Friday, March 5, 2010

Get Crazy (Allan Arkush, 1983)

Made during a time when superficial mayhem wasn't even close to being frowned upon, the little seen Get Crazy is a stark reminder of how playful music used to be. Of course, I'm not saying that music isn't fun anymore (Karen O. seems like a fun gal), but the music world presented in this film is not same as the one we live in – you know, the one where a teen pop star gets scolded for displaying her naked back, or touching a pole in an erotic fashion. For one thing, sex and drugs are openly pursued, and behaving irresponsibly in public is not only encouraged, it's mandatory. Hell, even the seemingly straight-laced Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul) jumps willy-nilly from a lofty balcony at the behest of a screaming punk singer named Piggy (Lee Ving - the most Aussie-looking Minnesotan ever). Promoting the convergence of rock and roll, new wave, blues rock, glam rock and punk, director Allan Arkush (Rock 'n' Roll High School) presents a universe where these distinct styles can commingle and thrive all under the same roof. Presenting the shockingly simplistic tale of a storied theatre (The Saturn) being threatened by comically evil tycoon (Ed Begley Jr.) just as their about to put a big New Year's show to ring in 1983, the rowdy film mainly focuses on Neil Allen (Daniel Stern) and his desperate struggle to maintain a semblance of sanity as the kooky array of acts slowly begin to show up at the theatre.

Each musical act gets to the gig in their own unique style: A group of hippies lead by Captain Cloud (Howard Kaylan) arrive early, but also kinda late (they thought it was Dec. 31, 1968); a blues band called King Blues (fronted by Bill Henderson) get to the show in a smashed up Rolls Royce -- Cool (Franklin Ajaye) ain't the best driver; a mildly depraved glam rocker named Reggie Wanker (Malcolm McDowell) arrives via his groupie-filled, cocaine-fueled jet plane; and Auden (Lou Reed), a metaphysical folk singer, tells the cab driver to take the "scenic route" (he's still working on a song).

An energetic Lori Eastside and her band Nada (with Lee Ving in the trunk) make my favourite entrance, in what can be best described as a garish presentation of new wave/punk clothing, hair and makeup. I liked how each Nada member got their moment in the sun (fashion-wise) as they got out of their car.

Complicating matters–but only slightly–is Neil's little sister Susie (Stacey Nelkin), who desperately wants to attend the show, and the welcome arrival of Willy (Gail Edwards), an attractive friend and former employee of the Saturn's ailing owner.

The rambunctious Susie reminded me Stephanie Kaye (Nicole Stoffman's character from Degrassi Junior High) and Debbie Strand (the temptress played by Rose McGowan in Devil in the Flesh), in that they all left their places of residence in drab, unsexy clothes, but transported themselves into more trollop-friendly attire along the way to their desired location. Only difference being that Stephanie and Debbie were going to school dressed like pg-rated prostitutes. Susie, on the other hand, was attending a wild concert that would feature a giant walking and talking marijuana joint, Malcolm McDowell's massive crotch bulge, and Mary Worornov in an angora sweater.

A series of fantasy sequences that featured a scantily clad Gail Edwards looking all sexy in first-rate lingerie were one of the many non-musical highlights to come out of Get Crazy, a film that is rife with moments of sheer stupidity.

Anyone familiar with his film about the adventures of Riff Randall and the Ramones will not be surprised by the fact that Allan Arkush loves to saturate the screen with childish sight gags and broad physical humour.

Combining both of these distinct styles of comedy was the little aside that featured Malcolm McDowell having a conversation with his penis. Okay, now wait a minute, that's the second time I've referred to Malcolm's genitalia, and that's one too many. Though, I have to admit, I was strangely turned on by the way his manly protrusion dented the front of his dystopian underpants in A Clockwork Orange. So... my obsession shouldn't come as a total shock. (That's four references, by the way, for those keeping score.)

Other than the feistiness of "I'm Not Going to Take It No More" by Lori Eastside, I wasn't that impressed by Get Crazy's musical performances (too much rock, not enough new wave). Luckily, the aforementioned goofiness is implemented at such a rapid pace, that I didn't really have time to effectively scrutinize the music. Besides, bloated arena rock and old timey blues music doesn't exactly scream 1983. Ending the picture, however, with a Sparks' song (the aptly titled "Get Crazy") kinda made up for some of the film's musical squareness.

