Monday, May 30, 2011


I'm going to let you all in on a little secret: this is the movie I started the entire blog for. Sure, there are a lot of movies I am going to talk about in upcoming entries I may like more. Sure, there are movies that are far more ridiculous than this, and much more campy. But this movie, this movie right here, is my litmus test. If you cannot enjoy Rock N' Roll Nightmare, you are fundamentally broken and I both pity and hate you at the same time.

I pity you because you lack a soul.

I hate you because you clearly hate fun.

Rock N' Roll Nightmare is a vanity project for Jon Mikl Thor. I'll pause for the laughter that comes with those in the know. For those not in the know, Jon Mikl Thor is a former body builder who has a band called Thor. The band, as you will come to learn through this movie, is not very good. Metal lyrics aren't exactly high art, but he makes Bret Michaels sound like Chaucer.

It is also directed by John Fasano, a man who's career I really should do a retrospective of one of these days. The man is truly a gift that keeps on giving. I mean, when you can say you made a movie about evil Asian vampire kangaroos, well, you have arrived, my friend.

But hey, we aren't here to celebrate the careers of Misters Thor and Fasano, just this bullet-point on their collective resumé. And man, the gun that fired it is delightful.

The plot, if you can call it that, is as follows:

A bunch of years ago, a family was murdered by a monster of some kind that was hiding in their kitchen. It started off in their fridge, Zuul style, taking out the mother,  but then the worst prop skeleton ever created popped out the oven to take out pops. The child sat on the stairs and screamed, because children are useless.

But who cares about that shit? Thor ain't even in it!

So, flash forward to present day  (80's Canada, so who knows what time that would be in real years) and Jon Mikl Thor, playing John Triton, and his band, Triton, are at a farm that just so happens to be the tiny suburban home we saw people die in. Just telling you right now, don't ask for continuity in this film. They are there to rock out, have sex with the ladies they brought with them, and maybe fight some monsters.

Okay, so replace "fight some monsters" with "get brutally murdered by monsters." Same difference. Plus, those characters aren't THOR!

Over the course of the movie, there's a lot of nudity, truly awful (but incredibly catchy) music numbers, and the most unappealing sex scenes ever filmed. I'd love to say there was a lot of gore, but the special effects are laughable, yet, surprisingly light on the blood.

And then there's the ending, which I refuse to spoil for you. With about fifteen minutes left, the whole movie goes completely insane. At first, it just turns into a slapstick comedy for no good reason, but that's just minor turbulence compared to the nosedive into the surreal and absurd this movie takes. It just takes your breath away, and it is done so incompetently that you immediately have to watch it again.

I must have seen the ending of Rock N' Roll Nightmare about 50 times now, and it is never not hilarious. Hell, just before writing this review, I watched it another 4 times.

What really makes this movie so special to me is that, across the board, nothing is done right. Absolutely nothing, unless you count "turning the camera on" as an accomplishment. The script is cheesy as hell, with two of my favorite lines ever uttered in a completely serious manner:

"The scream sounded like it was coming from down here. But, you're right. Let's go check upstairs."


"I'm sorry. Whenever I see you doing something so domestic, my boner can't help itself."

Actually, that second one isn't so bad. I am gonna try it next time I grope a waitress.

What makes the dialogue even more hilarious is the fact that no one, and I mean absolutely no one, in this film has even the slightest hint of acting talent. Think of the worst acting you have ever seen. That performance is Laurence Olivier compared to the cast of Rock N' Roll Nightmare.

Two of my favorite acting choices:
- Thor tends to pause in the middle of every sentence for no good reason.

- The British guy who is sometimes Australian completely forgets to have an accent half-way through the movie, and no one seems to notice or care.

But, like I said before, continuity is not a thing this movie cares about. I mentioned the barn/house. But that's the tip of the iceberg. Canadian accents will slip in out and out dialogue. People will wear multiple outfits in the span of a single scene.

And, man, don't get me started on the costumes. Some of them are fine for an 80's metal band, but that polka-dotted tablecloth pants suit that Thor wears while performing Energy is a sin. He looks like the lovechild of Murphy Brown and He-Man. And their manager in the film totally rocks a jacket proclaiming him to be a member of the Archies. I like to think that is the other band he manages.

Triton and the Archies. Now that's a goddamn track record right there.

However, stilted dialogue and painful outfits cannot top the amazingly bad special effects in this movie. You'd think, or at least hope, maybe even pray, that in a flick like this, at least they'd go all out on the special effects. They don't. At all. Not in any way, shape, or form.

The monsters in this movie are hilariously unconvincing. And, in one scene, where they are supposed to be "attacking" Thor, you just know it is just a guy off camera throwing the monsters at him. Look closely, and you'll see him struggling to catch them. It is actually less convincing than just seeing the string.

Which, of course, you will.

Really, this whole thing is a dazzling portrait of incompetence, and it is goddamn hilarious. There is no reason this movie should've ever been made. None whatsoever, but I'll be damned if I don't find myself laughing the entire time, especially during the last 15 minutes. You just gotta believe me on this, it's better if you don't know what happens. You'll thank me.

And, for an added bonus, here is the song Energy, as performed in the film.

It will be forever stuck in your head.


You're welcome.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


So I just woke up from a nap to write this here review for a little film called Planet of the Vampire Women. Why did I have to take a nap, you ask? Because my mind was so exhausted from getting thoroughly blown.

For the uninitiated, Planet of the Vampire Women is the third flick put out by the spunky little crew of TFO Productions out in Sacramento. Their first two films El Tigre Diablo in: The Curse of the Golden Skull and The Monster from Bikini Beach were both aces, and they are comprised of the cats running the Trash Film Orgy.

If any of you are ever in the area, you should stop by and tell them that AJ is still shamelessly promoting them. And that they should give him a medal of some sort. Perhaps a gold covered taco. Bejeweled in sapphires. Covered in hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics that are also made of sapphires. Also, I want a pony.

I guess you could also enjoy their movies and wares, but I really want that pony.

But hey, let's get to the actual review.  I mean, that is what you are here for, right?

Planet of the Vampire Women is a movie that somehow takes everything anyone could ever want in a movie, boils it down to take out the excess character development and sappy bits, and then splatters it on the screen with such care, you can't help but be enthralled.

It is the timeless story of sexy women who get topless at the drop of a dime and also own a cyborg that are also space pirates that, after robbing the shit out of a casino, crash land on a planet where getting struck by lightning turns you into a vampire and also getting bitten by a vampire turns you into a vampire. Oh, and there's a cop chasing him, that, in an unforeseen turn of events, also crash lands on the lightning vampire planet. And the lightning vampire planet is filled with kooky monsters that wanna destroy them. Also the space pirates have an old man doctor who is a drug addict.

I am sure you are all familiar with this standard tale.

Really, the plot of the movie is not very important. I will give it that it is more complicated than my totally sweet synopsis and that it is incredibly fun, but really its just a backdrop for the wackiness that the TFO cats do like no one else.

I gotta discuss the cast first and foremost. Everyone from the chubby casino security guard to MC on stage during the climax is completely unique and fun to watch. Its got shades of Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter in the way that no actor is ever wasted. Even the lowly extras are a blast. They are a hoot to watch as they do their thing and try to steal the scene from each other at every turn.

There are, of course, a few standouts:

I absolutely loved the girl they got to play Ginger, Liesel Hanson. It helps that she totally reminds me of Lambert from Alien. You know, the put upon pilot played by Veronica Cartwright? In fact, I came to call her "not the chick from Alien." This is not an insult. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't her, because I could just picture her being totally flustered with Sigourney Weaver every time she spoke. She just wants to fly the dang spaceship and get off the death planet, already Ripley. Why you gotta make everything so difficult with your dang chestburstin' aliens?

Next up is  the pleasure clone Astrid, played by Stephanie Hyden. I am having trouble putting to words just how delightful she was to watch. Every little move she made was just cheery and fun. Like she existed in a frilly, spunky Disney fantasy movie with talking squirrels and a dragon that doesn't eat virgins, but instead makes lollipops. Yes, so she's like a Disney princess -- who also bangs people for a living and wears sexy outfits. I guess this counts as a Walt Disney sex dream? You know, minus all the racism.  In fact, I think she should put that on her resume. She'd get all the movie offers. Just be sure to include the racism bit. Hollywood is fickle about the 'cism.

And, lastly, is my man Stephen Vargo as Doc. I love this dude. It is well known how much I dig on this dude's style. He is just so dang fun to watch it is unbelievable. He is an old school scenery chewer, and goddamn if it isn't a delight to watch him deliver a soliloquy to a bottle of cognac.

I don't want to slight anyone I didn't mention up here, because everybody was damn fantastic. It is rare to have a cast that is so much fun to watch, but I reckon it was because you know they were all having a ball makin' this flick.

The sound design of the film is aces, too. I loved the soundtrack so much as it was a fusion of 50's schlocky theremin music mixed with the kind of stuff saved for epics on the scope of The Lord of the Rings. It gave a neat feeling that the soundtrack took the movie more seriously than the movie itself, and I loved it for that.

