directed by Fernando Cordero Caballero, Vicente Cordero
starring Leo Ramsey, Devin McGregor Ketko, Timothy Lee DePrie
MVD Visual, Cleopatra Entertainment
There’s some real hate out there about this film, but I rather enjoyed it. Johnny Thunders (Ramsey) played in the infamous New York Dolls, then “creative differences” (i.e. drugs and billing and money) split the band. And like all good rockers Johnny aka John Anthony Genzale got hooked on heroin, bummed around the UK, and never recovered his original fame. He then went to New Orleans ostensibly to clean up. And where better to avoid drugs and alcohol than the Crescent City? He checked into the aptly named St. Peter’s Guest House Hotel, and never checked out.
Ramsey’s Thunder may lack the charisma of the real Johnny Thunders, but he’s a haunted, sacred man here on the edge of sanity. His methadone gets ripped off, and he sinks lower and lower as the money runs out and the heroin gets weaker. The line between reality y and hallucinating wavers, and soon enough he’s dead in the bathtub, still haunted by demons. He staggers, falls and keeps a stub of cigarette smoldering on his lips. Is he a believable junkie? I believed in him, but I don’t hang with many junkies. Thus, I’ll take his performance at face value.
The chamber maid in his sleazy death trap Isis (Keto) offers a sultry sexiness as a woman drawn to failing men. She may love him, may be drawn to his faded celebrity, but she’s there for him, changing his sheets and holding his hand. Surrounding him are other faded rockers, hallucinatory demons, and a lot of people who only see a faded man on his way down. The hotel manager provides what little adult supervision Johnny has, but he never looks happy to see him, but you know he’ll call the police once there’s a body to claim. Film makers Fernando and Vicente Cordero shoot a faded 1980s New Orleans. The clubs and bars and housing is worn and ratty, and the joy of debauchery never covers up the desperation of the weak and addicted in this rock and roll fairy tale of doom.