Not Quite Horror: “The Rock-afire Explosion” (2008)


Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)

The Monster: This documentary focuses on the rise and fall of The Rock-afire Explosion, the animatronic band Showbiz pizza used to bring in customers.

There are representations of demons and Hell less frightening than the dead-eyed humanoid animals of The Rock-afire Explosion. They are programmed to perform intricate gestures in time with the music. Even worse, the documentary shows these robots in various stages of assembly and disrepair. Furry zombie robots are nothing for the faint-hearted to gaze upon.

The Horror: Fans of the Rock-afire explosion bought up memorabilia from the robot band after they reached adulthood. One man bought an entire band and assembled them in a shed in his backyard.

Imagine entering a shed in someone’s backyard to find yourself staring at a row of mechanical monsters, waiting for the electric command to begin jolting about. Could a person ever walk past this shed again without shivering?

Can a human being live next to a cadre of electric metal mutants and still sleep at night?

The Shared Fate: Rock-afire Explosion fans may be rare, but there must be some sort of collector in every portion of town. Whether a person collects toys, plates, or dolls, seeing their collection in full bloom is proof of powerful desires brewing in that person’s skull.

There may not be a shed full of mechanized puppets in your neighborhood, but chances are a strange obsession is being cultivated in your neighborhood, possibly by someone you know. Just how committed are they to that collection, anyway?

— I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen