Film review by: Witney Seibold
You like stunts? Sure, we all do. Especially stunts that center on setting a guy on fire and them throwing him off a cliff.
You like rock ‘n’ roll? Sure, we all do. Especially the kind of late-‘70s hair metal that featured a lot of glitter and fire and magic.
So, how can a movie like “Stunt Rock,” the perfect synthesis of plummeting immolations and showy glamrock, fail to disappoint? As it turns out, it cannot. “Stunt Rock” has the gall to try something new, and largely succeeds.
Made in 1978 by B-movie director Brian Trenchard-Smith (“Atomic Dog,” “Leprechaun” parts 3 and 4, “Megiddo: The Omega Code 2”), “Stunt Rock” (a.k.a. “Sorcery”) was assembled as a flimsy showcase vehicle for Australian stuntman Grant Page, one of those hard-working, oft-injured stunt stalwarts of the industry (he is still working today, having recently been the stunt coordinator for various B-movies). It was also intended to introduce the Next Big Thing in the rock industry, a band called Sorcery, a costumed KISS-like band who, in addition to rocking out on stage, would perform elaborate magic tricks.
Much of “Stunt Rock” is devoted to Page explaining the setups of certain dangerous stunt (which, for some reason, often involved him setting himself on fire, and then being flung from a great height), and then doing it. He’s not much of an actor, but is one heck of a stuntman, and Trenchard-Smith goes out of his way to show that it is indeed Page doing some of the dangerous things on camera.
And when “Stunt Rock” is not focusing on Page’s dangerous stunts, it’s filming extended concert footage of Sorcery doing their thing. Much of Sorcery’s act involves a magical battle between Merlin and the Devil, and the kind of fantasy-laden rock ‘n’ roll poetry images that would grace heavy metal album covers for a decade. The keyboardist for Sorcery never removes its mask or reveals its true identity or gender.
There is a story of sorts, making sure there is a connection between the Stunt and the Rock: The film takes place on a movie set, and the makers are always getting on Page for being too daring. Page begins having a flirtatious affair with one of the PAs (Dutch model Monique van de Ven), and going on dates to see Sorcery. The stuntman and the rock group eventually become friends, they go to parties together, and then, at the very end of the film, decide that dangerous stunts are the perfect thing to round out Sorcery’s magic act.
It’s easy to snicker at the tissue-paper-thin premise; the film doesn’t try too hard to be anything more than an excuse for shoving stunt and rock together. It’s even easier to laugh out loud at the ridiculous, over-the-top theatrics of the obviously dated Sorcery.
But… When you think about it… an epic, power-ballad infused rock band that incorporated magic tricks? That’s actually a fun idea. I’ve been to a few rock concerts in my day, and few have approached that level of devotion and bare-faced showmanship. Sorcery may not have played the best music, and it’s a bit sad to think that they invested so much into “Stunt Rock,” thinking it would propel them to Journey-like highs, only to peter quietly into obscurity. But I admire their devotion to the art of show. Rock concerts are all about pushing your senses to the limits, so why not involve dangerous stunts, and supercheesy affected David Copperfield-like magic theatrics?
And then, while the stunt sections can be lengthy, and even a bit hallucinatory (many of the stunts are filmed in mirror-image split screen for some reason), it’s always a pleasure to see a devoted (and slightly crazy) stuntman doing what he does best, and doing it well.
Is “Stunt Rock” a good movie? No, not really. But it accomplishes what it sets out to do, and it’s easy to be entertained by it along the way.
Sorcery’s website can be found here: http://www.sorcerymusic.com/