Oh look, it's Pia Zadora. In a musical. This can't possibly end badly.

While doing a little reference for an earlier review, I happened upon a review of "Earth Girls Are Easy" that mentioned, almost casually, as though this was common knowledge, that the 1988 film was a rip off of 1984's "Voyage of the Rock Aliens." This struck me as fairly odd, as the story in "EGAE" is pretty standard fair for sci-fi comedies, and it was a musical, how many sci-fi musicals about aliens coming to Earth to have sex with anything that moves can possibly be out there?

It is a subject that has never, ever been tackled before.

Unfortunately, while it is pretty easy to find "EGAE" finding a copy of "Voyage of the Rock Aliens" took a lot more work. Turns out that it is not a fondly remembered movie for some reason. Luckily for me, however, some poor schmuck is as addicted to terrible movies as I am, and posted a VHS copy of the whole movie on YouTube, which only happened once or twice in 30 or 40 movies I look for, normally the copyright holders yank the film down before I get a chance to check it out, and I give up and never see whatever it is I was looking for because I am not plopping down real money for "Cutthroat Island," thank you very much.

So, here's the thing about this "VotRA," it is fantastic, but you have to, have to, be in the right state of mind for what you are about to watch, or you will never make it past the beginning. So, crack open some booze and settle in, because this it about to get weird up in here.

"VotRA" was created, as far as I can tell as a spoof of the 50's style science fiction films, but somewhere along the way an enterprising studio executive took what would have been a Troma level production and used it to showcase the talent on his companies roster at the time, and the movie became a musical. This is actually a good idea, and can find no fault in this coked out, totally 80's choice, as it was the most 80's decision he could have made. The problems in his plan comes to light, however, when you look a the artists on his roster.

Jerimine Jackson is not  a good starting point.

If your plan for a musical includes the words "Pia Zadroa" do the world a favor and kill yourself before time travel is invented an an army of people travel back to do it for you.

So we are all on the same page when it comes to Ms. Zadora, right? I mean you all know where these jokes are coming from? No? OK, pile into the Way Back Machine Sherman, we are heading back to the 80's. This cannot end well.
---Doodly doop. Doodly doop. Time Travel Music. Lightning bolt. ---
Pia Zadora got her start, not in the 80's but in 1964's "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" playing a little Martian girl that calls Santa to Mars. The film is best remembered for Dropo, the laziest man on Mars, and for the insane and unrelenting theme music "S-A-N-T-A C-L-A-U-S Hooray for Santy Claus!" sung by the young Zadora. Besides the sudden change of Santa's first name (is that his first name? Or is that a title?), she did a fine enough job, even winning a few awards for her musical performance.

Flash forward a decade, and Pia is a young woman, pretty enough, but not working to steadily, or at all. At a fancy party, she meets an older millionaire (she was 17, he was...not. By a lot), and the two hit it off. Suddenly work started flying her way. She was singing at the Riviera in Vegas next to Sinatra! And, my lawyers say that I have to state that this was in no way because of the fact that her rich husband owned the hotel, and had to do with her work ethic. Not because of the husband. Totally not. In no way. Although he totally owned the hotel and controlled who was performing there. But that was a coincidence.

In 1982 Zadora won a Golden Globe for her work in the film "Butterfly" under the, now defunct, heading of "Best New Star of the Year." This was a little confusing to the audience, as "Butterfly" had not been released in America in 1981 (remember, award shows reward the year previous), nor had it come out in America when the show aired. But, hey, she was probably fantastic in it anyway, right? Let's take a look at the critical response. One guy called her "inept", well, that could be out of context. It won a few awards, so that is something, in fact it won three Razzies. Two for Zadora, and one for Ed McMahon. So, there you go. But there is no way that her rich husband bought out that award, no way at all. I mean sure he paid for the movie to be made just to give Pia a leading role, and he may have flown the voting block of the Globes to Vegas, first class, and wined and dined them in his hotel for a weekend before inviting them to a private screening of the film. But you know, how would that sway anyone?

1984 hits, and Zadora has released her self title debut album two years ago and is sitting on a brand new set of songs including a bonafide hit maker with Jerimine Jackson, the most talented of the sub-Jacksons, save for Tito, and Latyoa. And, gasp, a sci-fi flick wants to use your songs for their movie. Well, why not?

