Voyage Of The Rock Aliens

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Part B-Movie spoof, part MTV music video and all camp, Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (1984) is one of the great cult classics of the eighties. Featuring early green screen techniques in great abundance Voyage Of The Rock Aliens is very much of its moment. But the giant squid in Lake Eerie, Michael Berryman’s chainsaw wielding serial killer who stalks the halls of Heidi High School, and the greaser appearance of Frankie’s (Craig Scheffer) gang/band The Pack are all timeless.

Director James Fargo does a rather remarkable job balancing the aesthetics of fifties drive-in movies and eighties music videos while also disguising the moderate budget of the production. Voyage Of The Rock Aliens is very much Corman-esque in its attitudes to teen love and atomic monsters or aliens. This naive quality harshly juxtaposes the more contemporary elements like Berryman’s psycho killer, Ruth Gordon’s sheriff and Pia Zadora’s hair. Tom Nolan and his interstellar band of synth playing aliens are creatures of the fifties in DEVO drag. The order of the day is high camp which unifies all of these differing components under the umbrella of a generalized B-Movie nostalgia.

For all of his clever photography of dance sequences, musical numbers and low budget special effects Voyage Of The Rock Aliens is never truly James Fargo’s film. Voyage Of The Rock Aliens belongs to Pia Zadora who stars as the teenaged would-be singer Dee Dee. For Voyage Of The Rock Aliens Zadora only had to look at her roots as a child star in Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964) for inspiration. Her charismatic style and unique singing voice lend the film an otherwise elusive emotional core that is essential to grounding all of the campy proceedings.

Today Voyage Of The Rock Aliens is best known as the film where Zadora and Jermaine Jackson duet on the song “When The Rain Begins To Fall”. The song was a hit and the accompanying music video which is featured in the film has been more widely seen than Voyage Of The Rock Aliens itself. But the film has more than just the one good song. “You Bring Out The Lover In Me” is a lot of fun and features some of Zadora’s best vocals. It’s also the number that gets the best visual effects and choreography as Zadora and company dance about a ladies’ bathroom (this song does not appear on the official soundtrack release).

Voyage Of The Rock Aliens has found a second life after cable television in the eighties on YouTube. Devotees of trash cinema, musicals, and 80s nostalgia hounds have all embraced the film throughout the 2010s. But Voyage Of The Rock Aliens wasn’t properly restored or released on home video until 2022 by Vinegar Syndrome. Now Voyage Of The Rock Aliens looks and sounds better than ever. This one is a totally un-ironic “must see”.