Sunday, 15 November 2015

Movie B Bad #6: Vibrations (1996)

I saw the film at a Bristol Bad Film Club screening. Check them out at their website and on Facebook.

Vibrations is a 1996 musical teen drama. Written and directed by Michael Paseornek, the film stars James Marshall (Twin Peaks) and Christina Applegate (Married with Children, Anchorman). Although this would be Paseorneks only foray into directing, he would go on to become a successful producer responsible for horror films like American Psycho (2000) and The Devil's Rejects (2005).

The film follows T.J (Marshall), a talented young musician on the road to stardom. Unfortunately, his hands (and dreams) become crushed after a run in with some local thugs and a drill-equipped JCB, leaving him to wander the city as a rubber handed drunken hobo. Luckily for TJ he wanders into a local rave and meets Annamika (Applegate), who takes pity on him and helps him to clean up his act. Recognising a musical talent within TJ, Annamika and her friends (including a welding landlady) manage to craft him a new cybernetic pair of hands which help to propel him to superstardom as "techno" DJ Cyberstorm!

First off, this is the most 80s 90s film I've ever seen. From most of the fashion on display to the "cutting edge" electronic music being played, I was really very shocked to learn this film was made in 1996. The dialogue is similarly hilarious and out of touch, particularly when the characters are trying to describe the music and the cosmic grooves etc. More often than not the music sounds like it's one of the preset demos on a Yamaha keyboard and it couldn't be farther from the type of dance music we were all enjoying in 1996 (okay maybe not enjoying).

In all fairness to Marshall he does seem to be doing his best with what he's been given and I suppose you could call some of the early homeless scenes "gritty". Some of the funniest moments of the film come from the physical comedy involving TJs rubber hands. This includes stopping a knife attack with his palm and using his hand to stop a kitchen fire, surely the makers of the film could not have expected this to be taken seriously? There's also a lot of fun to be had when the gang get going on their "rave concert tour" and watching TJ "perform" as Cyberstorm is something I can only liken to C-3PO having some sort of fit.

Vibrations had the right idea, no doubt trying to capitalise on the cyberpunk sub-culture made popular by "Hackers" the previous year, but ends up a film quite obviously written by a middle aged man who has no idea how teenagers would have talked in 1996 or what kind of music they would listen to. However, the film is unintentionally hilarious when enjoyed as the unlikely story of a handless wino who becomes a gyrating, robotic superstar.

**** 4 Stars

Have you seen Vibrations? What did you think?


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