Thursday, May 30, 2013


The Hire was a series of short films (around 10 minutes each) that BMW released on the internet in 2001 and 2002 for promotion of their autos. Each film was helmed by a famous director and each film starred different people with one exception: Clive Owen was "The Driver" in all the films. They later released the films on a dvd which was available for a short time at some dealerships. While all 8 films are well worth watching two of the films feature musicians.

Beat The Devil was directed by Tony Scott and stars James Brown. James has hired The Driver to take him to Las Vegas, so he can renegotiate a deal he made with The Devil (Gary Oldman). It seems James made a deal with The Devil for fame and fortune, but now that he has gotten old and can't do splits anymore, he doesn't think the deal is fair. James bets his driver's soul in a race against The Devil and his henchman (Danny Trejo). James Brown and Gary Oldman are both hilarious in this short film. There's a surprise appearance by another musician at the end of the film. (Beat The Devil is available on youtube). I get a real kick out of Beat The Devil no matter how many times I watch it.

Star was directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Madonna as the bitchiest star imaginable. Unbeknownst to Madonna, her manager has hired The Driver to give her the ride of her lifetime, tossing her all about the car and unceremoniously dumping her onto the sidewalk at the end. This short film is also hilarious and just like Beat The Devil, I can't help laughing out loud each time I watch it. (Star is also available on youtube).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Ski Party is the beach party entry into the "Some Like It Hot" category, since Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman spend a good part of the film in drag. Frankie and Dwayne are college buddies who are losers with their gals (Deborah Walley and Yvonne Craig). Speaking of gals, Annette has a cameo as a professor at the school. Were Frankie and Dwayne so dumb that by the time they made it to college, Annette had already graduated and became a professor? Anyway, watch for a pretty good gag with Annette in the film... Back to the story...when Frankie & Dwayne hear there's going to be a ski trip sponsored by the school's playboy, they decide to tag along and see if they can change their luck. On the trip up, Lesley Gore is on the bus and sings the infectious "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" and everyone else on the bus joins in on the chorus.

Once at the ski lodge, which just happens to have a heated pool, all the girls get into their bikinis, and Frankie sings  a nice upbeat song "Lots, Lots More" as he lies on the diving board. Frankie doesn't fare as well on his other number, which also includes Hickman, Walley and Craig, entitled "Paintin' the Town", which is just a terrible song and doesn't match up to the quality of any of the other songs in the film. Later, Walley and Craig sing "We'll Never Change Them," which almost sounds like a song left off an old Ronnettes album. It was actually previously titled "I'll Never Change Him" and sung by Annette in the initial release of Beach Blanket Bingo, but the song was cut from all home movie releases.

And now we come to the THE BEST REASON to watch Ski Party... James Brown. James has a comedic skit as a ski ranger and then sings "I Got You" with The Flames as his backup dancers. At the end of the song, he dances out the door and does a split as his finale. This is the highlight of the movie and you really owe it to yourself to check it out. If you don't won't to watch the whole film for his performance, it's on youtube just google "james brown ski party". A bit of trivia I gleaned from imdb "James Brown said out of all the times he did splits, the only time he ever ripped his pants was in this movie."

At the end of the film, the gang winds up back at the beach where The Hondells (who also sing the title song of the movie, but do not perform it in the film) are hanging out on the beach singing "The Gasser", a pretty decent surf/hot rod song.  Of course, this gives the filmmakers another chance to have girls dancing in bikinis. At the end of Ski Party there's a note to stay on the lookout for the next film in the series "Cruise Party", a film that was never made, since "the beach party series" had pretty much run its course by 1965/66.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Blood of Dracula is another film in the AIP line of teen horror pictures. I find it strange that they didn't include the word "teenage" in the title as they did with I Was A Teenage Werewolf and I Was A Teenage Frankenstein. I would think it would have been natural in this group of movies to call this film "I Was A Teenage Vampire". Blood of Dracula has the same theme as I Was A Teenage Werewolf - a teen with troubles is turned into a monster to satisfy an experiment by an adult who thinks they are going to save mankind. An underlying message in both of these movies, while not overt, but understood, is "Don't Trust Adults".

