Twelve years ago, when I was working in a video store that was selling off its VHS inventory, a coworker put a used copy of this terrible movie in my hands. It’s hard to convey how seedy the tape looked and felt—unevenly shrinkwrapped with the aid of a hair dryer, blazoned with a yellow paper sticker advertising a sale price of $3.99. Of course, I loved punk and metal ephemera, the more degraded and disgusting the better; but something about this particular tape just seemed gross. However, I reasoned that it couldn’t be all bad, since they’d stolen The Screamers’ logo for the box. Boy, was I wrong.
Five years before duBEAT-e-o, there was a movie in the works called We’re All Crazy Now that was to have starred The Runaways. Although the Runaways broke up in the spring of 1979, filming went ahead that summer with Joan Jett and three actresses playing the band. In September, Billboard reported:
Set Runaways Film
LOS ANGELES—Production has started on the feature motion picture “We’re All Crazy Now,” loosely based on the career of the all-girl rock act the Runaways. The Zane-Helpern independent production stars Arte Johnson, Runaways’ member Joan Jett and former Herman’s Hermits leader Peter Noone. Cheryl Smith, Karen and Kathy Fallentine round out the cast as the remainder of the original Runaways.
(Yes, that is Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith of Caged Heat fame. And who could forget those great “original Runaways,” Karen and Kathy Fallentine?)
The production fell apart and the movie was abandoned. Somehow, by 1984, the footage wound up in the hands of producer Alan Sacks, the creative genius behind Welcome Back, Kotter, Chico and the Man, and, more recently, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Sacks cast Ray Sharkey as an editor who—get this—is assigned to make a movie out of some old footage of Joan Jett! (I think this is what the credits are referring to when they say the movie is “Based on an idea by Alan Sacks.” Wherever does he get his ideas?) Rounding out the cast this time were El Duce of The Mentors, Derf Scratch of FEAR, and performance artist Johanna Went.
I would recommend heroin addiction before I would recommend watching the whole movie, but I would also guess that Mentors fans (people of discriminating taste) are slightly less likely to hate it than Joan Jett fans. Aside from the We’re All Crazy Now footage and a handful of original scenes, the movie is a desultory montage of Ed Colver punk photos, smut Polaroids, religious kitsch, comic book covers and stills of El Duce cavorting with unlucky women. While these images roll by, members of the cast and crew gab in voiceover, sounding wasted and bored. Sure, it sounds like fun now, but give it three minutes.
The most enthusiastic review of duBEAT-e-o came from The Psychotronic Video Guide:
“This thing is nuts! It played in theaters!”
Three minutes of duBEAT-e-o: