Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The Dark Knights are on stage rocking the house and front man Travis Bellamy (Hal Ozson) is finishing up the last few bars of their big hit ‘Burn Down the House’… or it was ‘Set it on Fire’… I can’t remember but it had something to do with something burning up. The Coup de Grace of this little ditty is Travis setting his arms on fire. I know, like the dumbest band gag ever but who am I to tell the Dark Knights how to rock? To the surprise of no one, something goes terribly awry and Travis proceeds to set the entire building on fire. The good thing is that no one got hurt with the exception of one teenage boy who was trampled in the stampede to get the hell out of there. The bad news for the Dark Knights is that this boy has an older sister who is certifiably nuts and she will be joining the band in the form of a ‘Groupie’.

A year after this tragedy the Dark Knights are on the comeback trail, going on tour and are in the process of recording a live album under the watchful sage eye of their manager Angus (Eric Roberts). The problem with the live album is the closing tune ‘Fire it Up’ always ends in a rousing chorus boos since Travis feels a guilty and stuff about the death of that boy a year ago and refuses to light himself on fire. What’s up with that, huh? What he needs is a muse to set his creative juices flowing and thus enters Riley (Taryn Manning) who finds a way to jump on the tour bus. First, however, she murders the bands publicist. I have no idea why she did this, the publicist had nothing to do with anything involving the death of her brother and they also shot this scene without showing us the killer, like they were going give us a ‘Murder She Wrote’ type mystery to figure out who the killer was. They chose not to pursue that angle. In fact they probably could’ve left the whole murderization of the publicist out of this picture since at no time after this woman’s murder was she ever mentioned again. You would think that somebody would’ve sent a text message to the band alerting them that their publicist had just been gutted in a public bathroom, but this did not happen.

So this band already has some groupies on the bus, though I thought each town had their own of groupie sect and bringing your own set of groupies with you kind of defeats the purpose of having groupies, doesn’t it? Anyway, Riley gets rid of those

groupies and now she has the band all to herself. Nobody trusts Riley, Angus doesn’t trust Riley, the Bassman doesn’t trust Riley and the fact that the death of pretty much everybody coincides with Riley’s arrival isn’t lost on the band, except for Travis of course who says ‘there’s something different about her’. Uh, yeah… she’s a psychopath Travis, that’s what’s different about her. Can Travis save his pregnant wife from the insanity of Riley before it’s too late? Oh… you might ask where did the pregnant wife come from? Completely out of the blue is where she came from. I don’t want to spoil it for you but if Travis survives this flick it’s looking like he’s going to be a solo artist from this point on.

Directed by long time movie veteran Mark L. Lester who has made some classics such as ‘The Class of 1984’, ‘Commando’ and ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’… at least ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ was a classic to me… I don’t think that we will be able to call ‘Groupie’ one of those classics despite the best efforts of one Taryn Manning. Note that there is there’s nothing in this movie that is glaringly offensive. The story of a crazed fan stalking their prey isn’t all that original but it’s reasonably well presented here, the performances are solid enough if not spectacular and the movie looks decent enough but I guess that’s the problem with this production since it’s all just so ‘ho-hum’.

The one thing that ‘Groupie’ does have working for it that’s a cut above is Taryn Manning who does a fine job of selling us on the fact the she is ninety pounds of trashy insanity. The girl cries and preens and cackles and slinks around while constantly causing a ruckus and killing stupid grown men. One might think that Ms. Manning probably couldn’t go toe to toe with a 6’ two hundred pound man, taking round house bolos to the jaw over and over again only to keep coming, considering she is a little light in the trunk, but just a little research reveals that Taryn Manning has black belt in Karate so she can legitimately kick somebody’s ass. Of course, if you didn’t do your research and create your own back story, you would be stuck finding this microscopic woman kicking much ass completely unbelievable.

I’m a little surprised how lackluster ‘Groupie’ turned out if only because Mark L. Lester tends to make films with just a little more oomph than what we got with this one, and this one had some oomph potential. Now not all of Mr. Lester’s films are good, but they tend to stand out. If one was to excise the couple of titty flash shots and remove the few curse words we heard in this movie, we would have a completely acceptable Lifetime TV movie of the week. Not that this is a bad thing, but I tend not to watch those movies is all I’m saying.

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