DOWN ON US [a.k.a. Beyond the Doors] (1984).
I first located this piece of crap in a Syracuse video store in the section labeled "Documentaries." HA! That's the best joke I've seen all year!... Director Larry Buchanan has never been known for his meticulous crafting or originality, and the guy's ground out more lemons than General Motors. His early monster-muddles were even-cheaper remakes of earlier B-movies: ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS was a rip-off of IT CONQUERED THE WORLD and his THE EYE CREATURES had the nerve to recycle the plot of INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN. But they aren't just normal Bad Movies. They were incomprehensibly rotten! Almost surrealistically abysmal in the way they don't even attempt to follow basic human logic. This project belongs in Buchanan's Rip-Off-The-Dead career niche, along with GOODBYE, NORMA JEAN, his Marilyn Monroe expose. But this film tries to wring in a few bucks by stomping on the graves of not one, but THREE cold-as-a-mackerel celebs. So if your sensibilities can endure the ordeal of Buchanan's wretched tabloid-style filmmaking, here's what "really happened" to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, because this movie promises to blow the lid off the secret behind their deaths. Are you sitting down? No, they didn't overdose -- the U.S. government actually assassinated them! Honest! It was all a carefully constructed plot to "neutralize the three Pied Pipers of rock music." If only the film itself was constructed as carefully...It's a painfully idiotic concept, and Buchanan's casting only complicates matters. As Janis Joplin, Riba Meryl comes off more like Stevie Nicks with PMS. Gregory Allen Chatman's Jimi Hendrix can barely hold a guitar, much less wail on it. Worst of all, Jim Morrison (Bryan Wolf) looks like a scrawny Peter Frampton, and when he opens his mouth, it's nerve-raking. I might've had a few problems with Val Kilmer's interpretation of Jim in THE DOORS, but at least he didn't turn him into a complete clown, clutching a tambourine on stage and telling them "I'll flash my cock if you burn your draft card." And since the producers obviously couldn't get the rights in order to butcher any of the three's original tunes, they wrote new songs that aren't remotely like the real thing. And mock-Morrison's poetry is something that has to be heard to be believed. This "chilling" expose explains that all three were getting on the government's nerves -- Jimi was being courted by black revolutionaries, Morrison talked back about the Vietnam War, and Janis even found her political self -- so they sent a trench-coated agent to off 'em and make it look like drug-related demises. So in between scenes of Jimi snivelling about being unloved or Morrison mumbling his inanities, Buchanan keeps cutting back to official gov't types plotting their schemes. This isn't left-wing propaganda, just left-over!... Hilarious (at first) for its sheer unbelievability, but Buchanan still can't keep our attention, and his worst sin is to make all of these legends into complete bores! Accountants have more natural charisma (or at least I've heard rumors they do)! And wait until you have to suffer through the pathetic scenes of each star dying, after being slipped death-inducing drugs. In Janis' case, the assassin punches a bunch of extra needle tracks in her arm after she's D.O.A., just to make it look good. Quite tasteful, Mr. Buchanan, you shithead! He even tries to convince us that maybe Morrison didn't die after all, and just entered a monastery. AAAAaaaarrrggghhhhhnnhh!!!! I can't take it any more! This unimaginably inept mess had my mind reeling, and the scariest part is knowing that there are probably morons out there who'd watch this drivel and actually believe it.
© 1991 by Steven Puchalski.