We need to get something straight right from the beginning. It’s Roller Blade, not Rollerblade. It’s women in skimpy leotards with butterfly knives on roller-skates, hence Roller Blade. Understanding the title will help you to distinguish Roller Blade from other Donald G. Jackson films such as Roller Blade Warriors (1989), The Roller Blade Seven (1991), Return of The Roller Blades (1992), Roller Gator (1996), and Lingerie Kickboxer (1998). Actually, you may already be familiar with Jackson’s work. If you’re a heavy beer drinker, or a frat boy, or just given up on life, you have probably seen either Class of Nuke ’Em High (1991), or Hell Comes To Frongtown (1988).
Roller Blade takes place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles where, for reasons unknown, everyone must wear roller skates. As far as I can tell there is a convent of roller-skating nuns, you might say they are, ahem, holly rollers (yes I am a dad.) They have holy knives that heal instead of wound. These speedy sisters of the cloth are defending what is left of civilization from an evil scientist named Saticoy. He might be a space alien, it’s not clear. Nothing about this movie is clear. Many things happen but they do not seem to be related to each other. There is a punk gang of skateboarders, a policeman in a cowboy hat, and a black man who tries to speak with a Jamaican accent but doesn’t change anything about his pronunciation opting instead to just put “Mahn” at the end of every other sentence.
There actually seems to be a weird racial undertone throughout the film. The nuns all dress like Klan members and speak with a German accent. To be fair it’s not always a German accent they slip into more of a French feel some of the time. Mostly it’s just English with “zee” substituted for the word “the.”
This would all make for a hard pill to swallow, but what really pushes it over the edge is their speaking in Elizabethan English or a kindergartner’s idea of Elizabethan English. Par exemple,
Weird Nun Number 1: “Use all of the skills zat I have taught thee. At any cost get back zee power crystal”
Weird Nun Number 2 “I leave at once!”
Police Chief: “Hold! Skate not from this place. Word has come that little Chris has been taken.
Weird Nun Number 2 “But ow could evil come unto zee child?”
Police Chief: “He did tread against my orders and go to the devil’s playground without his skates.”
The dialogue for the entire movie goes on like this, but if you are determined you can make it through, or if you are a 14-year-old boy living before the internet, the hope of seeing naked boobies will make you sit through anything.
The antagonist in this tale is a creepy, little dude who talks like Golem. The character is played by a badly made foam rubber puppet. There is a scene where this little dude is barking orders from behind a smokey machine and as I was watching it I felt a jolt of adrenaline zap through me. The image had triggered my PTSD from an early childhood trauma.
When I was young I watched Star Trek and loved every second of it right up until the last frame of the closing credits where I would have to shut my eyes and turn away lest I see the film-still taken from an episode called Journey to Babel. It was a shot of a very creepy Alien staring right into the lens. The creepy foam rubber dude in Roller Blade looked too similar to the creepy foam rubber dude in the Star Trek episode, but it got stranger than that. It turned out that the creepy foam rubber dude in Roller Blade was actually a puppet used by the evil mastermind in the movie. This mirrors perfectly the Star Trek episode in which the foam rubber alien was a mannequin designed by a diminutive alien to scare away visitors.
The similarities end there because later the creepy foam rubber puppet in Roller Blade molests a naked roller nun who he has unwrapped from a tin foil casing. Oh, and the Star Trek alien isn’t flanked by two bright red, collapsable enema bulbs.
The Roller Blade bad guy lives in the building where they filmed Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu. It’s the Pan-Pacific Auditorium that used to stand at 7600 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. I guess it was a popular place for extraterrestrials, but we’re safe now, it has since burned down.
The nuns live in a very dark convent. It has colored paper stained glass and Gregorian chants piped in. This is where they perform all their sacred rituals, and to make them extra sacred they perform them in the nude. One of the fancier rituals involves a hot tub. I’m not kidding.
After about an hour of scenes that go nowhere, and a plot that can’t be followed there isn’t much left to get you through the rest of the film. The third act is mostly bad professional wrestling style tussles, fog machines, and enough dialogue to make Shakespeare want tearith his ears off.
However, offending the artistic traditions of the west is not enough for Mr. Jackson. He turns his attentions to the east as well. In an interview for Trash Times, a French magazine, Jackson reveals his secret sauce for filmmaking. He calls it Zen filmmaking, “The basis of Zen Filmmaking is ‘Spontaneous Creativity.’ We don’t use scripts because this would limit the instantaneous nature of Zen Filmmaking. This does not mean it is improv. It is not! What occurs is that we study our cast and location like an empty canvas which we want to create a painting upon. We sense the energy and then move forward guiding the actors to say the right things and do the right actions — which ultimately construct a form of cinematic art.”
I think the crux of what he is saying is contained in the qualifier “form of” that he places before “cinematic art.” I wonder if he is providing us all with his zen insight when he has the cowboy sheriff say, “Remember, the longer thou skate, the less thou fall, now thou learneth!”
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