Sunday, May 15, 2011

Phil attends the Midnites for Maniacs "Whitey Can Rock" Triple Feature at the Castro Theatre-May 13, 2011

Before I begin tonight's reviews, I just wanted to say to all of you Happy Friday the 13th! Hope you had a fun day today. I sure did, and it only got better! After a long day at work, I traveled to the city by the bay, San Francisco, where at the historic Castro Theatre, they were showing a titanic-sized triple feature. The series is called Midnites for Maniacs, which is hosted by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. Tonight's theme was "Whitey Can Rock." and featured two of my all-time favorite films, while the third film is a lost classic that really does beg to be rediscovered. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Original Movie Poster (1979)
The first movie of the night was the B-Movie classic ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. Directed by Allan Arkush and produced by the legendary Roger Corman, the film was released by New World Pictures in 1979. The film stars P.J. Soles, Dey Young, Vincent Van Patten, Clint Howard, Mary Woronov, and the greatest punk band of all time, the Ramones.

If you have never seen this film, for crying out loud! Where have you been living in? A cave? Under a very large rock? C'mon people, it doesn't get any better than this! Teenage rebellion, high school pranks, P.J. Soles in lingerie, and of course, an amazing soundtrack by the Ramones. When the film was originally released, it bombed at the box office, but then it gained a new lease on life when it was shown as a midnight show. Soon it became a cult classic, and is now a tribute to Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee Ramone, which all of them have passed away since the release of the film. The print that was shown was an 32 year-old print, complete with scathes, hisses, and pops. It was awesome!!

Before the screening, Ficks invited the film's screenwriter Joseph McBride onstage for a quick interview. Afterwards McBride signed copies of his various books that he has written over the years. This reviewer was able to get Mr. McBride to sign my Blu-Ray copy of ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL!! Thanks again Joseph!! I'll be seeing you again in July!!

Original Movie Poster (1980)
After a very brief intermission, the show continued with the night's second feature THE BLUES BROTHERS. Directed by John Landis and starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as Elwood and Jake Blues repectivly. Jake is just released from prison, and plans on putting his old band back together to save the Catholic home that he and his brother Elwood were raised at. They're "on a mission from God" as Elwood likes to say throughout the movie.The film also boasts some of the best performances ever captured: James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles are fantastic. The film is also well known for having one the best car chase scenes ever, which you must see to believe! Trust me, it's that damn cool!!

One of the very first Saturday Night Live scetches to be translated for the big screen, the film was DOA at the box office, but it's now regarded as a classic. The film print shown was flawless; crisp, clean with hardly any scratches. Pretty impressive, especially for a print that is now 31 years old!

Original Movie Poster (1982)
The last film of the night was OUT OF THE BLUE, which is really a lost film. I had never even heard of the film, and I take pride in researching long, lost, overlooked, and forgotten films. I don't know how I missed this one, but I'm very happy to have seen this. This was the most beautiful, gut-wrenching, thoughtful, cynical, depressing, nihilistic film I have ever seen!

Directed by Dennis Hopper, this film just blew me away with it's raw and unflinching look at the life of our main character Cebe (portrayed by the amazing Linda Manz), who's world revolves around Elvis Presley, punk rock, and teenage rebellion. Cebe's father Don (Hopper) is being released from prison after serving five years for crashing his truck into a school bus and killing several children. But Don once again climbs into the bottom of the bottle to drown his troubles. Her mother Kathy (Sharon Farrel) is a junkie who has an affair with her drug dealer, who just happens to be Don's good friend. Cebe is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most punk character to ever grace the silver screen. Manz's performance is so powerful and riviting, you cannot take your eyes of her. Just an incredible film, and the perfect ending to tonight's festivites.

What an evening this was! Three amazing films, so diverse from one another, yet similar in certain aspects. I cannot wait for next month's triple feature event. To learn more about Midnites for Maniacs and to see upcoming shows, visit their website at To view upcoming shows at the Castro Theatre visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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