Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vintage Sleaze: Thor Live in Boston, 2005

*NOTE* - Thor is still alive, well, and touring. Check out Thor Central for info. 

Live, Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA.

There was a long line of slightly creaky, 30-something punters in leather jackets and faded Venom t-shirts shuffling their feet and chattering incessantly about 1986 like it was fucking yesterday when Stacey and I arrived at the Coolidge Corner Theater tonight. What were all these faded glories doing out on a sleepy Wednesday evening? Waitin' for Thor, dude.
Eventually, a smattering of punk rock kids showed up too, but unlike Thor's grand old days of male stripperdom in the mid-70's, the only chicks in attendance were wives or girlfriends. But no matter. I mean, who needs the distraction? Thor's here! And so, the minutes ticked on, the sausage party continued, and the anticipation grew.

There was a skinny, Harry Potter-ish kid running around with a video camera, grilling people in line about Thor, Rock Warrior, while we waited.
Kid with camera: "How long have you been a Thor fan?"
Dude walking by: "About 20 minutes."

Turns out the lively lad was the director of "The Intercessor", the "sequel" (I say thee nay!) to Thor's 1987 blasterpiece of goofy, dimestore metal-trash cinema, "Rock N' Roll Nightmare". Tonight was the world premiere of the movie (well, the DVD, really), so he wanted to shoot lucky-us to get our reactions on this very special night. If you end up with a copy of the DVD and you look close at the 'premiere' footage, you'll see a scowling Sleazegrinder and an eye-rolling Stacey, directly behind the maniac with the mullet who calls himself Rodney the Invader, and who tells Harry Potter with no irony whatsoever that Rock N' Roll Nightmare is the "greatest piece of cinema I have ever witnessed".

It was at this point that I walked over to the ticket office, to make sure we were on 'the list'. We were. While I was getting the comp tickets, I run into Seth Putnam, from disgusto-grindcore legends Anal Cunt. I don't think Seth remembers my name, but he points at me and says, "Screaming Gore Guts", because that's the name of the fake-band he and I were in when we were 15. Significantly, Seth always leaves that one off his resume.
Seth recently suffered some serious, and much publicized, health problems.Luckily, he pulled through, mostly.
Me: "So, when you woke up out of the coma, what's the first thing you thought of?"
Seth: "I thought, 'I need a beer'."
Then all kindsa freeloaders showed up, so I split and got back into the line. Eventually, they let us in. Stacey and I snagged some bitchin' aisle seats in the balcony and waited for coming of the Intercessor.

Eventually, Benn Mcguire, the director of "Intercessor: Another Rock N' Roll Nightmare", bounded onto the stage. Benn's probably about 25, which would put him at about toddler's age when the first RN'R Nightmare was released in 1987. So, obviously, he's the guy for the job. I don't know if you've seen the original, but it was directed by John Fasano (who who serves as "associate producer" on Another Rock N' Roll Nightmare), and it involves Thor and his glam metal band, the Tritonz, fighting off a demon puppet on stilts and rubber starfish. It features a shower scene with Thor (!), a "rock" manager in an Archies jacket, a 'drummer' doing a really, really bad Australian accent, and a bunch of "Ghoulies" type creatures who show up for no reason at all every few scenes. It is lame-brained, hallucinatory, shamefully shoddy, and loony beyond all reason, and yet it is possessing of a certain goofball charm that makes you think it's actually worth seeing again. It's really not, but it's cult still endures.

The semi-sequel riffs on the final stick puppet devil fight in the original. See, Thor is some sort of emissary of the Gods, who "intercesses" on behalf of mankind, battling demons whenever they sneak onto Earth to steal a pure soul or two. If there is a plot, that's it. But good luck following the story, because "Intercessor" is a childish mish-mash of amateur hour geekery, so woeful in execution that they are gonna have to redefine the whole concept of "Bad Movie" after this one gets out there.

Briefly, there's a crippled kid named Harry (Brad Pope, who looks, and acts, exactly like a panicky teenage Iggy Pop hopelessly trapped inside a Thor movie) who wiles away his time in his aunt's basement crying and drawing crude comic books.

Eventually, the comic book creatures come to life and steal his girl, so he straps on a football helmet (emblazoned with the Tritonz logo!) and goes off the fight Thomas Thorne, or whoever the fat goth demon-priest is.

There's also Mephisto, the Four Horsemen, a buncha bank secretaries playing "The Elements" (fire, water, etc), some little kid who may or may not be dreaming all this shit, and, very eventually, Thor, who tosses around the bad guys at the end. But no Rock n' Roll. Unless, of course, you count the soundtrack, which blares loud rock music constantly, enough so that it steps on all the dialogue. This is not very helpful, since much of said dialogue is spoken in echo-heavy 'demon voices', which are already difficult to understand. There's also plenty of cheap-jack, in-camera 'special effects', which wouldn't have looked all that special in 1985, never mind 2005. Come to think of it, the whole thing looks sort of like Thor's '85 video for "Knock 'Em Down", only without the big-breasted demon girl. Or any kind of girl, really.

