Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Worst Films: #9: Rocktober Blood (1984)

Here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.  I’m pretty sure my foot is broken, but I’m hoping to see an orthopedist this week.  I’m also borrowing an orthopedic boot from my mom, who had foot surgery back in January.  The boot works pretty well, and makes me feel like a cyborg—a low-rent, non-threatening RoboCop (1987).  I’ll keep y’all updated, but I think I am going to be fine.

Speaking of mild tragedies, my #9 pick for my list of my Top Ten Worst Films is 1984’s Rocktober Blood, a visually low-quality, goofy film with great songs.

This film is one of those “Satanic panic” flicks, in which the wicked influence of 80s hair metal corrupts the people involved, resulting in murder and insanity.  I don’t mind that genre—it’s an interesting historical relic, but also makes for some interesting plots (“this time, they really are Satanists!)—but it’s rarely well-executed.  Rocktober Blood proves the rule, unfortunately.

Rocktober Blood features some of the most awkward, stilted performances I’ve ever seen.  Given that hard rock band Sorcery performed some of the roles partially explains why:  their music is great, but their acting chops are the pits.

They say that every actor wants to be a musician, and every musician wants to be an actor.  Indeed, most live musicians make supreme actors—in concerts.  That’s a different kind of acting, though, than film acting, or even theatrical acting.  Some musicians successfully make the leap to celluloid, but most don’t.  Sorcery’s attempted leap fell harder than Mario on World 8.

In their defense, though, they’re just the band, both on the soundtrack and on the on-stage screen.  The rest of the actors—presumably people who just focus on that trade—are awful.  I’m not even sure how to describe it; the only word I think of is stilted, but even that doesn’t really do it justice.

The plot is also ridiculous.  During a late night recording session, lead singer Billy “Eye” Harper inexplicably goes on a killing spring after an enigmatic statement that he wants his music to get a message out to the world.  I seem to recall a section where the music was played backwards, but that might be because I was looking for it.  The sole survivor is Lynn Starling Billy’s girlfriend.

One moment that was ridiculous:  Lynn attempts to lay down some tracks (before the killing spree) on the chorus of a song, “Rainbow Eyes.”  Billy apparently wrote it for and about Lynn, but took away lead vocal work and had her sing harmonies instead.  She does two takes of Bonnie Tyler-esque harmonies that are perfect, and the engineer says, “Can you do it any better”?  After two abortive attempts of sheer excellence, Lynn proclaims she is retiring to the hot tub, and the engineer—in the most stilted way possible—propositions her.  She is completely unphased, and just says, “No, I’ll go alone.”  The guy doesn’t even sound sleazy hitting on the lead singer’s girlfriend—it’s like asking to hang out in the hot tub with his sister.

Anyway, the film advances a couple of years, and Lynn is headlining a new band, Headmistress, playing Billy’s old songs (“Rainbow Eyes,” which is super catchy, gets a ton of play in this flick).  Then Lynn begins seeing Billy all over the place.  She starts going so crazy, she randomly attacks people she thinks are Billy.

This part of the film completely falls apart narratively, and I think part of it is just because of the extremely poor video quality.  The sound (except the music) is terrible, making the dialogue impossible to hear at points.  It looks like a movie recorded on a camcorder.

Normally, that stuff wouldn’t bother me, but it affects the narrative.  The narrative itself is incomprehensible, too, but the poor quality really detracts from the ability to decipher what is going on.  I’m still not sure who some of the characters are, even after consulting the film’s Wikipedia entry.  There’s a guy—the band manager?—who is constantly looking after Lynn, saying she has to be protected at all cost (she is the talent after all).  But how did she just take over this band?  What is her appeal?  Granted, her voice is good, but there’s nothing about her that screams “rock star.”

So, Billy keeps appearing, and Lynn keeps having meltdowns.  Wherever the band goes, Billy shows up, and people start getting killed.  Lynn insists that Billy’s grave be exhumed, but that does not put her fears to rest.

