A long-time employee of the legendary music venue Fillmore East in New York, director Allan Arkush was the right man for this rock-flavoured satire about the preparation and presentation of a gala New Year’s Eve concert told through the eyes of earnest young stage manager, Neil (Daniel Stern).
Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield) is the kindhearted veteran small-time concert promoter pulling the gala show together at his old Art Deco Saturn Theatre and Malcolm McDowell plays an ageing British rockstar named Reggie Wanker (clearly based on Mick Jagger).
The supporting cast runs the gamut from awful – Miles Chapin as Wolfe’s simpering nephew, Sammy Fox and Stacey Nelkin as Neil’s spandexed schoolgirl sister – to awfully weird – Lee Ving, the rabid, cretinous lead singer of L.A. punk band Fear as a rabid, cretinous punk rocker called Piggy; Lou Reed as a 60s folk poet and Dylan clone called Auden; and Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov as a lecherous doctor and a no-nonsense lighting technician, respectively.
The bad guy on the scene is slimy Serpent Records tycoon Colin Beverly who wants Wolfe’s theatre so he can erect an 88-story office building with his name on it.
Decked out in a loose-fitting silver jumpsuit, Ed Begley Jr waddles through the part of Beverly sneering snidely at anyone who looks at him sideways – including his two dunderheaded sidekicks, Mark and Marv played by (no kidding!) Bobby Sherman and Fabian.
Beverly plants a bomb in the Saturn which is set to go off at midnight. The fire marshal vows to shut down the theatre at the sight of the first open flame. A bunch of hippies who are convinced it’s about to turn 1969 arrive with their goats and chickens. And Neil has to get through the men’s room to open a crucial valve to stop any fire which may occur.
There is some fierce, droning rock (courtesy of Fear) that is worked into a sharply choreographed performance by New York dancer/performer Lori Eastside and her group.
Sure, there are gratuitous masturbation jokes, gratuitous drug jokes, gratuitous nude scenes and general gratuitous gratuitousness – including a well-coiffed French poodle being kicked with great, violent zeal from one end of a large room to the other – but as anarchic good cartoonish fun, it’s a laugh.
Ed Begley Jr