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H. G. Lewis occupies a special place in film history; he's infamous
because his blood-red gore films of the 60's and 70's were so shocking
and audacious. I've enjoyed watching a few of his movies, but I have
certainly not seen them all.
Nevertheless, I'd be willing to bet that "Blast-Off Girls" is one of his best-made films. I liked it a lot. Surprisingly, it features no graphic violence, and very little violence period. And surprisingly, it is driven by story and acting, both of which are fine considering the shoestring budget. I imagine there is a strong autobiographical side to this movie, because filmmaker Lewis really seems to loathe and despise the rotten, profit-grubbing main character:
Dan Conway plays "Boojie Baker," the all-too-believably sleazy band manager with big-time aspirations--he's working his way up the ladder (or so he thinks), chewing up and spitting out small rock bands; he entices his prospects with girls, and promises of "the good life," then books shows for them--but when the minimal profits roll in, he makes sure the band gets just enough of them to stick begrudgingly around. If they question his honesty, he lies and placates; if they accuse him of thievery and threaten to leave, he blackmails them. He's thoroughly detestable, and very enjoyably played by Conway.
Boojie's associates generally only tolerate him so they can go to his raucous parties (attended by the "Blast-Off" groupie girls of the title, who have basically nothing to do with the story). He doesn't really have any friends, and seems happy without them.
But Boojie's good luck runs out the day he takes on a musical group that is as naive as all the others, but possessing of a strong sense of justice. They object to his treatment of them, and plan an elaborate revenge, with the intent of screwing Boojie on a cosmic level. In classic morality-play fashion, Boojie gets his rightful desserts, although he does spin off at the end of the film (rather like Darth Vader at the end of "Star Wars"), minus one cheesy band but ready for new sleazy Boojie adventures. Don't kid yourself, the film seems to say; you might be lucky enough to send them off in some other direction, but Boojies don't go down easy!
In a twisted way, this is a charmingly optimistic film that suggests that decent people can exist in the entertainment world if they have the guts to stand their ground and oppose their oppressors. But "Blast-Off Girls" isn't really about the good guys at all; it is almost a study in Boojie-ness, a virtual diagram of the Boojies of the world, so that the viewer will be able to spot them should he or she have the misfortune to get into business relationships with them. The bands Boojie abuses wander in and out of the movie; but Boojie himself is ever-present--the sneering, evil star of this odd and fascinating picture. See it today!
By 1967, H.G. Lewis had stopped his gore career short with THE GRUESOME
TWOSOME a year earlier. He directed a campy send-up of a rock group being
used and humiliated by the music business called THE BLAST-OFF GIRLS that
remained lost for years. Eventually, Something Weird Video unearthed it and
released it. While it's all good campy fun, it could hardly be called
The Faded Blue (a real-life Chicago garage band) star as The Big Blast, a Florida garage band who are conned into a business deal (without a contract) by big-time manager Boojie Baker (played disgustingly well by Dan Conway). Boojie uses beautiful women to con record executives and concert hall owners into letting the Blast play there and eventually makes them famous with a record on the Billboard Hot 100 called "Noise". When the group decides that Boojie isn't giving them enough money, they promptly drop him and he avenges himself by setting up a drug bust. But the group isn't finished with Boojie yet.
THE BLAST-OFF GIRLS suffers from one thing: the group isn't that good. When many of the "bad guy" executives say, "This group is just like any other", the audience can't help but agree with them! A multitude of garage bands erupted in the late 60s and it's hard to tell them apart. The Big Blast, if there ever were such a group, would have melted into the garage band sound without making much of a dent. Some of the songs heard are pretty good (like "Noise"), but others are overpowered by the annoying organ work. Of special note is the keyboard player, who is set up to be the comic relief and is pretty likable. As a matter of fact, the whole band are not bad actors and any viewer can identify with them. I was surprised to see Col. Sanders appear as himself, offering free fried chicken to the group in exchange for a performance outside his restaurant for dancing kids! Pretty cool stuff. Imagine anyone doing such a thing today for a low budget filmmaker! Besides The Big Blast is an unnamed garage band heard during the opening sequence that features the chief delinquent in JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT as the lead singer! They do a pretty good job, too, and I would have preferred the whole movie to be about them instead.
H.G. Lewis does what he can with a pretty slapshod storyline, but the film slows down too much when the band is off the screen. The background music really irks me, too. But BLAST-OFF GIRLS is kitschy fun that is worth seeing at least once. Lewis fans will die happy after seeing The Big Blast's stoned performance on live TV as only Lewis could do it! Recommended for one-time viewing and to anyone who ever was in a band or is now! Modern-day garage bands should really enjoy this! For a much better film on the same topic, though, seek out BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, which I enjoyed much more.
Blast Off Girls, despite the title, didn't have too much to do with
girls. Instead, this film showcases a male rock band, trying to hit the
big time in the music biz, during the late-60s. The band goes through
quite a bit, as they struggle to become well-known pop stars. They have
to contend with a ruthless, greedy manager, internal squabbles amongst
the band members, living on a meager income, their own drug abuse etc.,
Though this movie is not the most exciting rock film in the world, it's entertaining in a hokey sort of way. The band plays some pretty decent garage/psychedelic rock, and they give-off an energetic vibe. There are many scenes in this film, that show the band frolicking merrily outdoors. In this way, the movie is similar to an episode of the Monkees. For those who are nostalgic about the late-60s rock scene, this movie will suffice.
For me, H.G. Lewis movies have always been a mixed bag. Sometimes they're
lot of fun and sometimes they are excruciating. This would fall in the
The story involves a sheisty band manager (and "whitey mack" wannabe), Boojie Baker (played by Dan Conway), who goes from one garage band to the next, forming them into a profit for himself. The type of manager who believes in taking as much credit and percentage as possible and leaving his band with virtually nothing. Conway turns in a good performance, yet considering the repetitive nature of the plot and several other elements, it becomes grating.
Boojie's first group gets the hint right away, when he tries to screw them out of their earnings, and they proceed to take a hike. He bounces back and hits the jackpot, with his next anti-stellar group of morons. A group that continues to get conned over and over by Boojie's transparent tactics, until 10 minutes towards the end of the picture when they finally discover an escape clause (an escape clause being a metaphor for a small rock on the same gravel road they've been traveling on all along).
H.G. Lewis' films were never known for great music, and this one might have the worst. If you thought the theme from "JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT" sounded like "White Rabbit" performed by an orchard of adam's apples liquefied in a blender, then you ain't heard nothin' yet. Wait until you hear Boojie's band, The Big Blast, pump out the same song over and over and over and over. Not even a song really, just a chorus that's sung so many times that it literally sounds like a broken record. Here's a taste... "The next time that you want me, I won't run to you. The next time that you need me, I'll tell you that we're through. The next time, the next time, the next time that we're through(?!)" Just imagine hearing that same jam session in nearly every other scene. Not since Jean-Luc Godard's "SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL", have I seen a film that thrives on such lyrical overkill.
What's even more grating is that the band members never truly gel with one another and the music suffers because of it. At times, it seems as if each member is singing different lyrics to the same chorus, all at once. For example, when they're singing "...the next time...", it sometimes sounds like "...run and hide...". And, in a more interesting number, "Go BLANK Yourself, My Friend", some of them sing "Go BLANK Yourself, A Friend". My initial thoughts were that this was a band of non-actors attempting to perform music, when in fact, according to the credits, this was a real band. Ugghh.
In conclusion, if you want a far out ride that contains little emphasis on girls and couldn't provide a spark with a dry match in a hay barn, then "THE BLAST-OFF GIRLS" is for you! Otherwise, I'd recommend Arch Hall, Jr's "WILD GUITAR", which deals in the same subject manner and is a lot more fun to watch.
Funny, predictable melodrama about a pop group and the manager who hijacks their career. An inferior pop band ("The Big Blast!") sells its collective soul to heartless, manipulative preppy Boojie Baker, who owns their name, their suits, their equipment -- and their girls! (The Blast-Off Girls are useful to the plot but too frequently offscreen.) Vocals and instrumentals are uniformly off-key and undistinguished, the band members have no distinct "look," and the record execs & promoters don't care, because "all bands sound the same anyway." Will The Big Blast submit to contractual enslavement and every indignity known to man? See the film to find out. For Lewis fans, there are small pleasures here -- the guy who played "Lang" in SCUM OF THE EARTH plays a similar, though more epicurean character here; Ray Sager from JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT and WIZARD OF GORE is Boojie's sidekick; Big Blast members had parts in THE ALLEY TRAMP (!), YEAR OF THE YAHOO, et. al. All in all, a fun film, but hampered by its cheapness and simplicity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is a remake of Arch Hall Senior's WILD GUITAR. WILD GUITAR
was a very low budget rock 'n roll morality tale about an unscrupulous
agent (Arch Hall, Sr.) that took advantage of a young rock music
wannabe (Arch Hall, Jr.). Unlike most of Senior's stories, he
co-starred and wrote the film but let his friend Ray Dennis Steckler
direct the film. Now considering that Hall Senior and Steckler are
considered two of the very worst directors of the 60s (with such
'classics' as EEGAH and RAT PFINK A BOO-BOO to their credits), the film
turned out to be surprisingly watchable. And, surprisingly, Junior's
singing had showed significant improvement since EEGAH. Now this isn't
saying it's a great film, but there was a certain charm about the film
that make it strangely watchable.
Now, five years later, Hershell Gordon Lewis (also in the same league as Senior and Steckler as far as his talents are concerned) has remade WILD GUITAR as BLAST-OFF GIRLS. Oddly, however, Lewis listed himself as the writer and I noticed no credit was given to Steckler or the Halls. Unless I am mistaken, this would indicate that Lewis 'appropriated' the story. What makes this even more shameful is that his version is almost infinitely worse in every way. Here are some of the major differences between the two stories:
1. WILD GUITAR was a rather innocent story and the rock 'n roll singer (Arch Hall, Junior) was sweet and likable. The guys in BLAST-OFF GIRLS were obnoxious pigs.
