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Something Weird Video presents
Just for the Hell of It / Blast-Off Girls (1968/1967)

"Listen, you young morons will never work again!"
- Boojie Baker (Dan Conway)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: March 17, 2001

Stars: Ray Sager, Dan Conway
Other Stars: Colonel Sanders, Agi Gyenes, Nancy Lee Noble
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, sexual situations, drug use)
Run Time: 02h:44m:35s
Release Date: March 06, 2001
UPC: 014381974027
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- DC-D+ A

DVD Review

Something Weird Video continues its Drive-In Double Feature series with this disc featuring two of Herschell Gordon Lewis' late-1960s exploitation movies, Just for the Hell of It and The Blast-Off Girls. Lewis is best known for his pioneering gore efforts like Blood Feast, but he dabbled in just about every low-budget genre possible in the 1960s. Both of his features here purport to deal with "troubled youth" in a frank, daring way, though all they really do is fill 83 minutes of screen time as inexpensively as possible.

Just for the Hell of It

"You damn kids!" - Harassed Lady

A gang of angry youths commits random acts of violence wherever they go, and an innocent young man is blamed for their actions by an incredibly incompetent police force. Gang leader Dexter (Ray Sager) and good guy Doug (Rodney Bedell) apparently were friends at one time, but are now mortal enemies. When Doug's girlfriend Jeanne (Agi Gyenes) is attacked by Dexter and friends, a high-speed chase ends in tragedy.

Just for the Hell of It seems an appropriate title, as the gang's violence is never adequately motivated, and most of the action is comically inept. Budget limitations force our anti-heroes to commit such vile, heinous acts as: stealing a blind man's cane; ripping up patrons' magazines in a doctor's waiting room; and starting a conflagration in a woman's front yard, then squirting HER with the hose instead of the fire. They also beat up on little kids playing baseball, put a young child in a trash can and destroy his baby carriage, and dump water on hapless passersby, before getting down to the more traditional business of rape and murder.

H.G. Lewis' characteristically low production values are on full display here. Some shots are interminable and pointless, as though no film consumed could go unused; reaction shots often seem completely out of context, and much of the dialogue is obscured by background noise or obviously dubbed over footage shot MOS. Interior sets are uniformly cheap-looking (particularly in a "diner" where the kitchen consists of a stove, two pots and a vast expanse of green wall) and signs important to the plot appear to have been hastily scrawled on posterboard. A "Big Blast" poster left over from Blast-Off Girls turns up in one scene, and the film's earnestly air-headed theme song, Destruction, is hilarious if you can make out the lyrics.

Blast-Off Girls

"Frankly, I hear they're all on Pot and LSD."- Random Authority Figure

More light-hearted than Just for the Hell of It, Blast-Off Girls concerns the adventures of a struggling bar band after they are reinvented as "The Big Blast" by a serpentine rock promoter named Boojie Baker (Dan Conway). The dimwitted performers enter into ever more draconian contracts with the profit-stealing Baker, before wising up and rebelling outrageously during a TV appearance.

This one could have worked if it had been written and executed with a little comic flair. As it is, it's often deadly dull, and it strains credibility far too often. Boojie's wide-ranging influence depends entirely upon his bevy of Blast-Off Girls, whose sexual prowess is apparently sufficient to cloud level-headed record producers' artistic judgment, as well as convincing police detectives to overlook marijuana infractions which are otherwise "sure to ruin your careers" (in 1967?). The band sounds terrible throughout, and their shortcomings are emphasized by several excruciating, full-length musical numbers used to pad the running time.

Lewis again spares every expense—much of the film is shot in hotel rooms, in bars, and on cheap, half-dressed sets. None of the actors seem to be having much fun, except for Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, who agrees to feed the band for free if they play some "nice soft music" for him. The venerable fast-food icon comes across as bewildered but good-natured in his cameo appearance, and it's fun to watch him "exit" one scene, only to turn around and watch the action, unaware that he's still in the shot.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes
Anamorphicnoyes


