Allan Arkush based most of his early films on his real life. Rock ‘n Roll High School is pretty much about going to New Jersey’s Fort Lee High School. And this film is all about his experiences working at The Fillmore East as an usher, stage crew member and in the psychedelic light show Joe’s Lights, which got him on stage with everyone from The Who, Grateful Dead and Santana to the Allman Brothers and Fleetwood Mac.
I have no idea what experiences helped shape Heartbeeps, Caddyshack II and Deathsport, which he helped finish.
That said — Get Crazy lives in the exact heart of everything I love: hijinks movies, huge casts, rock and roll and cult films. It’s pretty much, well, everything.
This movie takes place on one night, December 31, 1982, as the Saturn Theater is getting ready for its annual New Year’s Eve blowout when its owner Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield, who sadly died of COVID-19 this past April) has a heart attack when arguing with concert promoter Colin Beverly (Ed Begley Jr.), leaving his stage manager Neil Allen (Daniel Stern) in charge, along with past stage manager Willy Loman (Gail Edwards). Man’s nephew Sammy (Mile Chapin) is trying to find his uncle so that he can get the rights to the club and sell them while everyone else tries to put on one last show.
This is a movie packed with familiar faces, like Bobby Sherman and Fabian as Beverly’s goons, who continually try to destroy the building and ruin the show. Seriously, there are so many people to get into, like Stacey Nelkin (Ellie Grimbridge!), Anne Bjorn (The Sword and the Sorcerer), Robert Picardo, Franklyn Ajaye, Dan Frischman (Arvid!), Denise Galik (Don’t Answer the Phone), Jackie Joseph (Mrs. Futterman!) and Linnea Quigley..
At this point, you may be saying, “Where are Clint Howard, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov?” They’re here. Of course they’re here.
I haven’t even gotten into the bands in this!
Nada (Lori Eastside from Kid Creole and the Coconuts) has a 15-member girl group that plays New Wave, garage rock, bubble gum and when Lee Ving jumps on stage, punk rock. Beyond Ving, Fear members Derf Scratch and Philo Cramer also appear.
King Blues is, well, the King of the Blues. He’s played by Bill Henderson (who was also Blind Lemon Yankovic and the cop in Clue, which also features Ving as Mr. Boddy).
Auden (Lou Reed!) is Bob Dylan, hiding from his fans, driving in a cab all night trying to write a song.
Reggie Wanker (Malcolm McDowell) is Mick Jagger, bedding groupies the whole show before he has a moment of mystic revelation. His drummer, Toad, is John Densmore of The Doors.
Captain Cloud (the Turtles’ Howard Kaylan) and the Rainbow Telegraph have a van just like Merry Pranksters and drugs just as powerful.
I mean, how can I not love a film that has a theme song by Sparks? Come on!
This was directed at the same time that Arkush did Bette Midler’s cover of “Beast of Burden,” complete with an appearance by Stacy Nelkin.
Anyways — forgive the fanboyishness nature of this. Actually. don’t. We should all love movies this much and feel this strongly about them.