Friday, December 5, 2008

Film Review: MURDER ROCK (1984, Lucio Fulci)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 93 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Keith Emerson, Ray Lovelock, Olga Karlatos, Carla Buzzanca, Christian Borromeo (the boy helper of Tony Franciosa in TENEBRE), Cosimo Cinieri (the bearded specialist of NEW YORK RIPPER and MANHATTAN BABY who bears a tremendous resemblance to DEEP RED's Glauco Mauri).
Tag-line: None!
Best one-liner(s): Fulci definitely doesn't know what that means.
Alternate Titles: SLASHDANCE, DANCING DEATH, THE DEMON IS LOOSE, GIALLO A DISCO, all of which probably would have made better titles than MURDER ROCK. Especially SLASHDANCE.

Alll right...'fess up. Which one of you wags let Italy borrow our copy of FLASHDANCE? Alright, so it was you. I'm sure you thought it was funny at the time, but do you see what happens? Do you see what happens when you let Italians get a hold of stuff like this? They immediately start mimicking it. But their brains are wired funny, so it always ends up being way Eurotrashier, more visually impressive, and utterly incomprehensible. MURDER ROCK is actually an awesome movie. I laughed, I cried, I pulsated wildly.

It's the tale of an elite New York dance academy where someone is willing to KILL to be the best. And, if you watched the trailer, you know exactly who that person is. Or do you? There's a lot going on in this film that makes absolutely no sense. There's a scene that exactly duplicates the famous one in FLASHDANCE, complete with leotard, backlighting, water, and hair-flipping.

The only difference is this version has more asscrack, more crotch-thrusting, and the girl gets murdered right afterward. Again, this is an Italian movie. It's a movie where a woman has a vaguely voyeuristic, scantily clad dream about herself. It's a movie where a heart stabbed with a pin makes a sound like an explosion. It's a movie populated by the sounds of the blandest, most generic, faux-American 80's pop music- and that's not just a good thing, that's a GREAT thing. Fulci takes a lot from Argento and Bava here (voice analysis like THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, pet bird killed with pin like DEEP RED, majestic visuals, black-gloved killers), but a comparison is unfair. This is Giallo-lite. But damned if it isn't amazing. "You've got to grit your teeth and dance, even when a friend dies!"

Five spandex sweat-dipped stars of sleazy, wide-eyed, crazy Italian goodness.

-Sean Gill

COMING SOON: The third installment on the postmodern effects of FLASHDANCE and MURDER ROCK, with a review of KILLER WORKOUT.


BelmontHeir said...

I just put this movie at the top of the Netflix queue! Have you seen The House by the Cemetery?

It's been many years since I first watched but I recall it being my favorite Fulci. The last ten minutes or so with the young boy trapped in the basement with Dr. Freudenstein are genuinely harrowing.

Sean Gill said...

Haha, yeah House by the Cemetery is indeed prime Fulci. The next Fulci for me will be New Gladiators and/or Conquest, both of which will hopefully provide bounteous review fodder.