Friday, March 30, 2012

TiVo Now, Thank Us Later: Stunt Rock and Heavy Metal on TCM Underground Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Yes, cable without a-la-carte options is a rip-off. Yes, I await the happy day when unresponsive cable providers go the way of Blockbuster, facing a special tribunal in hell. But I deal with the devil for now — because the devil controls access to Turner Classic Movies, the channel that justifies the invention of DVR by the hour.

We've written here before about their awesome "TCM Underground" programming block of cult movies in the late-night Friday/early-morning Saturday hours — everything from the ’80s aerobics epic Heavenly Bodies to Andrzej Zulawski's deranged Possession. Tonight's double bill is a four-star bean-dip-and-Doritos indulgence of junk-movie heaven, perfect fare for unwinding after a night of clubbing or insomniac tube-surfing — or after tonight's Belcourt midnight show of Army of Darkness.

First up: Stunt Rock (1 a.m.), the next best thing to the Alamo Drafthouse setting up shop in your living room. One of the midnight-movie discoveries of recent years, right up there with Lady Terminator and Mad Foxes, this hugely entertaining whatsit has as its framing device a semi-documentary study of Aussie stuntman Grant Page in Hollywood, which gives an excuse to stitch together jaw-dropping clips of his greatest stunts: flaming leaps, zip-line plummets, car crashes.

What could possibly improve a barely tethered clip reel of beatings, wrecks and fireballs? Director Brian Trenchard-Smith is reading your mind: prog-metal musical numbers! Bring on one of the most awesomely cheesy acts in the history of either music or movies: Sorcery, a sort of proto-GWAR whose pyro-happy live show is built around an elaborate wizards' duel between band members playing Merlin and Satan. Believe us when we say you will watch these scenes; you will rewind these scenes; you will call and text and tweet people you haven't seen since the third-grade school play to describe these scenes, in between desperate gulps of oxygen and fits of hyperventilation. We so wish we could watch this with Gold, D-Pat, Lance and Ashley.

Stick around for a favorite from my junior year of high school, the 1981 animated fantasy Heavy Metal (2:45 a.m.). The novelty of cartoon sex, R-rated animation and sleazepunk futurism may have subsided somewhat, but the impulse to slow-bang your head to Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" on the platinum-selling soundtrack reigns eternal. Coming soon to TCM Underground: French softcore-horror auteur Jean Rollin's The Iron Rose; William Gunn's fascinating blaxploitation-era vampire drama Ganja & Hess; Alex Winter's sicko cult comedy Freaked — and of course, Heavenly Bodies.

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