HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE is an account of the tragic events that befall the up and coming rock ‘n roll band The Bad Boys when they stay at Jimmy’s grandma’s farm for the weekend. They “gotta get ready for the concert” so at first they practice in their garage with one girlfriend watching. But she accidentally bumps the garage door opener just as three other young female rock ‘n roll aficionados are walking down the sidewalk, so they stand and watch and swoon. But also it attracts a police car and they get shut down.
They’re kind of an unlikely band because there are two dudes with slicked back hair, leather jacket and jeans, others are standard long hair dudes, and a guy with a trenchcoat, and one guy is a Mike Mills looking nerd often wearing a Nike sweatshirt. Like they’re a couple different bands accidentally combined. I’m not sure if all their music is like this, but the song we hear is funny because the chorus is “It’s a nightmare!” but the lyrics are all about wanting to start a band and “work really hard.” The first line is “It started when I got my first guitar at the age of ten…” So the band and “a couple of hot babes” from the sidewalk head out to the farm.
By the way, do not to confuse this with the better-known ROCK ‘N ROLL NIGHTMARE starring Jon-Mikl Thor. This is specifically HARD rock, not just general, unspecified rock ‘n roll. Totally different type of nightmare.
In the RV on the way there, Jim (Bryan Kovacs?) does have “a hard rock nightmare” about the others coming after him with vampire fangs so his girlfriend tells the others that a woman was killed at the farm “over 15 years ago” and that’s why he’s freaked out. (At least that’s what I thought she said. Later we find out it was his grandpa. And eventually I make the connection that the opening scene, made to look like an old black and white werewolf movie, was supposed to be the backstory of something that happened in his childhood, not an old black and white werewolf movie.)
The big turn into weirdness is when Jimmy interrupts a makeout session to answer the phone and freaks out, saying it was his dead grandpa threatening to kill him. (He promises he’s fine, though.) And of course people start dying.
To some of these guys, the dream of having a band seems to be more about getting laid than about expressing one self musically about the dream of having a band. So the first death happens after the drummer (also wearing a Nike shirt) tries to get their new groupie friend Tina (Annie Mikan) to give him a blowjob. She refuses and then he puts her hand in his pants and she gives in and gives him a handjob until he calls her the wrong name and then she storms off. He has time to mutter “all I wanted was a little head” right before a monster – it turns out to be a werewolf, but I first thought it was some kind of demon from the closeup they keep using – effortlessly whacks his head off, like hitting a teeball.
So the gang stands around his decapitated body, impaled on some rebar, and listens to Jim flip out and say it was a werewolf that did it, and also that his grandpa was a vampire? I get why they don’t believe him.
They all argue about what to do and then the tall Krist Novoselic looking guy and his tiny girlfriend Connie (Nikki McQueen) take matters into their own hands, goes out into the woods, take their shirts off, smoke weed and laugh at the “big dog” coming toward them. “Dude, that dog is, like, growling at us!”
Back at the house, Tina reveals that she’s a music journalist who thinks Charlie (Greg Joujon-Roche, PSYCHO COP, and Demi Moore’s fitness trainer/workout choreographer for G.I. JANE, which is a pretty boast-worthy credit) is the real star in the band and she has “money, connections” and can get her cousin to do a story on him. Which of course would be monumental, you know how having a story about a member of a band turns them into Elvis. It’s funny to bring in this intra-band intrigue at a point when two band members and one girlfriend have been horribly mutilated and murdered, even if she only knows about one of them. I mean, would the cousin’s story begin “Especially now that Ken, the drummer, was found decapitated and impaled, the real breakout star of the band is Charlie…”
But I gotta say, I started to like Tina after the sex scene. She sleeps with him and he cums too fast so she taunts him (“You ever think about getting a penis transplant?”), says to forget about the story. Maybe she was just using him for sex, or maybe he really was that disappointing, I don’t know. She didn’t seem this mean before, but it makes her suddenly more interesting. Maybe the trauma of that pre-wolf attack half hand job messed her up.
This movie has some misconceptions about how walkie-talkies work, specifically about whether or not you could still hear a guy get ripped apart by a werewolf if he was no longer pressing down the button on his. There are some weird plans, like Jimmy gets a mirror from the girls when he’s demanding silver to make bullets out of, but there’s nothing to indicate he has equipment or knowledge to facilitate in melting it down and molding it into bullets.
Tina has the worst plan, though: climbing into a well. Not even out of desperation while being chased, just as a place to hide out for the night. But then someone dumps gas on her and drops a match, leading to a shot of an explosion awkwardly superimposed on the well. She has time to muse out loud that a wolf couldn’t light a match.
The overall tone seems like they’re hoping we’ll take it seriously, but there are definitely joke lines, such as Connie’s “Just because I used to be a mud wrestler doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” They try to get meta by having two of the dudes talk about “that’s what this whole trip reminds me of, FRIDAY THE 13TH” and then discussing the “kill-kill-kill” thing in the theme song. This may be an in-joke because director Dominick Brascia played “Joey” in FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING. And this has an even more Scooby-Doo ending than that did. They shoot the wolf and figure out it’s a guy named Dirk wearing a costume, and Jimmy’s Uncle Gary (Troy Donahue, THE GODFATHER PART II, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS) put him up to it because he’s trying to get the farm for the oil under it. For some reason he makes a big speech about what his plan was and how well it worked even though the plan is to trick Jimmy into telling the police a werewolf did it so he’d be blamed for the murders and “sent to the nuthouse.” It seems less likely that Jimmy will fall for it now that it’s been explained to him.
The rock in this one is pretty incidental. They could’ve just had Tina be a girl from school instead of a groupie, and there’s no satanism involved or anything. But I guess it’s nice to have the characters sing the title song over the opening credits instead of just playing it.
Brascia’s other films as a director were EVIL LAUGH (1986) and MY LIFE AS A TROLL (2001). As an actor, he has bit parts in such ’80s video staples as ONCE BITTEN, IRON EAGLE and SHE’S OUT OF CONTROL. He plays “Peeper” in RUSH WEEK.
I didn’t completely hate this one, but I cannot in good conscience ask you to use my Amazon link below to order the tape for the current price of $120.96. Especially since shipping is not included.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.