Rock ‘n’ Roll 80’s Horror Films of Jon Mikl Thor

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 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)

SUMMARY
Hoping to record some new music, the band Triton travels to an isolated farmhouse in Canada, unaware that it is inhabited by murderous demons. Along for the trip are some of the band members’ significant others, John’s girlfriend Randy, Roger’s new wife Mary, and Stig’s girlfriend Lou Anne. Although some are disappointed at the lack of a television and other distractions, the band quickly begins to record new songs. The demons are also busy, as they begin secretly murdering and possessing the group’s souls one by one, until only John is left.

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Frustrated with the lack of success with claiming John’s soul, Beelzebub appears in front of John, who reveals himself to be none other than the archangel known as the Intercessor. He also reveals that none of the other people at the house existed, as they were only shadows meant to trick Beelzebub into appearing. The two begin a fight to the death, which the Intercessor wins. As the movie comes to a close, it shows a suburban home in a seemingly normal neighborhood as foreboding music begins to play, implying that home is also demon ridden.

BEHIND THE SCENES/INTERVIEWS

john-fasano-d8a51f33-dce6-465b-a2e5-eb33965ff57-resize-750 Interview with Director John Fasano

“Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare” was your second film working with Jon Mikl Thor. How did this second project come to be?
John Fasano: I had finished shooting “Zombie Nightmare” and it was being butchered by the neophyte Editing team in Montreal so I was back in Manhattan at Reeltime when Lenny Shapiro flew into town to offer Walter and Roberta a deal — he knew they could shoot a feature for 100,000 dollars (they had done it on “Blood Sisters”) so he would give them 50K and they would put up 50K, Reeltime making the film which his Los Angeles based company Shapiro Entertainment would distribute the pic and they would split the NET profits 50-50. Walter laughed at that. They should split the GROSS 50-50. Hell, Lenny didn’t want that, so he returned to his hotel in preparation for heading back to L.A. I quickly called him. If he would give ME 50,000 dollars I would raise 50,000 and make the film, happy to split the net profits. You see, I had a plan. I would make the movie for Lenny’s 50,000 — I’d just write, direct, edit, and do the special effects myself with no pay — shit, all that stuff HAD to be worth 50K. Lenny agreed if I would meet his criteria — the film had to be shot in 35mm, it had to have X-number of monsters and naked chicks (actually eight naked breasts) and a worldwide soundtrack album — sure, I said, I can do that.

Tell me about more the background/budget of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare.”
John Fasano: I definitely had more balls than brains, then. The first thing I did was make a deal with heavy-metal rocker/Canadian John Mikl Thor — who had stepped in halfway through “Zombie Nightmare” to take over the lead — to star and supply an album for half of my half of the net profits. I then made a deal with the Toronto crew who had shot Thor’s video “Knock Them Down” to supply ALL CREW and EQUIPMENT for 10,000 dollars Canadian (like 7,000 dollars US) then I went to all my friends who wanted to be actors and said, “I can give ya one hundred and fifty bucks to star in this movie — that’s it, no points, no residuals — but you get to stay in a hotel in Toronto and you get to be in a real movie. They all agreed. Then I went to all my friends who wanted to be effects men. By this time I had moved from the Bronx to Bronxville New York, to a house with a finished basement. I set up the basement as an effects shop and ensconced all my friends there. In post I had to ask Lenny for $3000 more dollars to finish, so the total budget was $53,000.

You must have felt pressured trying to complete a film in only seven days. Was it a fun shoot for you, or were you stressed out all the time?
John Fasano: Sheer joy! I was directing my movie all by myself!

How was it filming in Markham Ontario in winter?
John Fasano: Fucking freezing! On the nighttime time lapse shots of the house DP Mark Mackey FROZE to the side of the camera and he had to take the camera off the head, bring it in and hair dryer him til he got free.

What films would you say inspired “Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare?”
John Fasano: “Evil Dead.” “Legend of Hell House.”

“Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare” features a pair of music videos within the film for the songs “We Live To Rock” and “Energy.” How long did it take to film those videos?
John Fasano: Just during the course of the day with the rest of the filming. A couple of hours each. My ex-brother in law, Jim Cirile, who plays STIG is the only one in the band who can play and instrument so his hands double for the Frank and the Dave in the close ups.

What is your favorite song from the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare” soundtrack?
John Fasano: “We Live To Rock.” Should have been a hit single.

 “Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare” was one of the first films to be edited digitally. Were you confident in what was at the time this “new technology”?
John Fasano: We didn’t have money for dailies. We had to cut electronically. Like I said, I was sure we could do ANYTHING.

I think the answer should be obvious, but why the 10 minute sequence of Jon Mikl Thor driving a van?
John Fasano: See above – we had a ten day schedule and Mark bugged out after seven. The film was that much short.

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The end battle between Triton and old Scratch is the stuff of LEGEND! Share your unique memories of filming and participating in that epic battle!
John Fasano: The Scratch puppet weighed like a hundred pounds and I had to scramble around on my knees holding the thing up with my arm sticking over my head into the torso. It’s head was SOLID resin and alone weighed sixty pounds. When I hit Thor with it, it hurt.

 “Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare” was originally titled “Arc Angel”, and then “The Edge Of Hell”. Which of those three titles do you prefer?
John Fasano: “Edge of Hell.”

jon-mikl-thor-bd9cc22d-b0ba-4e78-a7fb-18a064979e3-resize-750Interview with Jon Mikl Thor

I met John Fasano, he saw the movie Recruits, liked how I acted in that, and then he had me come up to Montreal and we shot Zombie Nightmare.  We’d talk about things while I was getting makeup put on me and all that stuff. John and I spoke about “Hey, why don’t we do a movie together? About some kind of a Hercules type of character, or an angel who falls to earth that tries to do a good deed to get on the good side again” So, you know, I came up with a script, Rock N’ Roll Nightmare. It was originally called “The Archangel” then it was called “The Edge of Hell”, and some countries kept the name “The Edge of Hell”, but Rock N’ Roll Nightmare was the name used for North America, and it did incredibly well!

One of the great things about Rock ‘n Roll Nightmare is that it begins as one kind of movie and then at the end totally turns into a completely unexpected kind of film. Was that something you had in mind from the beginning, or did you guys find your way there when you were putting the film together?
Thor: I wanted it to have a Hitchcock style surprise ending. What I wanted to write, being into superheroes and science fiction and horror and rock, I wanted to have a movie that combined all these elements together. The surprise ending was intentional.

I’m assuming Rock ‘n Roll Nightmare was a very, very low budget picture.
Thor: Low budget but we tried to make it look as expensive as possible. We shot it on 35mm.

What’s the experience of that like – when you’re trying to create such a big ending sequence and you have so little money?
Thor: It’s very stressful. I had done that before with many of my projects. I’m much like Roger Corman must have been – I’ve read that he was stressed out trying to make a picture and they run out of money and that sort of thing happens. The post-production was very stressful as we tried to edit everything. Actually, we were the first at the time – it was the trades – my company Thunder Films was one of the first to ever edit on digital. Back in 1987. That helped us speed up the post-production.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) Soundtrack

CAST/CREW
Directed John Fasano
Produce Jon Mikl Thor
Screenplay Jon Mikl Thor

Jon Mikl Thor as John Triton
Jillian Peri as Lou Anne
Frank Dietz as Roger Eburt
David Lane as Max
Teresa Simpson as Randy
Fried Adam Fried as Phil
Denise Dicandia as Dee Dee
Jim Cirile as Stig
Liane Abel Dietz as Mary Eburt

Music by Jon Mikl Thor

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Zombie Nightmare (1987)

SUMMARY
Years ago, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a little boy named Tony Washington (Jesse D’Angelo) cheers on his father William Washington (John Fasano)’s performance in a baseball game. On their way home, Tony, William, and William’s wife Louise (Francesca Bonacorsa) see two teenagers preparing to rape a young girl (Tracy Biddle). William intervenes, rescuing the girl, but one of the would-be rapists fatally stabs him, leaving him to die as the two teens flee.

