Mona et Moi (1989), aka Mona and I

Guitarist Johnny Thunders and vocalist David Johansen were the garage-punk coefficient of the Rolling Stones’ “Glimmer Twins” Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. They were the “Toxic Twins” before Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. Before there were Sex Pistols, there were New York Dolls. As with those British-screaming snots, the “Gemini Snots” defined a scene: the ‘Dolls were New York. Bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, formed out of “The Bromley Contingent,” the Sex Pistols’ fan-clique based around London’s 100 Club. The Buzzcocks (!) birthed because of the ‘Pistols. There’d be no Clash or the Ruts or the Stranglers without ‘Pistols. In New York, bands formed out of the ‘Dolls’ audience at The Bowery-based CBGBs. There’d be no Blondie, Ramones, Television, or Talking Heads without the Thunders-Johansen dichotomy.

But not every gunslinger of the six-string electric is destined to be Thomas Edison: sometimes you’re Nicola Telsa.

While their Todd Rundgren-produced (Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell was the ex-Nazz leader’s big one; he produced Sparks (of Rollercoaster fame) as well) eponymous debut on (Mercury, 1973) is regarded as a “rock classic,” no classic rock radio station will ever play them. (Nor will any of today’s alt-rock stations spin the ‘Dolls’ as “golds” analogues to classic rock radio’s spins of the Rolling Stones.) The ‘Dolls’ debut was—as with most “innovators”—a resounding marketing failure compounded by the release of their appropriately-titled sophomore-final, Too Much Too Soon (Mercury, 1974). And, with that, the New York Dolls—along with, to an extent, their Detroit-based inspirational precursors the MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges—singlehandedly soured major records labels on punk snot . . . at least until some blonde-haired kid from the Pacific Northwest decided (well, the X-Generation decided) to become the new Jim Morrison. By the time the Sex Pistols first took to the stage in 1976, the ‘Dolls’ were punk vestiges, but not enough in ruins that megla-Svengali Malcolm McLaren (The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle) didn’t want to sink his fangs and extract the last ounce of snot. But it gave him the idea to “form” the Sex Pistols <eye roll>, so it all worked out.

In the midst of the fad-driven major-label mania over rock “supergroups” (that run the gambit from Blind Faith in the 60’s to KBG in the ‘70s to Asia—the last of them—in the ‘80s), there was (before some kid named Tom Petty absconded it as a suffix-moniker) (The) Heartbreakers—a ‘Dolls’ phoenix stoked by Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan with ex-Television (formed out of the ‘Dolls’ audience, natch) bassist Richard Hell. As with all supergroup outings (Fastway comes to mind: UFO’s Pete Way was out before Motorhead’s Fast Eddie Clark and Humble Pie’s Jerry Shirley recorded their debut album proper and became the “No False Metal” voice for Sammy Curr in Trick or Treat), Hell was out before Thunders and company recorded their first album in England (where the ‘Dolls’ had a rabid fan base as much as they had an indifferent fan base in America), L.A.M.F (1977). And, with that, Richard Hell was off to form the Voidoids.

Could you imagine—if he wasn’t so ambivalently indifferent in perpetuity—Kurt Cobain being talked into taking an acting role, say like the Kurt-divergent Eddie Vedder appearing in Cameron Crowe’s “grunge Friends” flick, Singles?

Well, Thunder’s ex-Heartbreakers’ mate Richard Hell used his infamy for a quick stage-to-film transition in Blank Generation (1979). It would be a decade before Thunders repeated the cinematic leap made by Hell (and Debbie Harry in Union City, Iggy Pop in Cry Baby, or the Ramones in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School)—and Thunders had to cross an ocean to do it.

Initially shot in 1984 in a start-stop-start, financially-plagued production schedule (and released three years before his 1991 New Orleans death; it was released in 1988 in France; then Europe in 1989), this acting debut by Johnny Thunders is, needless to say, an extremely rare VHS that’s impossible to find outside of its native country of origin. Alongside with a little-to-nothing to say Jerry Nolan and Billy Rath from Heartbreakers, Thunders stars as Johnny Valentine: a troublesome New York rock star (not far removed from his own self, natch) that’s left in the charge of a music manager assigned to “babysit” the hard-living artist for a week. The thin premise for the drama is a down-and-out rock promoter flying Johnny into Paris to headline a concert. The romantic triangles tinkle as Thunders falls in love with Mona, the manager’s girlfriend. And if that sounds a lot like the character and pseudo-plot of Richard Hell’s Blank Generation, then it probably is. And if the “babysitting” manager angle sounds too much like Get Him to the Greek (with Russell Brand’s obnoxious-oblivious-rocker Aldous Snow—only with less heroin sheik and more Apatow raunch), then it probably is.

