Better than it has any right to be!

This movie has no right to be any good … but it is. First, it’s black and white. Really? Who watches black and white anymore? Second, it’s a low-budget musical with original music. Can’t possibly work, right? It has a few very recognizable names and faces, but it has even more completely unknowns.  Strike three.  Doomed. Right? The rare, and mystical strike number four — It’s a low-budget schlock sandwich with extra cheese.  There’s virtually no way this movie should be any good … but again, it is. And, if that isn’t enough, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X rounded out its 2012 theatrical run as the lowest grossing movie of the year, taking in less than $200!

It can’t be good, can it? It is. It’s even shot on film. What low-budget filmmaker shoots on film anymore? Apparently, director Paul Bunnell does!

In short Jonathan Xavier, better known as Johnny X, is exiled from his home planet to Earth for the crime of juvenile delinquency.  He and his gang of Ghastly Ones threaten the future of the universe with the powerful resurrection suit. Naturally, other extraterrestrial beings seek the suit setting up the sci-fi and musical craziness which ensues. This is a throw back to the science fiction B-movies of the 1950s with a dash of musical theater mixed throughout.

The movie is extremely well-produced as are the musical numbers. While it doesn’t have any songs with melodies that linger in your mind, they are extremely enjoyable over the course of the film.

Johnny X is played by Will Keenan, who is best known as Tromeo Que, in the Lloyd Kaufman directed and James Gunn penned Tromeo and Juliet.  And, while there is a bit of Kaufman-like self-mockery, that is not the key influence here. If movies could procreate, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X would be the love child birthed from the celluloid orgy of Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Cry-Baby.

Creed Bratton (The Office) is a scene stealer as the ghoulish rock n’ roller, Mickey O’Flynn. Veteran B-movie actor Jed Rowen delivers a great (and over the top) performance as Sluggo, bringing his acting resume up to nearly 80 movies (how Rowen hasn’t had a mainstream breakout is a mystery).  Character actor Kevin McCarthy shows up as The Grand Inquisitor in his final role just prior to his passing. Another highlight is the very brief, but satisfying, appearance of Paul Williams as previously alien abducted talk show host, Cousin Quilty.

Sit back, enjoy and don’t take it too seriously. Johnny never does.

Grade:  B

Interested in watching Johnny X? Try here!

Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine