Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984) — Musical aliens seek source of rock-and-roll on Earth

“I was thinking about becoming a nun or a bomber pilot. Or maybe even going into politics.”

Justin’s rating: At least they weren’t seeking dubstep

Justin’s review: Trust me, no matter what mood or mindset you’re in, you’re not ready for Voyage of the Rock Aliens. It’s a gonzo mish-mash of genres, fashion, and synth tunes that doesn’t allow for a logical foothold. And you see, I relish that feeling of being so overwhelmed by a movie’s weirdness and all-over-the-placeness that I surrender to its spirit of anarchy.

Techno pop band Rhema stars as a crew of voyaging aliens (named after clumps of letters in the alphabet, such as ABCD) on the prowl for the source of rock music. All signs point them toward Earth, where they come upon a polluted city that happens to be the home of Dee Dee (Pia Zadora) and Frankie (Craig Sheffer), two musical lovebirds who find their relationship tested by Frankie’s refusal to let Dee Dee sing with his band, The Pack.

Also, Frankie forbids anyone else from making music for some reason. Clearly, Frankie’s a bit of a jerk, so this is like rooting for Biff Tannen’s brother as one of the leads.

This town, Speelburgh, is soaking in ’50s retro stylings — and a lake monster with a very long tentacle reach. It’s also a place where the population is about 95% teenagers who love to grease up their hair and bop ’till they drop in the diner. With the battle of the bands looming, Rhema’s arrival throws Frankie’s expected dominance up into the air. Dee Dee finds herself torn between the two sides as she searches for romance and a shot at being a big star herself.

Oh, and there’s also a serial killer named Chainsaw who’s on the prowl. And Ruth Gordon as the short sheriff who’s trying to catch the invaders. And a robot disguised as a talking fire hydrant. And a dance sequence in the toilet with everyone’s underwear around their ankles.

Voyage of the Rock Aliens doesn’t merely dabble in musical numbers; it is a full-blooded musical from start to finish. Packed with all sorts of wonderfully catchy tunes, this film has no compunction against breaking out into song and dance for any and all reasons. As such, this will live or die based on your opinion of the soundtrack. They’re not all winners, but if you like cheesy ballads that you’ll privately dig even if you publicly denounce as stupid, this will keep the good times and high energy going from start to finish.

So while the scifi elements are weak and the comedy hit-or-miss (although when it hits, it hits hard), the silliness (hey, did that alien just explode and then get reassembled?) and catchy tracks puts Voyage of the Rock Aliens on the black side of the entertainment ledger. If you want to drink from the ’80s firehose without a concern for your health, I can think of no other film that’s quite as excessive.

Didja notice?

  • The spaceship is shaped like an electric guitar
  • Teldar is the planet of kids show mascots, apparently
  • I always loved those mismatched ’80s punk sunglasses
  • It’s a West Side Story-style music video!
  • Dehydrated crew
  • Did that robot just goose that guy?
  • Starships can be flown with CASIO keyboards
  • Lake Eerie eats surfboards
  • “Real Love” kicks butt
  • The aliens beam down in a phone booth. Bill and Ted would be proud.
  • So much ADR
  • Everyone’s reaction to the aliens arriving in the diner
  • Underwear dancing in the stalls
  • The alien leader explodes, but he’ll get better
  • That shield looks suspiciously like some flimsy plexiglass
  • Chainsaw going shopping in a gun store
  • The dead body fishing around for his fried chicken
  • “You must be mistaken, I’m not a widow!” “The hell you’re not!”
  • The alien got caught in the urinal
  • Two guys got cartoon steamrolled

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