Blood of Dracula, like How To Make A Monster, includes only one song performance. This time with Jerry Blaine who sings "Puppy Love", which he also wrote.  Blaine previously had written "Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo" for the song performance in I Was A Teenage Werewolf; although he didn't have a part in that film, instead that song was performed by Ken Miller. And when I say performances, it's interesting to note that both of these songs are accompanied by a dance number. Of the two songs, I prefered "Puppy Love" with it's cute lyrics and Blaine really looked like he was enjoying the song and his performance added a lot to my own enjoyment. Sadly, these two songs and one acting appearance appear to be the complete resume of Jerry Blaine in films. Too bad, because he definitely had both talent in songwriting and acting.

At the first of Blood of Dracula, the movie appeared it was going to carry a very feminist message, which would have been a surprise for a late 50s cheapo film. The female teacher/scientist states her thesis keeps getting rejected because academia is ruled by men and they won't accept the findings of a female researcher. It's this drive to prove them wrong that compels her to experiment on the teen. Ultimately, the message (which I guess could be construed as feminist) in Blood of Dracula is a woman can be just as crazy as a man.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Chandell aka Fingers (Liberace) and his twin brother Harry (Liberace) are both criminals. Chandell is also a famous pianist. When Chandell hurts his hands and uses a player piano in a concert at The White House his brother finds out and blackmails him. Chandell comes up with a plan to kill Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and then marry Aunt Harriet and use her money to pay off Harry, after which Chandell decides he will have enough money to go straight.

These two episodes of Batman (The Devil's Fingers and The Dead Ringers) were the highest rated out of all the tv episodes of Batman. The name Chandell was used as a play on Liberace's famous chandeliers. Liberace supplied his own costumes plus provided his own grand piano for filming of the episodes. Instead of having three henchmen, Chandell had three henchwomen - Doe, Rae, and Mimi. As you can see from the above photo Doe would be a pretty good double for Naomi Judd.

I really enjoyed both these episodes and Liberace was a real hoot as the villain, but what I enjoyed most was Liberace's portrayal of Harry, the twin brother. During these scenes, Liberace tried to talk tough like he was in an old gangster movie and the results were quite amusing. They can make all the Batman movies they want, and regardless of how good they are, the TV series, with episodes like these, will always be tops in my book.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


After watching the very entertaining I Was A Teenage Werewolf, I thought I'd watch another in the teen monster canon. Unfortunately, I can't think of the last time I saw such a terrible movie as Frankenstein's Daughter. I mean, it's not even bad in a good way, it's just BAD! The direction is wooden and the plot only makes sense if you don't think about it.

It seems Dr. Frankenstein's grandson is now going by the name Dr. Frank and is mixing some type of elixir that makes a woman's face go ugly (see above photo) after she drinks it. After she ingests the tonic the young lady wanders around town scaring people. What this elixir has to do with creating a living being was never clear to me. Once Dr. Frank gets a fresh body from a very attractive teen, he grafts her head onto his creation and brings it to life. Surprise, the monster is also very ugly (see poster above). Maybe, there's some type of misogynistic message being passed on here, but I really don't think so, and if it was, I'm sure it was subconscious.

There are a couple of songs in Frankenstein's Daughter, which I assume were placed in the movie to appeal to teens; but they're pretty tepid as rock and roll songs and fall more into the pop category. At a small back yard party, The Page Cavanaugh Trio do "Special Date" on which they are joined by Harold Lloyd, Jr. (yes, son of Harold Lloyd). Harold Jr. then has a solo and does a good job on a novelty tune entitled "Daddy Bird". Harold Jr. has a very interesting singing style, always staying hunched forward while he's singing.  To my surprise, John Ashley, who sings in a lot of these teen movies, doesn't have a tune in Frankenstein's Daughter

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Tommy is probably the best known rock opera since it has been an album, a movie, and a stage play.  The term "Rock Opera" grates on me, I think Rock is Rock and Opera is Opera and the twain should never meet. To me, trying to make rock into opera is a sign you're ashamed of rock and want to do"legitimate music". 

Tommy (as an opera should be) is entirely sung. That would have all been well and good IF the songs were good, but unfortunately "Tommy", "Pinball Wizard", and "I'm Free" are the only three songs that worked for me....and yes that includes "Acid Queen" by Tina Turner and I'm a big fan of Tina's.

