Walking up the stairs of the Assembly Roxy is akin to creeping up the creaking steps of Frankenstein’s tower. The evening air is cool, the old church bricks glisten in the twilight, and two men walking ahead of you mutter, “**** me there’s a lot of stairs.” Once you reach the top, you conversely descend into the depths of the theatre, where gravestones and paddling pools lie, and ominous music plays to set the mood, only to be cut short by the “no phones or photography” announcement. When the lights go down, and a cinema screen lights up with VHS tape picture quality, you know that you’ll enjoy this one.
A glorious tribute to the B-Movie horror classics of old.
Nick Helm’s I Think, You Stink! is a glorious tribute to the B-Movie horror classics of old. It’s a musical extravaganza, the songs paying tribute not only to the cult classics but also to their hokiness, their gimmicks. The song Welcome to the Hypnozone is a riotous opening accompanied by spinning hypnotic umbrellas, giant inflatable eye balls and air-fresheners thrown around the audience, reminiscent of the ‘50s attempt at special effects and smell-o-vision.
Nick is our Master of Mayhem, a bear of a man with a bushy beard and velvet coat; part-movie monster himself. His flexible and transformative voice is demonstrated with his solo song Beast Boy, a light tenor morphing with the full moon into a deep growling baritone. His spoken word song I Think, You Stink is an atmospheric ode to The Shining and Amityville Horror, a cool nod to the horror before returning to the camp.
What is a B-movie without its colourful side characters? Rob Kemp delights as the Tesco Chain Store Manager, and Jenny Bede and Katie Pritchard have their moments to shine with bubble wrap tap-dancing and maniac policing, but it is Sooz Kempner who steals the show with her electric number as the peppy School Ghoul cheerleader. The screen is used to great effect spelling out her lyrics like a cheerleader chant, transforming the song into a moment of parodic genius.
When we begin the “feature” of the evening, Boyfriend From Hell, it becomes increasingly apparent that doing one song after another is physically taxing for the performers. The intermission, a commercial break you would record alongside the movie on TV, isn’t long enough for the actors to catch their breath. They soldier on nonetheless however, with such dedication and enthusiasm that it becomes charming. Is it in these performers’ capabilities to do one musical number after another with no dialogue breaks and few pauses? Not remotely, but the same could be said of those very B-movies that the show adores: these were movies with imaginations that far exceeded their creator’s budgets or abilities. Like all great B-movies, Nick Helm’s I Think, You Stink! is goofy, earnest and a little bit brilliant.