1985
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “They came from the grave to rock n’ rave and misbehave”
When I was in middle and high school I found myself obsessed with 80s horror. Films from the 80s have always been a favorite of mine but when I found myself falling in love with horror I couldn’t get enough 80s horror. There are so many classic horror films from this long since passed decade like Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Hellraiser, Fright Night, The Lost Boys, and so many more. However, there are other films that never make fans top ten lists but still deserve a watch.
One such film is the wildly outrageous horror comedy Hard Rock Zombies from 1985. This is one I had seen many many years ago but didn’t remember much about the film. I knew it involved a hair metal band, Hitler, and zombies but that was it. When Vinegar Syndrome announced that the film was getting a blu release I was ready to revisit it. I ordered a copy and took advantage of my recent Vin Syn partner label marathon to finally check out the release.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a band that has a gig in a small town. However, the townspeople do not like rock music and sets out to prevent them from performing. However, Hitler has escaped Germany many decades prior and has been living secretly in this town along with his sex-craved dwarves and killer nazis. When the band is murdered they come back from the grave to seek revenge against everyone in town. **Spoiler Alert**
Hard Rock Zombies is far from perfect and the story is all over the place but it’s a film that should not be slept on. It’s an unpredictable and chaotic film that does stand out but the flaws do stop it from becoming something truly memorable.
The acting in this one matches the film. It’s far from perfect but the cast is a lot of fun. The awkward dialogue and over-dramatic emotions makes for some genuinely funny moments regardless if they were intentional. Some of the cast does stick out from others but nothing that will stay with you once the film ends.
The story for this one is all over the place which is the film’s best and worst quality. I really enjoyed the chaotic story with Hitler, zombies, and hair metal but with so much going on it does lose its impact. I would have loved a more zombie focused film with more backstory on Hitler. However, the way the film is put together it mostly just throws everything at the viewer in hopes of something sticking. It is a bit of an overload at times and the lack of detail makes it difficult to love. It’s fun for a cheap viewing especially with some beer but that’s the extent of it.
Finally, the film has some questionable make-up effects but the lack of gore is my biggest complaint. The film’s flaws could have been overlooked if we had some enjoyable effects. Overall, Hard Rock Zombies may be a polarizing film but if you dig cheap 80s horror with a lot of cheese then this one is for you. I highly recommend it.
Newly scanned & restored in 2K from 35mm archival elements
“Never Say Die” – a making-of documentary featuring interviews with the following actors: EJ Curse, Sam Mann, Geno Andrews, Mick McMains, Ted Wells, Richard Vidan and David O’Hara
“Popcorn Farts and Low Budget Cheese” – a featurette with special effects artists Chris Biggs and Everett Burrell
From Bit Player to Band Leader” – an interview with actress Susette Boggs
“The Bible of Holy Moses: Watching Hard Rock Zombies Through a Fanatic’s Eye” – an interview with author Lucy Hall
Director – Dimitri Logothetis (Jiu Jitsu, Dark Realm) Starring – Toni Basil (Rockula, Easy Rider), Nicholas Celozzi (Tiger Claw III, The A-Team), and Tom Reilly (Married… With Children, Valley of the Dolls)
Release Date – 1987
Rating – 2/5
Tagline – “Alcatraz, for 39 years it held society’s most depraved killers. Now it’s home to something even worse”
Several years ago I was hitting up my local pawn shops and thrift stores when I came across the DVD release of the 1987 horror comedy Slaughterhouse Rock. I had never seen the film before and after a few weeks of owning it I decided to check it out one weekend with a few beers. Sadly, I was unable to finish it and tossed it on my shelf. When Vinegar Syndrome announced the release of the film om blu I wasn’t really interested in it until I saw that it was a double feature with Hard Rock Zombies. I decided to give it another shot after I watched Hard Rock Zombies.
**Spoiler alert** The film follows a group of friends who visit the infamous Alcatraz prison after one of them continuously has dreams about it. They hope to find answers but soon find themselves face to face with a demon that possesses one of them while the ghost of a hair metal musician helps them find a way out. **Spoiler alert**
Slaughterhouse Rock was not for me and I hate to be that negative about it. I wanted to love it but it was so fucking dull and damn near impossible for me to finish. It was just as bat shit insane as Hard Rock Zombies but the pacing was all wrong for me. Some smoother editing and better acting would have made this one a lot more entertaining.
The acting in this is far from perfect and several of the scenes felt lazy. The cast has no enthusiasm in some of the later scenes and just spat their dialogue out with no conviction. The earlier scenes are better acted but it was still awkward at times. I love the dry acting that most early 80s slashers had but these characters blend in with others and it’s often confusing trying to figure out who is who.
The story for this one is right up my alley but the lazy acting and editing makes it extremely difficult to follow. I loved the demon possessing the group that is trespassing along with the ghost of the female hair metal victim but the remainder of the film is long, drawn out scenes with miserable dialogue as we bounce from scene to scene with no reason or explanation. I could have loved this story but it doesn’t work the way it is.
Finally, the film is not as gruesome as it could have been. We get some generic deaths with some blood and unimaginative practical effects. Overall, Slaughterhouse Rock is not one I can recommend but if you are eyeing the Hard Rock Zombies then it’s worth the price. However, if you want it just for Slaughterhouse Rock then I would skip this release.
Newly scanned & restored in 4K from its 35mm original negative
“Low-key Horror” – an interview with cinematographer Nicholas Josef von Sternberg
“The Girl That Lives” – an interview with actress Tammy Hyler
“Wearing the Right Clothes” – an interview with actor Nicholas Celozzi
“Lunch Break with Claws” – an interview with actor Al Fleming