By Chris Scullion
Source: That Was a Bit Mental
Director: James Fargo
Starring: Pia Zadora, Tom Nolan, Craig Sheffer, Michael Berryman, Ruth Gordon, Alison La Placa
“I still can’t believe you’re an alien. What a novelty act!” (Dee Dee, Voyage Of The Rock Aliens)
One day in the future, when I have children, there will come a day when I’m asked “dad, what were the ’80s like?”
I already know how I’ll respond. Without saying a single word I’ll gesture to the couch, insist they sit down, turn the telly on and make them watch Voyage Of The Rock Aliens. Just to fuck with them.
After all, as a massive fan of anything ’80s I reckon I’ve seen enough movies and TV shows to determine what best sums up the decade. And this, quite frankly, is the most ’80s thing I’ve ever seen by a long way.
And I’ve seen this photo:
You see, what we have here, friends, is a sci-fi musical comedy in which all the songs are the catchiest, cheesiest ’80s pop you can imagine. And it’s brilliant.
It tells the story of a bunch of aliens, led by the super-serious ABCD (pronounced ‘Absid’, naturally), who fly around space in a ship shaped like a massive Flying V guitar.
These aliens are tasked with exploring the galaxy and studying anything they find in order to try to locate the source of Rock & Roll. Guess where they end up? That’s right,
More specifically, they land in the town of Speelburgh (ahem), where local prettyboy Frankie rules his fellow teenagers with an iron fist.
As the lead singer of his band The Pack, he’s somehow managed to impose some sort of musical dictatorship banning anyone else in the town from playing instruments or singing.
This includes his girlfriend Dee Dee (singer Pia Zadora), who fancies herself as the next big musical sensation but is being held back by Frankie’s harsh singbargo.
Enter the Rock Aliens, who you’d better believe are going to ruddy well sing and dance all they want because it’s all they know. And once they do, the rest of the Speelburgh teens – Dee Dee included – are blown away by their new musical style (which is basically Devo).
ABCD quickly takes a shine to Dee Dee, by which I mean his head literally explodes and his limbs fall off the first time he sees her. That’s not a figure of speech, that actually happens.
For some reason this doesn’t put Dee Dee off and the two fall for each other, with ABCD asking Dee Dee to join his band.
Dee Dee is thrilled, but how will she react when she discovers that ABCD and his bandmates are aliens? And is Frankie really going to let this weird prick win his girlfriend over? Dramaaaaaa.
I genuinely uttered the phrase “what the fuck is this all about” five or six times throughout the course of Voyage Of The Rock Aliens. And that’s no bad thing.
For example, you’ve got the opening sequence, set on another planet, in which Pia Zadora (playing someone else) and Jermaine Jackson sing their new single for no reason at all: after which Jackson fucks off and is never seen again.
Then there’s the bizarre subplot involving two escaped mental patients, one of whom (The Hills Have Eyes‘ Michael Berryman) falls in love and sees the error of his ways.
These are but a few moments of madness: others include a robot helper (voiced by Peter ‘Optimus Prime’ McCulloch) disguising itself as a fire hydrant, an odd dance number set in a ladies’ toilet, and a giant mutant octopus thing which is sitting in the nearby lake waiting to take over the town.
Then there’s Ruth Gordon playing a bizarre sheriff who has a surprising lack of tact when phoning the families of accident victims:
“Am I speaking to the widow of John S. Lamont?”
“You must be mistaken, I’m not a widow.”
“The hell you’re not!”
This being a musical, the songs are naturally of great importance, and anyone into cheesy ’80s pop will be in heaven.
Each track is delightfully catchy and yet charmingly shit, with nonsensical lyrics all over the shop (“It’s the nature of the beast / I’m keeping up my status quota”) that often don’t have anything to do with the story. Which is sort of the point of songs in a musical, but fuck it, I’m giving it a pass.
The best of the bunch is definitely the opening track though (the one with Jermaine Jackson in it). Curious? Enjoy:
Of all the ’80s sci-fi musical comedies I’ve seen over the years, Voyage of The Rock Aliens is undoubtedly the best. It’s also undoubtedly the only, but let’s not try to ruin the mood.
Get some similarly ’80s-minded friends around, shit fancy dress optional, turn the volume as loud as it can go without the neighbours coming round to cave your face in, and enjoy a helping of delicious ’80s cheese so plentiful that you’ll having dreams about hairspray, synthesisers and robot fire hydrants for weeks to come.