DVD Review: The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

STUDIO: Strand Releasing | DIRECTOR: Paul Bunnell | CAST: Will Keenan, Paul Williams, Creed Bratton, Kate Maberly, Kevin McCarthy, Reggie Bannister
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/18/2013 | PRICE: DVD $24.99
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes, featurette, outtakes, more
SPECS: NR | 106 min. | Science fiction comedy musical | widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall


Paul Bunnell’s 2012 The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is…okay…imagine a 1950s aliens from outer space/juvenile delinquent movie with era-appropriate musical numbers. View it through the prism of David Lynch (Blue Velvet), add touches of E.T.A. Hoffmann, grotesquerie and even throw in a reference to Paradise Lost. The result is a spoof with enough wit and intelligence to be a real movie and not just an attenuated skit.

Jonathan Xavier (Will Keenan, Wicked Lake) is such a reprobate on his native planet, he suffers the ultimate punishment: exile on Earth. There, he must perform an act of self-sacrifice. His sojourn takes him across the Southwest as he searches for a “resurrection suit.” Along the way, he encounters bouffant-laden lovelies, a sleazy concert promoter (Reggie Bannister, Phantasm) and a deceased “cactus rock” musician (Creed Bratton, TV’s The Office)  preparing for a posthumous comeback. (The picture of a music industry propping up decaying stars for a payday is definitely resonant.)

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X movie scene

De Anna Joy Brooks and Will Keenan support each other in The Ghastly Love of Johnny X.

All the while, our boy sings and dances.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is shot in “GhastlyScope,” a blend of 50s black-and-white and graphic novel-type effects. The music is clever, if uninspired, with a techno-pop beat giving it a contemporary feel. The dance numbers recall Jerome Robbins and are well-staged and beautifully executed.

Bunnell pushes his actors over the top and they’re the better for it. Outstanding are Will Keenan, sexy and sinister as Johnny X, and Creed Bratton as the sometimes-dead rock-and-roller. Music icon Paul Williams (Paul Williams: Still Alive) pops up in an acerbic cameo as a talk show host. Veteran Kevin McCarthy, who starred in the 50s sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, brings authority to the role of the Grand Inquisitor, which sadly, was his last.

A bonus featurette contains some fun old movie clips and chronicles director/producer/co-writer Bunnell’s laborious but loving work in bringing the film to fruition over a seven-year period.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is a true original that will most definitely be enjoyed by genre buffs. It’s a future cult flick that will deliver as party movie when matched with the appropriate controlled substances.

According to a report at Dread Central, Johnny X was the lowest-grossing theatrical release of 2012, with a domestic box office gross of $117.00. Somehow, that makes it all even sweeter.


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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.