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200 Motels (1971)

"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the... See full summary »

Directors:

,

Writers:

(story and screenplay), (shooting script) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Volman ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
Howard Kaylan ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
Ian Underwood ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
Aynsley Dunbar ...
Member of Mothers of Invention
...
Member of Mothers of Invention
...
Rance Muhammitz / Dave
...
The Hot Nun
...
...
Groupie #1 (as Janet Ferguson)
Martin Lickert ...
Jeff
Lucy Offerall ...
Groupie #2
Dick Barber ...
Bif Debris - The Vacuum Cleaner
Don Preston ...
Don
...
Interviewer (as Pamela Miller)
Ruth Underwood ...
Fake Drummer
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Storyline

"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the Mothers and the Royal Symphony Orchestra, is a tale of life on the road. The band members' main concerns are the search for groupies and the desire to get paid. Written by George S. Davis

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

|

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 November 1971 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels  »

Box Office

Budget:

$679,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cited as the first British-made example of the videotape-to-film process. See more »

Quotes

Larry The Dwarf: [to the viewers] Hello there. When you go on tour with a musical group, it's possible any town could look seem this. Whether it's large or small, busy or nothing happening in it. The reason for this is quite simple. As a musician, if you consider the normal pattern of modern civilized life, it's on the outside of your own. He doesn't build things. He doesn't work regular hours like a decent, God-fearing citizen. And the life he leads in many ways seems useless and irrelevant to those who prefer ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are super-imposed over a number of production-related documents, including sheet music, scripts, shooting directions, memos and expense reports. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Indestructible Man (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bizarre!
18 February 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

There is no film quite like 200 Motels, but a lot of its very strange appearance (especially when viewed on a cinema screen) is due to its videotape source. (Actually, it isn't the first film released theatrically, to have been originated on this medium. One of the versions of Jean Harlow's biography to be released in 1965 used something called 'Electronovision', which is much the same thing, although it seems suspiciously like an afterthought over a successful TV play in that case.) The 1971 double album was my introduction to Zappa's music, back in 1973, and I first saw this film in 1978, on a double bill with - wait for it - Annie Hall. Now, that's bizarre. I was mesmerised by this messy production, but everyone in the cinema, including my friends, seemed to hate it. Even by 1978, the effects were dated, and the sound quality left a lot to be desired. However, ten years later, when I saw the film in on VHS, I scooped it up, and I still enjoy it.

More satire and music would have been welcome in place of the cast and orchestra being forced to recite childish swearwords, although it must be realised that this is an exercise to defuse the effect of 'bad language', much as Shaw did with Pygmalion (the original play has the word 'bloody' repeated over and over, opposed to achieving the comedy shock effect as in the 1938 movie) There are some very well worked out scenes, such as the stars' dressing-room/racehorse chute sequence, and the dialogue between Jim Black and Theodor Bikel, and maybe sufficient time and budget would have yielded more of the same.

The music was sufficient to launch me into thirty years of collecting Zappa's music, and I still enjoy it today - it's more fulfilling to listen to than the movie is to watch, but the movie is worth seeing, as long as you are not expecting anything too coherent.

In amongst the confusion is a worthwhile film about groupies, and genius, and the sadness, as opposed to the glamour, of the life of rock stars, and I can't help feeling that someone with fifty million dollars to spend could do worse than remake this. It's about time Zappa's output reached a wider audience. Stop remaking films that were fine as they were, you guys. We didn't need another Planet of the Apes, Tim Burton! Do a film about Frank Zappa. Johnny Depp could play Frank!


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