In the film’s present-day, Tony (Jon Mikl Thor), now a musclebound teenage baseball player, disrupts an attempted robbery at a neighborhood grocery store. As he steps into the street, he is struck dead by a car carrying by a gang of reckless teenagers: Bob (Allan Fisler), Amy (Tia Carrere), Jim (Shawn Levy), Peter (Hamish McEwan), and Susie (Manon E. Turbide). The carful of teens flees the scene, and neighbors carry Tony’s corpse to his home, where his mother Louise mourns for him. She contacts Molly Mekembe, the girl whom William rescued years ago, now a local voodoo priestess (Manuska Rigaud), in hope that voodoo can save her son. While Molly is unable to restore Tony to life, she can revive him long enough to allow him to avenge his own death. After Louise agrees, Molly resurrects Tony as a zombie, then uses her powers to aid him in his revenge by guiding him to the guilty teenagers.

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The next night, Tony, as a zombie, tracks Peter and Susie to an academy gymnasium and kills Peter by breaking his neck then Susie by crushing her skull with a baseball bat. The night afterwards, he is able to find and kill Jim by impaling him with the same bat before the latter could rape a waitress. Police detective Frank Sorrell (Frank Dietz) is soon investigating both incidents and initially agrees with a coroner that a large built, drug-fueled man is responsible. Sorrell brings his suspicions to his boss, police captain Tom Churchman (Adam West) and is told by him that they have already managed to find a suspect responsible that matches Sorrell’s description and closes the case.

Believing that the case has not been fully solved, Sorrell investigates photos that has Molly at both incidents and suggests to Churchman that they bring her in for questioning. However the captain quickly dismisses her as a “batty, voodoo palm reader that follows ambulances around” and sends him home to rest. Shortly afterwards, Churchman contacts Jim’s father, Fred, and informs him of Molly’s involvement in his son’s death, then tells him to come to the police station. Before Fred could leave his home, he sees Tony approaching him and shoots him with a rifle. Tony quickly recovers and breaks Fred’s neck, killing him.

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Knowing that they will be next, Bob and Amy decide to leave town. While at a garage getting money, Tony finds them and kills Bob by bashing his head against a car, then does the same to Amy against a door. While monitoring Tony’s actions, Molly is held at gunpoint by Churchman to come with him and forced to show where Tony is going. The zombie makes his way to a cemetery with Sorrell following him. Molly and Churchman soon arrive, with both telling Sorrell that the priestess resurrected Tony to not only avenge himself, but also Molly herself as Churchman and Fred were the two that tried to rape her years ago, and that the captain was also the one who had killed Tony’s father. Having learned that a revived zombie’s power fades once it has achieved its goal, Churchman shoots Tony, ending his zombie existence, then shoots and kills Molly as well. Before he could do the same to Sorrell to silence him as a witness, a second zombie rises out of a nearby grave and drags the still-living Churchman into the ground with him, presumably to Hell. A shocked Sorrell inspects the grave, learns that the second zombie was William Washington, Tony’s father, avenging his own death years before at Churchman’s hands, then departs..

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DEVELOPMENT
Jack Bravman was another New York based porn movie producer who switched to low Budget Horror films when the porn industry switched to shooting on video. He was friends with Walter and Roberta and when he heard I had fixed their script he asked me if I could write a script for him. I said I would write it if I could direct it. He said he wanted to direct it, but I could direct it with him as his “assistant director” I agreed and ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE was born. I planned to shoot the film in my home town of Port Washington, Long Island, and wrote the script around locations I knew and people I could get from the Port Play Troupe summer stock company.

We began prepping Zombie Nightmare. Jack hired a casting director in Los Angeles who got us Adam West to play the Police Chief and a young chick from GENERAL HOSPITAL named TIA CARRERE. For the lead Zombie we hired an actor/body builder named PeeWee Piemonte who had a Coke commercial running, and for the daddy zombie I had my eyes set on WWF wrestler Superstar BILLY GRAHAM, a far out dude I used to watch on TV with my dad, he always wore these tie-dyed tights. I got Jack to hire two classmates from SUNY Purchase. Andy Clement and Tony Bua, to do the zombie prosthetics, Andy was taking Dick Smith’s correspondence course, and Tony was a Sculpture major who was just about the best damn sculptor you ever saw. They cast up PeeWee and SuperStar and got to work. Jack and I worked out the directing deal — HE would direct the scenes with Tia and Adam West in them, and when it was just the other people, I could take over sometimes. Hey, cool, I was gonna sort of direct a film I wrote.

Shooting “Zombie Nightmare” was a trip. The Montreal Producer put all of us Americans up in a sleazy Motel by the airport — porn on the TV of course which NONE of us had seen before, and the crew only spoke French in front of us (even though the bastards spoke perfect English behind our backs) Tony and Andy showed up with, like ONE FUCKING COPY of the Zombie Appliance which had to be worn by Peewee for all ten days of the shoot. Andy said he couldn’t get his foam to gel. A call To Dick Smith straightened him out and he was quickly cranking up more appliances. On I think the second day of shooting Billy Graham was flying up to join us. I returned from the set to the production office and asked if his flight got in on time. The PM blanched, looked at me and said, “Dude, we forgot to pick him up!” I jumped in my car and flew over to Mirabelle airport. Ran into the terminal. Yes, a big man got off a plane ten that morning. He sat in the airport lobby for ten hours. Then flew back to The States. I was crushed. My wrestling hero was gone. Who the hell was going to play the Zombie the next day? It was cast on his head and his neck was HUGE

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There is so much more to say about “Zombie Nightmare” that will fill more than one chapter of the book I’ll eventually write. It was the first film that I worked on that really felt like a real movie. Being on location, dealing with professional crews, actors, first time of being totally FUCKED out of the credit I deserved, etc., but it will always be most special to me because of Adam West.

Adam was the coolest on the set. He knew that being Batman had typecast him, he had gone through a dry spell in his career, and by the time he got to Z.N. he was having fun with his status. People like us needed “Name actors” He would make a good living dropping into these crummy flicks for a few days, but he didn’t just phone it in. He really wanted to do a good job — even though the schedule and circumstances would work against him. Some examples: Driving Adam to the set I lamented that there wasn’t another scene between him and costar Frank Dietz that was out of the police station. I’d thought it would be cool to have them out for drinks, commiserated how shitty it is to be cops. He said, write it! And so when we got to the police station set I had the art department re-dress the far corner of the room to look like a restaurant, with a couple of plants, tables, and a different colored wall — and we did the scene!

Since he was working, I think two days and we had to shoot like ten scenes with him he had to have the script in front of him for a lot of the Police Station scenes. He’d glance down to refresh his memory while the other actor was giving his lines, knowing that the editor would have cut away from him during that time — but the first time moron Montreal editors left in the shots where it’s clear that Adam is looking at his script! Even in the finale when I get to kill his character, someone shot a flash picture while I was coming out of the ground that no one saw until we got the dailies and saw the few frames flashed. The hazards of Ultra low budget filmmaking. ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE MEMORIES (John Fasano)

BEHIND THE SCENES/INTERVIEWS

john-fasano-d8a51f33-dce6-465b-a2e5-eb33965ff57-resize-750Interview with Director John Fasano

IMDB has you credited as “assistant director” for “Zombie Nightmare.” The film’s credits do not list you at all. What exactly was your involvement in that film and why aren’t you credited for your work?
John Fasano: I wrote the script and directed about half the scenes. I agreed with producer Jack Bravman that he would get Director credit, since he had made the film possible and wanted a credit. I was just starting and would have plenty of time to get more credits (I did) on the video box it says screenplay by John Fasano but when I saw the film it saw someone else, a CANADIAN (who actually edited the film) – because a tax shelter (i.e., money back from the Canadian Govt) did not allow a film to have an American Director AND writer, so Jack just took my name off. Never told me, by the way. I got $5000 for the script, and it was the first “real” film I had a hand in directing.

