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  Rockula Music Of The Night
Year: 1990
Director: Luca Bercovici
Stars: Dean Cameron, Toni Basil, Thomas Dolby, Tawny Fere, Susan Tyrrell, Bo Diddley, Kevin Hunter, Nancye Ferguson, Rick Zumwalt, Tamara De Treaux, Tony Cox, Greg Rusin, Bill Brochtrup, Dean Minerd, Sloan Fischer, Rodney Bingenheimer
Genre: Horror, Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ralph (Dean Cameron) may be a vampire, but he's not one of those villainous, Count Dracula-style vampires, he doesn't like being a bloodsucker at all and prefers to stay at home with his mother Phoebe (Toni Basil) and his reflection in the mirror, who behaves independently and carries on conversations with him. The reason all this happened is because back in the 17th century, he was vampirised but not able to take his true love with him into the afterlife because she was murdered by a pirate with a peg leg, brandishing a hambone, and though she is reincarnated every twenty-two years, she is murdered on the twenty-second like clockwork - by a pirate.

With a peg leg. And carrying a hambone. Rockula was one of the last films released by Cannon, that bastion of cheap and cheerful trash throughout the eighties who managed to overspend so spectacularly that by 1990 the party was well and truly over. It limped along for a while after, but head honchos Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were heading for the door about this point, having fallen out and the films they still had in the pipeline were either cancelled or given perfunctory releases. This was one of those which escaped the worst fate a movie can suffer, sitting on the shelf forever, but as it was mainly sold to television after its brief theatrical showing said it all.

Therefore if you have seen Rockula, it'll have been squirrelled away on an obscure TV channel, or alternatively you may have found it on its home video outings, but whichever, your reaction will either be one of cringing your way through it or getting won over by its underachieving charms. It was not a good movie by anyone's stretch of the imagination, yet curiously, though it was not an action flick, it did stand as a testament, a monument even, to the heyday of Cannon for it looked and sounded hopelessly eighties despite its eventual release after that garish decade was over. It certainly did not resemble much of a nineties effort, best described as the studio’s hangover experience of the era.

As a musical, there were minor hints that the times were changing, with a touch of new jack swing to some sounds, but even that dates it specifically almost to the month, and mostly we were stuck with big hair, comedy rapping, goofy jokes uncertainly masking an emotional core, and all that sort of would-be resonant business an eighties time capsule movie would have featured. Our lead was so much of a loser that his winning over of the leading lady (Tawny Fere as Mona) had to be taken for granted, since there was absolutely no way the romance was convincing otherwise, and if you were not won over by his grating humility this would be a very long ninety minutes. As you may have anticipated, it was the cast where the interest lay and not in the music, which in spite of some talent behind it sounded pretty horrible now, and did then as well.

British synth wizard Thomas Dolby was the bad guy, giving a fair account of himself as a supposedly hip and happening, er, cemetery owner (?) who determines to expose Ralph for the vampire he is; then there was rock 'n' roll pioneer Bo Diddley as part of the band, whose appearance in a gold leotard and cape during the Beastie Boys spoof was not a sight easily expunged from the mind. Toni Basil was of course the dancer turned pop star who earned herself her own self-choreographed routine, no better or worse than any of the other numbers, which was not exactly a recommendation, and E.T. herself, Tamara De Treaux, was Ralph's alter ego (another one, a "Bat Dork" according to the credits). Also small was Tony Cox, who shares a bath with Basil, and Susan Tyrrell capped the weirdo line-up as the bartender who joins the band too, all of which was to say, for those interested in the strange collisions showbiz can bring about, Rockula could appeal, but for anyone wishing for something, well, competent is a harsh word to use, they would better opt for something higher profile.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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