2. While Junior will never be compared to Elvis or even Frankie Avalon, he was reasonably able to carry a tune...most of the time. The singing and music from BLAST-OFF GIRLS was the worst I have ever heard anywhere...ever. The singing was flat and the music repetitive and just awful. Both featured bands in BLAST-OFF GIRLS simply grated on my eardrums.
3. The bozo who played the sleazy agent in BLAST-OFF GIRLS had no talent whatsoever (except, perhaps, as a panderer). Hall, Sr. wasn't bad at all and in fact was the best actor in WILD GUITAR. I've always thought he was more talented than his son and wished he'd done more acting other than bit parts in the rest of the films he wrote and produced.
4. The dialog, script and everything about BLAST-OFF GIRLS was annoying vomit--not just vomit. I hated every minute of the film.
5. BLAST-OFF GIRLS was 'sexed up' and was a more adult and sleazy film. As I said above, there was a certain likable charm about WILD GUITAR. BLAST-OFF GIRLS had no charm, charisma or anything positive about it.
So, unless you have a traumatic head injury, you would safely assume I hated BLAST-OFF GIRLS and have nothing positive to say about it. Even for bad movie fans the film is a joke, as the music is SO bad it hurt and you are also left wondering why you shouldn't just see WILD GUITAR instead.
I give this one a 1 and while this may sound horrible, Lewis actually made several worse films, such as MONSTER A GO-GO and THIS STUFF'LL KILL YA. Surprisingly, Lewis did manage to make one film that is better than all the rest and actually is worth seeing (TWO THOUSAND MANIACS)--proving that if you let anyone write/direct/produce a film, sooner or later they'll accidentally make a decent movie.
By the way, although the movie was terrible, there was one odd but funny addition. Apparently, Colonel Harlan Sanders (of KFC fame) wanted to get some product placement and I am assuming he either helped finance the film or feed the crew because there is a KFC logo in the opening credits AND a totally irrelevant scene with the Colonel!! In the middle of the film, the band goes to KFC to eat and the Colonel is there--telling the boys that there's free chicken for them if they'll play a few tunes for his customers. Then, as he's bring out chicken, the Colonel does an impromptu little dance in the parking lot! Believe it or not this is not the only time the Colonel did this, as he also appeared in another schlock film, Al Adamson's HELL'S BLOODY DEVILS. While the films both were awful, the Colonel was clearly a marketing genius and master of self-promotion.
Possibly one of the worst films ever made, I was thoroughly
entertained. This is a 60's rock band film where they tried to cash in
on the irreverence of films like Help and the TV show The Monkeys, only
focusing on the dark side of the business, drugs and prostitutes.
The original score has several songs played badly, but they knew it - it was part of the plot. The lyrics are dark and cynical, which is a refreshing change from the happy pop songs of mainstream music oriented films of its day.
If you like a little high camp with your rock, this is the film for you. An out of place cameo by Col. Sanders of KFC fame is an added bonus.
This movie is about a weasley looking, sheisty talent agent/promoter who
thinks he's found pay-dirt when he comes across a funky looking band
the Big Blast.
Thinking there really dumb he goes about booking gigs for them, changing their image with tacky looking suits that would make you want to puke. Soon they get fed up with it and demand more money, so what does the greaseball do, he sets them up on a planned "dope" bust. He hires a goon to pretend to be a cop to snare them, and then blackmail them to work for the weasel promoter for free. Whats even more crazy is he hires young awesome looking lasses to disrupt the gigs to create hype for the band. What a con!!
This film is filled with great gigs of the band jamming, lots of cool pot parties with groupies. This movie is by far the best from the 60's about rock 'n roll bands trying to make it in the big black world.
Just for the Hell of It -- the sequel to She-Devils on Wheels -- is packaged on a double disk with another of Saint Hershell's masterpieces: Blast-Off Girls. I haven't watched JftHoI pending our next Exploitation Film Festival, but BOG charts unfamiliar territory for Saint Hershell: the rock 'n' roll flick. Unabashedly promoted as St. Hershell's "Hard Day's Night," Blast-Off Girls centers around a by-now familiar HGL archetype, the charmless blond man with inexplicable preternatural powers over all the babes in the vicinity, and his usage of these powers to direct a corps of three (3) geriatric but extremely tarted-up go-go chicks (actually, they're hens) to appear to be a screaming horde of teeny-boppers to beset what is likely the very rock-bottom jaw-dropping worst five-man combo in garage rock history, thus making them seem like the next Beatles. Zany antics ensue. Though the lead actor is good, he's no Tony McCabe; his presence is notable mainly for his ability to corrupt a straight-laced cop with reefer and his enviable collection of seasonal-colored jackets from Chadwick's of Boston. Best moments: chicken theme reaches zenith with extended and very special appearance of Mr. Rock & Roll HimSelf: Col. Sanders.
If you are going to waste 2-3 hours of your life watching these movies,
might as well check out Blast-Off Girls for the Colonel Sanders (yes, THAT
Colonel Sanders) cameo. You can actually hear him talk.
Other than that, these movies are almost interchangeable. In fact, at first I thought I was accidently restarting the same movie twice.
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