Friday, August 5, 2016

VHS Summer Week #6

Rock-A-Die Baby
Bob Cook

I like anthology movies, they usually offer enough variety that even if a current story isn’t working for you, the next one is just minutes away. Since the format is essentially a series of short films, it can allow for some experimentation with image and structure. A strong wrap-around or closing story can go a long way towards salvaging a struggling collection. An anthology movie has a lot of things it can draw from to make it a worthwhile venture. Rock-A-Die Baby fails at every single turn.
How many wrap-around segments does one movie require? Rock-A-Die Baby opens with a band manager grousing at his band about making a music video. Alright, you think to yourself, this band is going to somehow introduce or have some element that weaves through the stories.


Instead we then introduced to a mom (Marilyn Hasset) and her annoying child (Lauren Woodland). The kid insists on being told stories before she will go to bed. The mom proceeds to tell some tales that are, at best, wildly inappropriate for a child:

Jazz hands!
Story 1) A bunch of army guys during the Vietnam War wander around someone’s backyard in Florida a jungle shooting people. They capture a woman and debate what to do with her (none of it pleasant). Wouldn’t you know it, she’s probably not human at all.

It’s a simple story, and it feels the most coherent out of the three. The humor falls flat, and the talk of rape sours what is otherwise a pretty silly story. Still it has one funny gore gag and that puts it above the other two in terms of quality.

Story 2) A bunch of drunk college students play strip poker and decide to put on a fake séance to trick another girl in taking her clothes off. Which is I guess a thing that could happen.

You can probably guess exactly where this one is going, but the movie strings along the story for an interminable amount time. Only the occasional bout of nudity keeps things alive and even that isn’t enough stop this story from limping to its conclusion.

"I tore Endora's throat out and I'm not ashamed."
Story 3) In a shocking turn of events, one of these stories has something to with anything else that has happened prior in the movie. The mom/storyteller explains how she met her husband. It’s sort of a meet-cute with classic monsters. In theory it could be charming. In execution, it is excruciating.

The punchline is obvious once everything is in motion, and honestly there is something unsettling about seeing Dick Sargent aka Darren from Bewitched on the make. While waiting around for the story to get around to the joke, the viewer is blindsided by the single worst werewolf in cinematic history (and yes, I’m counting the one from Silver Bullet (1985)). If there is no other reason to sit through this movie, it is to see this astoundingly bad creation in all its glory.

Rock-A-Die Baby is tough movie to come by, as far as I can tell there are no legitimate US releases in any format. There are some grey market and foreign VHS versions. Is it worth all that work to see? Depends on your addiction to anthologies, and awful werewolves.


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