Finally, at a massive concert, Billy confronts Lynn directly, explaining that he is actually Billy’s twin brother, John, the quintessential “evil” twin (Billy was a scumbag, but he probably wasn’t evil).  “Billy” takes the stage with Lynn trapped in a prop coffin, and fans go wild to see their deceased rock ‘n’ roll hero back on stage (and singing the song “I’m Back”).

Somehow, the band manager realizes Billy is trying to kill Lynn—I don’t know how—and sends roadies out to stop the slaying before it can happen (at some point, Billy handcuffs Lynn to himself during his final number, and I never figured out why she was in the coffin in the first place).

The film closes with Billy/John singing, “I’m Back!” into the camera as the credits roll.

really wanted to like this movie.  I did like the music.  But it was such a pain to follow.  Rocktober Blood is riddled with technical problems, and bad acting plagues a poorly-constructed script.

Skip the flick, get the soundtrack.

33 thoughts on “Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Worst Films: #9: Rocktober Blood (1984)

  1. Cheers Tyler. 🙂

    I’ve never heard of Rocktober and thanks to your review, will steer well clear of it.

    I know what you mean regarding films. It doesn’t matter the genre or whether it’s low or big budget. You sit down to watch them because it’s something you might be interested in and even if it starts off badly, you hope, with all your heart, that it’ll improve. When it doesn’t, it makes you slightly annoyed that you wasted valuable hours that you could have spent doing something else. That’s how I feel, anyway.

    One of the films in my list – number 5 to be precise – is a relatively new film that Tina and I watched the other day. Both of us were disappointed at the start and hoped that it would improve. It didn’t. It was as pointless as Biden sitting a test for Mensa. Hopefully, though, our lists will help deter readers from wasting their time. Yes, there is taste but a lot of films are tasteless dirge and it’s good to warn people away from them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kudos to you for having these reviews mapped out so far in advance. I’m putting mine together week by week! I’m not sure how I will get to ten, but I’m going to keep mining my vast collection of bad movies. I have three massive collections of mostly-awful films I can access.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m having to think about it. It’s 8-5 that’s been an issue. To be fair, there are probably about 500 movies that could go into the top 10. For me, it’s about finding enough of them I can actually remember. A lot of the bad movies, I’ve scrubbed from my mind.

        I’ve altered 2 so far and I might change them again. Nobody will like my next choice – I’m probably in the minority of one who thinks it a bad film but 1-4 deserve to be there.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. When we get 4-1, you and your readers might have to give me a little license. I will swear – can’t be helped. Imagine how I felt watching them and you’ll understand the need for profanities! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Port – it was quiet. I was up very early and had time to watch Risen before church. It’s a good movie; I recommend it. $3.99 to rent on Amazon Prime.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just checked out Risen, Audre. Not a bad cast but alarm bells rang when I found it was written and directed by Kevin Reynolds, he of Waterworld and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves infamy.

    If we can get it on the cheap – ie, someone gives/lends it to us – I’ll probably watch it otherwise there’s more chance of tele and I developing a long and lasting friendship than me watching that film.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t really pay attention to directors; aside from The Passion of the Christ, I couldn’t tell you the director of any movie. But I found the trailers interesting and gave it a shot. I was not disappointed. I was also able to ignore that fact that the baby legionaire was the rotten blonde kid in the Harry Potter movies, lol. (at least I think he was) Anyway, the actor who played the tribune was quite effective, I thought. It’s a good movie.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well because you advised it, I’ll check it out when I can. Tom Felton is the guy you’re talking about. I think with a decent director and good role, he’d make a fine actor. Draco’s story from the age of 11-17 was great in the books; he evolves possibly more than other characters.