What was the budget for “Zombie Nightmare” and how much time did you have to shoot?
John Fasano: $180,000 budget. Ten days of shooting in Montreal.

What was the atmosphere like on the set?
John Fasano: Wild. Frank Dietz, Thor, and the effects guys Tony Bua and Andy Clement were all friends of mine, all the crew were French Canadian and HATED us. BTW, the kid playing Jim who drives the car that kills the zombie is Shawn Levy, the director of “Night At The Museum.”

You appear in “Zombie Nightmare” in a short but memorable role. Did you enjoy your acting debut?
John Fasano: Not entirely, because I wrote it for my childhood wrestling hero Superstar Billy Graham and no one picked him up at the airport. The Zombie appliance had been made on a cast of his head and shoulder and I was the closest in his size. I was BLIND in the mask, it had no eyeholes, and had to sort of direct the scene and act blind. It was a hoot. Recently a mask maker in Illinois named Aaron Lewis recreated my makeup as a collector’s mask he sells. Looks just like me. I got one and sent it to Thor so he could use it in concerts. When I pulled Adam West into “hell,” I told him, “The joker couldn’t do it. The Penguin couldn’t. But I killed Batman.” He laughed. He is the BEST guy.

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“Zombie Nightmare” is a unique zombie film, as it features no flesh eating or gory gut munching. I also noticed a lack of profanity or nudity. Why was the film so tame?
John Fasano: No money for blood.

Zombie Nightmare” features an excellent heavy metal soundtrack. Whose decision was this? Do you have a favorite song from the soundtrack?
John Fasano: Jack found the score. “Ace of Spades” rocks in the titles, and “Zombie Night” the song as Frank is leaving the graveyard I think is very effective.

Why the 18 second shot of the setting sun?
John Fasano: Running time. Film had to be a certain length. Editor again.

Zombie Nightmare (1987) Soundtrack
Thor plays the zombie, and wrote much of the incidental music. This includes heavy metal riffs by his band, and synthesizer music played by the band Thorkestra. Several other heavy metal bands contribute to the soundtrack. The Motörhead hit “Ace of Spades” plays during the opening credits. Other bands heard on the soundtrack include Virgin Steele, Girlschool, Fist, and Death Mask, as well as a track by Thor’s then wife and backup singer “Pantera” (not the band).

†The “Pantera” that appears on the soundtrack is not the Texan heavy metal band (which was actually more of a glam band at the time) but Jon Mikl Thor’s then-wife, a backup singer in his band Thor whose stage name was “Pantera”.

CAST/CREW
Directed John Fasano

Adam West as Capt. Tom Churchman
Jon Mikl Thor as Tony Washington
Tia Carrere as Amy
Manuska Rigaud as Molly Mekembe
Frank Dietz as Frank Sorrell
Shawn Levy as Jim Batten
Linda Singer as Maggie
Alan Fisler as Bob
Hamish McEwan as Peter
Manon E. Turbide as Susie
Walter Massey as Mr. Peters

CREDITS/REFERENCES/SOURCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY
filmmonthly.com
trouble.city/chudcom
filminquiry.com
brain-hammer.com/2011
Fangoria#68

3 thoughts on “Rock ‘n’ Roll 80’s Horror Films of Jon Mikl Thor

  1. I love Thor. Love ’em. His albums Keep the Dogs away and Unchained are the best. Dogs is this great metal-cum-New York Dolls punk-metal hyrbid. His documentary I Am Thor comes highly recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love these 2 wonderfully wacky films. Honestly, repeated viewing of Rock N Roll Nightmare, and it’s excellent audio commentary, helped get m through a serious depression period.

    Liked by 1 person

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