by Martin Hafer
Jon Mikl Thor is a very unusual subject for a documentary and very, very few people even know who he is, so it makes this film a difficult sell. However, I instantly recognized the name and was incredibly thrilled that a movie about him just debuted on Netflix. I recognized him because I am a bad movie film nut...and Thor has appeared in some amazingly bad films. But I must point out that his films are lots of fun to watch and Rock 'n Roll Nightmare is a classic for bad film geeks like me...every bit as much fun to watch as The Room, Plan 9 From Outer Space or The Apple. Plus, while the movies are incredibly bad, I must admit that the music performed by Thor and his band in the films is amazingly good....so good you wonder why the guy never became more popular in the music world. Well, this film is all about Thor and his musical career...and it helps explain what happened to Thor and reveals that despite many setbacks, he's definitely here to stay and only death could possibly stop him!
The narrator for this documentary is Jon Mikl Thor himself and it follows him from his childhood in Vancouver, Canada to the present day. Early in life, Thor gained notoriety for his body building and decided to eventually parlay this fame into a rock and roll career. However, the road was not easy nor fast. In between, he worked as a nude waiter in the 1970s and even created the persona of 'Space Elvis' for a Vegas act! Not surprisingly, there wasn't much future in either of these ventures and he soon came up with the idea of combining his amazing physique with rock and roll along with a lot of showmanship. His act consisted not only of singing with his metal band but dressing up like the Norse god, Thor....as well as bending steel bars and exploding water bottles with his amazingly strong lungs!! One thing you gotta say about Thor is that you certainly got a show when you went to see him....and in the 70s into the 1980s he started to develop a following and success seemed well within his grasp. But the giant auditorium shows, record deals and the like never quite materialized
Lesser folks would have just given up....but not Jon! Instead, he's like the Energizer Bunny...he just keeps going and going and going and the film follows him from his comeback in the early 2000s to today. In some ways, the film is rather comical, as at times Thor and his musical career seem a lot like the fictional band Spinal Tap....but for Thor it's real. Yet, at the same time, the film is also incredibly inspiring. Even when he was performing in venues where his band members practically outnumbered his audience, he kept pushing ahead and delivering an insanely energetic show. Even after nervous breakdowns, a failed marriage and a stroke...Jon Mikl still refuses to give up on his dream and, fortunately, by the end of the film you see this 60-something rock star wannabe finally achieving some measure of success...and the energy and his drive are amazingly infectious. In fact, I noticed as he and his band were performing to crowds of fans of all ages, I couldn't help but smile...as he seemed to love the life and his new-found success singing in Scandinavia...which, when you think about it, is very fitting for a guy named Thor!
As for the documentary, it's very engaging and very well made. Ryan Wise did a fine job directing the film. There are plenty of interviews with folks such as Steve Price and Mike Favata and plenty of old footage but even more of it consists of following Thor as it tours the world....or at least parts of the US and Europe. My only reservation is that the film does have some adult content, so it's not the best choice to show your kids or mother-in-law.
By the way, I checked the Thor website (thorcentral.net) and his last concert was back in the Spring and no additional dates are listed. In addition, he's up on Facebook and most of his posts are about this documentary. In the page, he seems quite approachable...and this also seemed to be how he was during his concerts you see in the film. So perhaps you might want to drop him a line and wish him well...or buy an album or autographed hot water bottle or just to tell him how much you also enjoyed Rock 'n Roll Nightmare.Share: