duBEAT-e-o

Retro Review: duBEAT-e-o (We’re All Crazy Now), 1984
By Krista Cameron

Ever seen a really bad car accident and try to look away, but you can’t?  This isn’t like that. This is one of the most confusing, fucked up pieces of cinema I’ve seen. It’s kind of like being in a car accident instead, and El Duce is driving and Ray Sharkey is in the other car high as shit.

duBEAT-e-o is making a movie. The mafia finances the movie and he is given a deadline of 31 hours to finish it.  Featuring one of the oddest mashups of performances, filler and commentary, we see almost fifty minutes of footage from a movie that was being made in the 70′s called ‘We’re all crazy now’ with Joan Jett, Cheryl ‘Rainbeaux’ Smith and two other actresses portraying the other runaways.  Filming started right after the band broke up, Joan being the only one opting to do the project. Eventually it ran out of money and the footage was scrapped. Until 1984 when Joan was a huge solo success and it was bought up, and duBEAT-e-o was born. We see Joan smiling and singing on stage and a few other venues, acting and playing out a sort of day in the life of a the Runaways scenario, with nightmarish imagery spliced in with polaroid’s of sex, death, weird porn, basically anything disturbing, along with a strangely placed performance by the Mentors, guest spots by Texacala Jones, Johanna Went, El Duce, and Derf Scratch from Fear, playing duBEAT-e-o’s cough syrup addicted editor.

So we’ve got a Joan Jett musical that’s nearly five years old, El Duce rambling along with the directors and duBEAT-e-o and ‘Benny’ or ‘Benito’ as he calls his editor, the weird polaroid’s (some featuring dead cats with their necks broken, illicit sex and drug paraphernalia, classy.) While all this is going on, duBEAT-e-o (Sharkey) truly does try to stick to his character. He gives a speech about how art is patience, and talent must come out, regardless. Honestly, it just sounds like El Duce talking about his bathroom habits.

This film within a film within a long running commentary ran into financial problems. The directors, Alan Sacks and Marc Sheffler, El Duce and others talk through the entire film about a score of subjects. The worst is when they start degrading Jett. Many wonder why she never sued the production and let this film be distributed (as limited as it was).  We seeduBEAT-e-o’s thought process being narrated; paranoia mixes with panic attacks, as we’re treated to scenes induBEAT-e-o’s apartment, where the film is being edited. It’s dark, dusky, and cluttered. We see duBEAT-e-o hook up with a blonde woman who gives very little explanation as to why she’s there. She returns after duBEAT-e-o explains that he invited her back to their 31-hour session after he dropped her at weight watchers. Cute.

I once read a review of Hanoi Rocks newest cd and it was five words: “I got a new Frisbee.” This is pretty close. I can’t make much sense of it, I found myself wincing at some of the imagery (yeah, dead cats). I don’t want to see it again. I feel like I need take a shower, change my sheets and file charges. It was hard to watch. I don’t recommend it. Even if you’re a Jett fan, this will probably just piss you off.  I did however pick up a few Jett songs in the background I know I’ll go back and look up.

Here’s the upside: It’s got a good soundtrack: Early Social Distortion, TSOL, Tex and the Horseheads. It’s a small consolation to have some good music in a film like this. Social Distortion shines.

*M.G.B.’s, The   Stickball (Excerpt)
*Rainbow Smith And The L.A. Girls     Sure
*M.G.B.’s, The  I Am Du BEAT-e-o (duBEAT-e-o’s Theme)
*Social Distortion     Wasn’t A Pretty Picture
*M.G.B.’s, The     Looking For Benny
*Chuck E. Weiss     Sidekick
*Renea Inouye     I Was Dancing With You Under The Amethyst Sky
*Tex And The Horseheads    Ice Cold Beer
*Even Worse     We Suck
*Social Distortion     Creeps
*M.G.B.’s, The     The Story So Far
*Social Distortion     Hour Of Darkness
*Zachary     A Little Lesson In The Movie Biz
*Dr. Know (3) Fist Fuck
*Johanna Went     Benny’s Nightmare
*M.G.B.’s, The Final Countdown
*Mentors, The   Get Up And Die
*Mark Wheaton     Du BEAT-e-o’s Breakdown
*Alan Slacks     A Comment By The Films Producer

Unfortunately, I’ve only seen this soundtrack for sale for a three-figure sum. The movie was released to several film festivals and had a short distribution in 1984. In the early 1990′s, it was bootlegged and passed around. As for the movie, it’s also hard to find. Which may be a good thing.  If you really want to watch duBEAT-e-o, it’s available on streaming sites and YouTube has a five-part highlight (lowlight?) chain of clips. I watched it twice in full. I don’t think I need to venture down this particularly dark and nonsensical rabbit hole again.