I guarantee you've never seen anything like Stunt Rock. That's because nothing else like it exists. I'm not sure if there's even anything that comes close. This 1978 Australian film has built a cult audience over the years, thanks to its eclectic mix of elements. Now it's been given a sharp 4K restoration. Kino Lorber's Kino Cult division is mounting a limited theatrical release starting March 25. This is your chance to see a delightfully unhinged cinematic work.
Directed by BMX Bandits' Brian Trenchard-Smith, Stunt Rock is best described as a documentary/fiction hybrid. There's a thinly-scripted story about a journalist finding inspiration for an article after meeting stuntman Grant Page (playing himself). She comes to visit him on sets, where he gets to do dangerous things like falling off a water tower and being ejected from a burning car. Every so often, he'll say something like, "Did you ever see Gone in 60 Seconds?" and then Stunt Rock will cut to a montage of his work in that film. Or he'll talk about his injuries and we'll see actual behind-the-scenes footage of him getting hurt on a stunt gone wrong.
The fictional Grant likes to hang out with a prog-rock band called Sorcery. The story pauses on a regular basis to give us one of their concert performances. The group has a stage show involving a wizard who takes on the Prince of Darkness. Elaborate magic tricks are a big part of this.
That's Stunt Rock in a nutshell. It's stunts, rock music, and illusions jumbled together into an incoherent, yet undeniably entertaining blend of awesomeness. There's little rhyme or reason for why the film pings from one thing to the next. It basically caters to its own whims. Normally that approach wouldn't work. The difference here is that you can feel how much Trenchard-Smith loves these things. Musical performance scenes are energetically photographed (although I think Sorcery's music is excruciating to listen to) and stunt sequences are presented in split screen so that we can study them from two different angles.
Of course, the chance to witness Grant Page risking life and limb is part of the appeal, too. Stunt Rock gives us a look at how stunts are put together, so we gain appreciation for the process. Most of his stunts are mind-blowing, not only because of the inherent danger, but also because of how intricate some of them are. When he lights himself on fire while standing at the edge of a cliff, then jumps backwards into water he can't see coming, it's pretty awe-inspiring.
The palpable enthusiasm with which Stunt Rock was assembled makes it a kick to watch. It strips away all the excess stuff, choosing instead to dive head-first into its obsessions. There's something pure about that. And the movie invites viewers to simply revel in those obsessions - to enjoy them on their own terms, without the need for any larger context. If you're willing to do that, a great time is guaranteed.
out of four
Stunt Rock is rated PG for mild language and footage of stunt injuries. The running time is 1 hour and 31 minutes.