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Suck: A Rock and Roll Vampire Movie for the Pre-Twilighters
Suck is a rock and roll vampire flick about a band of wannabe rock star losers known ironically as The Winners. The down-on-their-luck combo is led by the biggest loser, Joey Winner (Rob Stefaniuk), who desperately tries to keep the band moving forward despite one catastrophe after another including losing their manager (the always entertaining Dave Foley) who is heading to the greener pastures of Japanese hip-hop. Things take an interesting turn when the vampire Queeny (Dimitri Coates) gets a little private time with bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré).
Overnight Jennifer becomes the charismatic center of the band with fans unable to get enough of her pasty, pale skin, bright red eyes, and uh... are those fangs? Slowly, Joey begins to realize something is rotten in Denmark. Or at least in Buffalo. Will Joey be able to keep the rest of the band from becoming bloodsucking freaks? And even if the rest of them remain human, are they going to aid and abet in the deaths of innocent fans and fellow musicians to keep their bass player satisfied and full of that charisma that is getting the band noticed?
This rock and roll underdog story combined with chill-inducing old school vampire flick is a potent mix full of suspense, humor, famous guest stars and a hefty dose of rock and roll!
"What I'm saying is that as your manager... I'm advising you to fire your manager. " - Winners manager, Jeff, explaining his long term plans for the band.
There are so many things about this film that are seriously cool, but we will just take a look at a few of them...
Rob Stefaniuk as Joey Winner
Not only does Rob play Joey, but he also wrote and directed the movie as well as all the songs the band performs in the movie. he probably foes such a great job as Joey because it is pretty much who he is in real life. Well, except for having to deal with his band turning into vampires. Most bands only face that problem with their record label's executives.
Dimitri Coats as Queeny
Queeny is the main vampire in the movie and the one who turns The Winners' bass player, Jennifer near the beginning of the film. As the over-the-top Queeny, Dimitri walks around with this demented grin that makes him always seem to be on the verge of an outburst of uncontrolled laughter. He "sings" two songs in the movie by his real world band, Burning Brides. Both songs fit perfectly with the twisted persona he has created for Queeny and these are definitely standout moments in the film.
"Has this terrible fear that surrounds us become like a drug?" - Queeny
Malcolm McDowell as Eddie
Malcolm is always a scene stealer and he lives up to his reputation here. As Eddie Van Helsing, the vampire hunter out for revenge on the bloodsucker that took the life of his one true love, Malcolm gives Eddie dimensions that few actors could bring to the character. You cannot help but root for poor Eddie on his quest for justice.
Barbara Mamabolo as Danielle
Barbara's flashback performance of the song "Night After Night" in the film (which also uses old Malcolm McDowell footage for authenticity) is an exceptional treat and shows why she is concentrating her efforts on music rather than acting. That does not mean she did not do a great job as Eddie's long lost lover. She definitely did. But this song is incredible and will make you crave her band Mamabolo's upcoming album.Check out Mamabolo's MySpace page here.
(By the way, Barbara Mamabolo is actually the girlfriend of Rob Stefaniuk.)
The band in the movie is The Winners, but they have not exactly been on a winning streak. As Joey tries to keep things rockin' 'n' rollin' along, he must not only deal with less than enthusiastic crowds, a flaky manager, and an overall general lack of success, but he must also stave off the vampires that threaten to take over the band and even his soul.
More Coolness: The Guest Stars
Rock icon Alice Cooper plays a pivotal role in Suck as a bartender who may be more than he seems. Has Alice ever been less than totally cool? Of course not! And here he lives up to his legendary status with coolness to spare. The movie is worth seeing just for Alice, but he is just the tip of the iceberg.
Bonus Cooper Coolness: Alice's daughter Calico plays a waitress in the film!
"I would say you're 30 pounds of junk food and a retail job away from killing yourself. Just a guess." - The Bartender (Alice Cooper)
Alex Lifeson of prog-rock trio Rush appears in the film as a United States Customs and Border Protection officer who decides he doesn't like the looks of The Winners and takes a personal interest in checking them out a bit more thoroughly.
Fans of Iggy know just how intense the man can be and he brings this intensity to his performance in Suck. As Victor, owner of a recording studio frequented by the band, Iggy tries to warn his young friend Joey of the dangers surrounding him.
Of all the rock stars making cameos in the film, Moby steps farthest from his real world vegan identity portraying Beef, lead singer of heavy metal band Secretaries of Steak. Can we assume the meat thrown on stage by fans was fake?
Henry Rollins, known for his explosive spoken word pieces as well as his music, plays radio DJ Rock'n Roger, a well known personality who seems to retain a lot of Henry's vibe. When the band lands a spot on his show, it could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Or not.
Even More Coolness: The Album Covers
One of the neatest things about Suck is that they pay homage to several classic albums by recreating the album covers with scenes in the movie. I should warn you that I reveal the covers if you keep reading, so you might want to wait until after seeing the film to continue reading if you want to try to spot them on your own.
The Beatles - Abbey Road
The Beatles' Abbey Road cover is simple in its way, yet it some ways it seems a bit symbolice, The band is shown in motion, walking across the street. Was this perhaps a metaphor meant to indicate the band was progressing, moving away from the psychedelia tinged era of Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour and into the more mature sounds that would fill Let It Be? Or perhaps the band was saying they were moving toward a more major change -- the break-up of the band?
T. Rex - Electric Warrior
Despite being one of the most original and iconic rock bands of the early 1970s, T. Rex surprisingly only had one hit in the United States. That song, included on Electric Warrior and released in 1971, was "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" which would reach #10 on the U.S. singles chart. The album cover, featuring an electrified Marc Bolan with his guitar and amp, would become one of the most recognized vinyl jackets of all time. Its popularity is likely due in part to its core characteristics -- simple art and a sweet concept.
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.
Of the albums referenced in Suck, Springsteen's 1984 smash hit Born in the U.S.A. is the only one released in the 1980s. I suppose that means Rob Stefaniuk considers it a bit of a modern classic. I am not sure if I agree with that and would have probably chosen a different Springsteen album and probably even a different "modern" artist, but it still a cool reference. Still, wouldn't the 1975 classic Born to Run have been a cooler reference? Maybe they just really wanted an 80's album in the mix and didn't want to leave out the Boss...
Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
One would hardly describe The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet cover as a lovely piece of album art, but it certainly is memorable. And no fan of classic rock would dare question the greatness of the music ("Sympathy for the Devil", "Street Fighting Man") the cover enclosed. Though this is an excellent choice for inclusion among the cover tributes, it had to be tough to decide which Stones album to honor. This is a band with so many great albums with incredible covers that could have been converted into interesting visuals for the film.
The Kids Are Alright - The Who
The Kids Are Alright is the soundtrack to the documentary or, as we in the modern day might call it, the rockumentary of the same name. The film featured legendary rockers The Who and it was the first rock film that sought to show more than the bright lights, groping groupies and delirious drug highs of the rock lifestyle. Roger Daltry has said of the film, "Within the first half hour we're made to look like complete idiots." Perhaps this is why the film is also considered an inspiration for the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.
Totally Cool But Not Totally New...
In fairness, it should be pointed out that this was not the first film to visually pay tribute to a classic album cover. Vanilla Sky did this in 2001 with Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. I would not be surprised to find this has been done in other films, but this is the only example I am aware of. Rob Stefaniuk has said he did it to honor the albums without having to pay expensive royalties for songs due to budget concerns. It is kind of neat seeing an album referenced in this way, so if you know of any other films that did this, please note them in comments below!