Friday, September 15, 2023

Stunt Rock (1978)

          Delivering in a big way on both elements of its title, Stunt Rock is an Australian oddity depicting the adventures of an Aussie stuntman who visits the U.S. and hangs out with members of a flamboyant rock band, so the nearly plotless flick combines wild stunt footage with extensive concert sequences. As the cult-cinema equivalent of background noise, Stunt Rock is palatable because leading man Grant Page does lots of outrageously dangerous things, from climbing the sides of buildings to driving at insane speeds to setting himself on fire, and also because the gimmick of rock band Sorcery is that each of their shows features an onstage battle between good and evil wizards—lots of silly costumes, lots of magic tricks, lots of pyro. The movie also goes heavy into that oh-so-’70s gimmick of split-screen imagery. While I can’t say Stunt Rock held my attention particularly well as an adult viewer, I can’t help but imagine how an American version of the same movie would have blown my preadolescent mind—the notion of Evel Knievel costarring with Kiss sounds indescribably awesome (even though the actual movies Knievel and Kiss made in the ‘70s were indescribably awful). Setting aside enticing “what if” scenarios, Stunt Rock is sufficiently unique to merit attention from the cinematically adventurous. It’s not a good movie by any measure, but it stands alone.
          Page, already a veteran stuntman and TV personality by the time he made this picture, stars as a fictionalized version of himself. The premise is that he travels to America for work on an action-oriented TV show, then spends time with Sorcery since he’s related to one of the band’s members. That’s virtually the entire storyline of Stunt Rock, excepting Page’s interaction with the actress starring in the TV show—frustrated that her most exciting scenes feature stunt doubles, she pressures Page to train her in the art of doing dangerous things safely. To state the obvious, viewers already interested in movie stunts will find that aspect of the movie more compelling than others; unlike the same era’s Hooper (1978) and The Stunt Man (1980), this flick lets stunt footage unfurl without the burden of narrative import, so the vibe is very much ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Similarly, fans of Alice Cooper and Kiss are more likely than others to groove on what Sorcery throws down. The band’s heavy-metal tunes are melodic, but their onstage shtick is goofy. That said, some details in Stunt Rock are memorably weird, for instance the fact that Sorcery’s keyboard player never appears without a mask covering his entire head. What’s more, reading about the making of Stunt Rock reveals that director Brian Trenchard-Smith put the whole thing together—from concept to finished product—in six months, so that explains a lot. At least the Stunt Rock team found time to assemble a spectacular poster—why that key art failed to draw kids into theaters is a mystery.

Stunt Rock: FUNKY

1 comment:

greg6363 said...

Smith initially attempted to get the members of the band Foreigner to star in the film. While they were interested in joining the project, they could not commit to the film until after the conclusion of their U.S. tour. Since Smith had a deadline for the film's completion, he had to find another option which what ultimately ended up on screen.