Saturday, April 20, 2013


Candy Mountain is your basic road movie with the extra added attraction of famous musicians in the cast. While that might not sound good, in this case, all of the musicians in Candy Mountain do a good job, even better than some the other actors in the film. Directed by Robert Frank (Cocksucker Blues) as a slow unfolding story written by Rudy Wurlitzer (Two Lane Blacktop), the movie was able to hold my attention from start to finish.

Kevin J. O'Connor plays a wanna-be rock star, who is better at growing sideburns than actually playing the guitar. At the first of the movie he quits his carpentry job and goes to retrieve his guitar from a couple of his friends, played by Joe Strummer and Arto Lindsay. They refuse to give him his guitar, but set him up to jam with a famous musician (David Johansen). O'Connor's guitar playing is so bad, he's kicked out of the band; but when he hears Johansen and some others in the music business talking about the great guitars of Elmore Silk, he bluffs his way into getting an advance to go find the reclusive Silk. 

Along the way he meets Silk's brother (Tom Waits), Silk's brother-in-law (Dr. John) and a dubious law enforcement father and son (Leon Redbone) team. All three of these musicians do a great job in their roles and it's hard to pick any one of them as being the best: Tom Waits with his garish golfer outfits, Dr. John as the wheelchair bound cranky brother-in-law or Leon Redbone as the backwoods lawman.

These three musicians really made the film for me and perhaps if they weren't in Candy Mountain, I might not have found it quite as entertaining. There's also a cameo appearance by the late Canadian singer Rita MacNeil. If you're a fan of any of these artists or just like a good road movie, you'll probably enjoy watching Candy Mountain.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


One of the best things about The Committee is that it is mercifully short (55 minutes). One of the worst things about The Committee is that at 55 minutes it is still too long and a slough to sit through.  

The Committee stars Paul Jones (Manfred Mann's lead vocalist) as a man who commits a murder...well sort of... since after he cuts the guy's head off, he sews it back on and the victim continues to live. Paul Jones is then called to a meeting of The Committee (sort of like being called for jury duty).  It seems The Committee is actually meeting about him, in order to get him back into the norm of society and not commit murders. 

There's a long boring  sequence (actually there's a lot of long boring sequences in this film) where Paul Jones and the leader of The Committee (who looks amazingly like the door guard at our local K-Mart, who we call Moe) walk and talk and walk and talk and walk and talk....well you get the picture. After this scene, since Paul Jones has got his head right, the movie ends on a strange note (you had to read/listen to the intro to the film to understand the end). 

Maybe in 1968, when the film was made, all of the "heaviness" of the message played better. However, in 2013 The Committee plays like a poorly produced, poorly directed, self-important pile of crap. For fans of Pink Floyd, The Committee holds some interest since they did part of the soundtrack. The best part of The Committee is an appearance by Arthur Brown performing "Nightmare" (not "Fire" as the back of the DVD box states; although, he does first appear in the movie with fire on his head). Since you can see that performance on YouTube, there's really no reason to watch this film.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I was really excited when I saw Fox Movie Channel was going to show this rare "beach party" movie, since it has never been officially released. I think I should have saved my excitement for something else, since Surf Party should have been titled Dull Party. 

Surf Party was the first release by another studio trying to compete with American International Pictures' much superior Beach Party which, in my opinion, was the weakest entry in the AIP series anyway, but  was still a masterpiece compared to Surf Party. I could even get over the fact Surf Party was shot in black and white, IF the movie had been entertaining. Surf Party has more in common with 1960's "Where The Boys Are" than it does with AIP's "Beach Party", since it involves a trio of girls (much like the four girls in "Where The Boys Are") looking and finding love at the beach. Surfing just happens to be a subplot of the movie. I guess you could classify Surf Party as "The Chick Flick of Beach Party Movies".

I won't rehash the plot, but if you're interested CLICK HERE for a summation of the story. One of the reasons for watching Surf Party was to check out the musical acts. Jackie DeShannon, one of my favorite female singers,  not only sings two songs in the movie,"Glory Wave" and “Never Comin' Back", but also stars as one of the three girls looking for love. Unfortunately, Ms. DeShannon was sorely lacking in the acting department and the two songs given to her were nothing special and not worthy of her talent.

Bobby Vinton, the leading male star of the movie, comes off a little better with his song," If I Were An Artist", since it's suitable to his style of crooning. As a side note, Vinton got cast in Surf Party, because his agent wanted him to have the part Frankie Avalon got in Beach Party. It's hard to imagine Vinton could have handled that part with the light touch Avalon brought to his role in AIP's Beach Party Series.That's not to say his acting ability wasn't good, since in Surf Party he was as good and better than a lot of the other actors. I read somewhere he got paid a flat $750 for his part in the movie which is a real shame.

Patricia Morrow (Peyton Place) sings "That's What Love Is", The Routers perform "Crack Up" and Ken Miller sings "Pearly Shells".  The Astronauts (a surf band originally from Colorado!) perform the theme song over the credits and play "Fire Water" in the movie, both are great surf music songs. Their performance of "Fire Water" is probably the highlight of Surf Party. So unless you're like me and just have to see every "Beach Party" movie ever made or you're just a big fan of Vinton's or DeShannon's, I would pass on this movie and look elsewhere for your evening's entertainment.