Bad Channels (1992) — Rock ‘n’ aliens

“This son of a bitch is crazier than a tree full of owls!”

Justin’s rating: Turn off the radio, I need some silence, gotta give me some more

Justin’s review: As of late, I’ve been going on a ’90s nostalgia trip, both in my movie watching and music listening. It’s interesting how often the two cross paths, especially considering that this was still in the era where movie albums were A Thing (let’s not forget that 1992 saw the release of The Bodyguard album which sold something like 45 million copies).

Another intersection between ’90s movies and ’90s music came with music-themed films. There were the well-known ones, like Wayne’s World, Pump Up the Volume, and Airheads, and then there were the rather more obscure ones. As a random example, oh, say, Bad Channels.

Yet another cheapo Full Moon feature, Bad Channels begins with Super Station 66 DJ Dan O’Dare (Paul Hipp) playing an endless polka song on the air until his listeners can figure out the combination to the chains that are keeping him from putting real music on. You’d think that would be the biggest threat of the day, but no, the real issue turns out to be a very localized alien invasion.

Two out-of-this-world invaders — an alien with a granite head and his robot sidekick — hijack the station and start playing tunes that have the power to capture women and put them into little tubes (the girls think they’re in a music video for some reason). Why would they want to do this? To take them to their own planet for nefarious reasons, of course!

What they didn’t expect was the resourcefulness of O’Dare, who gradually realizes that he’s John McClane in this situation without any external support. You see, everyone listening to him thinks that this is yet another publicity stunt, so I guess it’s a “boy who cried aliens” scenario all over again. It’s also a rather weak reprise of Orson Wells’ famous 1938 War of the Worlds radio drama, just with more robots and a girl named “Bunny.”

It’s all more than a little silly, especially the ham-handed music video segments which are clearly there to shoehorn in Blue Öyster Cult and some much lesser-known rock bands. If that’s not bizarre enough, the movie makes you watch three full-length rock songs before the plot is allowed to progress any further. I suspect that this was how the filmmakers convinced any of these bands to show up.

Silly’s not bad, mind you, as long as it’s part of a great overall package. This package, however, is a little flimsy. O’Dare spends way too much time screaming into the mic and narrating what’s going on at the station, the alien looks like a welder who rolled around in gravel, and both the music and the comedy isn’t much to write home about. The acting straddles that line between adorably bad and badly incompetent (it’s a Full Moon movie, in other words).

As a result, Bad Channels coasts on its rather unusual premise, maintaining momentum but not picking up speed. I don’t think the filmmakers really had an exit strategy once “music sends women into little bottles” was put into action, and it shows.

Didja notice?

  • Green slimy crust on transformers is a situation that you call into your boss and then leave for the next guy.
  • “Polka Party” is totally a Weird Al jam
  • 666 radio stations are not that common
  • The hair in the diner’s food (throwing up noise)
  • The worst high school band ever
  • The winning combination after 20 hours and 14 minutes was 1-2-3
  • The Russian weather woman
  • Dancing fungus
  • Cops have no problem firing guns in hospitals at fungus

One comment

  1. Buck Dharma, lead guitarist for BOC, did the entire instrumental (non-song) content. The “I’m so happy” band and the “Apple Strudel” band are the same band 🙂 The two actual BOC songs on the soundtrack are some of their best post-arena rock era songs that I bought the album just to listen to 🙂

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