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Roadie

Roadie

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Today’s feature is a rock & roll musical comedy starring Meat Loaf. Buckle up, because it is 1980’s Roadie.

The screenplay for Roadie was written by Michael Ventura and Big Boy Medlin, the latter of whom was a journalist who conceived of the central character, and went on to be an executive at E! Entertainment. Story credit for the film was also given to director Alan Rudolph, who helmed movies like Breakfast of Champions, The Secret Lives of Dentists, and Afterglow, and executive producer Zalman King.

The cinematographer for Roadie was David Myers, who is best known for documentaries like Marjoe and Woodstock, but also shot George Lucas’s debut movie, THX 1138.

The editor for the film was Tom Walls, who also cut Surf Ninjas, Mac And Me, Bachelor Party, and Mortal Thoughts.

ROADIE, Meat Loaf (aka Marvin Lee Aday), 1980, © United ArtistsOutside of Zalman King, the producers for Roadie included John Pommer, who was a production manager on The Great Santini, Walking Tall, and Paths of Glory, and Carolyn Pfeiffer, who also produced the Vanilla Ice vehicle, Cool As Ice.

The musical score for Roadie was composed by Craig Huxley, who also provided the music for the movie Alligator, wrote the theme song for Walker, Texas Ranger, and provided sound work on Motel Hell and Thriller.

The effects team on Roadie included Mike Moschella (Hook, Wild In The Streets), Joyce Rudolph (Teen Wolf, Hider In The House), John Frazier (White Dog, War of the Roses, Hesher), and Howard Jensen (Ed Wood, Rocky IV).

The cast of the movie is made up of Meat Loaf (Fight Club, Crazy In Alabama, Spice World, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Kaki Hunter (Porky’s), Art Carney (Last Action Hero, The Late Show), Soul Train producer Don Cornelius, Gailard Sartain (Fried Green Tomatoes, Mississippi Burning), Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues), and Sonny Carl Davis (Evil Bong, Trancers II).

ROADIE, Meat Loaf, Debbie Harry, 1980, (c) United ArtistsThe plot of Roadie is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A young Texas good ol’ boy has a knack with electronic equipment, and that talent gets him a job as a roadie with a raucous traveling rock-and-roll show.

During the introduction of the character of Travis Redfish, the house shown to be his home is the same one prominently featured in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which is a nod to his character’s Texan origin.

Roadie is filled with cameos from across the music industry, with screen time given to icons like Roy Orbison, Deborah Harry of Blondie, Alice Cooper, and Hank Williams Jr.. Interestingly, the cameo by Alice Cooper was initially meant for Mick Jagger, who wasn’t available to film.

Roadie received a number of alternate titles for international markets, given that the slang term ‘roadie’ doesn’t translate well. The Spanish-language title was Los Locos Caminos Del Rock (which translates to The Crazy Roads of Rock), while the Italian title was similarly Roadie: Le Strade Del Rock (The Road of Rock).

roadie3I couldn’t find a production budget estimate for Roadie, but the financial details I did dig up indicated that it grossed under $5 million in its lifetime theatrical run in the United States, which is unlikely to have been very profitable (if at all), depending on how much money was sunk into it.

The reception to Roadie was generally negative: it currently holds an IMDb user rating of 5.0, along with Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 17% from critics and 56% from audiences.

Roadie is a very strange movie that I’m not quite sure how to classify. It walk and talks like a comedy, but there are no jokes to be found anywhere in this movie. The only attempts at humor come from the honest ignorance of Meat Loaf’s character, or the occasional concussion symptoms. There are also a handful of colorful and outlandish characters, but nothing about them is specifically funny. Meat Loaf’s father watches television, Meat Loaf’s sister has a grating voice, and so on, and so on.

roadie1Meat Loaf’s character isn’t even particularly consistent: sometimes he is a child-like simpleton, sometimes he is a wizard-tier engineer capable of fixing extra-terrestrial vehicles, and other times he’s just a brash, conservative asshat. To Meat Loaf’s credit, he sells the portrayal at each one of these turns, but it feels like a bunch of different people rather than a singular character.

The primary love interest of the movie is a 16-year-old aspiring groupie with an obsession with Alice Cooper, and an apparent psychic ability to detect rock songs in radio waves. She is at times purely manipulative, but in other moments a child-like, naive, and honest character. Much like the problem with Meat Loaf’s Travis Redfish, she seems like an entirely different character in any given scene, to the point that the interactions between the two of them are essentially a crapshoot of personalities that could interact in any variety of ways.

