Rock & Roll Cowboys

  • 1987
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Musical, Science Fiction

Lost: one coherent plot. Please return to ROCK & ROLL COWBOYS, an Australian sci-fi pop-music satire, copyrighted 1987, that became 1992 home-video esoterica in the US. What happens makes THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, a genre relation, look like a model of straightforward narrative. Mickey (David Franklin) is a harried sound engineer for a glam-rock band...read more

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Lost: one coherent plot. Please return to ROCK & ROLL COWBOYS, an Australian sci-fi pop-music satire, copyrighted 1987, that became 1992 home-video esoterica in the US. What happens makes THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, a genre relation, look like a model of straightforward narrative.

Mickey (David Franklin) is a harried sound engineer for a glam-rock band fronted by conceited Stevie Van Blitz (Greg Parke) and pretty Teena Tungsten (Nikki Coghill). Mickey wants to write love songs and play keyboard with the ensemble, but Stevie won't have it, even though Teena's secretly sweet

on the kid. One night Mickey follows a moving, mesmerizing, spiked sphere next door to Damien Shard (John Doyle), a Mephistopheles type armed with the "Psychotronic Alpha Sampler." This infernal device edits and remixes brain waves like a synclavier manipulates sound, with the effect of making

dreams come true--but the band's interested because it means they can play music without their instruments, or something like that.

Much goes on that makes no obvious sense. One musician tries to steal the Psychotronic Alpha Sampler and ends up thinking he's a monkey. Mickey dreams of wrestling a skeleton underwater (special cinematography credit to the illustrious marine documentarians Ron and Valerie Taylor, of all people)

and is summoned to a seedy church where an ominous figure offers him a strange potion. A robotic "Sample Squad" in gas masks and yellow jumpsuits jog through the cramped, futuristic urban scenery zapping band members and bystanders with more spiked spheres. The culprit is Damien Shard's boss, a

kiddie-show TV evangelist called Uncle Sam (Ron Blanchard) who hosts the twerpy Sunday-morning "Cowboys for God" program on which he rails against the evils of rock 'n' roll. His master plan is unclear: to destroy all music except country-and-western gospel; steal the souls of the characters; turn

everyone into mindless zombies; or popularize romantic ballads through Mickey. The ending leaves more questions, as a deaf roadie, immune to the Psychotronic Alpha Sampler, seemingly saves Mickey and Teena--or are they only in his mind?

The performances are generally grotesque, none more so than Ben Franklin as the band's manager Harvey Glutzman, a middle-aged, Nazi-obsessed, greed-driven pervert who enacts weirdo S&M fantasies and Egyptian pagan rituals while the camera dwells on his droopy belly. The dialogue doesn't often go

beyond yelling and screaming. It says a lot for the vibrant, late-blooming Aussie film industry that even Down Under duds tend to be more stylish than antipodal counterparts, and director Rob Stewart invests this material with enough low-budget visual flash to make this worth a glance--a very

brief glance--from the incautiously curious.

The musical numbers have energy to spare, and the songs by David Skinner are worthy of life beyond turkeydom. Notable for their appearance is a hard-rock group called the Escape Band, whose wardrobe of woolly animal hides, horns, tusks, chains and shoulder pads rivals the primordial garb of those

American speed-metal barbarians, Gwar. (Substance abuse, profanity, sexual situations.)

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  • Released: 1987
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Lost: one coherent plot. Please return to ROCK & ROLL COWBOYS, an Australian sci-fi pop-music satire, copyrighted 1987, that became 1992 home-video esoterica in the US. What happens makes THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, a genre relation, look like a model o… (more)

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