Friday, July 8, 2011
BEYOND THE DOORS aka DOWN ON US
If I was giving Beyond The Doors a grade, I would have to grade it CRAZY AS HELL. Although I got my copy from a private individual and it didn't include any artwork, I cribbed the following liner notes on the video from the internet: "Jimi Hendrix: The king of rock. A pleasure seeking superstar who blasted his way into college campuses with his music, drugs and erotica. Dead at 27. Janis Joplin: A free spirited symbol of the sixties who was a hard drinking, hard lovin' texas mama who gloried in tearing at her throat as she sang. Dead at 27. Jim Morrison: Founder of The Doors. His performances turned into orgies and his beautiful poetry became dark, eerie rock, protesting against the ravaging of the earth. Dead at 27. Their music got them killed! Why? How? Where? They were too powerful - they had to be silenced! Assassinated for the good of America? Find out why. "
The movie begins with a trio of men out hunting ducks. One of the men is shot by his buddies (shades of Dick Cheney). His son is bequeathed a briefcase and it contains an almost finished book by his father showing the reason he was murdered...he was going to blow the lid off the government conspiracy to silence the "three pipers of Rock and Roll". Most of the rest of the film is told in a flashback style as the movie shows us all three musicians and how they were eventually killed...well except Morrison who faked his death and entered a monastery, where he died a natural death. Why were they killed? It seemed Jimi was sympathetic to The Black Panthers, Morrison spoke out against the Vietnam War....and Janis, I never could get a clear reason they killed her, since she never really did anything political in Beyond The Doors.
Of the three actors, I thought Gregory Allen Chatman did a pretty good Hendrix when he was acting, as far as music ability it appeared holding a guitar was something foreign to him and most of the time the camera captures him only from above the guitar (a trick I guess they took from Ed Sullivan only showing Elvis from the waist up). Riba Meryl as Janis Joplin reminded me of a mix of Stevie Nicks and circa 1980's Elayne Boozler, however her song styling wasn't bad. Bryan Wolf was recognizable as Morrison since he had on tight leather pants, other than that, he looked more like Tommy James and Peter Frampton combined into one person, but once again his song styling was up to par.
Speaking of the songs, there is only "original" music in Beyond The Doors. I put original music in quotes since all of the songs sound similar to the music originally performed by Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison. I actually found this a plus for the movie and commend whoever did the songwriting. One last note on musicians - none of the backing groups looked like any members from the original bands.... one drummer even resembled Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals and one even looked like Freddie Prinze!
The main reason for the elimination of Joplin, Morrison and Hendrix is Richard Nixon wants to be re-elected and is afraid of the youth vote and the power these three could wield if they so chose. This brings us to a small joke in the movie where a photo of Nixon is hanging on the wall and, once straighten, Herbert Hoover asks an agent how it looks and the agent replies "a little crooked".
There's a lot of craziness in Beyond The Doors such as Hendrix playing Woodstock indoors, Joplin being killed by injecting oranges with dope and then staging an overdose scene, and Morrison dying in the monastery due to what I guess old folks would call consumption (what they don't have penicillin in France?). However, the craziest to me was the inclusion of The Plaster Casters. Their appearance had absolutely nothing to do with the film and I assume someone thought it would air some believability to the movie. Sorry filmmakers, it was much to late by the time the Plaster Casters arrived for anyone to think they were watching a documentary.
Beyond The Doors was badly acted, badly scripted, and badly filmed, but I still enjoyed it for it own unique craziness. However, if you're not a fan of bad movies, you might want to skip this one.