Overall, Roadie is a confused, strange movie that rests on top of a very weak screenplay. The music industry cameos are interesting to see, but there isn’t much to the movie outside of that. The final scene, in which Redfish is set to repair a downed UFO, is one of the weirdest shark-jumping conclusions I have ever seen to a movie, but it isn’t nearly enough to save it on the whole. This is an almost entirely forgotten movie, though, and is an interesting deep cut if you happen to stumble across it. It has some redeeming value, but not much. Bad movie fans might give it a shot, but I wouldn’t advise anyone else to seek it out.

Bargain Bin(ge) Las Vegas: Zia Record Exchange – Sahara

Welcome to the newest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them.

Earlier this week, work took me out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. With the limited free time I had, I decided to check out some used media stores in search of DVDs.

lasvegasI wound up visiting two locations of Zia Record Exchange, a chain of used media stores in the Southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada. This particular segment covers the Sahara Avenue location in Las Vegas, not far from the touristy allures of the casinos and hotels.

ziasahara11 ziasahara10 ziasahara8 ziasahara9 ziasahara4 ziasahara3 ziasahara2 ziasahara1The first thing that stood out to me about Zia was the cool ambiance to the place. The walls and signs are all well-decorated and hip, making for a top-notch atmosphere. As the name suggests, it is primarily a record store, but the inclusion of movies is hardly an afterthought: the selection was really fantastic, and I wound up finding a number of films I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in the wild. “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” comes to mind, though the price wasn’t right for me to walk away with it. Likewise, they had copies of “God Told Me To” with Larry Cohen commentary and “Leviathan,” although both were outside of what I wanted to pay.

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All of that said, I still found some good deals, and walked away with a nice stack of DVDs. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, it is worth your time to check out the selection at Zia Record Exchange if you are a fan of rare and cult films.

Cloned

1“Cloned” is a television movie from the early 2000s starring Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing,” “Cabin In The Woods”) and Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”). I’m a big fan of Whitford, but I haven’t seen him do much outside of his snarky, comedic comfort zone. The same goes for Perkins, who became mostly a comic relief player in “Weeds” in the later seasons. This looks to be a pretty heavy drama laced with sci-fi elements, so I’m interested to see how they work with a more somber backdrop.

It Lives Again / Island of the Alive

2I was rather delighted to find a combined copy of Larry Cohen’s sequels to the 1974 classic “It’s Alive,” partially because I have never seen copies of them before, and party because of how outlandish the premises are. Larry Cohen has a knack for finding the sweet spot between horror and comedy, and is one of my favorite b-movie directors along with Stuart Gordon for doing it so well. I’m planning to go through the whole “It’s Alive” trilogy soon, maybe in a multi-week spotlight on Larry Cohen much like I did with Gordon.

Special Effects

3This is another Larry Cohen flick that I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of. I don’t know much about this one, apart from that it is a twisted homage to Hitchcock’s thrillers. The premise of a movie director making a film about a murder he got away with is certainly intriguing, and I’m interested to see how Cohen pulls it off. He can certainly write suspense if “Phone Booth” is any indication, so this should be an interesting watch.

In Too Deep / Glass Shield / Cry, The Beloved Country / License To Kill / Malevolent / A Rage In Harlem / Road Ends / Ice

4I always love grabbing discount movie collections, because you always get your money’s worth in screen time at the very least. As opposed to most horror box sets composed of amateur flicks with awful effects, this action/crime set seems to be mostly built from TV movies featuring bankable stars (Ice Cube, Dennis Hopper, Forrest Whitaker, and Denzel Washington to name a few in here). The most prominent of the bunch on the box is “In Too Deep,” which was directed by Michael Rymer, who has since made a name for himself producing and directing on the hit TV shows “Hannibal” and “Battlestar: Galactica.” I’ll be interested to do more research into this lot, and see if there is some blog material in here.

Roadie

5“Roadie” is apparently a musical comedy starring Meat Loaf. I didn’t read any further into it than that, apart from finding out that the director, Alan Rudolph, was behind the “Breakfast of Champions” film adaptation. I’m assuming that this movie is going to be just awful, but I’m planning to buckle in for the experience.

Transformed

6I don’t know what this movie is, but it involves Fred Williamson, drugs, and martial arts, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. This may have been a mistake.