Something Weird Video // 1962 // 153 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // September 27th, 2002
A frenzy of musical action!
Bud, the blandest Eagle to ever swoop down and void all over Hollywood arrives from Buttscratch, South Dakota, with a dime in his cowlick, a wounded muskrat in his throat. and a Wild Guitar. Hoping to trade on his cherub-meets-a-broccoflower good (?) looks, he accidentally appears on an American Bandstand style show. Big time show business bloat goat Mike McCauley sees/hears this vocally challenged chamber pot and decides to chew him up and spit him out like a mentholated cough drop. McCauley ironclads Bud into a representation contract and appoints his personal valet / "muscle," whisper thin man-reed Stake, as chief Budsitter. But when pressure and restrictions miff our budding pud, he learns to stand up for himself, even if it means the top of the pops will shout, "This Bud's not for you!"
California highways are hit with a wave of wanton car stripping, and as one of The Choppers, Cruiser is the slumming rich kid, wandering the wrong side of the tracks with a pseudo-gay gang of tough talking, fender freeing delinquents. They all work for Big Moose, a portly pig who gives these young randies the visual equivalent of a bad touch every time he deals with them. They undress cars, he pays them for the various hot parts (though he'd rather pay for them in hot pants!). When the police throw up a dragnet to stop the marauding mechanics, this sissified junket of jacking jerks begins in-fighting and backstabbing, and it's not long before a salvage yard shootout leaves bodies and buddies dying and crying.
Welcome to the wacky, wounded, wonderful world of the cinema de' Arch Hall. Part fetus, part fried county fair dough, our Archie long pined for fame, fortune, and a face that didn't resemble a spoiled pumpkin. In order to help develop his hampered hell spawn, Dad Hall Sr. coughed up some movie-ola phlegm balls, like Wild Guitar. It tries to be Jailhouse Rock, a shocking look at the sleazy underworld of pop stardom with a brash mix of music, moxie and melodrama. It's off the mark by about the width of Colonel Parker's goiter. The static cinematic scent of Z-grade director Ray Dennis Steckler is all over this go-go gag fest. And yet, Wild Guitar is incredibly entertaining. Aside from a weird triumvirate of failed comics who look and act like adult Dead End Kids crossed with syphilitic mental patients, the film is a quasi-professional, fascinating faux factoid about the latter days of the teenybopper rock and roll craze. Still, it does laughingly deteriorate into Hackabaloo every time Junior opens his flycatcher to chortle a crusty chantey. You wanted Elvis, you'd settle for a barking quail, but instead, you're stuck with the human peach pit.
The Choppers, on the other hand, models itself on those no holds barred exposés on juvenile delinquency, wanting to raise questions about society and destructive adolescent behavior. In reality, it's The Boys in the Band meets Junkyard Wars. When it comes to playing a violent bruiser brat who thumbs his nose at society while rampaging through it, the last person you'd consider a hostile hooligan is the effeminate Hall. And yet here he is, popping his clutch and telling the world to eat his musk. The other actors all channel Hunts Hall as Leo Gorcey, and the plot plays like an episode of Dragnet where they pursue and arrest Spin and Marty. But Arch makes this worn-out crankshaft compelling. He is a unique anti-star, at once repellant and intriguing to the audience. He is talent-free, unable to deliver even the most pedestrian line reading (like "Hi") convincingly. Musically, his presence has no beat, and the only thing you'll want to dance to is his funeral march (not to mention all over his grave). And as for good looks, well, Arch is still having one, in order to hopefully find something quasi-human. And yet, it's this hideousness that makes him so enjoyable to watch. Like an infant on the verge of a tantrum, Hall's convulsive personality turns a stale tale of teen thieves, or a sordid story of rock star gone sour into excellent entertainment.
When it comes to old black and white exploitation films, no one presents a better, sharper full frame image than Something Weird Video. Both transfers are so good, so vibrant that they practically jump off the screen. As for the sound, we can give multiple praises to the holiest of hand grenades that all we have to suffer through is Dolby Digital Mono. (Arch Hall Jr. singing "Konga Joe" in STEREO? ARGHH!!) The trailers are also stupendous, bringing us such must see titles as Rat Fink and Teenage Zombies. On the archival short front, we are treated to two very long exposés on this little unknown dance craze from the late '50s/early '60s. Maybe you've heard of it? THE TWIST? We get to see bloated businessmen, tired secretaries, over-Scotched wives, and bubbling bimbos shaking their hind quarters violently and hilariously, all in the name of some lemming-like line dancing. We also get a 25-minute lesson in car theft, just in case we forgot what The Choppers was all about. With another exceptional SWV gallery of exploitation art, Wild Guitar / The Choppers becomes a must-own DVD title. Where else would you get the chance to watch the acting and musical equivalent of a greasy Q-tip bleat like a gaseous goat? Outside a Robin Williams film, that is.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 153 Minutes
Release Year: 1962
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Archival Short Subjects
* Gallery of Trash-O-Rama Exploitation Art with Radio Spot Rarities
* IMDb: Wild Guitar
* IMDb: The Choppers