Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

Their farewell concert is to die for!

Jesse and his rock band play plenty of gigs in the hope of making it to the big time. After one of their gigs, they are warned by a strange girl not to go to Grand Guignol for their next gig as the parents there don’t want this unhealthy rock influence on their children. The band head to Grand Guignol to play the gig but on their way, they are kidnapped and murdered by a strange family of freaks led by none other than Adolf Hitler. Cassie, the strange girl who warned them not to go, brings the band back to life as zombies in order to stop Hitler from starting the Fourth Reich.

 

I don’t think I’d ever be able to make up as random a plot as this. With midgets, werewolves, murderous hitch hikers, zombie rock musicians and Adolf Hitler himself, this is one bizarre film labels itself as “a comedy horror cult classic” but fails to give the source of the quote. Hard Rock Zombies was made in the 80s when heavy metal and rock music was being blamed for almost everything in America. With cries of “it’s the music of Satan” and an uncanny amount of conservative Americans attempting to rid the world of it, the music was badly treat and there are a few trashy horror films which feature this as a core element to their story (the other being Trick or Treat featuring Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osborne no less!). The protests should not be against the music but against the crimes of humanity to which this film associates itself with that music genre.

Hard Rock Zombies is such a horribly made film full of goof and camp and usually I’ve got a decent tolerance for that sort of thing but this is beyond watchable for the majority of it’s running time. It was originally devised as a twenty minute short but was given a bigger budget and expanded to over an hour and a half. You can immediately see which parts of the story were added later because they make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why is Adolf Hitler in here? Are we to believe that he escaped Nazi Germany forty years ago, fled to America, started eloping with a werewolf and become the patriarch of a family of midgets, overgrown Hitler youth and a blonde chick who came straight out of a Bon Jovi video? Was this his master plan to rebuild his empire and start The Fourth Reich – murdering a few rockers in the middle of nowhere? Funnily enough the addition of Hitler may have worked had he become the main protagonist in the film. But he’s killed off and turned into one of the zombies long before the end credits roll.

At times Hard Rock Zombies plays like a tribute video to some long-forgotten rock band with lots of overly long rock songs being blasted out every few minutes (and these songs are played out in their entirety too, no doubt to pad out the running time). I’d a lover of all things heavy and metal but these songs are absolute tripe – 80s hair metal at it’s worst. There’s shots of the band goofing around on a bridge, riding skateboards, posing on cars and looking like they’re enjoying life – the sort of stuff that would go down well in an 80s music video. Coupled with the copious amounts of mullets and leather jackets, this isn’t exactly a film that has dated well over the years.

Hard Rock Zombies isn’t a zombie film for those looking for some classic zombie action. The make-up looks really shoddy for the most (in fact some of the band looked better as zombies!) and there’s not an awful lot of traditional zombie action like throat-ripping or flesh-eating. There’s little gore at the point of zombification and in fact there’s more over-the-top carnage when the family of freaks decide to kill the band. The four band zombies walk like robots. If any of you remember the video for the Adam Ant song ‘Stand and Deliver’ and call recall the dance that they do, then that’s how these guys walk around. And yes, the band do actually play a live set as zombies. They’d rather do that than anything else. In fact the quest to put on the show in Grand Guignol is the band’s main focus. They do get their revenge on the Hitler clan and the townspeople who hired him but it’s hardly revenge as we know it. It’s all so rushed and done and dusted quickly so that the band can get back to doing what they just want to do – rock out. The townspeople even try and fight off the zombies by hiding behind giant cardboard heads of the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis!

Funnily enough, it’s not the most random thing in the film as there’s a blonde chick who keeps dancing all over the show, a midget who literally eats himself to death, a woman holding her dead boyfriend’s severed head and asking him if he’s alright and the sight of Hitler dressed as a grandfather attempting to make love to a werewolf dressed as a grandmother……..

 

Hard Rock Zombies is painfully unfunny, badly made and a real travesty to sit through. I’d say you’d need to see it to believe it but I wouldn’t want this film gaining anymore exposure and becoming a cult classic. If this is the cinematic rep that heavy metal will be renowned for, then it’s best to start listening to country and western.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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