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ROCK: IT'S YOUR DECISION (1982).

In recent years, Christian propaganda, er... educational films have become increasingly boring and generic, with slick production values and recognizable actors like Gary Busey, Casper Van Dien, Kirk Cameron, and even Nick Mancuso. Thank goodness there are still a few crude, early Christsploitation flicks to be unearthed -- such as this brain-numbing warning about the evils of rock 'n' roll! Ty Taylor stars as Jeff, our confused high school protagonist. He's basically a good kid, but his mother becomes terrified about her son's belligerent "attitude" (a teenager who's frustrated with his parents? God forbid!), so she contacts the town's closest thing to God, youth pastor Jim, who explains that an outside influence is at work. Yep, it's that Satanic rock 'n' roll music! And sure enough, the trouble began the instant Jeff got his own stereo! Pushy Brother Jim soon strikes a bargain with spineless Jeff: Stop listening to rock music for two weeks, spend that time doing endless research, and then make a decision -- give up rock and be Saved, or continue listening and spend eternity writhing in Hell. During those torturous (yet enlightening!) two weeks, Jeff's girlfriend wants to go to a concert, but he refuses, because the Lord is more important than a hot date. He also alienates friends by indignantly storming out of a party as soon as they put on some music. (Note: It's not like his music-lovin' friends are headbangers; they're all clean-cut members of his Christian Youth Group!) Exactly what does Jeff discover about rock music? The songs are about sex, drugs and the occult! And exactly what albums are so wicked? Everything from KISS and AC/DC, to Barry Manilow and The Captain and Tennille! Meanwhile, the self-important finale has passionate pea-brain Jeff preaching about how rock music enflames our "carnal" desires (hell, I always considered that one of best reasons for its existence). Karen Richardson's script -- which began as a creative writing assignment while attending Lynchburg, Virginia's Liberty Baptist College -- is painfully naive (no surprise, the first-time screenwriter admitted to knowing nothing about rock music beforehand); John Taylor's direction is as unsubtle as getting your finger slammed in a car door; and when Jeff goes without music he acts like he's kicking heroin. Meanwhile, Brother Jim is such a dull windbag that it's hard to believe any teenage viewer would want to emulate this straight-laced heavenly-ass-kisser. Filmed in Madison County, Alabama (which explains why a few cast members look a tad slow and in-bred), this mercifully brief, never-remotely-persuasive, 53-minute tirade is crude, quaint and filled with unintentional laughs.

© 2003 by Steven Puchalski.