I did have some trouble in the early parts hearing the dialogue, because the music was hella loud at times, but those bits were few and didn't cover up any of the real corny masterpieces. 

However, the real star of this movie is production design. Everything just oozes style.

The sets themselves have a straight up Dr. Caligari feel. You can tell they were working with a small soundstage, and furthermore, they didn't care if you knew. I mean, why have a giant set when you have a smoke machine? Radical, German-expressionist style painted alien planets mix with kitschy, cramped spaceship interiors in such a delightful way. It really makes the planet look completely alien and the spaceships look more like space Chevettes.

I apologize to the one satisfied Chevette owner out there. I doubt there are any space Chevette owners, however.

The creature design is even more delightful. They are the love child of The Krofft brothers and Gwar, and I mean this in every good way possible. The space bugs and the space monsters are just a blast to look at, are not even remotely concerned with being convincing, and just add to the aesthetic of a movie already packed to the brim with insanity.

This is the first TFO movie to really go balls-out crazy with CGI. Now, for most folks, that'd ruin everything and make it take a sharp left into Made-for-Syfy territory, but not Planet of the Vampire Women. No, sir. Instead of just poorly replicating things they could not do on their own, everything has this neat, 1992-esque blockiness to it. Things even explode into tiny little blocks, and it is just plain ridiculous looking. They know you know it is CG, so why not have some dang fun with it?

And that, my friends, is why this movie is so very much so worth your time. They are 100% aware they are making a movie, and have no qualms showing the string on a monster or having incredibly cheesy looking sets or even having the least convincing CG known to man. It's all in good fun, and it's campy as all get out.

This movie really does have everything, and everything is covered in blood or topless or overacted or neon or exploding. And they are covered in blood or topless or overacted or neon or exploding with love. It is a love letter to the absurd, and quite frankly, I am thinking of proposing.

Normally, I wouldn't review a movie that is aware of how campy it is for this blog. Then again, how can I say this when it is the first review I have posted? But really, this movie struck a chord in me, and I can't stop singing its praises.

It is just so much friggin' fun.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Much like a delinquent child caught stealing from a Toys R' Us, I feel the need to explain myself:

Hi, my name is AJ, and I dig the hell outta some movies most folks'd call shit. This is my blog, where I revel in it. It's called Camp Counseling.


Maybe I should elaborate just a teensy bit more, no?

I happen to love camp. Not of the Crystal Lake variety (though Jason Takes Manhattan is as fantastic as a 7th sequel will ever get), but more of the everything-John-Waters-has-ever-put-out variety. I love bad taste. I think people failing at acting is so much more rewarding than someone succeeding. Sometimes I want to see the zipper on the monster costume, the string on the fake bat, completely unconvincing CG, and hey, maybe an actor about to deep throat the boom mic.

I want an idiotic plot (be it painfully simple, or complex for no damn reason), questionable undertones, and maybe an exposed breast or two. I want a bastardization of an iconic character to such a degree that they are unrecognizable. I want schlock for the sake of schlock; a movie shot for ten bucks in the span of a long weekend in April, right before the rain.

I crave a movie that is blissfully unaware in its ineptitude. A Little Engine That Could right after derailing and killing all its passengers. A movie that Mike Nelson can't make any funnier than it already is. A movie that just oozes bad decisions.

But in a delightful way.

Simply put: I need camp.

And 90% of the time, it is impossible to fake.

So, with this blog, I intend to do two things:

1. Watch and review as many campy movies as I can find. They won't just be scoured from Netflix. They will be found the old-fashioned way: late night cable, movie store bargain bins, garage sales, etc. I will find these movies that no one looked for.

2. Try to introduce you, the reader, to a world of movies you never would've given a second glance to and let you share in my appreciation of "bad" movies.

And mind you, enjoying these movies will involve all of the following emotions:

Giddiness, bewilderment, contentment, anger, mild-depression, a loss in faith in the movie biz, a boost of confidence in your own skills, shame, and then, maybe, just maybe, the euphoria that comes with watching a movie that is only concerned with entertainment. Fuck a message, shit blew up real good.

Now, as for how the blog will work:

I am gonna review a movie once a week, probably on Sundays. In between, I'll post bits and pieces of things. It may be a quick review of the late Randy Savage's rap album. It may be another picture of Paul Kersey and John Matrix high fiving. It could damn well be anything. The point is, I am going to try and keep the content flowing.

I hope you all will stay with me and try to track down the movies I talk about. If you are anything like me, you'll dig the hell outta them.

Oh, and my first reviews will be up no later than Tuesday. To honor war veterans or something.