The Film (1/5)
Big time rocker Jessie Cake stumbles upon the lost album of legendary psychedelic rock star David Crystal who mysteriously disappeared a long time ago. The lost Crystal album is also a cursed album. Jessie doesn't believe in curses, playing the songs continuously and planning to add one of the album's tracks to his own upcoming album. But every time Jessie plays a track, the Bogovox, a KISS-like-cladded figure with a literal "axe" guitar, suddenly appears around Jessie's friends and kills for seven days straight. The string of murders doesn't convince Jessie of the album's malice and he only comes to terms with it's true power when his close friend Sarah is kidnapped to become the next slaughtered victim of the Bogovox.
"Extreme Jukebox" is an Italian horror-comedy that attempts to slowly seep into the giallo genre with an unconventional masked Rock-N-Roll killer. The premise strives for unique leaps and bounds, beyond a typical murder mystery with an evil and murderous genie-like killer with a high horror campiness attitude, but ultimately falls flat comically and spastically tries to piece together a coherent story out of a muddled mess. The costumed killer is the best character affixed to this film, being a likable antagonist with witty quips while wielding an array of rock related weapons. Less can be said about the rest of the characters played by a relatively fresh faced cast. Many various characters are introduced and then quickly disposed – reminds me of how the video game adapted fighting game Mortal Kombat: Annihilation tried to cram in many of the game’s highly popular characters as possible, but the result ended up cluttered and disappointing. The satire of American Rock didn’t come across as potent as director and co-writer Alberto Bogo, who actually portrayed the Bogovox, had probably hoped for with much of the Italian script becoming lost in translation when on the topic of American music culture.
Instead, “Extreme Jukebox” only lives to rock it’s very own title with being a total homage to many popular hard rock bands such as AC/DC, KISS, and KoRn with a trendy backwards R. Familiar horror references sneak into some scenes as well , that's all the Bogo directed film seems to have going for it alongside certain mediocre scenes of the Bogovox killer. No film can live on homage alone and Bogo's film fails to lock in on backstories for the characters by just dressing the characters with any given role for the sole purpose of, well, who knows? Bogo has many miscues with his story, whether being from a Bogo and Andrea Lionetti co-written unfinished script, poor editing, or shoddy direction toward the finale.
The Troma Blu-ray release has a cover that precisely exhibits the film's disjointedness by just filling much of the back cover space with all the characters in a random display and have Bogovox on the front, ready to strike the chords on his over-the-top giant death "axe" guitar. To me, the cover configuration seems like poor Adobe Photoshop work and solidifying my theory even further when there is no inscription on the cover to claim the work. The back cover also claims to have music that's inspired by traditional old school rock and that claim is accurate, but the "First Italian Rock Horror Movie" uses English laden rock bands on the soundtrack. As a matter of fact, none of the bands mentioned or in the soundtrack are Italian by origin which doesn't give this film much credibility. Another back cover claim states that "Extreme Jukebox" is "the most brilliantly demented Italian film since [Dario] Argento's 'Deep Red.'" There's no comparison as "Deep Red" is far superior in general and, also, "Deep Red" is not a horror-comedy, so why even compare them?
The 1.78:1 aspect ratio AVC encoded image presents a flawless picture. Very clean and smooth with vivid colors and no blotchiness on the darker colors, the details stand out, even making that damn ugly "axe" guitar look obviously like a bad latex prop. There lies some frame rate hiccups during the middle and end of the duration and also some slight blocking during more active portions of sequences.
The Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital mix favors quite well for being fairly standard. The soundtrack is prominent as should be with a title like "Extreme Jukebox" with a great complimentary balance of crystal clear dialogue. The Blu-ray is accompanied with English subtitles that sync well, but perhaps need more on screen, frame rate time as the text is up and gone on the screen in a blink.
Extras include a short before the film introduction by Lloyd Kaufman as Toxie from the fiction band Toxie and the Mop Boys. Kaufman praises Alberto Bogo's film and compares Bogo's work to Dario Argento's while painstaking playing the clarinet. The conventional extras include an Alberto Bogo documentary entitled "Inside 'Extreme Jukebox'", looking at the making of the film by going through the cast and all of production.
Other extras include a photo gallery of the film, theatrical trailer, and a short film about the "Rainbow Projects," which is a charitable event ran by a cast member from "Extreme Jukebox."
Troma, like usual, adds their own motley crew shorts which includes "Its Gets Better," a PSA-comedy short featuring Kaufman, "Ice Bucket Challenge," which has Kaufman refusing to be covered in ice water and rather take an alternative punishment, "Radiation March," an interpretive dance about pollution, and "The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma," a montage of Troma's work throughout the years.
I wasn't expecting a gold plated, platinum selling masterpiece from this Tromaville release, but the incoherency and the inconsistency from director Alberto Bogo's inexperience hinders the horror-comedy from achieving a frightening foreign folly of a film. The Blu-ray picture looks fantastic with a 2.0 mix that does more than it's fair share, but that doesn't help ramp-up the story, the horror, or the entertainment value of this Italian rock horror. Pass on buying this title and only rent it to brush up on your Italian language and conversation.