Release Date: October, 2nd 1980 (West Germany)
Directed by: Ulli Lommel
Written by: Richard Hell, Ulli Lommel, Robert Madero
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal, Richard Hell
Cast: Richard Hell, Carole Bouquet, Andy Warhol
International Harmony, 90 Minutes
I’ve been a fan of Richard Hell and the Voidoids my whole life. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I discovered that there was a film that serves as a companion piece to his album Blank Generation. Being that I love that album and seeing that Andy Warhol was involved in the film project and it also featured Walter Steding, I had to check it out. Luckily I was able to watch it on Amazon Video.
In a nutshell, it isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination but it is worth your time for the concert footage alone – especially, if you are a fan of Hell. The scene where he is performing live in CBGB is special, considering the recent demise of that historical and cultural landmark. And everything else in this film involving Richard Hell performing is great.
Unfortunately, the film plays like a 1970s porno minus the sex. Here, the sex is the live music performances and everything else is just a poorly constructed plot put into motion by bad acting. Richard Hell is entertaining enough for a bit and Carole Bouquet is incredibly alluring but it doesn’t make up for their inexperience and inability to carry a scene. Also, none of the characters are written coherently and a lot of what happens just doesn’t make sense. As the film rolls on, you care about the main characters less and less.
All in all, this film feels like a vanity project for those involved. But then again, most of the films that felt the touch of Warhol, especially later in his life, had that very vain vibe about them. And that isn’t a knock against Warhol, as I feel that it wasn’t in any way deliberate but maybe he was just drinking too much of his own Kool-Aid by this point. But then, his scene was probably the most iconic feeling part of the film.
But is it still an interesting movie? Yes. But you’d have to already be interested in these people and their scene. It certainly isn’t a film to wander into if you aren’t into the people involved.
Richard Hell would have been better off spending his time making a concert film and we all would have benefited much more from that, especially if it featured more footage of him in CBGB.