Tuesday, 10 May 2016

THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Retro Romp Rock, Rock, Rocks

Not only was Johnny X shot on FILM,
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (2012)
Dir. Paul Bunnell
Starring: Will Keenan, Creed Bratton, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Williams,
Reggie Bannister, De Anna Joy Brooks, Les Williams, Kate Maberly, Jed Rowen

Review By Greg Klymkiw

How in the names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Ed Wood, Jack Arnold, Edward Ulmer and Good God Almighty Himself, does a movie like this slip through the cracks?

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is a low budget marvel crammed with style galore, loads of laughs, gorgeous black and white cinematography (by Francisco Bulgarelli, using the very last rolls of 35mm Kodak Plus-X 5231 film ever sold), imaginative costume/production design, a humdinger of a score (by Ego Plum), idiotically entertaining musical numbers, cheesily delightful SFX, a diverse range of (mostly) straight-up performances (and a few judiciously-utilized over-the-top ones), big beautiful cars, testicle cheeks, babes, hunks and a genuinely loving appreciation for those bygone days when cinema haunted the highways and byways of rural drive-inn theatres and grind houses across North America.

Oh, and the movie is overflowing with babes.

Really, now? What in the Good God Damn Hell is wrong with the world? This is a movie that deserves to be screened in every last, living independent rep/art cinema (and maybe even a few mainstream ones). Yes, it's available on DVD and VOD, but it's a movie that's been lovingly crafted to be enjoyed on big screens with throngs of in-the-flesh appreciative fans. Any indie rep-art houses and/or genre film festivals that did NOT play this film deserve to prostrate themselves before a Minotaur wearing an anaconda-sized strap-on dildo adorned with ribs of rusty Gillette razor blades to deliver a prostate massage of white hot holy terror. (It's not too late for any of the said programmers of said venues to seek redemption, mind you.)

Not since the Lady in the Radiator in David Lynch's Eraserhead have there been testicle cheeks as delicious as these on display in The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Yes, the movie has a plot. Not that the picture needs it, but thankfully it's there and works as a decent enough wooden coat hanger for writer-director Paul Bunnell to drape lots of cool shit from.

In a nutshell, the handsome, black-leather-jacketed alien heartthrob Johnny X (Will Keenan) and his merry band of juvenile delinquents have been exiled by their elderly, unhip leaders to the dull purgatory that is the planet Earth. Worse yet, they're stranded in a lonely desert town with a diner that serves up delicious, shakes, grease and inspires musical numbers.

This is of little concern to Johnny. Earth is where he wants to be. At least, for now.

Johnny has two goals. He's searching for the powerful interplanetary alien invention called the "Resurrection Suit" - a device so powerful that it could alter all existence, like, everywhere, Daddy-O! Johnny is convinced he'll find his quarry on Earth, and when he does - watch out!

Secondly, he's got a goal not tied into interplanetary domination. You see, Johnny is not a juvenile delinquent for nothing - he's been raised as an alien bastard child. However, his birth father is none other than the rocking-est dude on Earth, the hip musical sensation Mickey O'Flynn (Creed Bratton) - a reunion with Dad is going to set a lot straight in our naughty lad's life. There is, however, a secondary problem to all this - Mickey is a has-been and, uh, he's dead. Well, not dead-dead, but in enough of a state of decomposition that a father-son reunion, a triumphant comeback concert and maybe, just maybe, a "Resurrection Suit" will come in mighty handy.

Add to this mix: a sexy femme fatale (De Anna Joy Brooks) with her own, shall we say, desires, a scum bucket music promoter (Reggie Bannister), a Tor Johnson/Lobo lookalike (Jed Rowen) ineptly wreaking havoc and one of the most gruellingly soppy and perversely sexy love stories on celluloid, twixt a Jim Nabors look-alike (Les Williams) and a sweet Annette-Funicello-crossed-with-Donna-Reed honey-bunch (Kate Maberly).

THE NATURAL ORDER: Juvie Delinquent & Femme Fatale
THE NATURAL ORDER: Dead crooners make comebacks
Of course, what science fiction musical would be complete without magnificent extended cameos from "Swan" himself, the ageless, timeless crooner-songwriter Paul (Phantom of the Paradise) Williams and, ever-so deliciously, the late, great Kevin (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) McCarthy?

Sure, this is a low budget effort and it occasionally bears a few ragged edges. Not all the laughs work and the mostly terrific musical numbers sometimes go on a tad too long. However, what really helps The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is the fact that, writer-director Bunnell doesn't go out of his way to create an intentional cult film. Yes, the homages are there, but so much of the picture plays itself straight that it feels like a labour of love by someone who knows and loves movies from a bygone era.

Oh, and have I mentioned yet that the movie has babes?

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ 3-and-a-half-stars

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is available on an extras-packed DVD and VOD on Amazon. That said, DEMAND your local indie art house and/or local genre film festival play this film on a BIG, BIG SCREEN. You'll be happy you saw it there first and THEN you can watch it over and over again on the home entertainment format of your choice.