A Death Wish at 120 Decibels

stunt-rock-posterBrian Trenchard-Smith’s (“The Man From Hong Kong,” “Leprechaun 4”) “Stunt Rock” is a 92-minute trailer with no plot or character development. It rests solely on providing stunts with hard-rock music, and the result is a charming, in-your-face explosion set in Beverly Hills.

The premise is simple – What if an Australian stuntman hung out with an American rock band? – from that, the insanity ensues. As your senses are assaulted with onstage magic from the band, crazy and amazing stunts done with split-screen and slow-motion camerawork, making it a music video long before the days of MTV.

The main characters are not played by typical actors. In fact, the lead is played by Australian stuntman Grant Page. This guy is the real deal, with a résumé that includes the stunt work for the “Mad Max” series and “Mad Dog Morgan” (briefly seen in this movie). Page makes for an excellent lead man, with his natural charm, which is elevated when you witness the death-defying stunts he performs.

In an attempt to get a breakfast date, Page does a high-wire act above a city landscape with a telephone in his hand, stating that if gets a “no,” he will be forced to jump. (How can typical guys compete with that?) When not trying to pick up women, he is providing the stunt work for a female cop show on American television or escaping from a hospital.

The woman that he wants to date is a journalist following the group, poorly played by Margaret Gerard. She is unconvincing in every piece of dialogue delivered throughout.

Now, as for the hard-rock band, a group called Sorcery is used and they’re comprised of Paul Haynes, Curtis Hyde, Greg Magie, Smokey Huff, Richie King, Doug Loch and Perry Morris. However, they are far from a typical rock group because their act included magic, a king of the wizards and a prince of the darkness. The movie shows a fraction of what went into a typical concert from them, and it is spectacle to behold.

Monique van de Ven is the other major character that is the star of the television series in which Page does the stunt work for, and that enables the director to spoof Hollywood in an hysterical way.

With the removal of a plot, the movie gets to do something amazingly freeing by consisting of a series of events. It also serves as time capsule of the late ‘70s in scene after scene. On top of everything else, it is also a fun staple of the grindhouse subculture, and not an easy picture to describe to people that have never seen it.

Trenchard-Smith was a director with flair, who knew how to make excellent, low-budget, drive-in fodder, and this picture is a stunning example of that. This is direction with a large amount of bold creativity that is awe-inspiring to watch. It took guts to put something like this together, which makes one hope that “The Man From Hong Kong” receives a DVD release soon, because his work deserves to be seen.

Code Red has outdid itself with this excellent DVD of this lost classic, which surfaced briefly from Something Weird Home Video. The two-disc DVD houses some of the best special features this side of the Criterion Collection. Fans often get angry at Code Red for the time it takes them to release a movie because the special features take a while to produce, but the wait is worthwhile for people that respect these lost classics.

For starters, on disc one, the picture and sound have never been better since the picture is finally in widescreen. This allows the full band to be seen on stage for the first time on the home-video market.

The film is presented with two informative audio commentaries, the first has Trenchard-Smith stars Page and Gerard, which is fascinating since Page has quite an impressive memory. The second bonus commentary is by Trenchard-Smith producer Marty Fink and star Richard Blackburn.

Then comes more extras on the first disc, such as an on camera interviews with Trenchard-Smith, Huff, Blackburn and Fink. An audio-only interview with Sorcery drummer Perry Morris is followed by the original theatrical trailer. This alone would be a staggering amount of extras, but there is a whole second disc.

The second disc has a vintage documentary on stunt work featuring Page at work called The Stuntman. This was also directed by Trenchard-Smith, and was the inspiration for “Stunt Rock.” Stuntmen are the unsung heroes of Hollywood and what most men are afraid to do. These guys are great, and what most young people dream of being when they grow up. We watch the stuntmen set themselves on fire and drive a motorcycle into a car, and then are informed how that stunt was performed.

That is followed by a funny Q & A at the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas with Trenchard-Smith, in which he recalls stories of his past movies and a concept for a “Leprechaun” film set in the White House which was never made.

An 18-minute Cannes promo reel is shown, but at that point you are worn down from the extras and you don’t feel like watching more clips from the film you already watched.

But save some room for an impressive reel of upcoming Code Red DVDs that include “The Statue,” “Choke Canyon,” “The Visitor,” “Brute Corps” and a few more.

It’s a pretty impressive array of extras that enhance and enlighten the experience of watching the sometimes-incoherent “Stunt Rock,” and makes this a must buy for fans of Aussie exploitation.

About Anthony Benedetto 153 Articles
I have always had a tremendous passion for the cinema. For me, movies provide a great escape. When done right, the characters and stories are something that I am instantly drawn into. Over the years, I’ve unintentionally become a movie encyclopedia that I often find myself the recipient of late night phone calls from my friends while at Blockbuster [One such conversation between the Editor of this site and the film “Redbelt” immediately comes to mind.] As far as my preferences go however, I love both the cult cinema and the classics. My love of film ranges from features such as “Amadeus” to “Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-A- Rama.” I have a long range of film heroes as well that include, Michael J. Fox, Lloyd Kaufman, Robby Benson, Michael Caine and Jeff Bridges. On this site, I hope to teach people about cult cinema and have them rent films that they normally would not, turning you into the monster that I have become. Someday, I hope to be the star and director of my cult film, employing the old stop motion techniques used in films like “Flesh Gordon.”

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