While Hell was clean (we think) and coherent in his role in Blank Generation, it’s hard to watch Thunders swagger-stagger through the film either drunk, stoned—or both. Regardless of the cool factor in having one of punk’s forefathers in an acting role (and truth be told, Thunders isn’t half bad at it), it’s nonetheless heartbreaking (sorry) to see a clearly broken Thunders squeezing out (or manipulated into) his last ounce of fame infamy—especially when considering the mainstream film appearance of his clean and sober ‘Dolls’ mate David Johansen in hit films such as Scrooged and Married to the Mob.

While Thunders was (always) a musical-footnote oddity in the States, he was, nevertheless, a celebrity in France—alongside ex-U.S. punks Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys and Willy DeVille of Mink DeVille. So, in that country, he continued to record and perform in concert—long after the early ’70 glam and late ‘70s punk halcyon days. In a historical twist, his solo debut, So Alone (1978), featured the backing of ex-Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Director Lech Kowalski (D.O.A) examined the troubled life of Thunders in Born to Lose (1999) and offered additional insights with the direct-to-video New York Doll. The Polish director also shot and recorded a pair of shows with Thunders for his heroin-document Gringo, aka The Story of a Junkie; while that film-music partnership floundered, the footage ended up in Lech’s subsequent Thunder-documentaries.

An extremely clean rip of the Mona Et Moi—with subtitles—is offered on the You Tube page of Cult Fusion TV.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Lisztomania (1975)

Honestly, this movie is crazy. I have no idea how Ken Russell talked people into giving him money for this.

Actually, I do. David Puttnam’s Goodtimes wanted to make six movies about composers with Russel, with the first being 1974’s Mahler. He also planned to make films of Vaughan Williams, Berlioz and Gershwin, which was to star Al Pacino.

There was just a 57-page script and Puttman and Russell weren’t always on the same page. Seeing Liszt as the first rock star — the term Lisztomania refers to the sexual mania that female fans felt when in his presence — led to Russell making a movie where he eventually felt that “The symbolism…is a bit too relentless and the fantasy sequences tend to submerge the reality of the characters.”

Well, yeah.

Based somewhat on the book Nélida, a story in which Marie d’Agoult — played by Fiona Lewis in the movie — wrote a barely hidden confession about her affair with Liszt, the movie is barely a narrative and more a series of misadventures, starting with d’Agoult’s husband catching her in bed with the composer and the duel that ensues. After leaving the two trapped inside a piano on the train tracks, the movie quickly moves to the start of his rivalry with Wagner (Paul Nicholas), who hates the showmanship that Liszt uses to win over crowds.

Liszt is now married to Marie and constantly battling with her over his infidelities, unable to write music. He hopes to meet Satan so that he can sell his soul to be inspired again, a fact that his daughter Cosima prays for.

This makes him to Russia, where Princess Carolyn and her court seduce him into growing a ten-foot-long erection, which is taken to a guillotine, where he must give up his carnal needs if he is to create again.

How does one explain what follows? That Wagner is a vampire that uses Superman for propaganda and attempts to suck the musical soul from Liszt? That the Pope is Ringo Starr, who demands that our hero — who has failed at being an abbott of the church because he sleeps around — must stop Wagner and his daughter Cosima and their Reichian zombie death cult? That Rick Wakeman plays Thor? That a zombified Wagner — armed with a symbolic electric guitar machine gun — kills all of the Jewish people while Cosima uses a voodoo doll to kill Liszt, who goes to Heaven and reunites with all of his lovers — as well as his daughter, who has a change of heart in the afterlife — and flies back to Earth where he destroys Wagner and flies into space in his spaceship?

I have no idea what I just watched, but I loved it.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)

Super Rock ’84 in Japan was a touring rock festival that had Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Scorpions, Michael Schenker Group and Anvil playing. Of these bands, Anvil had the least success, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. At the time of this movie, Steve “Lips” Kudlow is working for a catering company and Robb Reiner is in construction. Their real lives are in constant juxtaposition with what being a rock star promised them, which is the story of this film.

Sacha Gervasi wrote the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, but two decades before, he had been a roadie for Anvil. Who knew that someday he’d make the movie about them that would let the world know they existed, as well win an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy?

It seems like every time the band gets close to their dreams, things go wrong. It always makes me think, when I wonder what it would have been like to be a rock star instead of having a day job, exactly how it would all turn out. This movie is a sobering reminder that not everyone makes it. Until, well, they do.

I kind of love the moment where Kudlow and Reiner nearly kill a promoter for not paying them. I had a similar moment happen when I first started in pro wrestling. A promoter wanted to pay us in checks and I didn’t know any better. That’s when I learned to always get paid in cash. A vet taught me that, as he grabbed that promoter, shoved a revolver in his face and demanded that the two of us get our money right now. I was kind of shocked by it all, but it was nice to drive home with actual cash, even if a man’s life had to be put in jeopardy. I remembered all of that when I watched this.

The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980) and The Filth and the Fury (2000)

“The gospel according to the Ayatollah Malcolm.”
— Johnny Rotten

So agent provocateur and clandestine entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren owns a London fashion shop called Sex . . . eh, we don’t need to go that far back. . . . So co-founder/bassist/chief songwriter Glen Matlock is kicked out the Sex Pistols for “liking the Beatles. . . .” No, we don’t need to go that far back. . . .

When it came to the Sex Pistols, it was all about the marketing manipulation and McLaren the Machiavellian squeezed out every last drop of the group’s nihilistic sociopolitical ejaculate from their fourteen-month existence (November 1976 to January 1978). Regardless of their extensive discography that, by 1990, swelled to 20-plus albums, the group recorded only one actual studio album: the high-expectation and commercially-disappointing Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977). (The “flop” in the U.K. and Euro-markets was result of the album’s composition from the band’s already released 45-rpms and a “legal” 1977 bootleg album, Spunk.) And part of McLaren’s high-profile manipulations was to create a punk version of Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night—with Johnny Rotten refusing to have anything to do with the project. The “project” was initially developed by—of all peoples—Russ Meyer, with snobby film critic Roger Ebert as the screenwriter, in tow—both who had a little experience in the rock ‘n’ roll genre with their “epic” about the rise and fall of the Carrie Nations, 1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls . . . but Meyer also had lots of experience with large-breasted women (1965’s Motor Psycho and 1966’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!).

Yeah, this is going to work just fine. . . .

Well, it didn’t.

So, two-plus years later of false starts and stops with an array of people and footage shot here and there—which produced the Meyer-unfinished Who Killed Bambi?, British music video-artist, filmmaker, and ‘Pistols running mate Julien Temple (1989’s Earth Girls are Easy) got the Alan Sacks job of “doin’ a duBeat-eo” with the hours upon hours of narrative footage and concert clips of the Pistols during their heyday, along with surreal Kentucky Fried Movie-esque skits (that go beyond the funny into the silly . . . and the outright stupid).

Now, for those of you wondering: “What da frack does ‘Doin’ a duBeat-eo’ mean . . . and who is Alan Sacks . . . and what does this all have to do with the friggin’ Sex Pistols?” Well, impatient one, here’s your answer:

Alan Sacks came to fame as the creator of ’70 TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter; you know, that’s the show with the “Ooo! Ooo! Mr. Kotter!” pop culture catch phrase . . . the show that gave John Travolta his start. (He was most recently in the one-two punch bombs The Fanatic and Gotti.) And Alan Sacks got the job of taking the analogously dead pet-project of America’s Malcolm McLaren-doppelganger, record producer-songwriter Svengali Kim Fowley who, ironically ripping off McLaren’s idea, wanted to put his own “female” version of the ‘Pistols, the Runaways, into a “Beatlesesque” movie. (Remember: the ‘Pistols had “Anarchy in the U.K.” while the Runaways had “Cherry Bomb” as their signature tune.) Failed-developed as We’re All Crazy Now, Sacks got the Julien Temple-job of creating coherency out of chaos—and came up with duBeat-e-o, a film that has as much to do with the Runaways as The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle has to do with the Sex Pistols.

So, what did Temple come up with?

Well, he cut Who Killed Bambi? into the film. Sid Vicious—post-Sex Pistols—cut an album, Sid Sings (1979), and cut a video for that album’s centerpiece: a cover Elvis’s and Frank Sinatra’s signature tune, “My Way”—so Temple cut that into the film. (Warning: Sid pulls a gun and shoots into the audience.) And since Johnny Rotten wanted nothing to do with the project from the get-go, Temple opens the film with the snotty lead singer burned in effigy . . . and created an animated sequence that chronicles a beating the vocalist behind “God Save the Queen” took at the hands of Queen Mum-lovin’ thugs. And guitarist Steve Jones’s Rio de Janero visit with infamous British bank robber Ronnie Biggs is cut in. (Jones, ironically, along with Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, worked with Joan Jett on her self-titled solo debut, aka Bad Reputation.) And yeah, and Kurt Cobain Sid Vicious and Courtney Love Nancy Spungen, aka the punk rock John and Yoko, go through their own little psychodrama safety-pin voguing on screen. And, instead of Sex Pistols tunes: you get disco versions of Sex Pistols tunes by a group called the Black Arabs.

You can check out the track listings for each soundtrack on Discogs: Swindle and Fury.

. . . and the ‘swindle’ continues . . .

So Temple decided to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film with a “sequel”. . . that cut The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’s footage into the—admittedly—more coherent The Filth and the Fury (1990). And, if you’re keeping track . . . marks the third film chronicling punk’s most notorious band: the second was Alex Cox’s (Repo Man, Tombstone Rashomon) spunky, but not wholly historically accurate, Sid and Nancy (1986)—which Johnny Rotten also hated, natch.

With The Filth and the Fury—and without Malcolm McLaren’s marketing imperialism (. . . did you know he embarked on a “solo” career: with producer Trevor Horn, he assembled (McLaren never creates; he can’t. He thieves.) 1983’s Duck Soup)—Temple secured the full cooperation of Johnny Rotten, along with drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones, and ex-bassist Glen Matlock, each who provide a new series of interviews, along with “new” interview footage of the late Sid Vicious not seen in Swindle. The interviews are well-executed: Temple peels Rotten-Lydon’s acidic layers and exposes his emotions over Sid’s decline and death. And there’s plenty of “new” footage, albeit, sometimes (most times) with grainy and out-of-sync sound, but kudos for Temple preserving those decrepit 16 mm and shot-on-videotape analog artifacts for the now, digital generations.

Temple was also able to circumcise McLaren’s cultural plundering of punk’s esthetics by showing us that punk rock wasn’t just about flogging the dead horse of Black Sabbath-inspired progressive rock and replenishing the wheezing lungs of rock ‘n’ roll. Punk was an artistic expression of the frustrations the British working class and unemployed (which include Rotten-Lydon’s contemporaries) against the stodgy and greedy British class system (a country where everyone’s on the dole, in poverty; meanwhile, Princess Di and Prince Charles have a huge matrimonial blowout). To that end, Temple also includes new footage of the protests, riots and unrest of the times (think of today’s Black Lives Matter movement and the upheaval in today’s Portland, Oregeon). So while Swindle was a “Swindle” to a point—which wasn’t Temple’s fault, he did a great job with whom and what he had to work with—Fury gets the facts straight and conveys the spirit of the times. So, as you watch both films as a double feature all these years later: you get Malcolm McLaren’s side . . . and the Sex Pistols side. And the twain shall never meet. Not even in the hands of Alex Cox.

The Great Rock ‘n Roll Music Trivia Swindle (you knew there was going to be a trivia sidebar): Before McLaren sunk his incisors into the Sex Pistols, he managed a down-and-out and ready-to-implode New York Dolls, which culminated with the 1975-recorded live, Euro-only album, Red Patent Leather (1984; which features new tunes not available on their two Mercury studio albums).

Also in Mal’s Svengali-stable was the burgeoning Adam and the Ants, who he subsequently “broke up” to provide musical backing for his own “Runaway” embodied in fifteen-year-old singer Annabella Lwin. Upon the eventual implosion of Bow Wow Wow (You do remember “I Want Candy,” right?)—as McLaren turned his Runaway into a singular-named solo artist, you know, like Madonna (not!)—guitarist Matthew Ashman formed Chiefs of Relief. And that band features another musician from the McLaren stables: Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook (produced one eponymous debut album for Sire in 1988).

Prior to the Chiefs—and post-Sex Pistols (by the end of that band, only Steve Jones and Paul Cook were left to finish off a light smattering of tracks to close out that band’s career)—Jones and Cook formed the Professionals (with guitarist Ray McVeigh and bassist Paul Meyers). And, if you’re keeping track of your rock ‘n’ roll flicks, the “band” appeared—sans McVeigh and Meyers—with Paul Simonon of the Clash and British actor Ray Winston in their places, in Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains.

Steve Jones’s solo career culminated with his forming a band around Iggy Pop, which recorded a couple of “comeback” albums for Detroit’s Jim Osterberg in the burgeoning years of the Year of our Lord Kurt Cobain. Johnny Rotten, as you know, reverted to his given name of Lydon and created the band Public Image, Ltd. with ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene. Ex-Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock formed the less-punk-more-Knacky new wave the Rich Kids with future Visage and Ultravox members Midge Ure and Rusty Egan, which scored a minor hit single with the title cut song from their lone album, 1983 Ghosts of Princes in Towers. Matlock eventually ended up in Concrete Bulletproof Invisible (an outgrowth of Doll by Doll that recorded one album for MCA Records) which released one pre-grunge album, Big Tears (1988).

Both films and their related soundtracks are easily availble as DVDs and CDs, with the films as VODs and PPVs on multiple, international online platforms.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Strange Frequency (2001)

Mary Lambert (Pet Semetary) and Bryan Spicer (McHale’s Navy) came up with this VH1 series, of which this movie was the pilot and also provided four episodes. Unlike Tales from the Crypt, which used the old comic books for inspiration or the morality plays of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, this show turned to rock and roll to create its stories.

The Who’s Roger Daltry serves as the narrator for this first go-round, which originally aired on January 24, 2001.

The first story, “Disco Inferno,” finds two rockers stuck within their own personal hell — a disco that never stops playing the music they hate. Penthouse 1992 Pet of the Year Brandy Ledford appears, as does That 70’s Show actor Danny Masterson.

“My Generation” has Danny’s brother Chris matching wits with Eric Roberts (here he is again) as two serial killers with deadly taste in music.

“Room Service” has a real rock star, Duran Duran bassist John Taylor, who is trying to destroy his hotel room but the maid always fixes it.

“More Than A Feeling” has Judd Nelson as a music producer who keeps breaking new artists who sadly die right after they find their success.

Sadly, the follow-up series only lasted ten episode, with “Daydream Believer” never airing. It was a good concept, if you ask me. But then again, I love anthologies, so put another dime in the Mystic Seer, baby.

DTF (2020)

I’m not so sure I’d be friends with Al Bailey. Or if I was, I wouldn’t let him direct a documentary about my life. Or I’d at least not be a maniac like his airline pilor Christian.

Then again, I’m not an airline pilot constantly criss crossing the globe using Tinder to find new people to sleep with. I’m just a guy who likes to watch Spanish werewolf movies.

Over a year and a half, Al and Christian — a widowed airline pilot — meet up in various cities and countries in the pursuit of love for one night or at least a good buzz. This also puts their friendship to the test, which you’d think will probably not survive the pilot seeing this film.

That’s because while the materials for this film describe at as a quest for love, Christian succumbs — more than once — to the lure of easy sex and gradually becomes someone that the director no longer seems to like all that much. In fact, Al seems like he doesn’t even want to be part of his own film at times.

Things get worse after a trip to San Francisco and beyond the point of no return in Vegas, where Christian buys sex toys and even rubs a used one into the director’s face after drugging him at a club. Honestly, I started to wonder if the film was staged way before this point and I’m honestly not sure that it wasn’t. The punch up at the Denver Airport makes me think that either this is the best real footage ever captured or a really good version of a mockumentary.

I think you should honestly check it out for yourself. It’s not an easy watch, but I feel like no good documentary ever is.

DTF will premiere at LA’s Dances With Films before being able to rent or own on September 15 on Amazon, iTunes, Comcast, Spectrum, Vudu and more. Thanks to its PR company for sending it our way.

Super Xuxa contra Baixo Astral (1988)

Despite starting her career starring in erotic films, Maria da Graça Xuxa Meneghel became known as Xuxa, the Queen of Children. With messages like “Want, Power and Reach!”, “Believe in Dreams” and “Drugs do Bad,” Xuxa has left a mark on the hearts and minds of kids all over the world in the same way that her Xuxa Kiss left lipstick on their faces. Her American-produced Xuxa show seems like the most action-packed, frenzied show of all time and sadly only lasted 65 episodes on The Family Channel. I’ve watched nearly all of them on YouTube and am thrilled that I was able to find this movie. Xuxa may not be well-known here, but in Brazil — and worldwide — she’s more than a star.

This movie is, to be perfectly honest, pure drugs.

Xuxa has angered the villain Baixo Astral — or Satan or the Bad Mood — by asking children to color the world. Working with his henchman Titica and Morcegão, he kidnapped her dog Xuxa, who yes, is really a puppet.

