THE ROLLER BLADE SEVEN

roller blade seven

THE ROLLER BLADE SEVEN (1991)

IMDb Rating: 1.9 / 10
Tagline: None (Because a summation of this shambles is impossible)

It’s quite hard to gauge the true measure of how terrible a film The Roller Blade Seven actually is.

Mainly because it’s possible that it’s not really a film at all.

It might just be a frenetic 90 minute circle jerk of pretension and self-delusion made by two nutters with too much money and too little self-awareness. And a fetish for roller skates.

Filmmakers Donald G. Jackson and Scott Shaw claim The Roller Blade Seven has a plot. You wouldn’t guess it from the film we just sat through- it felt more like the videocassette they find in a serial killer’s VCR after he’s arrested.

“Go forth now and skate the path of righteousness” – Reverend Donaldo

Roller Blade Seven

What a weapon

In a dystopian future, Hawk, our samurai sword wielding hero, is sent to ‘The Wheelzone’ to kill an Evil Overlord named Pharaoh, and rescue Sister Sparrow, a psychic from the Master of Light Institute, kidnapped by Pharoah’s spiritual advisor, St. O’ffender. But he must do it on roller blades.

It’s not a pitch that would get Jerry Bruckheimer excited. Indeed, it’s a pitch that challenges any producer not to jump across the boardroom table and punch both Jackson and Shaw repeatedly in the face until they go limp. Perhaps that too is all part of their artistic journey. Inspired by Andy Warhol, they’ve been famously inept for 15 minutes.

One man’s art is another’s toilet paper, so some level of subjectivity is inevitable when assessing cultural value. However, some things in this world are just bad.

Immutably, ineluctably bad.

Famine, rape, dungarees…and The Roller Blade Seven.

Anything can be called art if created by someone who claims to be an artist. But this film isn’t just The Emperor’s New Clothes, it’s willfully ignoring the Emperor’s wizened, dangling ball bag.

The Roller Blade Seven claims to be the first example of ‘Zen filmmaking’- a ‘movement’ in which there is a story but no script. It’s about as satisfying a movement as experiencing a bowel impaction.

And why call it Zen filmmaking when it is so damn infuriating? If it is so ‘Zen’, why is the audience shouting loud abuse at the screen? And how Zen is it to kill people with a samurai sword anyway?

On his journey to ‘The Wheelzone’ to rescue Psychic Sparrow, Hawk must battle, stab and pout his way through various levels and districts, like a self-important, roller blading Sonic the Hedgehog, defeating some of the silliest looking gang members since the failed auditions for the Insane Clown Posse. We’ve paused to take stock but supplies of goodwill are running low.

Roller Blade Seven

I don’t much know about art, but I know what I don’t like

Each roller blading gang member looks to have been given access to a make up kit, a dressing-up box, some pharmaceuticals…and a pair of roller blades. There are ninjas, kabuki artists, a banjo player wrapped in bandages, soft-core bondage dominatrixes, metal minotaurs, aerobic teachers, clowns, and because this is such a profound and important piece of art, plenty of topless women.

The Roller Blade Seven is so pretentious it makes Zardoz look like Transformers. It bulges with portent, but it’s little more than a rushed grad-school student film shot the day before an important deadline. It’s a miserable, enervating experience- like sitting through 24 hours of Japanese children’s television. A marathon of indulgence that no audience can ever adequately train for.

The filmmakers can insist there are subtexts and meaning in The Roller Blade Seven as much as they like- the gullible can find meaning in chicken entrails. But reading chicken entrails isn’t as exhausting to watch and doesn’t take an hour and a half to prepare. It’s a brutal, gruelling session of intense navel-gazing. If this were a 5 minute installation in an art gallery, it would still be unbearable.

It’s 90 minutes long.

If this is indeed an installation, it has apparently been installed up their own arse. Even if Terrence Malick had really got into rollerblading in the late 1980s, he’d consider The Roller Blade Seven too self-indulgent.

The German philosopher Herbert Marcuse wrote that the only logical end to industrialisation was the Holocaust.

The only logical end to Film Studies courses is The Roller Blade Seven.

Roller Blade Seven

Auteur and fancy dress specialist, Donald G. Jackson

“Time. It holds no definition”, states the mystical Reverend Donaldo towards the end of the film. He’s right, it feels we’ve been watching this for 3 days straight

It’s a film that tries hard to be unwatchable, but fails because we simply can’t look away. It’s like being trapped in the subconscious of a braying wanker.

Is this just group therapy for some very disturbed people, filmed in the California desert? Or is it unconscionable bollocks that doesn’t seem to realise that seeing the film finish is not the same as having an ending? It’s deliberately antagonistic, provocative filmmaking. Anyone who claims drugs make you more creative has never endured The Roller Blade Seven.

“We knew what we were doing! We were very consciously pushing the envelope of modern cinema and presenting an expression of abstract art upon film.” – Producer and star, Scott Shaw

The Roller Blade Seven certainly takes you on an emotional journey. First you experience disbelief, then happiness, then glee, then hysteria, then anger, then boredom. Then after it ends, unfettered joy. The joy of a wrongly incarcerated prisoner after a successful appeal.

Mao Zedong banned most forms of art. After watching The Roller Blade Seven, Crapula are beginning to see his point.

 

One Comment

  1. SC says:

    I got a hold of this movie to watch with my brother and our friend for a bad movie night. I had to apologize afterwards. This has got to be one of the worst movies ever made. 90 minutes but it felt like 10 hours…all those repetitive fight sequences. There is nothing redeemable about this movie.

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