Voyage Of The Rock Aliens
Cast: Pia Zadora, Craig Sheffer, Ruth Gordon
Special guest review!
By Michael Sullivan
Has there ever been a vanity project that's actually
been good? Whether
it be low budget dreck like Cheri Cafforo's Ginger series,
or big budget bombs like Battlefield: Earth, I'm hard
to think of any that are
legitimately good, and not just good in a "so
bad it's good" sort of way. Don't get me wrong; I don't have anything
these navel-gazing egofests. In fact, I wish there were more of them.
instance, who wouldn't want to see Life Goes On's Chris "Corky"
Burke as a womanizing secret agent, or maybe a saccharine made for TV
starring Martha Stewart as a misunderstood saint. Sadly, these projects
will never see the light of day. In protest, I will hole up in my
and continually watch the oeuvre of the queen of vanity projects, Pia
Admittedly, a good Pia Zadora film is truly a
contradiction in terms.
But even at their trashy self-promoting worst (see The Lonely
and Fake Out for more of trash and self-promotion), they
never reach the queasy heights that Voyage Of The Rock Aliens
reaches with its desperate last-ditch attempts to showcase Pia's
To make matters worse, Voyage... is a
musical that was
made in 1984 (and looks like it was extremely dated by 1985.) So not
do we have to watch bad acting, but bad acting performed in parachute
and Flock Of Seagulls hairdos (plus, there's the always fashionable
look), and not to mention the music that features numbing synth rock
my personal non-favorite, neutered rockabilly. (Which reminds me: Has
Setzer ever made music that wasn't a hollow marketing ploy posing as
There is one good thing about the movie: If you have an
who won't shut up over how great the '80s were, show them this film,
feel free to chuckle as they whimper and slowly go into a fetal
But make sure you avert your eyes, or else you'll be joining them.
I think I speak for everybody when I say that most films
could be improved
immensely only if they included a video starring Jermaine Jackson and
Zadora, and said video should feature them as two unrequited lovers
in the middle of a gang war that pits extras from Fame
male nuns on motorcycles. I've wished for this particular sequence for
years, and finally someone was ballsy enough to include it in this
Whoever that someone was, thank you.
Once the video ends, we're quickly thrown aboard a
manned by a crew of bad Devo impersonators (the rock group Rhema) and
whiny ass-grabbing robot. The aliens discuss their vague mission to
earth, and then beam down in a telephone booth. (Is it a Dr. Who
rip-off, homage, or coincidence? Do any of us really care?) Meanwhile
earth, Didi (Pia Zadora) is singing one of her many, many, MANY songs.
But this upsets her abusive boyfriend Frankie (Craig Sheffer), not
Didi's singing sounds like a female impersonator poorly emulating Jayne
Mansfield's voice, but because (for no explained reason), Frankie only
allows his rockabilly band and no one else to perform in the town
of Speelburgh. (I guess Hitchcockville and George Lucas Township were
obvious.) Plus, Frankie also displays how tough he is by twitching and
blinking a lot.
Did soon grows tired of Frankie tormenting the
of Unfunny In-Joke Town, and starts to take an interest in the alien
commander ABCD (pronounced "absid"), and not surprisingly ABCD
instantly falls for
Didi and blows up from sheer passion. (Y'know what would really be
A Pia Zadora film that didn't have men going into a lust-fueled frenzy
at the mere sight of her.)
Thanks to the alien's knack for poorly ripping-off Devo,
to play at Hidi High's school dance. But ABCD has other plans, and that
is to woo Didi away from Frankie. Of course, Frankie gets wind of this,
and tries to stop them from play at any cost. Aside from subplots
Ruth Gordon as a local sheriff pursuing the aliens, and Michael
as an escaped mental patient (surprise, surprise), this is pretty much
all the plot there is in this mind-numbingly inane musical.
For a film that was primarily used as a showcase for
Pia, it's a little
strange that she's barely in it. Oh sure, she's featured prominently
the many musical numbers (which not only show she can't sing, but also
proves she dances like an epileptic Ed Grimley.) But that's about it.
enough, the film's focus seems to be on the Rock Aliens, (a.k.a.
and that was a major mistake. Their total lack of charm and musical
makes you long for more accomplished musicians, like The New Monkees or
Journey, and if that's not enough, we have to put up with their stale
antics, which play like rejected Balki gags from Perfect Strangers.
To round out the feeling of humiliation and desperation, Ruth Gordon
yet another old person obsessed with sex.
Voyage... isn't a total washout; it's
saved by sitcom
regular Alison LePlaca's sardonic performance as Didi's tomboyish best
friend. LePlaca also seems to be the only cast member able to give life
to thunderously dumb dialogue like, "Sorry, exhaust breath!" Michael
is another standout who seems to be having a ball, sending up his image
from The Hills Have Eyes. One of the film's highlights
a scene that features Leplaca instructing Berryman on the correct way
clean a chainsaw, while she's being threatened with one. It's a shame
two weren't used to better effect; it might have made the film slightly
If it seems as though I have something against Pia
Zadora, I don't.
In fact, I'm a big fan of hers, and I even own some of her records.
you, they're in-between such golden throat classics like William
Man and Chad Everett's All Strung Out.) But the breezy
she displayed in Fake Out and Hairspray
replaced with a stiff awkward performance. Voyage... is
merely just bad, but bad in such an unmemorably bland way. This is such
a major embarrassment, I doubt even Pia's proud of it.
UPDATE: I received this letter:
"I appreciate you spending so much time and energy
reviewing a film that was destined to be in the annals of obscurity
forever. It either shows a sincere desire on your part, to assuage the
"b" movie connoisseur from enduring what may, even for them, prove to
be an arduous watch, or you are in dire need of some healthy
activities, such as getting outside more often. At any rate, you got
everything right in your review except one thing. "Their total lack
of...musical ability..." wrong. Though it may be difficult to deduce
the musical prowess of said performers in the band Rhema, I contend
that all of us (members of the band) have gone on to do notable work in
the industry. I personally have worked with Toto, Richard Marx, Fee
Waybill, Roger Daltrey and others.
"I am not offended by your assessment of the film. I am merely making a
"Thank you for taking the time to review this piece of s**t film which
paid me very well for my time and I hope there are more "reviewers" out
there who do the same. Better to have made a film that sucked than to
be someone working in a record store, selling Dodger dogs or what's
worse, reviewing b-films.
"Marc, Former Singer/Guitarist/Keyboardist/songwriter for the Band
UPDATE 2: I received this e-mail:
"I noticed that one of the members of the Schlock POP
band from the movie Voyage Of The Rock Aliens responded to your
comments that the band lacked musical talent.
"As the drummer in that band, I have been a staff songwriter, developed
and produced artists for EMI, MCA and Capitol Records and have been
involved the business as a record exec. Currently I am writing songs in
Nashville for artists such as Blake Shelton and Gary Allen. And I still
agree with your assessment that the music in that movie showed a great
knack for pushing buttons and programming one finger keyboard lines
less and not much about the real talent of the individual members. We
had very talented musician in the band and both Marc and Craig and
myself continue to work in the music business. Surprisingly, not as
actors! Our lack of ability contributed to that pile of fecal they
tried to pass as a movie.
"Funny thing is, at the time, we as a band thought it was all so
important. Dressed like clowns but we thought we were the next Monkeys.
Come to think of it...we were monkeys"
Jeffrey Casey (FGEE)
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See also: Invader, Revenge Of The Teenage Vixens..., Robotrix