A truly mad concoction, blending 1950s juvenile delinquents, sci-fi melodrama, song-and-dance, and a touch of horror, everything in just the right combination to create an engaging big ... See full summary »
A truly mad concoction, blending 1950s juvenile delinquents, sci-fi melodrama, song-and-dance, and a touch of horror, everything in just the right combination to create an engaging big screen spectacle! This curious and curiously entertaining story involves one Jonathan Xavier and his devoted misfit gang who, incidentally, have been exiled to Earth from the far reaches of outer space. Johnny's former girlfriend Bliss has left him and stolen his Resurrection Suit, a cosmic, mind-bending uniform that gives the owner power over others. Along the way, there will be several highly stylized musical numbers, lots of genuinely humorous dialogue, and a wacky plot-twist or two, all beautifully captured on the very last of Kodak's black-and-white Plus-X film stock. Written by
Anthony Craig Gilbert
It has been many years since I've seen a movie as intriguing, bizarre, and fun as THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X, and that is the truth. This big screen spectacular is a crazy concoction, consisting of juvenile delinquents from outer space, assorted low-budget B-movie plot devices, and a cast of characters prone to bursting into song at a moment's notice. Yes, this is a comedy. In fact, it is actually a sci-fi/musical comedy with film noir thrown in for good measure, a genre (or sub-genre) with very few examples to speak of. The whole thing is beautifully photographed in black and white, and it all comes together thanks to the vision of director Paul Bunnell, who assembled a dedicated team both on and off-screen. The result is a movie overflowing with energy and good old-fashioned showmanship.
The plot revolves around Johnny X, just your average leather jacket wearing bad boy from another planet, exiled to Earth with his devoted gang, known as The Ghastly Ones. Bliss is a former girlfriend trying to escape Johnny, and Chip is the naive soda-jerk who gets involved in her plight. These roles are well played by a trio of talented and attractive young actors. De Anna Joy Brooks as Bliss delivers cutting remarks and sultry solos with equal aplomb, while Les Williams is sincere, likable and properly earnest as Chip. Will Keenan as the title character is the glue that holds the plot together, dark and brooding, with tongue firmly in cheek.
Other stars include Paul Williams as talk show host Cousin Quilty, and Reggie Bannister, as hapless concert promoter King Clayton. Creed Bratton is very effective as the outrageous and twisted Mickey O'Flynn, The Man with the Grin. Film buffs take note: This movie also includes veteran actor Kevin McCarthy's final on screen performance!
A tremendous asset to the movie is the music, an infectious blend of surf-guitar rock and Broadway show tunes. All of the songs are excellent, with my personal favorite being the sizzling "These Lips That Never Lie", performed at an old Drive-In theater. Another number - "Big Green Bug-Eyed Monster" - is exciting as well as dramatic. The musical arrangements are stylized and pleasingly retro, and I hope a soundtrack cd is forthcoming (the music is that good!).
No major flaws come to mind, although in my opinion the time period is not immediately evident. It seems to be set in the past, due to certain props, the use of vintage automobiles, and the fact that the Ghastly Ones are clearly fans of 1950s-era clothing. However, other visuals and references place the story in contemporary times. Best to assume the movie takes place in the present, just in its own special universe, and not worry too much about it!
Ultimately, the movie works thanks to the efforts of the extremely talented cast and crew, and their obvious love of the various film genres being parodied. They took a truly wacky concept and hammered out their own little cinematic masterpiece. It certainly deserves a healthy theatrical run, and I can easily see it continuing beyond that on the midnight movie circuit. THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X is tuneful, suspenseful, and full of genuinely funny dialogue. Above all, it is entertaining, and that is exactly what a good movie should be.
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