“Drop Dead Rock”: Adam Ant stars in this ’60s movie about an ’80s rock star in the ’90s

By on March 27, 2018

Adam Ant stars in Drop Dead Rock, a campy mid-’90s music biz farce from the co-director of the Beastie Boys‘ “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”

In the 18-minute “Making Of” documentary that comes with the DVD, director Adam Dubin says he “wanted to make a 60’s movie about an 80’s rock star in the 90’s.”

Watch it now on Night Flight Plus.

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This charming little low-budget and occasionally NSFW broad comedy cult flick reflects the spirit of much better movies like This is Spinal Tap, Breaking Glass, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, and a couple of Martin Scorsese’s mid-’80s comedies, King of Comedy (1983) and After Hours (1985).

You may also be reminded of a few wacko Sixties films, particularly 1966’s Lord Love a Duck, and 1968’s Skidoo.

The story here follows a horridly untalented metal band called Hindenburg, from New York’s Long Island — singer and fearless group leader Chick (Robert Occhipinti), guitarist Scratch (Riz Fairchild), clueless bassist Dino (Todd Anthony) and drummer Andie (Shelly Mars) — who hatch a wacky plot to get themselves some recognition.

Their plot involves kidnapping a has-been British rocker named Spazz-O (Ian Maynard), one of their rock idols.

They tie him up in the bass player’s parents’ garage and force him to listen to their demo tape, hoping that he’ll agree to become their producer.

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Spazz-O hurls insults — calling his bumbling captors ” pathetic, prattling, pinko, pimple-faced poofters” — and pleads with them not to cause him any bodily harm.

He even tells them he owns a lot of stuff they might be interested in, including his “Ejaculator 2000 guitar with Ball-Buster pick-ups, a velvet-covered Porsche and a sauna with air-conditioning.”

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What they don’t know is that the washed-up Spazz-O is actually worth more dead than alive to his evil back-stabbing manager, Dave Donovan (Adam Ant), and his ex-porn star wife Holly Everest (’90s Playboy lingerie model Chelsey Parks).

They’ve already hired Brock (Glenn Rothenberger), an “independent extermination agent,” hoping to benefit from lots of posthumous Spazz-O record sales and a hefty life insurance policy payout.

Read more about Drop Dead Rock below.

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Drop Dead Rock also features an inept detective or two, a terrorist trio from the country of “Moldinia,” and a record company executive named Thor Sturmundrang (Debbie Harry), who has a big advance check for Spazz-O if he’ll let her company release his next album.

Along the way, Andie (a lesbian) resists a makeover from Chick’s girlfriend Bonnie (Shoshana Ami), saying she’s not going to end up being “some half-assed wet dream to a bunch of slobbering orangutans in Metallica t-shirts.”

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There’s also Alana Payne (Apollo Smile), a goofy vee-jay for the MTV inspired “Music Video Network,” who feature a montage of rock ‘n’ roll celebrities — including Tom Araya of Slayer, Rick Allen of Def Leppard and Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick — giving their reactions upon hearing of Spazz-O’s abduction.

Joey Ramone gets the definitive last word on the subject in a quick cameo.

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Debbie Harry’s extended cameo turns out to be a pivotal plot point since it turns out Spazz-O’s actually worth more alive than dead.

When she was asked if she’d based her portrayal of record company executive  on anyone she’d met at Chrysalis Records, Blondie’s label, Harry said: “No… just on everybody I’ve ever met in the entire industry.”

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In the “Making Of” featurette, screenwriters Ric Menello and Alan Dubin explain that the idea they were originally going for was “A rock ‘n’ roll Ransom of Red Chief.”

O. Henry’s short story “The Ransom of Red Chief” (1910) follows two kidnappers make off with the young son of a prominent man only to find that the child is more trouble than he is worth.

Adam Dubin — who in the early ’80s was Rick Rubin‘s roommate in Room 712, in the B-wing of Weinstein Hall dormitory — graduated from NYU’s film program in May of ’86.

He’d already directed a couple of short student films when he was brought aboard to co-direct the Beastie Boys’ videos with Ric Menello, who was ten years his senior.

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Ric Menello and Adam Dubin

Ric Menello became friends with Rick Rubin from when he’d manned the front desk at Weinstein dorm during the the graveyard shift.

They spent many wee hours of the morning talking about movies and brainstorming ideas for Rubin’s Def Jam record label.

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Dubin directing Adam Ant in Drop Dead Rock

Menello later co-wrote Rubin’s 1988 Run-D.M.C. movie Tougher Than Leather.

Ric Menello died from a heart attack on March 1, 2013, aged 60.

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Since directing Drop Dead Rock, Adam Dubin has directed mostly music videos and documentaries in addition to a slew of short comedy films and stand-up specials featuring a veritable Who’s Who of stand-up comics, including Lewis Black‘s Stark Raving Black (2009), and In God We Rust (2011).

More recently we’ve read he’s been working on a documentary about John Lennon in New York City.

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Drop Dead Rock was filmed on location in Quogue and Great Neck, New York (likely Dubin’s parents neighborhood, from the looks of it) and New York City.

The soundtrack to Drop Dead Rock includes songs by Warrior Soul (“Rotten Soul,” “The Drug,” “Inseminator”) , Space Age Playboys (“Buzz On”), Bracket (“Fresh Air”), L.E.S. Stitches (“Choices,” “”Panic”), Suburban Sect (“Gentlemen’s Hour,” “Early Morning Traffic”), Apollo Smile (“Feelin’ Groovy,” “Tight Pants”), Velvet Sand (“Rake”), and Dubin’s own band, the Stoned (“Vegas Honeymoon”).

Watch Drop Dead Rock on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.