1980 - 92m.
The world of the stuntman has always been fascinating to me. My interest began when I was a kid watching Dar Robinson bits on "That's Incredible" and seeing Burt Reynolds in Hooper and has never left me. A good stunt sequence can make a bad movie amazing and I have the utmost respect for these daredevils of the silver screen. When I first saw the trailer for Stunt Rock, I thought it would be the ultimate stuntman movie as it combines a multitude of stunts with concert sequences of a heavy metal band named Sorcery who incorporate magic and illusions into their act. On the surface, this seems like a killer combination but when you are expanding this concept into a feature film, it gets a little bit repetitive. That being said, the movie has grown on me a lot in the days since my initial viewing. Once I recovered from the barrage of kinetic images and heavy metal concert footage, I was able to appreciate this for the 70s time capsule it has become and director Brian Trenchard-Smith's obvious admiration for the stunt profession. I think this would be a blast to watch in a movie theatre with the volume cranked and the beer flowing.
Grant Page is a famous Australian stuntman who plays himself in a fictional narrative that has him travelling to Los Angeles to work on a TV series called "Undercover Girl". Grant's cousin picks him up at the airport and introduces him to the band Sorcery in which he is the Prince of Darkness in their theatrical stage show. Grant spends his time split between working on the series, hanging out with the band, and macking on a reporter who is trying to understand the mindset of stuntmen. There is not much of a plot happening as the concert sequences are lengthy and feature an epic battle between good and evil chock full of explosions and illusions. There are also a number of stunt montages that highlight some of Grant's work. For example, when the subject of stunt driving comes up, the movie launches into a mash-up of Grant driving with the reporter and the lead actor in "Undercover Girl" with a bunch of random driving stunts all while the music of Sorcery is blaring through the speakers. This is all pretty cool but I found myself wishing that I was more familiar with Grant's work before I watched the flick and also wishing that there was some plot being developed to keep the viewer engaged with more than just looking forward to another montage or concert scene.
Writer/director Brian Trenchard-Smith is known to b-movie fans as the guy behind a couple of Leprechaun sequels, the post-apocalyptic tale Dead End Drive-In and Escape 2000 among others. In Stunt Rock, he takes a cool concept but doesn't bother to add any character development or give the protagonists any conflict they need to deal with (which is obviously a required element in telling an engaging story). This works for a while but I eventually found myself getting a little bored as I was wanting more than just random stunts and a medieval metal band striking poses. Had I gone into this with more of an expectation that this was a tribute to stuntmen and rock music, I would likely have tried to get a few friends together to watch this and share the experience as this is not the type of movie that is much fun to watch alone.
I don't want people to think I am knocking this movie as it is a fun flick and it is like nothing else I have ever seen before. I thought of Spinal Tap many times when watching the scenes with the band and the scenes where Page is doing what he does best brought me back to my fascination with Dar Robinson on a smaller scale. Page has some impressive moments including a high-wire climb between two buildings and jumping off a cliff while on fire but the stunts felt a little low-key when comparing him to a guy who jumped off the CN Tower a few times. He also does not have the same charisma of someone like Evel Knievel who I could watch for hours as his confidence and bravado is something I find thoroughly engaging. I thought the best parts of Stunt Rock were the Sorcery sequences as they document this unique band and their stage show that gave fans a performance that to this day remains unique and takes the theatrics of Alice Cooper to a new level with a medieval twist that includes magic tricks, explosions, a guitar player with really big hair, and some killer riffs. Stunt Rock is more of an experience than a movie, just know what you're getting into. Look for "Saturday Night Live" alumni Phil Hartman as an assistant on the "Undercover Girl" set and Richard Blackburn (Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural) as the agent. The band Sorcery only put out a couple of albums (including the Stunt Rock soundtrack) but horror fans may recognize a number of members as the metal band that is featured in Rocktober Blood. (Josh Pasnak, 1/6/14)
Directed By: Brian Trenchard-Smith.
Written By: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Paul-Michael Mielche, Jr..
Starring: Grant Page, Monique Van de Ven, Margaret Gerard, Curtis Hyde.