Seven Sci-Fi Rock Flicks

Bowie, Kiss, Flaming Lips, Guitar Wolf, Frank N. Furter, and Marty McFly: celluloid rockers

Seven Sci-Fi Rock Flicks

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The appeal of this 1975 low-budget, low-rent, sci-fi musical about a bawdy transsexual from another planet (Tim Curry) who builds his own Frankenstein, seduces both members of a white-bread couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick), and kills schlock-balladeer Meat Loaf in barely more than 90 minutes eludes me. That it hasn't been pulled from theatres in more than 30 years and still inspires lunatics around the world to waste their Saturday nights dressing up in costume and re-enacting speaks for itself, as does its soundtrack.
**

The Man Who Fell to Earth

David Bowie had retired his androgynous alien persona, Ziggy Stardust, by the time director Nicolas Roeg asked him to star in this 1976 adaptation of Walter Tevis' sci-fi novel, but with his chiseled cheekbones, shock of orange hair, and translucent skin, the UK rock star was a perfect choice to play Thomas Jerome Newton, a humanoid from the drought-stricken planet of Anthea who arrives in New Mexico looking for relief for his people and ends up getting sidetracked by TV, booze, money, power, and sex.
***

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park

Seven Sci-Fi Rock Flicks

Sure, this Hanna-Barbera-produced TV exercise in cross-promotion from 1978 about an amusement-park mad scientist (Anthony Zerbe) seeking to destroy rock band Kiss through the use of a Gene Simmons robot is the height of corn, but then so was Kiss.
*

Back to the Future

Say what you will about Robert Zemeckis' 1985 blockbuster – that it's dated, that it's safe, that it opens with Huey Lewis & the News' "The Power of Love" – but there's no arguing that Marty McFly isn't a punk rock hero. Look: 1) He rides a skateboard everywhere, 2) he gets off fighting jocks in button-down shirts, and 3) he plays his guitar so loudly he destroys his best friend's amplifier. Plus, he single-handedly invented rock & roll.
***.5

Velvet Goldmine

The wild tale of David Bowie and his alter ego Ziggy Stardust was reimagined by Todd Haynes in 1998 to critical acclaim and commercial indifference. Starring first-rate British moper Jonathan Rhys Meyers as bisexual glam-rocker Brian Slade and Ewan McGregor as a Lou Reed/ Iggy Pop composite, Goldmine remains a passionate and ultimately tragic look into the lives of celebrities lost in the mire between personal identity and self-created personality, and buried under the corrupting influences of pop music, Oscar Wilde, and chiffon blouses.
***.5

Wild Zero

Asahi, Japan, the year 2000. A space-alien invasion prompts the dead out of their graves as flesh-eating zombies. Only Ace, superfan of Japanese rock band Guitar Wolf, can stop the exploding-head carnage. Zombie-killing garage-punk heroes worth the name, Guitar Wolf has the coolest accoutrements going: leather jackets, greasy pompadours, big guns, loud guitars, bad attitudes, and – most importantly – a motorcycle that spits fire.
***

Christmas on Mars

Indie-rock carnival barkers the Flaming Lips take their freak show into space in this self-produced, self-written, self-directed, self-acted bit of lunacy from 2005. Stealing from Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and Ed Wood, while adding their own post-rock fantasia, Wayne Coyne and company tell the story of a military officer stuck in a decaying space station on Mars, who attempts to organize a Christmas celebration but finds his plans foiled by a Martian, the untimely death of Santa Claus, and the space-borne madness spreading around him.
**

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Back to the Future, Velvet Goldmine, Wild Zero, Christmas on Mars

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