I'll tell you why not. Pia Zadora can't sing or act for beans. For BEANS people.

I give a lot of current actors grief for not honing their craft enough, and, truth be told, the likes of Kristen Stewart, while not wonderful, aren't too terrible at what they do, but Pia...Pia, Pia, Pia. There are times I wonder if she had gotten the script the day of shooting and might be pulling off a decent acting job, but then I realize that most actors get their lines the day of, thanks the the constant revision process in the movie making process, and they manage to not make Thespies, the god of Thespians, cry rivers of white wine. There is no excuse, she is not a good actor (she won both the Worst Actor of the Decade for her work in the 80's and Worst Actor of the Century, both from the Razzies). But you know what, I would accept the terrible acting if she wouldn't sing. Oh when she sings the angels themselves turn to stone to avoid losing faith in god.

Yes, Pia Zadora caused the Weeping Angels to be.

OK, there is some slight hyperbole there. She isn't that bad, although she isn't that good either. The only way I can think of describing her vocal abilities is as such: she would win at least 25% of the karaoke contests she entered in a small town. Not in a big city, then she probably would win 1 in 20, but a small section of humans against her, she is probably better than 25% of them. Probably.

As for the movie, I really enjoyed the hell out of it. It opens in a real mind fuck of a way, with a music video of the song, "When the Rain Begins to Fall," with Zadora and Jackson. The two fall in love, even though Jackson is in a gang of street toughs and Zadora is in a gang of....male nuns? I really can't think of a better way to describe the way they look. Man nuns. Sort of.
So they can't love each other because of...racism? It doesn't really matter because after making you question what the hell you are watching, the movie switches gears, and now we have a space ship, searching the galaxy for rock music, and Earth is the last planet in light years, so why not stop? So a group of aliens come to earth and their ayrian leader falls in love with Zadora. But lo! It is not to be, as Pia is owned by her street thug boyfriend Frankie, who looks like Bruce McCullough and Justin Beiber had a kid, who was much taller than either of them. Somewhere along the line two mental patients escape, one played to perfection by the criminally typecast Michael Berryman ("The Hills Have Eyes", your nightmares), and also the local Sheriff, played by Oscar winner Ruth Gordon ("Rosemary's Baby", "Harold and Maude") wants to catch the aliens, but not the convicts, for no reason. Oh, and the aliens are slated to play at the high school dance tonight! If all of this sounds like they threw a bunch of ideas into a blender and filmed what came out, well, that is how it feels to watch. Everything is hyper kinetic and crazy, the music is either fast paced rock or fast paced nu-wave for the entire movie. Everyone is completely aware of just how dumb the movie is, and runs with it, from the alien ship using the worst props imaginable (garbage cans make a prominent prop) to the giant squid tentacle that keeps making appearances in the background of scenes well away from the lake.

Like I had said at the start, some have claimed that "Earth Girls Are Easy" ripped off this movie. I would disagree. The concept of aliens coming to earth looking for love is nothing new, hell, I referenced "Rocky Horror Picture Show" but I could have just as easily went with "Mork and Mindy," the trick is how the stories are handled. With "EGAE" the story is unabashedly Julie Brown's with equal amounts snark, funny and music; all traditionally part of her music. With "Voyage of the Rock Aliens," they take the same starting point, but give the aesthetic and story telling control to DEVO, or at least to someone who really liked DEVO.   
The difference may be subtle; but when you watch the two movies, they provide two wildly, and completely different experiences. "VotRA" ends up being one of the most 80's films I have ever seen, and is only mildly drawn down by Pia Zadora's terrible singing and acting. Had the movie not tried to be silly and pointless, she would have affected the final product far more, but since no one seemed to care about the movie while they were making it, why should a bad performance ruin the viewing experience for anyone watching it? If you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night, and aren't afraid to walk back to the nu-80's, "Voyage of the Rock Aliens" is a fun way to spend 90 minutes. If you demand professionalism out of a movie, or actors/singers that can act and sing better than you can, this might not be the right film for you. If, on the other hand, you want to see a man sing a duet with a mountain lion, well this is about the only chance you will have for that.

Rating B
 





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