I’ve been looking for an excuse to delve into the works of famed auteur Roger Corman, and thanks to The Crawling Ear’s take on my favorite musical of all time (that includes The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hedwig and the Angry Inch), I finally have an excuse to delve deeply into the remastered Rock On Edition of the only film starring the Ramones and that girl from Halloween, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
When Roger Corman sold the rights to his New World Pictures releases to Buena Vista, I figured there’d be some bargain-basement releases forced out without much actual thought put into it. Color me surprised when this special edition of a classic Roger Corman movie gets released with a decent amount of special features.
There are two very important special features on the DVD that I consider necessary viewing if you’re a Ramones fan or a fan of the movie in general. One of these is Back to School: A Retrospective of the film itself, which is great viewing if only to hear about the trials and tribulations of the film’s journey from an idea in director Alan Arkush’s head and a script called Disco High. Marky Ramone (the last surviving Ramone) is interviewed about the movie, Arkush goes into great detail into his relationship with the Ramones and how filming went, Roger Corman talks about the success of the film as a midnight movie classic, Mary Woronov discusses her status as a sex symbol, and of course Clint Howard (as usual) steals the show by being the funniest person they talk to and still remembering his Eaglebauer lines. It’s interesting viewing, if only to hear how SFX guru Rob Bottin got smacked around while dressed in the giant mouse costume.
The other notable special feature of the DVD is 16 minutes of live audio from the Ramones concert at the Filmore Auditorium from the filming of the concert scenes for the movie. None of the music made it into the film, sadly, but it’s always nice to have something to listen to while, say, you’re sitting at your computer typing out a DVD review. Considering it’s the Ramones, and I’ll never get to see them live, it’s an incredibly sweet bonus feature.
There’s also an audio commentary with the always interesting Roger Corman and Dey Young, as well as a second commentary with Arkush, producer Michael Finnell, and screenwriter Richard Whitley. Corman is fascinating to me, so of course I recommend his commentary, but I’m biased. The original radio ads (smart tie in considering the Ramones and all) and the original theatrical trailer (complete with original gray MPAA rating tag!) are also included.
Considering the source material, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound is probably the best they could do at the time. The film itself looks good, and the climax is stunning and fun to this day. It helps that I consider the Ramones one of the catchiest bands in history. Sure it’s goofy, but sometimes you need to turn your brain off and take a chainsaw to a filing cabinet or dance with a giant mouse.