        Robin Hood is saved by Alan Rickman though Alan Rickman couldn’t save Love, Actually. Some films are so bad that you could overload them with the creme de la creme and they’d still be sh***. My top choice has a ton of well established actors and it’s still horrible. I’ve checked out other lists and my number one is on everyone’s list.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a director. Our film school at university was offering places for an annual study at Ithaca University, New York as part of an exchange programme and I nearly went. That would have been an awful lot of fun though at the time, my university days were, ahem, a little debauched so I don’t think I’d have got much work done.

    I’m a big fan of quirky directors so I like Jeunet’s early work in France, Aronofsky’s early films and I’m a big fan of Takeshi Mike. Stars get so much limelight but a great film done well needs an invested and creative director. Del Toro and Rodriguez were great in the day but became tainted by Hollywood, as all decent artists do. My favourites from time gone by are probably Capra and Carol Reed.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well 39,
    I followed you to this wonderful site. Happy to see Audre here too.
    As a teenager I had a Saturday job in the first local “boutique” – think Ben Sherman shirts, 24″ parallels and mod type stuff.
    I noticed an advert put in the shop window every week for the local cinema and there was always these green tickets floating around the office. The boss told me they were complimentary from the cinema – 2 a week. Nobody used them so I figured Friday night was movie night. At that time there was always a “B” movie plus the main film. I have sat through some real lemons. The added bonus to free tickets was getting to know the cinema manager who had been there years. He always wore a suit and the usherettes who showed you your seat with the little torch and sold ice cream in the interval were also wearing silver service type uniforms.
    When a blockbuster was showing (James Bond generally) there was always a little display – cardboard cut out of 007 and a few scantily dressed Bond girls.
    I asked the manager what he did with the displays when the movie had screened. Just kick them to pieces and put them in the trash. From then on I saved the cut outs after every promotion and had them stored at my Grans house. Plus I always got a clean movie poster they put on hoardings to advertise around the suburbs.
    I moved on, joined the Navy and the collection was heaved out for the trash man.
    I look at prices of movie posters today and they fetch eye watering amounts of cash. I reckon I could have retired on the collection I had – full sized James Bond and the Batman (first round) plus Zulu and the magnificent 7 would have sold for real money today.

    As for the movies. My arts and craft teacher would have me do a 10 minute critique of what had been on that week. Most of the class loved my little reviews. I saw some classics but by jingo I saw some real turkeys too.

    I am with you so far so I will follow you to your number one. I have an inkling on what it could be but I will keep my powder dry relishing your choices meantime.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Welcome, Red! Thank you for sharing your wonderful reminiscences. I am sorry to hear about your lost collection of movie memorabilia. It’s one reason I never throw anything out anymore—ha!

      I hope you enjoy the blog. Ponty should have another movie review coming this next Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies for the late response, redthommo. I’d presumed the comments for this piece were done and dusted and only popped back after DJM followed the link. I should know by now how often readers move between pieces regardless of when they were posted. 🙈

      What a collection you had and such a shame you had to get rid of them. Unfortunately, you have to sometimes – if we stuck by the things we think might have value in the future, we’d all become serial hoarders, our houses looking like bomb sites! Still, I loved reading about your memories.

      I have a feeling what you think my number one is. All I can say is you’ll have to see. There are some howlers in any case. My top ten could have featured from hundreds of choices but in the end, I had to stick with the ones I couldn’t scrub from my mind, regardless of how much alcohol I poured into my body! 😂😂😂

      I hope you enjoy this site. Tyler is a good egg.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In your defense, Ponty, Red’s comment was in moderation, and I was at the orthopedist yesterday and then getting a much-needed haircut, I was delayed catching new comments.

        Speaking of my foot: there is no fracture! Praise the Lord. Instead, I just have a bad sprain across the mid-lateral portion of the foot. Some rest, ice, compression, and elevation—what I was already *kind of* doing—will make the difference. I also have a nifty note to give my boss that says I shouldn’t be on my feet nonstop, so that might give me license to sit around a bit more while teaching—ha!

        Thanks for saying I’m a good egg. I’m certainly scrambled at time, but I’m also pretty over easy.

        Like

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