Detroit Rock City (film)

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Detroit Rock City
Detroit rock city ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Adam Rifkin
Produced by Barry Levine
Gene Simmons
Written by Carl V. Dupré
Starring Edward Furlong
Sam Huntington
Giuseppe Andrews
James DeBello
Lin Shaye
Melanie Lynskey
Natasha Lyonne
Emanuelle Chriqui
with Shannon Tweed
and featuring Kiss as themselves
Music by J. Peter Robinson
Thin Lizzy
The Runaways
Van Halen
Black Sabbath
Blue Öyster Cult
Cheap Trick
Cinematography John R. Leonetti
Edited by Mark Goldblatt
Peter Schink
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
August 13, 1999
Running time
95 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15,000,000
Box office $24,217,115[1]

Detroit Rock City is a 1999 American comedy film about four teenagers in a Kiss cover band who try to see their idols in Detroit in 1978. Comparable to Rock 'n' Roll High School, Dazed and Confused, The Stöned Age, and I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Detroit Rock City tells a coming of age story through a filter of 1970s music and culture in the United States. The movie ultimately took its title from the Kiss song of the same name. It flopped at the box office, grossing fewer than five million dollars domestically, while the final gross of $24,217,115 barely passed the budget.

The film was shot at Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Toronto and other Ontario locations.[2] Other Ontario locations include Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario.


In Cleveland, Ohio, 1978, a middle-aged woman (Lin Shaye) is relaxing at home and puts on a vinyl record to listen to. While sipping a red wine and reading while humming The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun", she trembles and becomes agitated as rock music plays. When she discovers the vinyl being KISS' Love Gun album and a secret cache of KISS albums, she is revealed to be ultra-conservative when she says "KISS, the devils music". She then leaves the house.

Meanwhile, four teenage boys in a KISS cover band named "Mystery" practice the KISS song "Rock and Roll All Nite" in one of their members' homes. The cover band, consisting of guitarist-vocalist Hawk (Edward Furlong), bassist-vocalist Lex (Giuseppe Andrews), lead guitarist-vocalist Trip (James DeBello), and drummer-vocalist Jeremiah "Jam" Bruce (Sam Huntington), become elated to have tickets to see their idols in Detroit the following night. Later, the same woman from the beginning races up to the house where the boys are hanging out and drags Jam home. She is revealed to be Jam's mother, Mrs. Bruce. Later discovering the tickets, Mrs. Bruce destroys them and has Jam transferred to a Catholic boarding school.

The three remaining boys hear a radio contest for tickets to the show and Trip ends up winning the tickets. The boys then plan to rescue Jam from the boarding school. Under the guise of pizza delivery for the Catholic priest who serves as the school chaplain and rector, the boys place some hallucinogen mushrooms on the pizza ordered. When the priest interviews Jam, the three boys deliver the pizza and succeed in drugging the priest. With the priest drugged, he tells Jam that he can leave and the boys sneak out. With the group reunited, they set off for Detroit in Lex's mother's car.

On the freeway, Trip throws a slice of pizza out of the window, where it hits the windshield of a Trans Am, driven by two rude Disco fanatics, Kenny and Bobby, along with their girlfriends Christine (Natasha Lyonne) and Barbara (Emmanuelle Chriqui). The enraged Kenny forces the station wagon off the road, pulls Hawk out of the car, and rubs his face on the cheese-covered windshield. Upset by Kenny's behavior, Christine leaves.

Using improvised weapons like a belt with a KISS buckle, a wallet chain, and drumsticks, the four boys engage in a fight with Kenny and Bobby. Trip, Lex, Jam, and Hawk win and, after leaving Kenny and Bobby tied to the guardrail with KISS makeup on, they drive the Trans Am into a ditch. Continuing on their way, they come upon Christine and offer her a ride to the city.

Upon arrival, the group discovers that Trip did not stay on the phone long enough to give the radio station his information, forcing the station to give the tickets to the next caller. Back outside, Lex notices that the car has been stolen. They suspect Christine, who they left in the car. Hawk then suggests that the boys go their separate ways in order to find KISS tickets, and agree to meet in the same place in an hour and a half.

Hawk finds a scalper who suggests that he enter a strip contest to raise money for tickets. Hawk doesn't win, but is offered payment for his company by an older woman (Shannon Tweed). They go to her car and she takes his virginity. Using the money she gave him, Hawk locates the scalper. However the scalper is sold out.

Trip goes to a local convenience store in the hopes of mugging a younger child. He grabs a kid in Ace Frehley's Spaceman makeup, not knowing that the kid has a bullying older brother, Chongo. Suddenly, Chongo and his friends threaten to beat Trip if he doesn't give them two hundred dollars. Trip then plans to rob the convenience store with a fake gun, but ends up thwarting a real robbery attempt at the store. He earns a one hundred and fifty dollar reward. Trip encounters Chongo and his friends in an alleyway behind the store, gives them the $150, and they steal his wallet to top things off.

Lex sneaks backstage with the KISS loading crew, but is soon discovered. He is subsequently tossed over a fence where a group of vicious dogs menace him, but he wins them over with a frisbee. In a nearby building, he discovers a chained-up Christine and his mother's car in a chop shop with two car thieves. Lex then uses his newly befriended dogs to chase the two thugs, saving Christine and his mom's car. Lex and Christine share a passionate kiss.

Jam encounters an anti-KISS rally consisting of conservatives named "MOTHERS AGAINST THE MUSIC OF KISS" being booed by passing crowds. When he discovers his mother leading the rally alongside another conservative (played by KISS frontman Paul Stanley's then wife Pamela Bowen), Mrs. Bruce spots him. She forcibly grabs and takes him to a nearby church across the street for confession, taking away his drumsticks.

He is seen by Beth (Melanie Lynskey), a girl from school who is in the process of moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan. They rush into confessional booth where Beth reveals that she's been in love with Jam since freshman year. Jam admits that his feelings for her are mutual and they make love. They leave the church and eventually say goodbye.

Jam, imbued with new confidence, goes back to the rally and angrily berates his mother for her domineering ways and her hypocrisy, and he demands his drumsticks back. When the boys meet up again, they beat each other up to make it appear that they had been mugged. Upon arrival at the concert venue, the guards are skeptical. Suddenly Trip points out Chongo and his friends, who are just entering the concert hall, as the culprits. When the guards find Trip's wallet (with his KISS Army picture ID and money), they take away Chongo and his friends and return to Trip his belongings.

Astonished and elated, the boys enter the concert hall as KISS plays the title song of the film. As the song ends, drummer Peter Criss throws a drumstick and Jam catches it with joy and excitement.


Box office and cult status[edit]

Detroit Rock City flopped at the box office, grossing fewer than five million dollars domestically, while the final gross of $24,217,115 barely passed the budget. Though the movie failed at the box office it has since gained a cult following,[citation needed] even being loved by those who aren't fans of the band Kiss.[citation needed]



The DVD is on Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4, although the special features differ.

Region 1 special features[edit]

  • Commentary by all four original Kiss members
  • Commentary by Adam Rifkin
  • Commentary by Cast and crew
  • Multi-Angle Views of the Kiss Concert
  • An instructional segment featuring a step-by-step guitar lesson by SongXpress on how to play the Kiss song "Rock -N' Roll All Night"
  • Over 15 Minutes of Deleted Scenes
  • 2 Music Videos "The Boys Are Back in Town" performed by Everclear & "Strutter" performed by The Donnas
  • Original Screen Test Footage
  • DVD-ROM Features: Script-to-Scene Access, website access, email-able trading cards featuring characters from the film, M.A.T.M.O.K. (Mothers Against the Music of Kiss) spoof newsletters, updated cast and crew biographies and filmographies, productions notes

Region 2 special features[edit]

Region 4 special features[edit]

  • Commentary by director Adam Rifkin
  • Individual commentary by all four original Kiss members conducted in interview form by Director, Adam Rifkin
  • Multi-angle views of the Kiss Concert
  • Over 15 minutes of deleted scenes
  • 2 music videos "The Boys Are Back in Town" performed by Everclear & "Strutter" performed by The Donnas
  • Original screen test footage

KISSology Volume Three[edit]

In December 2007, the film was re-released on DVD as an exclusive bonus fifth disc contained within Kissology Volume Three: 1992–2000. This disc was only available with initial pre-orders sold during VH1 Classic's 24 Hours of KISSmas weekend marathon.


Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released August 3, 1999
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 55:48
Label Mercury

Track listing[edit]

  1. "The Boys Are Back in Town" performed by Everclear
  2. "Shout It Out Loud" performed by KISS
  3. "Runnin' with the Devil" performed by Van Halen
  4. "Cat Scratch Fever" performed by Pantera
  5. "Iron Man" performed by Black Sabbath
  6. "Highway To Hell" performed by Marilyn Manson
  7. "20th Century Boy" performed by Drain STH
  8. "Detroit Rock City" performed by KISS
  9. "Jailbreak" performed by Thin Lizzy
  10. "Surrender (Live)" performed by Cheap Trick
  11. "Rebel Rebel" performed by David Bowie
  12. "Strutter" performed by The Donnas
  13. "School Days" performed by The Runaways
  14. "Little Willy" performed by Sweet
  15. "Nothing Can Keep Me From You" performed by KISS

Note that the soundtrack does not feature all of the songs in the film. For instance, there are tracks from UFO (band) in the film that did not make the soundtrack.

See also[edit]

Footnotes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Detroit Rock City (1999) - Box office / business". The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Detroit Rock City (1999) - Filming locations". The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 
  3. ^ Stephenson, Cliff (30 November 1999). "Detroit Rock City Review". Retrieved 14 November 2009. 

External links[edit]