My buddy Jimmy is a real triple threat: he plays drums for the band Sass Dragons, he makes funny videos, and he writes great articles for really popular websites. Case in point: the thing you’re reading right now! He also contributed a piece to last year’s Drive-In Double Feature, because, well, he’s just a swell dude. Check out what he has to say about Shock ‘Em Dead below!
Have you ever seen this movie? It is Rated R, and let me tell ya the “R” stands for ROCK, my friend. Not only does this StraightToVHS treasure rock, it also happens to be a pretty great summertime flick. This was a movie that my friends and I discovered in high school and it instantly became a goto for summer time sleepovers right up there with Cannibal! The Musical and Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies. In fact, I still have in my possession the very VHS copy that we passed around between us in my circle of friends fifteen years ago.
If you’ve never seen Shock ‘Em (us fans just call it Shock ‘Em for short), I will give you the synopsis. Our enchanting story centers around the main character/antagonist, Martin. This dork is a total loser nerd wipe and he’s also a piece of shit (see: the peeping tom/changing room scene) who, after getting fired from his crappy pizza job, MISERABLY failing an audition to be a guitar player in his cousin’s band, Spastique Kolon, and getting punched in the stomach by his landlord decides to visit a mysterious voodoo witch doctor person that he had encountered earlier in the film. The voodoo woman tells Martin that she can give him anything he wants, but he’s gotta sell give his soul to Satan in return (duh). And what is it that Martin wants? “To be the greatest rock star in the world, and EVERYTHING that comes with it!”. So some evil magic shit happens, Satan shows up in a foggy graveyard, shredding sweet arpeggios on a doublenecked guitar. Then Martin suddenly wakes up in a mansion. His nerd glasses are gone; his hair now long and shiny and awesome looking. There’s babes everywhere, and he has a closet full of leather pants and vests. Oh also, his name isn’t Martin anymore…it’s ANGEL Martin! Everything goes great for Angel until he finds out that there’s a yucky price to pay for his worldly pleasures, yada yada yada.
We then get to see about an hour or so of Angel Martin taking over the band Spastique Kolon, shredding on guitar (summer stuff), killing people with a sacrificial knife (summer stuff), eating souls (summer stuff), vomiting up green stuff for no reason (summer stuff) and trying to boink Traci Lords in a hot tub (summer stuff). Shock ‘Em Dead is a MEGA crappy and allaroundfun movie with SO many great one liners. (Dekalb, IL powerviolence legends CHARLES BRONSON even use a clip of dialog from this movie in one of their songs, so you KNOW it’s legit.)
But why is Shock ‘Em REALLY great to watch, specifically in the summer? Well, where does it take place? SO-CAL, duuuuuude! Fuckin’ Hollywood California, baby. Right off the bat we’re scoring MAJOR summertime viewing points. The opening credits pop up along shots of restaurants and cars driving down Sunset Blvd (presumably) ALL SUMMER STUFF. Not only does this movie take place in L.A., it was also shot in like ‘89 or ‘90 as we all know ANY movie from that era is automatically a tasty summer jam! And we can only assume that Shock ‘Em was written/cast/filmed while under the influence of a nearly lethal amount of cocaine. Cocaine! Summer stuff!
So what are you waiting for? It’s summer time! Call your friends over, grab a twelver of Mountain Dew and a Tony’s frozen, and tell your parents to fuck off to their friends’ house for the evening - it’s time to Shock ‘Em Dead.
FUN FACT: Rick Livingstone, the guy who recorded the lead vocals on the Spastique Kolon songs featured in the movie, was also the Supervising Music Editor on successful primetime reality shows Joe Millionaire and Survivor. I KNEW his name looked familiar!