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Body Rock

***
1984

‘…what makes Body Rock an increasingly hot property of the so-bad-its-good genre is the quality of the music; it’s awful’

‘Born on a hungry street, children of darkness threw up on the beach.’ Yes, there’s never been a better time to rock your body, and if you’re ready for some block-rockin’ beats, look not further than 1984 film Body Rock, feauring the celebrated hit song Body Rock by Maria Vidal. Hearing this globally-treasured single on the car radio moments before the nation fell into compulsory mourning patterns reminded me that, yes, there was a film made based on the Body Rock song, but for reasons to complicated to explore, I’d never actually seen it. Now I have viewed the entire movie on your behalf, and I’m keen to tell you about what I saw; there’s a few obvious reasons which this film has garnered precisely zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but we’re changing that right now…

Featuring better-than-required cinematography by the brilliant Robby Muller (Paris Texas, To Live and Die in LA) and stunts by the legendary Chuck Gaylord, Body Rock is a role reversal on Flashdance, featuring a preening walloper of a male-dancer trying to make an impression on the New York club scene of the heady 80’s. So in touch with the trends of today that he wears a ladies accessory belt for a headband, Chilly (Lorenzo Lamas) not surprisingly can’t get arrested as an artist, but manages to convince a music-industry talent-scout (who dresses like Cole Porter) to bankroll a nightclub. This proves to be a creative safe-space in which Chilly and his risible crew showcase their laughable cavortings, displays of synchronised hand-clapping and self-congratulatory krump-shows that would make the manic lead singer from Boney M looks as reticent as Sia.

‘I sell my moves to no one’, says one of Chilly’s gang defiantly, but it’s hard to imagine who would be buying; everyone seems to have mobility issues here, the gyrations are weapons-grade, and highlights include two of the worst seduction efforts ever seen on film. Even in 1984, surely it wasn’t enough for a woman just to lie back on a couch and wave her legs in the air, but that’s what we get here by way of female agency and romance. The space-punk fashions look more like a cheap sci-fi movie that any actual urban club scene, yet the giant cassette machine used in the finale, complete with steam and dancers erupting from between the spools, would be considered over-the-top in a Ru Paul’s Drag Race finale.

But what makes Body Rock an increasingly hot property of the so-bad-its-good genre is the quality of the music; it’s awful. At least director Marcello Epstein don’t sell his crown jewel Body Rock short, featuring the whole song over the opening and closing credits, so you can’t say that you didn’t get a chance to rock your body. It might seem an impossible ask to get anyone to write a song worse than Roberta Flack’s screechy love theme One Things Leads to Another, but step forward Baxter Robinson, whose song Vanishing Point features on the trailer below and is lovingly presented in its lyrical entirety for your pleasure, an existential reverie which very much reflects my own state of mind mid-September 2022.

In the garden of extremity
Red sun slippin’ down behind you
Broken pieces of serenity
Leave me with nothin’ to be tied to
Somewhere, they don’t ask questions
Somewhere, they look the other way

Nothing changes but the face and name
Don’t you take praise from a stranger
You’re an animal that can’t be tamed
In the heat at love’s equator
Sometimes the image lingers
There’s nothing left at all
Nobody’s gonna wonder why
They form lines for paradise lost
I remember when I held you tight
While the waves of midnight tossed
I’m in a transformation
I’m in a different configuration
I’m at the vanishing point
About to fade away
Vanishing point..

Comments

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    • I have to admit, I had to pause this movie several times because I couldn’t stop laughing. They can have that quote for the poster.

    • I watch this stuff so you don’t have to. Would your local library be interested in my illustrated talk; Body Rock; A Personal Journey? Would be prepared to travel, and potentially move to a larger venue if public interest was high enough…

  1. I dunno – I think it really IS so bad that it’s good? I liked that opening sequence at the zebra crossing (or whatever) and be honest; isn’t ‘Vanishing Point’ kind of catchy?

    • Yup, three stars and certified fresh. I did have to stop the film several times because I couldn’t stop laughing. And you’re right about that street-wise opening, and I’ve played Vanishing Point several times today with no ill effects. Maybe this IS a masterpiece?

  2. Had never heard of this and probably would have been ok if that state of ignorance remained.
    Good job on increasing the depths of knowledge at RT, somebody has to be on the frontier pushing those boundaries…

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