Since I have an aversion to "rock operas", plus Pete Townshend grates on me (I think it's his self-importance that is off-putting), I should have steered clear of Tommy. However, I had fond memories of seeing Tommy on the big screen when it was originally released, and I even saw a stage production in Atlanta many years later. The best thing I could have done was to have left Tommy in my memory banks and went on with my life.  I found either my tastes have changed or the movie really wasn't very good to begin with. Either way, it was a slough to get through this film. The next time I want to watch something with "Tommy" in the title, I'll choose Tommy Boy.

Monday, May 20, 2013


How To Make A Monster is a follow up to I Was A Teenage Werewolf and I Was A Teenage Frankenstein. Oddly, the film is in black and white until near the end which is in color. This was an American International Picture set at the fictional American International Studios. The plot revolves around a master make-up artist who is being terminated because the studio has decided monsters are out and comedies and musicals are what the audience wants. The make-up artist gets his revenge by sending "his" monsters to kill the studio executives. 

The studio executives take the make-up artist to see one of their scenes from an upcoming film. Turns out it's John Ashley (I swear, I've seen this man in movies from the 50s to the 70s and he never seems to age), who is a pretty good singer. He performs "You Gotta Have Ee-Ooo", which sounds like a song right off an Elvis movie soundtrack.

While there wasn't a lot of music in the movie, How To Make A Monster turned out to be a pretty decent flick. The story was pretty good and the make-up artist, Robert H. Harris, who is mainly known as a character actor, really did a good job of slowly becoming more and more psychotic as the movie progressed. I'm sure it was cheap to make, since AIP was basically recycling their monsters from the previous two movies and could use their own studio for sets, but, Hey! Warner Brothers did it with their monsters so there's no reason cheapo studio AIP shouldn't have done it also.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Beach Ball riding on the coattails of the AIP Beach Party series of films holds its on as a decent flick in the genre. Simple plot (even if it doesn't make a lot of sense), girls in bikinis, some light humor, auto racing, skydiving, scuba diving, surfing, and a custom car show, coupled with appearance by some of the top music acts of the era makes for an enjoyable viewing. 

Edd Byrnes (Kookie) writes songs and manages a group named The Wiggles. They've got rented instruments and are being hounded for payment. If they can just win a local talent contest they'll have the money to buy their instruments. Edd and the group come up with a plan to get grants for college and then use the money to pay for their instruments. When four nerdy girls (who are in charge of the funds) find out the boys (well they're probably in their 30s) are not really going to use the money for college they tear up the check. Then, as it can only happen in the movies, the nerdy girls take off their glasses and go to the beach to teach the guys a lesson. Of course the guys don't recognize them (must be like when Clark Kent takes off his glasses, no one can recognize he's Superman). Anyway, the girls try to convince the boys to go back to school and since there are four girls and four guys, need I mention love develops for all. Of course, something happens to split the love birds up, but holding true with the world of beach party films, everyone reunites for a happy ending.

The music for the most part is good. The Supremes appear at the car show and I thought they were weak on singing the title theme "Come to the Beach Ball with Me", which just didn't fit with their sound and they appeared to be uncomfortable singing. On the other hand, they did a great job with their other performance"Surfer Boy". Both of these songs were written by Motown's Holland/Dozier/Holland. The Walker Brothers also perform at the car show and cut loose on "Doin' The Jerk". The Four Seasons, all suited up like they're in New Jersey instead of at a beach club sing their 1964 hit "Dawn (Go Away)". The Hondells sing Brian Wilson's "My Buddy Seat" and the Righteous Brothers, who for some odd reason just happen to be hanging out at the guys house, do a great job with "Baby What You Want Me to Do".

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Hey, Let's Twist! is the fictionalized story of Joey Dee, The Peppermint Lounge, and of course, The Peppermint Twist (just like any other twist, but it has the word peppermint).

Of course, Joey Dee and The Starliters are the main draw in Hey, Let's Twist!, but the film also features several other musicians. Teddy Randazzo who not only appeared in several other early rock movies (The Girl Can't Help It, Rock Rock Rock, and Mr. Rock and Roll), but is also a noted songwriter ("Going Out of My Head", "Hurt So Bad") and he has also been inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. A couple of other actress/singers/songwriters to look for in the movie are Jo Ann Campbell ("I'm The Girl From Wolverton Mountain") and Kay Armen ("Be Good to Yourself"). And as long as I'm mentioning people to look for, keep an eye out for 18 year old Joe Pesci performing with The Starliters in the last part of Hey, Let's Twist!