But hey, "Intercessor" is billed as a comedy, so maybe it's all on purpose. Maybe. On the positive side, the film does feature Canuck street metal champs Goathorn in a cameo as egg-throwing stoners, and things do liven up considerably whenever Thor shows up, so it's not a total loss. But in an age when even videogames are 'X' rated, it just seems kinda silly not to have any exploitive elements in an exploitation film, and personally, I'd treat a rock legend like Thor with more respect then this film does. I mean, if you've got a 20 year old girl playing somebody's elderly aunt, you've pretty much blown your mission.
Anyway, a prequel is in the works, so what do I know?

After this epic of a metal-movie, there was a ten minute intermission (an intercession?), so I trundled out into the hallway to buy one of those bitchin' "Keep the Dogs Away" t-shirts. They were sold out of XL's, tho. Not just in that design, but all of 'em.
Lady selling t-shirts: "Do you want a medium instead?"
Me: "I seriously don't think so."
Note to Thor's merch people: when 80% of your audience is over 30, seriously, you're gonna need more Extra Large t-shirts. Trust me.

So no shirt, but dude, I picked up a copy of the AnThorlogy DVD, directed (well, compiled, really) by Frank Meyer, Mr. Streetwalkin' Cheetah himself. The DVD features vintage Thor clips from the mid-70's to the mid-80's, including a jaw-dropping segment from the Merv Griffin show in 1976, where Thor strips down to his underwear while singing a lounge version of the Sweet's "Action"! Obviously, this is an essential purchase. But I digress. After a few tense minutes, Thor's drummer (I forget his name, but it's the same dude he used on the "Unchained" album back in the 80's) walks onto the stage. He's got like a big wrestling belt over his paunch, and he's wearing some sort of Rumplestilskin boots. He looks like a cross between Gary Glitter and Mortiis. He's fuckin' awesome.

Dude behind Stacey: "That's GOT to be the roadie."

Joke's on you pal, he's the drummer. So, he sits down and the smoke machine kicks in. There's some short-haired punk kid on bass, and an aging flash metal shredder from Florida on guitar. They start jammin' on "The Coming of Thor", and in a puff of smoke - that's right - Thor comes. He's wearing a chest plate and swinging a sword, and when he sings (well, bellows, really), he keeps changing masks and helmets, some of which hang comically askew off his head. I think back to the first time I interviewed him a couple years ago, when he told me that "They love it when I wear the hideous masks", because here he is, wearing 'em, and goddamn it, I love it. Seriously, I haven't seen a performer pour it on like this since Dee Snider - Thor is in this 100%, Jack.

The band bangs through that Tritonz song, "We like to Rock", or whatever it's called from the original movie, getting everybody to sing along. Then, when it's time to play "Invader", Thor brings the mullet guy, Rodney The Invader", onstage. He says, "This guy named himself after this song", which makes you think he's gonna play a song called "Rodney", but no. Later on Thor brings Seth Putnam onstage, too. He grabs Seth's cane and says, "Maybe this will be my new hammer!" He asks Seth to "Do a number" with him, but then abandons Seth once the song starts. That was a little weird. Seth limped off stage and sat back down, and Thor launched into "Strange Lantern" while swinging around a purple lantern - the kind that kills bugs, I think - and pretending to look around for stuff. I forget it if it was during that song or the next ("Thunderhawk"), but at some point a bunch of zombies stormed the stage and Thor bounced 'em off his belly. Then he wrapped the mic stand around the neck of one of the zombie/merch dudes.

And so it continued. Thor brought out the steel bar. "I'm going to bend this, but do you know WHERE?" he asked, suggestively. The crowd yelled stuff, as crowds do. "My ass?" Thor yelled, hopefully joking. "My balls?!" No, Jesus. "How about...." Thor points to his teeth, and everyone applauds.
I don't wanna give away the ending, but the feats of strength went on, as did the searing rock n' roll. The band did a furious encore of "Knock 'Em Down", and Thor suddenly sped off the stage. Thirty seconds later, he was out in the hallway, signing autographs and answering inane questions about the starfish in Rock N' Roll Nightmare. But he suffered the fools lightly, like a true rock hero does.

Ok, so I really could have done without the Intercessor jive (the trailer would have been plenty), but Thor's performance was worth the wait. The guy gives his all, every time, and it's almost impossible not to get caught up in his gleefully loopy cartoon world of muscles, metal, and masks. Everybody needs a hero, right?


-Sleazegrinder, also a Rock Warrior of some renown.

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