Directed by: Paul Bunnell
Starring: Will Keenan, Creed Bratton, De Anna Joy Brooks, Jed Rowen, Kate Maberly, Paul Williams, Kevin McCarthy
I love science fiction. I love campy movies. And above all else I LOVE movie musicals. And nothing is better than a bad movie musical. I actually own From Justin to Kelly, Xanadu, and Grease 2 merely because they are all so fantastically bad. I have even starred in a campy science fiction musical called Return to the Forbidden Planet, which remains one of my favorite shows that I’ve done to this very day! Therefore I was certain that I was going to fall head over heels for The Ghastly Love of Johnny X. But I have not been so sorely disappointed since my senior prom date left me high and dry. But for the sake of other film lovers like myself, I gritted my teeth, drank some wine, and endured.
Johnny X, played by the musically talented Will Keenan, is a juvenile delinquent from outer space. We open with poor Johnny on trial for his many misdeeds. His band of delinquents, who look an awful lot like the T-Birds and Pink Ladies from Grease, watch from another room, as their fearless leader is sentenced to a lifetime on a place without any sense or good… Earth.
Flash forward to a year later, Johnny and his pack are ripping through the Arizonian desert looking for something or someone. Come to find out, they’re looking for Johnny’s runaway girlfriend, Bliss, played by De Anna Joy Brooks. Although Ms. Brooks has the rocking hot body of a Victoria’s Secret model… that’s about where her talent stops. Her acting was in some awkward limbo land between normal film acting and campy overacting. Her singing lacked leading lady character and just flatly lingered in my ears. And her face, while rather attractive sometimes, would look just awful at certain angles and in certain lights.
Anyways, Bliss, is hiding from her boyfriend, Johnny, because she swiped his “resurrection suit,” with which he can make anyone do anything. Johnny finally catches up with her and her new clean as a whistle soda jerk boyfriend, Chip, to take back the “resurrection suit.” Once he has possession of the suit, he must appease a sleazy music club owner who has the remains of famous rocker Mickey O’Flynn, played by The Office’s very own Creed Bratton. Bratton’s aging rock star is probably one of the better parts of this movie… but don’t get your hopes up just for him. And as you guessed it, the club owner wanted Johnny to use the “resurrection suit” to revive Mickey O’Flynn for one last show.
The cinematography is quite beautiful, especially as this is shot in black and white and on 35mm film. Some parts are fun but rarely laugh out loud funny. The movie isn’t even bad enough to warrant itself to being bad campy humor. The music is ok at best. Mickey O’Flynn has a pretty good number, reminiscent of “Purple People Eater,” but otherwise the music is just not up to snuff. Johnny X’s only redeeming qualities just might be the fun concept, the beautiful cinematography, and Creed Bratton.
The video was good. Shot in 35mm Kodak film, it had a good older movie feel. The whole entire picture is in black and white, which works for the feel of the film, but sadly was not handled in the right way. It was not until the “Making Of Feature” that I realized that they had painted rocker Mickey O’Flynn’s face green. But for the most part, you won’t miss a single awkward arabesque or uncomfortable undulation.
In both 2.0 Stereo Sound and optional 5.1 Surround Sound, the movie sounds pretty good for the most part. I can hear the dialogue pretty well, and the music comes through loud and clear. There is also a closed caption option… it might help you understand the film a smidge better.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The disc comes in a standard DVD case with some fun and fantastical graphics, but please do not be tricked by it’s silly and fun cover… The Bonus features are better than the actual film. There is a trailer for the film, as well as other films being released by Strand Releasing Home Entertainment, as well as deleted scenes, outtakes, and the “Making Of Feature,” which sadly is more compelling than the film itself.
Overall (not an average)
I’m weird, and highly enjoy other people’s weirdness as well, but I think the largest fault lies with the director. Perhaps the music might have fallen in place, or perhaps I would have forgiven a lack luster job from a mediocre cast, If the director would have truly realized the film that he was making. Bunnell set out to make a film in the same realm as Rocky Horror Picture Show and my personal favorite Little Shop of Horrors. Granted, these movies had stupidly talented casts and music that will last til the stars turn cold, BUT the one thing that he was missing was a sense of play. I believe that he didn’t push the film to the stupid Ed Wood-esque edge to which it could have been pushed. Would turning this movie’s campy edge up to an 11 have saved Johnny X? Who knows, but I wouldn’t stick around to see.
The Movie 6/10
Packaging and bonus features 3/10
Overall (not an average) 5/10