 I really was expecting Hey, Let's Twist! to be a light-weight story built around Joey Dee and a slew of twist songs. To my surprise, the film was a decent family drama built around Joey Dee and a slew of twist songs. Besides the direction of Greg Garrison (The Dean Martin Show), two other reasons can be attributed to making this a better film than I thought it would be. The main reason is because of the two adult leads - Papa (Dino Di Luca) and Angie (Kay Armen), they both did such great acting jobs that it lent an air of believability to the story line. The other reason, in my opinion, were the authentic looking sets, which as with the aforementioned actors also helped with adding realism with the story. And just as a final note, Joey Dee wasn't that bad of an actor either. Although at times (other that when he was on stage) he was relegated to more of a background role, when given the opportunity, he was no slouch in portraying himself on film.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Across The Universe incorporates 34 Beatles' songs into the storyline. Some of the song lyrics are added for plot continuation and some are added as production numbers. Both serve their usefulness in telling the love story of Jude and Lucy.

There are only two musicians of note in Across The Universe - Joe Cocker and Bono. Joe Cocker, in one of my favorite parts of the film, plays three parts (a bum, an old hippie, and a pimp) during the song "Come Together". Bono, not one of my favorite people to begin with, comes off quite favorably in this movie in the part of acid purveyor Dr. Robert.

When I was in the sixth grade, we would take the top 40 list from the local radio station (WQOK) and weave the song titles into a story (For example "Goodbye Cruel World", I'm a "Lonely Teenager" who is going "North To Alaska".....). Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm so fond of Across The Universe, it reminds me of my youth. Of course, Across The Universe is much more sophisticated in its approach to using The Beatles' songs in the movie. There are also lots of references to other characters/events  relating to the history of The Beatles. If, like me, you're a Beatles fan or just like a good musical production, you'll enjoy this movie and I highly recommend it to anyone who falls into either category. I've already watched the film twice and will probably watch it again in the future.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I Was A Teenage Werewolf just barely makes it onto this page since there is only one song in the movie - "Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo" sung by Ken Miller and written by Jerry Blaine. Ken Miller not only sings the song, but also has a little dance number during the instrumental break. A nice little number that doesn't rock, but does swing. If you check youtube you can see the performance.

I Was A Teenage Werewolf stars Michael Landon as a troubled teen who angers too quickly and lashes out in violence. To help control these outbursts, Landon is steered to a psychiatrist/scientist for help. Unbeknownst to Landon the good doctor is actually performing an experiment on him to regress him back to earliest man, which for some reason makes Landon a werewolf.

I Was A Teenage Werewolf was a top moneymaker at the time for American International Pictures, and besides being a story that appealed to teens, I think Michael Landon, in his breakout role as the titular character, might have had something to do with its popularity. He definitely had on-screen charisma and while some of his acting comes off as James Dean lite, for the most part his acting ability was as good or better than the adult actors in the film.

My favorite lines of dialogue from the movie: 

Landon "People bug me." 

Police Detective "That's right, hide behind jive talk."

Sunday, May 5, 2013


One Trick Pony stars Paul Simon (who also wrote the film) as a musician with one hit song behind him (thus the title) and his struggles as a working musician coping with a divorce, his life on the road, and trying to get another hit record (with Lou Reed as his producer). A huge majority of the movie is taken up with Paul Simon and his band either performing on stage or with Simon driving or walking somewhere while one of his songs plays in the background.

The B-52's appear in an early scene doing "Rock Lobster". They're the headliners with Simon and his band as their opening act. Later in One Trick Pony, Simon is appearing in a salute to the 60s concert which includes Sam and Dave performing "Soul Man" and what I thought was a real treat, the original Lovin' Spoonful reunited and singing "Do You Believe In Magic?". Also, Tiny Tim appears backstage warming up for the show.

If you like Paul Simon, you're really going to enjoy this movie, if you don't like Simon, you'll find One Trick Pony excruciating. However, since I neither like nor dislike Simon, I'm sort of middle of the road on this one. Everyone's acting was okay, even Paul Simon's. The story, what there was of it, was okay; and Simon's music was okay. And that pretty much sums up the whole movie for me, it was just okay. If you do decide to watch One Trick Pony, be on the lookout for two odd appearances: Daniel Stern as a Hare Krishna and  Mare Winningham in a nude scene.