Rockula (1990) — The vampire who rocks out

“I’m not a bad vampire, I am a bad vampire, I’m not very good at it, I don’t bite people but I am a vampire!”

Mike’s rating: 14 out of 15 hot redheads clubbed with ham bones.

Mike’s review: The scene opens on a lone cloaked figure, shrouded in darkness. He’s huddled over a harpsichord, playing a knell of death and darkness. His silhouette recalls images of the Phantom of the Opera. He pauses his playing ever so slightly and then breaks into…

Chopsticks. Played really badly.

Thus begins Rockula, and while your synapses are frying as your brain shifts gears violently, you’re treated to a love story that gleefully refuses at any point to make sense. Dealing with the issues that we all faced back in 1990 — love, heartache, music, jealousy, and of course, how to do your makeup when you have no reflection — the movie goes off on so many bizarre asides you’ll either be scratching your head in confusion or just (as I was) laughing hysterically.

Ralph Lavie (Dean Cameron who played Chainsaw in Summer School) has a few problems. I mean, problems aside from being one of the legions of the undead. He’s haunted by his reflection, faints at the sight of blood, still lives with his mom, and after 400 years is the oldest living virgin walking the planet. And, oh yeah, he’s living under a curse to meet his reincarnated true love and ultimately watch her die over and over again.

See, he originally lost her when she was killed by a jealous rival, a peg-legged pirate wielding a ham bone. Now he has one night every 22 years to try and save her or she’ll meet the same end. Ralph has already blown it fourteen times over the past 307 years, so needlessly to say, he’s rather despondent over the whole thing. When he meets her again and this time she’s a singer, he decides to go ahead and start a band called… (wait for it)… ROCKULA!

Honestly, I don’t think I’m really adequately describing what a brain trip this movie really is. You’ve got Toni Basil (yes, THAT Toni Basil) in a corset and grass skirt breakdancing with what is, apparently the breakdancing guy from Earth Girls Are Easy. You’ve got Bo-Diddly in a unitard with a necklace made of gold records. No, really. There’s a vampire arguing with his libidinous reflection, turning into a hairy little bat troll thing, and fighting a guy dressed as a pirate with a rhinestone pegleg. Not weird enough for you? Did I mention that it’s a pseudo-musical? Since seemingly EVERYBODY in this movie is a musician there are a number of stage performances which only add to the “alternate universe” quality of the movie.

This was one of those movies that was constantly on cable throughout my childhood. As such, I watched it ad infinitum. Hence the film is inextricably bound to my childhood, wrapping itself up in cuddly nostalgia like a fluffy teddy bear in blankets of inexorable weirdness. So good luck getting an un-biased review out of me. Despite that, I honestly think there’s much to have fun with in this movie. Many will be tempted to hate it on general principle, but it really isn’t trying to be anything more than the indescribably cheesy flick that it is. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means check it out.

Didja notice?

  • Ralph’s “Transylvania University” T-shirt
  • Bo Diddly must have been reeeally hard up for work.
  • The Red Cross bloodmobile leaving bottles on the doorstep like a milk man
  • Dude, Mona’s hair is HUGE!
  • *I* want a bat-shaped guitar.
  • Wow. For just having started the band he got that gig REALLY quick.
  • The two mourners in the graveyard giving high fives as they pass.
  • The little girls are obviously lip-syncing


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