The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (2013)


(Originally published in LA Weekly)

Turn on your spaceships and fire up the jukebox. In writer-director Paul Bunnell’s supremely ridiculous tale, 1950s-style rebel Johnny X (Will Keenan) and his coed gang of dropouts, the Ghastly Ones, are exiled to Earth from their faraway planet. Their crime, it seems, is performing selfish deeds involving a powerful device called the Resurrection Suit (guess what it does). One year later, at a desert diner, they meet an opportunistic concert promoter who knows the whereabouts of a man Johnny has been seeking: aging rock ‘n’ roll singer Mickey Flynn (Creed Bratton, having a ball). Meanwhile, Johnny’s ex-girlfriend joins forces with a nebbishy soda jerk to keep Johnny from reuniting with the Resurrection Suit once and for all. Musical numbers add sass to the proceedings, but Grease this ain’t, and the lackluster songs and questionable singing abilities of the cast makes this feel at times like a high school theater production. The movie works in fleeting moments when it eases its death grip on eye-rollingly obvious homages to sci-fi B-movies and clichéd 1950s teen-speak (think “Daddy-o” and finger-snapping) and embraces its own brand of irreverent weirdness. The script, while as uneven as the dusty desert roads the characters cruise in their Thunderbirds, offers up a few funny one-liners and sight gags. Who knows; The Ghastly Love of Johnny X could be another so-bad-it’s-passable-entertainment cult hit Gen Y never knew it wanted.

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