You know what they say: Whether you put one at the beginning (Heavenly Bodies), plop in the middle (Valley Girl), or, in this film's case, crank it at the end, having a Sparks song on your soundtrack is a surefire way to make your film a little more awesome. Oh, and I loved how the film seemed to promote drug use.

video uploaded by lhjvirtual 80


  1. God, I LOVE this movie. So refreshing to see I'm not the only one who's seen it.

    Reggie Wanker's private coversation with his..erm...self, was certainly [i]different[/i]; but the whole thing plays like a mellow, druggy version of R'n'R High School.

    Too bad it's been so many years ago since my last viewing. I have VERY fond memories of this one. (btw, thumbs up for the Street Trash review, another sterling example of fine family entertainment. :) )

  2. Yums, I had no idea Justin Bieber was Canadian. Dude. I thought all Canadians were cool. :P What went wrong there?

    We are really far behind on Jeopardy! episodes. Blame Canada, or at least their Olympics.

    Dude, NeoA4 is on YouTube:
    And gotta love that pic in the video.

  3. Russ: Get Crazy desperately needs to be released on DVD. I'm just putting that out there.

    Thanks. Street Trash has jumped to the top of my faves list with nary any effort.

    Karim Amir: All Canadians?!? Yikes! No, I'd say around 98% are hopelessly lame. ;)

    I have no clue what wrong in that particular case. But seeing how he's only 16, I like to think that he has still got a fair amount of time to become un-lame. That being said, I only have a rudimentary idea who he is. In other words: his lameness could be irreversible. ;)

    There was a guy named Vijay on today's Jeopardy! Go Vijay!

    Yeah, those haircuts are pretty snazzy.

    Speaking of 80s hair, are you psyched for Hot Tub Time Machine? It totally takes place in 1986.

  4. I've never seen this film. Which makes me wonder about myself. I've sold/rented this film to many, even witnessed someone bootlegging it, but never actually watched it myself. What is wrong with me. This post is a good reminder to finally Get Crazy.

  5. Based on the kind of films you seem to gravitate towards, I'm shocked that your eyeballs have yet to witness the mentally-challenged splendour that is Get Crazy.

  6. There is absolutely no reason I can think of for GET CRAZY not being on DVD. My VHS tape of it is on its last legs and I could seriously use an upgrade!

    I worked as an usher at a theater that played it when it came out (I was in high school at the time) and it was great to see with a stoned and drunk audience that was totally into it. I have since been somewhat obsessed with it and was lucky enough to find the soundtrack on vinyl in a cutout bin for a buck. That album proved invaluable during college when throwing keg parties, largely due to the Lee Ving rendition of "Hoochie Coochie Man" being a favorite. The girls really loved that one and you should have seen them scream and dance to it. Good times...

  7. I hadn't seen this since the 80's and was thrilled to see it pop up as a free 'On Demand' movie on my cable system. I had forgotten the great casting. John Densmore, Bobby Sherman, Glad I could record it on dvd - I think that's the only way I'm ever gonna get it.
    So glad I found this blog!!

  8. GET CRAZY! Yet another obscurity I saw way back then and talked about for years to come. I see that Yum-Yum prefers New Wave, but from someone who digs Punk; Lee Ving freaking KILLS in this flick! Death Piggy's wide receiver speed sprint, to a 16 foot stage dive is UNBELIEVABLE! It's also where the band GWAR got their first band name before switching. The music that plays during the mysteriously cosmic coke dealer scene, is "Big Electric Cat" by Adrian Belew. I get a big kick out of Lou Reed being so game to make fun of reclusive Rock Star-cum-'Poets' as well (hehee). This film IS the 80s to me in so many ways. Having a friend of mine transfer the VHS to a DVD rip as we speak! RELEASE DEATH PIGGY!

  9. I saw that film about 18 years ago, I didn't even knew the name beause I saw it in tv and the film was began. I'd love to find it and see it again but it seems impossible!!!

  10. Get Crazy is on YouTube,full movie on YouTube ://