Wednesday, April 13, 2011

HUMAN HIGHWAY - Neil Young-Devo "Jack It Up" (1982)

I like both Neil Young and those De-evolutioned guys a lot, so when I got my grubby little mitts on "Human Highway" a couple of years ago, I was ecstatic to say the least, and believe me, if you really like music, you'll want to see this movie!

Unfortunately with the recent death, destruction, and upheaval in Japan, anything to do with out of control radiation isn't funny, and even though this film is very anti-nuclear, I just find it kind of distasteful to show the Spud Boys in their glowing jumpsuits right now, so I'll just move on.

The basic storyline is simple enough, Neil Young as Lionel Switch is a mechanic in a garage next to a roadside diner out in the desert somewhere in between L.A. and Vegas near a leaking nuclear power plant! He's joined here by his best pal, Russ Tamblyn as Fred, on his way to work! You will recognize Russ Tamblyn from his "Tom Thumb," "West Side Story," "The War of the Gargantuas," and "Dracula vs. Frankenstein" days! Russ's brother Larry was the singer and organist in that awesome 60's "Dirty Water," "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White" band, The Standells!!

The truly amazing Dean Stockwell is Otto Quartz, the guy who inherited the diner from his recently deceased father, Old Otto. Dean Stockwell was "The Boy With The Green Hair" in 1948, "The Werewolf Of Washington" in 1973, Duke Nukem in 9 episodes of "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" in the early 90's, and shortly after that, Admiral Al Calavicci in 97 episodes of "Quantum Leap," and that just scratches the surface. He also co-wrote and co-directed "The Human Highway!"

Otto realizes the diner is a loser and decides to torch it for the insurance money, but in the meantime, he's gotta lay off somebody, because Fred's going to work for him for free! The sign on the door says, "Come In, We're Closed!" The Dinettes are Sally Kirkland as Kathryn(Sally was in a 1965 flick called "13 Beautiful Women" as a 'beautiful woman' and if that ain't enough, Sally is still very active, and has a bunch of stuff in production today), Charlotte Stewart as Charlotte (Charlotte somehow managed to segue from Mary X in "Eraserhead" to 45 episodes of "Little House On The Prairie" as Eva Beadle Simms), and Geraldine Baron("Targets") as Irene! They're joined by the cook named Cracker played by the infamous Dennis Hopper! Dennis had dual roles and also appeared as Stranger! What a cast!!

Along with various license plates, Lionel has his garage decorated with a poster of his musical hero Frankie Fontaine! Lionel believes that he himself, could really be a musician someday if he wanted to!

The luck of the gods brings Frankie Fontaine's limo to Lionel's garage for some emergency repairs, and Lionel is beside himself!!

There is a great exchange between Lionel and Frankie through the car window! The part of Frankie Fontaine "alive and in person" is played by Bernard Shakey, aka Neil Young, and Neil does such a mind-boggling job, I'm still not sure if I believe it's really him!

The music plays on and is a very cool, but twisted version of "Mr. Soul!"

Fred helps Lionel get situated underneath the limo, and then Lionel knocks himself out with a wrench while he's laying on the creeper removing the drain plug which induces a real shift in the gears of that transmission and.........

............a krazy psych-o-delicatatonic dream where Lionel is a rock star! Hey, this movie is just getting warmed up! Check out the headlines!

Buffalo Springfield, Devo, and Pearl Jam, who else but Neil Young could bridge those kind of gaps?

I admit it, I didn't know completely what the Hell was going on half the time, and especially during the dream sequence, it was just like some kind of a wacky music video!

Cut to Neil and Devo and my favorite part of the whole film, playing an insane 8 minute live version of "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)" with Mark Mothersbaugh as the "Booji Boy" doing the vocals!

I think it just might be one of movie rock and roll's finest moments, and just like everything else in "Human Highway," you can bet your sweet bippy that it's no coincidence that Neil Young is wearing a "Never Mind The Bullocks" tee shirt!

The Spud Boys really kick it up a notch, and give "Hey Hey, My My" a new vitality, and a brilliant combination of new and old!!

I think these three shots epitomize what's going on here, and as far as I know this is the only time that Devo and Neil Young recorded anything together, and it's a good one!!

The dream goes on for 15 or 20 minutes, but Lionel was only out for a few seconds, and when he comes to.........'s time for the big "A Worried Man" whole cast ensemble dance number to usher out the end of the world as we know it, with nuclear weapons! "A Worried Man" was originally recorded by The Kingston Trio in 1962! The Kingston Trio were so popular, they had 5 number one albums, and 14 top ten albums, and I'll bet a lot of them were stashed in fallout shelters!

Last but not least, Frankie Fontaine gives his humble opinion!

I don't know, I guess just put your head between your legs and kiss your ass good-bye! It was fun while it lasted!


TABONGA! said...

Since you mentioned The Standells, here's a little tidbit - In June, 1994, I was in a San Fernando Valley band called The Beasleys. Our first gig was in Tarzana at the Dirty-Water Cafe, just opened by guitarist and founder of The Standells, Tony Valentino. Our lead guitarist's strains were so damn sonic that we totally pissed the poor guy off and he told us to leave - To make things worse, our guitarist kept on playing!! Ahh, the good old days!

Rev. Spike Beasley said...

Too bad I don't have that one on video. (At least I don't have it on VHS... now you got me thinking!)

I do have (and just watched the "10 Seconds of Silicone over Hollywood" show, though.)

Javier said...

Is there any website where i can watch this movie? Thanks!

EEGAH!! said...

Not that I know of Javier!

Javier said...

Thanks EEGAH!!

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