Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rock-a-Die Baby – review

Director: Bob Cook

Release date: 1989

Contains spoilers

Rock-a-Die Baby is a portmanteau film, but strangely it actually has two wraparounds. There is one concerning a band and then a second concerning a mother and daughter. The first seems to wrap-around the second. Sandwiched between them both are three stories.

The band wraparound starts with a man (Bob Cook) trying to sell a song from the band for a horror film. He assures the producer, who he is on the phone to, that the band are really good and can have a song together for the next day. The band are less than happy about this but he sends them off to a cemetery to get some atmosphere. As they arrive there is a woman standing in the cemetery with a tiger, as one does, she is credited as lady vampire (Dawn Hull).

Dawn Hull is the vampire lady
After each segment we cut to the cemetery for a quick moment of a (poor) song called spooky lady, some rock video stylings, lady vampire in a coffin occasionally and clips from the preceding story. The other wraparound sees a mother (Marilyn Hassett) waking up as her very young daughter (Lauren Woodland) watches Night of the Living Dead. The daughter asks for a story and the three tales are the three stories. The first is about soldiers in Vietnam and a woman (Patty Toy) who seems to be a weretiger, it is the best of the three stories. The second is about college kids throwing a fake séance to scare another and getting a real visitation from beyond the grave – it is a poor segment, with little point and worse effects.

she has no reflection
The third segment is our vampire segment and is, according to the mother, the story of when she and the daughter’s father (Dick Sargent) were first married. It starts off with the newlyweds, Eva and Adam, in a cab and telling the cabby (Fil Formicola) to take them to a lover’s lane and leave the meter running. He looks at his fornicating fare in the mirror and she has no reflection.

fangs are revealed later
So, having established that she is a vampire, we start discovering that her husband has no idea. She ‘accidentally’ breaks the mirror in the bedroom, starts when he picks up a log and mentions steak (thinking he means stake). She works in a blood bank, on the night-shift, but he wishes he could take her to the beach (her skin is too sensitive for that anyway) or a baseball game (she’s frightened of bats). The vampire references come thick and fast.

sucking a cut finger
When he cooks her a meal he uses garlic and makes her ill – he just assumes that she is allergic – and when he cuts his finger she takes great pleasure in sucking the wound, though she gets the blood type wrong. The entire section does actually seem a little pointless until we trip over a twist at the end, which makes it kind of cute overall – if entirely throwaway still.

mother and daughter
I won’t spoil the twist but will return to the mother and daughter wraparound. The set-up had seemed odd. We have a young girl (the actress was twelve) watching Night of the Living Dead and then telling her stories that seem inappropriate. Not just for the horror but the first story mentions rape and the second story begins with a game of strip poker. The girl, following the third story, is finally asleep but, as the mother leans in close, they both produce fangs – so she is a vampire girl.

Portmanteau films can struggle and this certainly did. The effects were poor and although I did like the first story, all things are relative and it was not the greatest piece of horror story or filmmaking ever.

It was nice, however, to see Dick Sargent and – as I said – the twist made the vampire story cute. The score is for that segment only. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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