Monday, June 23, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROCK!

Only now does it occur to me...  that I'd ever get to see Mary Woronov try the very concept of Rock N' Roll in a kangaroo courtroom... and win!
Mary just wants to take away your rockin' tunes

And from whom does she want to take those rockin' tunes, you ask?  Try a spazzified-solo dancing Renée Zellweger,
a "too cool for school" Howie Mandel (er, maybe make that "cool enough to actually be at school, if he was still of schooling age" Howie Mandel),
and 90s R&B outfit "For Real" (playing an up-and-coming girl band).

This quasi-prequel to the 70s cult classic ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (steeped heavily in the influence of John Waters' HAIRSPRAY) tells the origin story of Woronov's fuddy-duddy 'Evelyn Togar' and was featured in the "90s does the 50s" series of TV movie sentitled REBEL HIGHWAY (which I more adequately describe here).

Everybody's quite likable, and like a lot of Arkush's output (GET CRAZY, HEARTBEEPS, CADDYSHACK II), it exudes a sense of fun even if it is fairly blockheaded most of the time (it doesn't really matter, though).  

Also of interest, Dick Miller (legendary character actor and Joe Dante/Roger Corman crony) reprises his role from ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL as a gruff but sympathetic cop
I swear, Dick Miller is in everything.

and P.J. Soles (the incomparably cheerful star of ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, CARRIE, and HALLOWEEN ) shows up as a mahjong-cheater and concerned mother from Mary Woronov's friend circle.
P.J. Soles: excited to be here.  Also, missing her hat.

Continuing on with the Rock N' Roll street cred is Gerrit Graham, who notably played "Beef" in Brian de Palma's glam-rock-horror-musical spectacular PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE.
Here he plays a nerdy television producer who's all-too-susceptible to the phoned-in complaints of uptight parents.

And I must repeat for those who may not know– the aforementioned Mary Woronov is one of the greatest cult actresses of all time, and a wayward muse for figures as disparate as Andy Warhol and Roger Corman, not to mention the best bud and screen partner of Paul Bartel (together they became the demented 70s and 80s' equivalent of Tracey and Hepburn).
She has a tremendous amount of fun here, banning books in the school library like CATCHER IN THE RYE, INVISIBLE MAN, and THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, and being an all-around stick-in-the-mud– obviously the complete opposite of her natural character.
Speaking of books, I must take a moment to plug hers, because I don't believe I've yet done so:  it's called SWIMMING UNDERGROUND, and it outlines her life experiences upon entering the New York/Warhol scene in the 60s and the many hilarious/terrifying/absurd tales therein.  I highly recommend it, along with her greatest filmic hits, like EATING RAOUL and DEATH RACE 2000.

In closing, this movie's certainly not the best in the world, but if you're at all invested in ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, the REBEL HIGHWAY series, or simply the abundant use of cult and character actors, you'll find a lot to like here.


J.D. Lafrance said...

And I could be mistaken but isn't the woman next to P.J. Soles in the screencap you provided also her best friend in ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL? It does look like her, which lend support to the theory that this is a prequel, of sorts, to that film.

Sean Gill said...

Nice one– indeed, you're right! That slipped right past me. It's Dey Young, credited as playing her own mother: "Kate Rambeau, Sr."