Travel back to the summer of 1986, and go on tour with Brian Baumgartner playing road manager to our band of teens out to 'make Jesus famous' in Chris White's new rock-and-roll comedy, Electric Jesus. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!"
From 1091 Pictures, Electric Jesus is a coming-of-age, rock-and-roll comedy, following the ill-fated exploits of a religious hair metal band during the summer of 1986. The film stars Brian Baumgartner (our beloved Kevin from The Office) as the band's woebegone road manager, 80's teen icon Judd Nelson as a firebrand preacher, and newcomers Andrew Eakle, Shannon Hutchinson, and Wyatt Lenhart as devout teens determined to "make Jesus famous."
The official synopsis reads, "When a flashy promoter (played by Brian Baumgartner, The Office) sells sound man Erik (Andrew Eakle) and his favorite local Christian hair metal band, 316, on the promise of a bus tour in the summer of 1986, their desire to "make Jesus famous" meets the complexities and confusion of personal ambition, religious conviction, youthful zeal, lifelong friendships, and first love."
I've watched the trailer, and I'm in. But what has me really sold me is the film's website. While it does indeed detail the film's journey, it also functions as 316's band website. Like the film, it is also an homage to the music world's answer to the questions of what kids, who grew up in the church, but needed their metal, were going to love listening to? For kids who grew up in the 80s, we all thought of the same band when we saw this trailer. Stryper. The filmmakers definitely had them in mind. "The Los Angeles-based band Stryper became the face of Christian metal when their 1986 album 'To Hell with the Devil' went platinum, earning the band Grammy nominations, and regular rotation on MTV. Stryper's unprecedented success inspired a generation of young Christian metalheads."
Even down to the soundtrack, they really nail it. The crucial detail that clinched it for me? All of 316's songs are expertly voiced by actor Wyatt Lenhart, who is also the onscreen frontman of 316. Here's 316's fictional hit Love Comes Down music video.
You could also give Commando for Christ a listen.
You can even snag yourself a band tee, or go full metal, or perhaps pandemic ready with an Electric Jesus bandana. They have won me over with that soundtrack! The elementary school Poison lover in me would be shocked, but it's true.
Electric Jesus was written and directed by Chris White. He's best know for his film Cinema Purgatorio. With the tag line, "Theirs was the little film that couldn't," the film tells a familiar story of all indie filmmakers getting their start. The comedy shows a couple's last-ditch effort to break through in the crowded and convoluted indie film world. A husband-wife producing team make a film especially designed to win a regional film festival and attract the attention of actor Bill Murray. Meta-comedy. Electric Jesus will be available digitally November 2.