Review Podcast Rating Legacy Revision Candidate

The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)

I rewatched this documentary prior to my tour at the Creative Engineering factory that built the Rock-afire / Chuck-E-Cheese animatronics. I still really like the movie — it’s very Errol Morris-esque in its simultaneous mockery and begrudging appreciation for the characters involved. I especially love how, as the movie goes, you come to feel more affection towards the initially-pathetic Chris Thrash and maybe less for the charismatic inventor Aaron Fechter.

The tour itself was fascinating and memorable. The factory/warehouse/workshop has been mostly in stasis for about 3 decades. Sometimes it results in a ghostly stillness — notebooks still open on tables from the mid-80s. Elsewhere, the decay is more palpable, as the plastic of the animatronics has melted into something grotesque.

The two main attractions of the tour are, 1) a well-preserved Rock-afire Explosion set-up with every song and show available for performance on request, and 2) Aaron Fechter himself, ever the salesman and storyteller and carnival barker. Fechter was talking nonstop, and his right-wing political viewpoints definitely colored much of his perspective, but there’s no doubt he’s a true renaissance man with a kingdom of robotic oddities to prove it.

Overall, I’m glad to have dipped my toe into this weird niche of pop culture, even though I’m confident I don’t want to dive in deeper.

Is It Good?

Very Good (6/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.

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2 replies on “The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)”

Welcome to the Concept Unification Installation Tape. This tape is supposed to complement the manual, not replace it.

In our podcast episode we discussed how “concept unification” sounds like some sort of genocide euphemism.

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