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Worth A Look: 12.5%
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1 review, 2 user ratings

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Stunt Rock
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by brianorndorf

"Rock and Stunts - it's the new fever"
5 stars

Oh, what a bizarre film “Stunt Rock” is, but its oddity is a gift. More of a bruising cinematic experience than a narrative-driven feature film, “Stunt Rock” is the 1970s packaged up to near perfection, combing the hurricane forces of daredevil filmmaking and shtick-laden heavy metal. Brian Trenchard-Smith’s masterpiece of stackable-amp cinema is such a carefree, tinted-shades delight, it’s nearly impossible to convey its widescreen enthusiasm on the page. It’s a shapeless experience, but an exceptional ride that offers thrills, grins, and an impressive argument for the supremacy of Australian cinema during the 1970s.

Stunt man extraordinaire Grant Page has come to Los Angeles to help out a feature film starring a nervous leading lady, Monique van de Ven. Invited to the set is reporter Margaret (Margaret Gerard), who takes a keen interest in Page and his lifestyle of near-death experiences, all captured on film. Following Page around as he works and plays in L.A., Margaret also meets the rock band Sorcery, who employ their mastery of metal and magic to wow audiences. With Page as her guide into the intricacies of stunt work, Margaret digs deeper, educating herself on Australian stuntmen and their extremely hazardous accomplishments.

The above paragraph is somewhat misleading since “Stunt Rock” doesn’t contain much of plot at all. Trenchard-Smith seeks out a bronzed you-are-there momentum, deploying Margaret as a surrogate for the audience, discovering the daily business of danger and performance. The casual feel works outrageously well for the film, which displays a wild set of images and sounds without the burden of connection, leaving the sheer amazement and peculiarity alone to sink in naturally. Trenchard-Smith isn’t here to pound the viewer with misguided structure, he just wants to throw a party, and we’re all invited.

Admittedly, “Stunt Rock” fatigues long before it’s over, but the initial blast of images and derring-do carries the film all the way to the end. Meeting Page as he prepares a harrowing zip-line cliff dive (you can see the smoke wafting off the burning rope), “Stunt Rock” introduces our hero in a grand style befitting a king. Granted, a king perhaps a vast majority of viewers have never heard of before, but that’s the idea of the film: to highlight the efforts of the daredevils that step in front of the bullets, jump off the buildings, and ride on top of the cars. This being 1978, there’s no CGI to help out here, and wires are in short supply. Page takes to land, sea, and air armed only with his wits and experience, and he’s a marvel to watch. Trenchard-Smith rouges up the footage with a liberal use of split-screen and slow motion, but the primal awe of watching Page plummet and burn is preserved. It’s a thrilling display of grandiose bodily endangerment that doesn’t come around nearly enough anymore.

How Sorcery factors into matters is a little confusing, but for fans of magic and thundering arena rock, these guys are quite entertaining. It’s a band comprised of long-haired rockers, a keyboardist in a mask, and two members dressed up at Satan and Merlin. Conducting battles between good and evil onstage, Sorcery is a mix of KISS and Doug Henning, using the art of illusion and the intensity of pyro (fire is the unofficial sponsor of the film) to underline the Tolkienesque lyrics. The performance sequences arrive indiscriminately throughout the film, but the blast of wizard-sleeve hellfire and teeth-rattling metal sludge is irresistible, further thickening Trenchard-Smith’s bubbling cinematic stew.

“Stunt Rock” offers some history on Australian stuntmen and famous crash-intensive movies, and, for those able to appreciate such things, there’s a dune buggy sequence to show off Page’s rowdy private side. Scored to Sorcery’s bottom-heavy music (the anthem “Stunt Rocker” is superbly woven throughout the picture), the film has no difficulty creating an explicit atmosphere of peril, and Trenchard-Smith’s direction, while easily distracted, is stunningly evocative and blissfully obsessed with the fine details of destruction. “Stunt Rock” is an acquired taste, no doubt, but the mood is a convincing mess of spills and ear-splitting metal, capturing a special moment in entertainment history when the two pastimes felt naturally joined at the hip.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19960&reviewer=404
originally posted: 10/30/09 10:30:22
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User Comments

10/15/11 brian I love '70s rock, but this band is as weak as the acting. Stunts? Meh. VERY limited appeal. 2 stars
12/18/09 don roberts Saw Stuntrock and loved it! 4 stars
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  01-Jan-1978 (PG)
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