"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...
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A concert movie showing a performance by the much-loved 1973 incarnation of the Mothers of Invention. An incredible cast of musicians treat us to a selection of blistering, pointillist jazz... See full summary »
Napoleon Murphy Brock
Using takes and rehearsals discarded from the original edit plus interviews made during the shooting, Zappa reconstructs the bizarre story of 200 Motels, one of the most problematic ... See full synopsis »
Phyllis Smith Altenhaus,
BBC Symphony Orchestra
In a little over an hour, 'VIDEO FROM HELL' provides a preview of current and projected Honker releases, including 'BABY SNAKES', 'THE TRUE STORY OF 200 MOTELS' and 'UNCLE MEAT' (all 1987 ... See full summary »
Phyllis Smith Altenhaus,
Due to be crowned King of the Netherworld by his mentor Merlin the Magician at a monster's convention Count Downe, the son of Count Dracula, falls in love with the beautiful but human Amber... See full summary »
Abandoned by his father at an early age, Jim MacLaine seems to have inherited the old man's restlessness. Despite his apparent intelligence, Jim decides not to take the exams that would ... See full summary »
"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
Should you watch this film? I believe the following questions may be a decent guide to making this decision. Are you a Zappa fan who likes many of his different musical phases? If so, then this is a must. Are you a casual Zappa fan, partial to newer stuff only? If so, then approach with caution. Do you like very bizarre sequences put together seemingly at random? If so, this is a must. If you hate that kind of thing, then you will probably hate this. When in doubt, have a backup ready so you can switch to that if you lose patience. Oh, and guys out there, I wouldn't recommend showing this to your girlfriend unless she is a big Zappa fan. By all means, I do NOT recommend planning a romantic evening with a girl with standard pop culture tastes that is bookended by playing her samples of your Magma and King Crimson collection and then ending with a screening of 200 Motels, not even as an experiment. Trust me, I have tried this (once) and the results were not good. But I digress...
What do you get from 200 motels? Random weirdness and silliness with a very 1965-1970 feel to it, kind of like a strangely lighthearted feverish dream. You also get some very interesting music of highly variable quality and some great in-jokes that you will find hilarious if you have followed Zappa's career. I will never again be able to drive past a town named "Centerville" (there are lots of these in the midwest USA) without having that Flo and Eddie zombie-like sequence flash through my head. I would certainly not consider this a good film or anywhere close to a good film. But it is certainly oddly interesting.
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