Revved-up youth on a rock and roll rampage!
A gang of bored, well-bred bums who seem to have unlimited incomes and complete legal immunity decide that an extended citywide crime spree is just the thing to break up their laid-back languor, so they begin to terrorize the tiny town. They throw paint on pedestrians and toss a traffic cop's cap in the air. They up the havoc level and break furniture and stuff. When they really want to let the bedlam fly, they fry the hand of a diner owner and spray a retiree with her own hose. But when these demonic delinquents really crave to let chaos loose, to throw the populace into pandemonium and push the limits of anarchy, they rape and kill beachcombers and lure underage girls to gangbangs. Still, these despicable dregs of anti-society have one last act of atrocity up their windbreaker sleeves, a final statement against all that is pure and precious. And what is this piece de resistance, this ultimate act of inhumanity? Why, the happily reckless tossing of a toddler into a trash can! When confronted by a beef injected, blank faced Arch Hall Jr. type with an empty girlfriend, the harsh hooligans devise a little ambush and battery for Joe Jockhead and his pride and joystick. And when asked why they do it, why they rant and rampage across civilization's stretch marks, they quote Charlie Callas, when asked about his mouth fart based comedy. They both do it Just for the Hell of It.
When the musically challenged quintet Charlie confronts their thieving manager, the badly named and mispronounced Boogie (here translated as BOO-GEE) Baker, he throws them some sawbucks and tells them to hit the bricks. The delightfully tone-deaf dudes readily agree. Baker now must find a new group of atonal adenoid cases to manipulate the mullah and manliness out of or lose his status as a teetering near obscurity nobody. One night, he and his numbskulled assistant Gordie stumble across The Faded Blue, a just awful guitar and organ outfit in desperate need of a tuning. Baker propositions them with matronly old ladies, and before you can say "grandma got run over by the bass player," our discordant dummies are Boogie's bee-atches and re-christened The Big Blast. More like the Humungous Hot Air, since once in the studio with a Baker blackmailed producer, all these bad chord progression creeps know is one sound and half a song. But thanks to some rehearsal and a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner, our Large Wind develops into a Billboard staple, their one-note wonder becoming a certifiable phenomenon. But when the miscreant Mott the Hoople start demanding more money, Boogie pot parties them into an ironclad screw job that leaves them even more bankrupt, both financially and artistically. This off-key O-Town may just have a few tricks of their own up their highly tailored sleeves, and we're not talking about some Blast-Off Girls.
A classic of pointless mayhem, Just for the Hell of It is an 82-minute excuse to show mindless violence and unwarranted vandalism at the hands of misguided, though decidedly urbane, youth. Herschell Gordon Lewis, the deranged director of such off-kilter classics as Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs, simply piles on the demolition and stacks up the assaults to build an ever-increasing crescendo of mindless chaos in hopes of numbing the viewer and bolstering the box office. The police here are ineffective schleps, good Samaritans become targets of craven cruelty, and even the most slow moving, elongated harassment is met with statue like non-resistance. The elderly, the authoritative, and the juvenile seemingly stand by and let these anti-social antagonists rob them of their safety, security, and dignity—not to mention their believability. (Honestly, who would let some teenage troublemaker set them up to be readily sprayed with a garden hose, huh?) In reality, Just for the Hell of It is the great granddaddy of Jackass, what with its merry band of pranksters committing all manner of felonious acts for the sake of some cinematic (or in the case of JK and the boys, boob tube) sensationalism. Aside from the raping and murder, you'd be hard pressed to find a difference between Spike Jonze's jesters and Lewis' loud and lewd criminal cretins. Dexter is obvious Johnny Knoxville, all confused stupidity and dopey nonchalance. Denny is Bam Margera, a mischievous smirk hiding a secret dark desire deep within his soul to torment and torture (thank god Phil was only a baby when this film was made…or maybe he was the infant hurled into the garbage can…). Lummox is the Steve-O of the group, more than happy to take the practical joke to a psychotic extreme. And just like that mean spirited MTV hoax show, Just for the Hell of It is surprisingly entertaining in its outright disrespect for everything and everyone, including the audience and their attention span.
Blast-Off Girls, on the other hand, is a rock and roll nightmare about the crooked recording industry that wants to be a hardnosed Day's Night or a heavy Having a Wild Weekend but ends up being a badly mixed-up Monkee's Head (and the pre-fab fours film makes a hell of a lot more sense). Indeed, the closest this movie comes to any Beatles-like attribute is that it will bug the bejeesus out of you. It isn't bad enough that it gives the onward moving reggae woman and KC's shoes the short shrift by mispronouncing the simplistic word "boogie" (oh, and is it pronounced Eye-gor as well?), but it then decides that all the music in the movie must be original tunes written and performed by the venereal diseases of talentless troubadours. Since they couldn't locate that, however, they substituted the substantially worse Faded Blue instead. It's obvious from their considerable lack of acting talent that this so-called "band" had never been in front of a camera before, and with their freakish appearance, one would have to assume it was to prevent lens breakage. Between a guitarist who looks like Alfred E. Newman's dumber brother to Morocco Mole's missing son, the talent evokes the kind of garage act that bombed when it tried to play "Whipping Post" at the local battle of the bands. Still, crazed creator Herschell Gordon Lewis crams this compost with enough goofy charmers, like Ray Sager as the hippie-dippy Gordie and a really wild cameo from Mr. Chicken himself, Colonel Sanders (showing that if he hadn't perfected his recipe for golden fried pullet, he'd be Matlock in a minute) to reverse the taxing tuneless tinnitus. Blast-Off Girls may be a nonsensical noise-a-thon featuring the worst rock act in the history of the genre, but it could be worse. It could be Hard to Hold.
Presented here in Something Weird's wonderful Drive-In Double Feature, you can simply hit the "Let's All Go" icon on the main menu and relive nights in the back seat of your father's Grand Marquis as the DVD recreates the passion pit experience, complete with snack bar come-ons for Smithfield Barbeque (which looks all bloody and juicy and delicious…yum!) and hot chocolate (nothing refreshes on a hot summer night like scalded milk loaded with Ovaltine). During the presentation, you will witness several trailers for more of Lewis' maniac movies and even a short nudie cutie film featuring breastically unattractive ladies doing a goofy Go-Go dance. The best bonus, however, is a half hour sales pitch, usually reserved for showing right before live birth footage, for his and hers matching sex manuals. Just watching the salesman work his verbal wonder is enough to have you grab your wallet for an extra Washington or two. No wonder these carefully crafted cons made more money than the films. The spiel is ripe, the set-up sensational, and the follow through flawless. Of the many off-title/topic extras SWV has haphazardly thrown on disc, this is the best.
From the screening perspective, Just for the Hell of It look almost brand new in its all color, full frame clarity. There are just a few slight specks and some minor negative flaws present, but nothing distracting. Blast-Off Girls is another case altogether. While given an ersatz widescreen 1.66:1 transfer, the image has several blemishes, fadeouts, and areas of age desecration in it. While not terribly bothersome, it is also not up to SWV's usually strict standards. But just our luck: the Dolby Digital Mono is clear and distortion free, the better to hear The Big Blast's cacophonous crock rock in all its four-part dissonance.
As a double feature of truly devious proportions, Just for the Hell of It / Blast-Off Girls offers one solid moral for the entire free love generation. When left to their own devices, misguided youth will end up in trouble with the law. Or touring as the opening act for the Lemon Pipers.
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