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  Ghastly Love of Johnny X, The Have Leather Jacket Will Travel
Year: 2012
Director: Paul Bunnell
Stars: Will Keenan, Creed Bratton, De Anna Joy Brooks, Reggie Bannister, Les Williams, Jed Rowen, Kate Maberly, Paul Williams, Kevin McCarthy, Heather R. Provost, Katherine Giaquinto, David Slaughter, Morris Everett, Rebecca Burchett, Sara Grigsby, Bruce Kimmel
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Somewhere in outer space there lies a community of alien beings far in advance of anything here on Planet Earth, though they do occasionally have problems with their individuals to work out, as today when one miscreant is brought before the high council's Grand Inquisitor (Kevin McCarthy). This man is none other than Johnny X (Will Keenan) a delinquent who is utterly without remorse, and apparently relishing the opportunity to be rid of this society once and for all, so when he is banished to our world he couldn't be happier, knowing he will fit right in with such a mixed up population - and possibly find his father.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X took around ten years to make all told, and when it was released it was greeted with such a reaction that it went on to be one of the biggest money makers of its year. No, wait, that's not right, it actually went on to take barely over one hundred dollars at the domestic box office, thereby lodging it in the minds of those who had heard of it as one of the lowest grossing movies of all time, certainly absolutely everything else released in 2012 outperformed it, but then again its release was never on a blockbuster level, merely a limited distribution for one week, so perhaps it was little wonder it performed as poorly as it did.

For a movie such as this, even making headlines for the wrong reasons was going to offer it welcome publicity for that home video and digital release, and so it was some took a chance when it crossed their radar; fine, most were scared away, but what they would find if they did give it a go would be a mishmash of fifties exploitation flick tribute and knowing pop musical (songs by Scott Martin) which was more accessible than might have been anticipated. But only slightly, as the overall impression for this was of a project which grew so personal that it would mean the most to its creator, Paul Bunnell, and if anyone else found a way into this distinctly airless world then that would be a bonus. Basically this was one step up from expensive home movie.

Not that watching someone be incredibly self-indulgent held no charms, but at times the fun the cast and crew were having did not prove as infectious as might have been hoped for. The trappings of the genres this owed a significant debt to were present and correct, as after Johnny is banished he turns up in a diner where the man behind the counter, Chip (Les Williams), has recently become enamoured of an old flame of Johnny's, the self-assured Bliss (De Anna Joy Brooks), who strutted into the joint seeking... Well, this is where it gets murky, already, only ten minutes in, as the exact motivations of the characters were so wrapped up in Bunnell's incredibly concentrated stylings that for a lot of the time they were very difficult to fathom.

So it was fair enough watching Johnny and his gang, named The Ghastly Ones, perform a lightly rock 'n' roll themed number complete with dance moves, maybe more Grease than Rocky Horror but not unwelcome, but trying to pin down, for example, why precisely it was so important that a rock star turned recluse turned corpse (Creed Bratton) should be resurrected by Johnny's special electrical suit in time for his big stage comeback, was beyond the ken of us mere mortals attempting to follow what was supposed to be going on. Yet there wasn't an in-jokey tone to The Ghastly Love of Johnny X as it came across as more eager to please, just faltering when it arrived at the point where coherence would have been a bonus. If nothing else, though low budget this looked very slick indeed, as Bunnell had used the last existing Kodak black and white film stock, crafting a very easy on the eye gloss and crispness. With cult stars Reggie Bannister (from Phantasm), Kevin McCarthy (still sharp in his final role) and Paul Williams appearing, this did not lack curiosity value.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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