Xuxa, with the helmet of a turtle, a pink dolphin and a caterpillar, crosses through the River of Delusion, the Tree of Knowledge and all manner of traps to win the day, even if she’s tempted to the dark side.

As Xuxa would say, “I want to know if stars don’t fall from the sky, if somebody can answer what there is to fear?” If that makes sense to you, you’re going to love this movie as much as I do.

If Labyrinth wasn’t weird enough for you, perhaps this will be.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Forbidden Zone (1980)

Somehow, Forbidden Zone was filmed in 1978 and 1979, but could really have come from any time after. It feels like a nuclear bomb that set off waves of influence well beyond and past its origination point. It was created by Danny Elfman and his childhood best friend, Matthew Bright, who would go on to make the two Freeway movies.

Based on the stage performances of the Los Angeles theater troupe The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, this is the kind of movie that everyone believed in, so much so that every SAG actor — including Hervé Villechaize, who even painted sets — gave their money back to keep the movie going (with the exception of Phil Gordon).

This was Elfman’s retirement from popular music to scoring films, as well as Oingo Boingo’s move from cabaret-style music to New Wave. It’s also astoundingly weird, even 40 years or more after it was made.

Richard Elfman, who started the Oingo Boingo troupe, directed this (he also made Shrunken Heads for Full Moon and used the pseudonym Aristide Sumatra to make the martial arts movie Streets of Rage). It’s literally an assault on all that anyone could hold dear, made in a time when rallying against values wasn’t crass or used to shove into people’s faces. It was a different time, I guess. That doesn’t excuse some of the worry that you’ll feel with seeing blackface, one of the few things that Elfman would take back, telling Dread Central, “From today’s perspective, if I could go back forty years, I certainly wouldn’t have included the brief blackface bits in Forbidden Zone. It was just one of hundreds of visual absurdities not at all important to the film and not worth its particular hot-button reaction. Although I have grown up in and around the African-American community (and have a racially diverse family), I don’t claim to know exactly what it is like to stand in a black person’s shoes and feel the effects of their particular oppression over the centuries.”

Man, how do I even explain this movie, one that starts with a Sixth Dimension hole inside a drug dealers’ house that leads to the kingdom of King Fausto (Villechaize) and Queen Doris (Susan Tyrrell)? I mean, for all the mindblowing things about this one, perhaps it isn’t even strange any longer to learn that Villechaize and Tyrrell had dated and warred throughout the making of this movie.

You get Warhol superstar Viva, a human frog, an apperance by Joe Spinell and Danny Elfman himself as Satan, all playing music from four decades or more before this movie was created. Marie-Pascale Elfman, who plays Susan B. “Frenchy” Hercules, also designed all of the sets and helped fund the movie by flipping houses with Richard, who was her husband at the time.

What started as black and white is now a colorized film that you can watch on Tubi. With it’s mixed of animation, song and dance, comedic violence and a willingness to offend in the most fun way possible, this is a movie worth setting aside time to view. Richard Elfman lost his house and all of his money making this happen, but after viewing it, I’m sure ypu’ll agree that it was all worth it.

Get Crazy (1983)

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 shaped HeartbeepsCaddyshack 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.

You can watch this on YouTube. It’s coming out on blu ray next year — finally! — from Kino Lorber.

Population: 1 (1986)

Rene Daalder made Massacre at Central High before becoming a pioneer of virtual reality and digital motion picture technologies. He started as a protege of Russ Meyer, even writing an initial script for Who Killed Bambi?, Meyer’s canceled film with the Sex Pistols (a movie that Russ explained to Roger Ebert, who wrote another script, “We can go wild on this. I’ve got a couple of big-titted London girls already in mind.”).

He also innovated what we would one day called music videos alongside Tomata du Plenty and the electropunk band The Screamers. In this film, Tomata is the last survivor of the end of the world, a defense contractor left alone to put together the history of the world.

This is a movie packed with musicians and artists, including El Duce, Carel Struycken (the giant from Twin Peaks, who was a producer and editor on this movie), production designer K.K. Barrett, Penelope Huston from The Avengers, composer and Beck’s father David Campbell, Fluxus artist and Beck’s grandfather Al Hansen, Beck and oh yeah, Maila Nurmi who we all know much better as Vampira.

It’s definitely an art project, but there are moments of real brilliance here, including the floating tools that follow Tomata and groom him for his State of the Union. It’s amazing that the tech in this was so advanced at one point, yet look quaint today. Such is the sadness of the forward progress of time.

Learn more at the official site or watch this on YouTube.