Welcome to Fistful of Features, a celebration of film preservation through physical media and the discussion of cinematic treasures to maintain their relevance in the cultural lexicon. Today we’ll be discussing a film that was buried by the studio upon initial release in 1983 and is finally getting a proper home release from Kino Lorber in HD. From the director behind the greatest teen rebellion film of all time, Rock n’ Roll High School, comes a flawed but charming comedy that truly captures the passion and energy of running a venue in a burgeoning music scene and pulls no punches with its slapstick approach which evokes the feeling of being right in the midst of one of the craziest New Year’s Eve concerts you’ll ever experience.
After the commercial and critical failure of filmmaker Allan Arkush’s second feature Heartbeeps, most would have expected him to go a safer route with his follow up film considering how few chances they actually give you in Hollywood. Get Crazy might not have the iconography of The Ramones like his first masterpiece, but what it does have is a likable and charismatic lead with the vastly underrated Daniel Stern (Born In East L.A.) and the anarchic frontman Lee Ving of legendary L.A. punk band F.E.A.R. taking on the role of Piggy, a lurid but endearing combination of his own rock persona magnified and the cartoon zaniness of Bam Bam from The Flintstones and the Tasmanian Devil. Also to boot, he managed to convince Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground to appear in this thing, and even though he doesn’t feature heavily into the main story, his role in the conclusion is the sweetest moment this rabid movie has.
Last but not least you have Malcom McDowell as Reggie Wanker doing his best impression of David Bowie channeling Johnny Rotten and, best of all, it’s really him laying down the vocal pipes. He’s absolutely hysterical with his deadpan narcissism and his musical performance is, without a doubt, pure, dedicated craftsmanship.
Much like Rock n Roll High School, the plot of Get Crazy is very thin.
Allen Garfield portrays Max Wolfe, the owner of the Saturn Theater. While preparing for the big New Year’s Eve concert, Max’s scheming nephew is planning to sell his uncle’s business out to a sleazy rival concert promoter (Ed Begley Jr.), who later takes devious matters into his own hands by sending some of his loyal goons to sabotage the building once and for all. Garfield was a seasoned character actor who really could command a scene with what seemed like minimal effort. He kind of has an Alan Arkin quality in this movie with just the right amount of snark and vulnerability.
(As an interesting aside, Garfield actually taught an acting class that included Quentin Tarantino before he nabbed that coveted Elvis Presley impersonator cameo on the Golden Girls.)
Get Crazy mostly functions as a rock n roll hang out movie that emerges with something akin to Noises Off. If you’re unfamiliar with Noises Off, it’s a very rabid comedy that takes place during a theater production in the moment as things continuously go wrong and the actors are seemingly forced to improvise. That’s honestly the closest comparison I can give to this film as far as what Arkush really wanted to accomplish. This movie doesn’t spoof the music industry as well as Phantom of the Paradise, but there’re some clever ideas when it comes to the performers. For example, there’s a 15-member all-girl band named Nada, which is basically an exaggerated spoof of The Go-Gos. When Piggy joins them onstage to perform, it’s the highlight that stands out from all the others.
Kino included some really awesome extras for this release, including a virtual round table discussion with the cast and crew. I was pleased to see how many complimented Lee Ving on being a fine gentleman. Having been introduced to him through The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) in my adolescent years, I always carried a different perception of how he might behave off stage and I’m pleased to know that he’s a genuinely respectful and friendly punk rocker. Also included is a fictional backstory telling on No Dogs in Space. Also the director did a commentary with Eli Roth that can’t be missed. This is a must-have release for lovers of offbeat cult movies and rock n’ roll. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy from Kino Lorber here.
Get Crazy Special Features:
- Brand New 2K Master – Approved by Director Allan Arkush
- NEW Audio Commentary by Director Allan Arkush, Filmmaker Eli Roth and Filmmaker/Historian Daniel Kremer
- THE AFTER PARTY: A NEW 76-Minute Documentary Featuring Malcom McDowell, Daniel Stern, Howard Kaylan, Stacy Nelkin, Gail Edwards, Lori Eastside and the Nada Band, Lee Ving, Allan Arkush, Screenwriter Danny Opatoshu and many other crew members who share their excitement and joy in making the movie that trace the origins of GET CRAZY, plus anecdotes and many photos
- World Premiere Music Video 1: GET CRAZY Theme Song by Sparks (1983 Made for MTV)
- World Premier Music Video 2: NOT GONNA TAKE IT NO MORE: Lori Eastside & the Nada Band (1983 Made for MTV)
- World Premier Music Video 3: NOT GONNA TAKE IT NO MORE: Lori Eastside & the Nada Band (2021 Return Performance of the Original Song)
- TRAILERS FROM HELL with Allan Arkush
- FAN FICTION: Punk Podcasters NO DOGS IN SPACE create life stories and discographies for Reggie Wanker, Lori Eastside & the Nada Band and Piggy
- Theatrical Trailer
Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber December 7th, 2021.