Now That’s What I Call Quite Good: Voyage Of The Rock Aliens

Voyage Of The Rock Aliens indexA sci-fi musical from 1984, Voyage Of The Rock Aliens is often more a selection of sketches than a coherent whole, there’s just about enough of a vague narrative to the whole piece for it to make sense but most of the time it’s just a selection of very silly skits. This hopefully won’t put anyone off though as it’s a film which has a lot of pretty damn funny moments in it, and the songs though mostly short often contain amusing lyrics.

It starts with a scene where the film’s star Pia Zadora is in a weird futuristic setting and two gangs have a fight while singing sweetly to each other, and it’s fun stuff indeed, the only problem being that it doesn’t have any link to the rest of the film other than that aliens hear the song and decide they love rock and roll and must find the planet responsible for creating it. That leads them to present day Earth where they land in the town of Speelburgh (because this is not a subtle film in the slightest) hang about for a bit, the lead alien falls in love with Dee Dee (Zadora again, but a different character this time), but her shitty boyfriend Frankie (Craig Sheffer) objects to his lustful pursuits.

While all this is going on the local Sheriff (Harold and Maude star Ruth Gordon) is trying to track down the aliens, there’s a local lake filled with toxic water which is mentioned a couple of times, mostly forgotten about but is then responsible for a very bizarre ending to the film, and there’s also two escaped inmates from the local insane asylum who are going around murdering people. Most of the time the above storylines are separate from the main narrative concerning the aliens and Pia, but they do at least all link together at the very end.

It’s an extremely absurd, deliberately daft affair, the kind of movie packed with a lot of slapstick idiocy and daft scenes. To give you a taste of what you might expect to see, during the running time our lead alien ABCD (Tom Nolan) literally explodes with lust upon chatting to Dee Dee, the alien’s robot turns itself in to a fire hydrant but then inevitably has an altercation with a dog, one of the mental patients (Michael Berryman) is called Chainsaw as he has a chainsaw, and in one scene is about to kill a woman until it breaks down, so she helps him fix it, and in a slightly dodgy part the lead alien makes a “stimulator” to get Dee Dee to fall in love with him, only for it to backfire and a huge amount of men throw themselves at him instead. So yes, it’s ridiculous and then some, but it is largely well filmed and the script is very self aware and no one has any illusions that they’re creating great art here.

The mostly rock / pop songs are also pretty fun, as mentioned most are short but they contain some decent lines and the choreography is often strong, with one set in a woman’s toilet especially inventive. Not all of the songs make a great deal of sense (Combine Man is particularly pointless, albeit still enjoyable), and like many a musical it runs out of steam a little towards the end, but there’s enough of them that pleasingly there’s never too long a gap between numbers.

It’s undoubtedly a slightly patchy work, with the odd glaring continuity error (a scene right at the end switches between day and night without a care in the world), and the ending frustrated as it’s quite a disjointed affair, as if the director realised he’d set up a few too many plot points and didn’t know how to resolve everything within the short amount of time he gave himself to wrap things up, but if you’re in a forgiving mood and love musicals then this could well become a cult favourite.

If you really like cheesy musicals: ★★★ 1/2
Everyone else: ★★★

Alex Finch.
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You can watch Voyage Of The Rock Aliens on Vimeo here.

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