Image Transfer Review: Something Weird Video presents each film in what appears to be its proper aspect ratio - 1.33:1 full-frame for Just for the Hell of It, and 1.66:1 letterbox for Blast-Off Girls. (H.G. Lewis movies aren't exactly renowned for excellence in cinematography, so I'm guessing the occasional offscreen speaker or jerky camera pan is due to the source, not a sign of video butchery.) Neither source print is in great shape—jumps, splices, dirt and scratches turn up fairly frequently—and the DVD appears to have been sourced from video, with red/blue aliasing on fine patterns, weak color and a general lack of definition. The films have "gone pink" to some degree, and dark scenes suffer from extremely poor shadow detail. Mr. Lewis must accept the blame for unstable light levels and dirty lenses in several shots, and pristine prints of these films are probably very hard to come by. Still, the DVD transfer could have been handled with a little more care—the presentation works against the desired "time warp" effect.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Something Weird Video presents this material in its original monophonic audio format, encoded in true Dolby Digital 1.0. The low-budget sources were never all that great to begin with—clipped, noisy optical audio; tinny "live" music; annoying hums and echoes, and dialogue obscured by wind noise and passing cars are par for the course in the land of Lewis. I'm sure the digital transfer is as clean as can be expected, but the audio is generally pretty awful.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Alley Tramp, The Gore Gore Girls, The Psychic, Something Weird, Suburban Roulette (two trailers), This Stuff'll Kill Ya!, The Year of the Yahoo!
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. A Hot Night at the Go-Go Lounge Short
  2. Facts of Life Drive-In Book Pitch
  3. 3 Sets of Intermission Shorts
  4. Gallery of Drive-In Exploitation Art with Trash-O-Rama Radio Rarities
Extras Review: Something Weird Video's Just for the Hell of It / Blast-Off Girls Drive-In Double Feature really earns its keep in the extras department. The extensive vintage exploitation and drive-in supplements make this disc a must-own for anyone with an interest in the genre and its context. All of this footage is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame with Dolby Digital 1.0 audio - most of it is in rather poor condition, but it's still great stuff:

Short: A Hot Night at the Go-Go Lounge:

A bizarre one-reel musical short, which starts with three minutes' worth of generic bongo-playing dance party footage, then suddenly goes topless as two rather bored-looking, badly-lit female dancers flaunt their wares for the remaining seven minutes.

Facts of Life Drive-In Book Pitch:

Fifteen minutes of pure marketing in the grand Kroger Babb style, as a "medical expert" interrupts the feature to push a pair of sex manuals for men and women. The sanctimonious pitch is low-key but high-pressure, and it drags on entirely too long. Still, it's fun to imagine curious drive-in patrons turning their headlights on to inform the staff that they wish to pony up $2 for each book, or $3 for the "complete set" of two. Presumably this in-car service was less embarrassing than braving the fluorescent glare of the refreshment counter to learn more about impotence, frigidity, masturbation, and topics "unsuitable for discussion in mixed company."

Exploitation Trailers:

The hallmark of exploitation has always been its hyperbolic emphasis on marketing, and these trailers are almost certainly more entertaining than the films they were designed to sell. This batch includes the original trailers for Just for the Hell of It and Blast-Off Girls, as well as promos for the black & white proto-porn film, The Alley Tramp; Lewis' bloody stripper flick The Gore Gore Girls; the indescribable The Psychic and Something Weird; smarmy swinging drama Suburban Roulette (with two different trailers), as well as Lewis' hillbilly comedies This Stuff'll Kill Ya! and The Year of the Yahoo!. All are over-the-top and promise much more than the films deliver, and I believe H.G. Lewis himself narrates several of them.

3 Sets of Intermission Shorts:

Three solid sets of hard-sell, mouth-watering spots promoting hot dogs, hamburgers, meatball sandwiches, cigarettes, the "Flamer" brand electric football, corn dogs, fish sandwiches, hot chocolate and other snack counter delicacies. Highlights include a totally 1960s animated Pepsi clip, a local ad for a far-out clothing emporium, and civic-minded sloganeering (usually accompanied by an exhortation to return the speaker to its cradle before leaving the drive-in lot!)

Gallery of Drive-In Exploitation Art with Trash-O-Rama Radio Rarities:

Something Weird enhances a fine display of exploitation flyers, newspaper ads and one-sheets with a set of drive-in audio recordings captured at the Skyline (or Skylan?) Drive-In. The establishment apparently played music and made announcements over the speaker system prior to each feature presentation, some of which are preserved for posterity here. The laid-back announcer promotes upcoming movies like Teenagers from Outer Space with deadpan earnestness, and some of the crowd-pleasing special events announced are amazing. I would dearly love to have attended "Criminally Insane Night," during which "the criminally insane will be on display in cages for your protection!"

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Something Weird Video's Just for the Hell of It / Blast-Off Girls Double Feature disc presents two of Herschell Gordon Lewis' cheesiest teen exploitation flicks in splendiferous drive-in style. The films aren't nearly as entertaining as their ad campaigns, and I can't really recommend either of them, but the disc's supplemental collection of trailers, intermission shorts and 1960s trash treasures makes this DVD well worth owning.

 


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