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Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: June 28thh, 2022.
    Director: James Fargo
    Cast: Pia Zadora, Craig Sheffer, Michael Berryman, Tom Nolan, Ruth Gordon, Alison La Placa
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Amazon

    Voyage Of The Rock Aliens – Movie Review:

    OK…so a bunch of aliens - ABCD (Tom Nolan), EFGHI (Jeffrey Casey), JKLM (Gregory Bond), NOPQR (Craig Jensen), STUVWXYZ (Patrick Byrnes), AEIOU (Marc Jackson) and a robot named 1349 (Peter Cullen) – are supposed to be out looking for some sort of scientific-related research but material but are instead flying through the outer reaches of space in a giant space ship that just so happens to be shaped like a bad ass flying V electric guitar. Their mission? Not so much to boldly go where no man has gone before but to discover where rock n’ roll has originated from (which, honestly, is probably more fun).

    Their journey brings them to the small town of Speelburgh, a town just like many others in middle America. Here a young man named Frankie (Craig Sheffer) and fronts a group called The Pack, a pretty traditional rockabilly outfit that rules the roost in Speelburgh. Frankie’s main squeeze is the ultra-hot Dee Dee (Pia Zadora), a foxy blonde who would one day like to front a band of her own, but Frankie isn’t having any of that and doesn’t want his number one dame to be stealing any of his thunder now or in the future. Dee Dee doesn’t want to irk Frankie, but she does want to follow her dreams. Tension arises!

    With Dee Dee understandably out of sorts about her predicament, she’s in a bit of a funk but when the aliens land and ABCD sees her – and understandably falls head over heels in love with her – he decides that he and his unusually talented crew will provide her with the backing band she never knew she wanted and never realized she needed. At the same time, the aliens cause a bit of a ruckus in town, setting off some of the locals and the cops, all while Frankie realizes what’s going on and plots his revenge.

    Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (which, according to the elements used for this Blu-ray release, was apparently also titled ‘When The Rain Begins To Fall’ - named after Pia Zadora's duet with Jermaine Jackson of the same name), is, maybe not so surprisingly, a very silly movie. Rockabilly had an odd revival in the eighties, with the success of bands like The Stray Cats, but when that happened it didn’t quite have the same appeal as the original stuff did decades prior because tastes and trends had changed quite a bit. Voyage Of The Rock Aliens deals with fifties style rockabilly but does so through a pair of decidedly eighties-tinted glasses. That isn’t necessarily a problem, as it gives the movie a weird kitsch factor and just sort of adds to its overall bizarrely likeable charm, but it is something that really can’t be ignored – this an eighties movie through and through and this is old school roots rock n’ roll by way of the mid-eighties new wave scene.

    It’s all pretty fun though. Dumb, yes, but fun. The movie doesn’t ever seem like it’s trying to do more than entertain its audience and on that level it succeeds. We get some goofy comedy and some corny jokes, a few decent musical bits and a ridiculously cute Pia Zadora all working the movie’s favor. We never once feel like her Dee Dee belongs with Craig Sheffer’s Frankie because Frankie is an asshole. He’s an asshole who knows how to rock, but an asshole nevertheless. Tom Nolan as ABCD is, despite his dumb name, a much more likeable guy and of course we want him to whisk Dee Dee off and to save her from Frankie’s fairly misogynistic clutches. Most of the background characters look like they walked off of the set of a Karate Kid movie and the bit part players, mainly the other aliens, are amusing enough to watch in their quest to use their advanced science to score with Earth girls. Michael Berryman shows up as a crazy townsperson who wants to hack things up with a chainsaw and Ruth Gordon plays the town’s aged sheriff.

    Voyage Of The Rock Aliens – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Voyage Of The Rock Aliens to Region Free Blu-ray framed in 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc with the feature using up just over 28GBS of space. Taken from a new 2k scan of the 35mm interpositive, picture quality here is really nice. There are a couple of scenes that show some minor print damage but most probably won’t notice as it isn’t particularly severe and only lasts few a few seconds. Detail is really strong and colors look great. Black levels are solid and we get nice shadow detail. Compression is handled well, the many dark interior shots and scenes that use smoke are rendered without any noticeable artifacts and the image shows plenty of natural grain and no evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The English language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, with optional subtitles in English only, sounds very good. There’s some fun channel separation with the effects work and the soundtrack that helps to build some atmosphere. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow and the track is free of any audible hiss or distortion. It’s front heavy, for a 5.1 mix, but the rear channels are used here and there pretty effectively.

    The main extra on the disc is Embarking On A Voyage: The Making Of An Alien Dance Rock Opera which is a forty-one minute making-of documentary that is comprised of interviews with actor Michael Berryman, executive producer Max Keller, producer Micheline Keller, wardrobe assistant Donzaleigh Abernathy, co-screenwriter/co-producer Charles Hairston, special effects artist Dwight Roberts and miniatures artist Anton Tremblay. This does a good job of explaining and exploring what everyone was up to, career wise, before they came on board this production before then going on to discuss what drew everyone to the movie, what each interviewee did on the production, thoughts on how the finished product turned out, what it was like on set, friendships that were formed, some of the effects work featured in the picture, ideas that were thought up but never quite properly executed, editing the picture, post production work, and the response to the movie once it finally made it out there during the VHS boom.

    Where They Are Now: Reuniting The Band Rhema In The 21st Century is a forty-eight minute featurette with members of the band Rhema who basically played the rock aliens in the movie - Jeffrey Casey, Marc Jackson, Craig Jensen, Patrick Byrnes, and Gregory Bond. They talk about the origins of the group, how they actually started out as a Christian rock act, changed their sound with the times once they eighties rolled around, playing a part in the music scene in Arizona, how they wound up appearing in Voyage Of The Rock Aliens and what was involved in their showing up in the film. It’s a fun and interesting look back.

    The disc also comes with some nice reversible cover artwork and, if purchased directly from the Vinegar Syndrome website, an exclusive limited edition slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. and limited to 6,000 units.

    Voyage Of The Rock Aliens - The Final Word:

    Campy, goofy and silly, Voyage Of The Rock Aliens is pretty fun stuff and very much a product of the eighties. Vinegar Syndrome has brought this screwy cult classic to Blu-ray in very fine form indeed with an excellent presentation and two really strong featurettes covering its origins and its history.


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Voyage Of The Rock Aliens Blu-ray screen caps!

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