Tuesday, June 13, 2017

0024: The Other Man Who Fell To Earth

Sure I miss David Bowie. But I can't help but worry about Mike Allred. A year ago, during the months after Bowie's death as the current "Silver Surfer" series kept getting delay after delay during the character's 50th Anniversary, I would often wonder if Allred was rocking in the fetal position somewhere. Bowie and early 70's glitter rock in general infused some of Allred's most successful work, such as "Madman" and "Red Rocket 7". Naming a regular cast member "Mott the Hoople" is not subtle. But there's always been a lot more to Allred's stories than a fruit salad of pop culture allusions. Witness: "Astroeque".


Dark Horse is still selling this on their website. I have no clue about its Netflix availability, but that's the perfect outlet for a movie like this. The budget is so low and so many of the cast and crew are closely ( and often literally) related that the line between "experimental film" and "home movie" blurs. According to an interview in "Modern Masters Volume 16: Mike Allred" (TwoMorrows, April 2008), Allred states that the version included as a bonus on the "G-Men From Hell" DVD is the "full screen" (meaning chopped down to the shape of a TV screen) version with sound that wasn't mixed properly. This version, released on NTSC VHS in 1998, is the version he would have preferred they use.

The movie itself, made in 1996, looks in retrospect like a rehearsal for a specific scene from Red Rocket 7, without costumes. This movie, the LP-sized comic book mini-series and the album on CD (featuring Allred's band The Gear) all feel like parts of a multimedia project, in which no one part is completely redundant to the others. Of course, that also means that no one part is complete in itself. I would recommend the film with the caveat that one should watch it both before AND after reading the collected "Red Rocket 7". The album supplements both but stands on its own as a musical work if not as a story; I would save the album for last. The comic series is the best of the three but it has a way of making parts of the movie that are ambiguous become much more specific. The movie plays on the viewers' imaginations more. Reading the comic first has the same effect as watching a music video (remember those?) before hearing a song in the context of an album as audio alone. Without the video, a piece of music can provoke different images in the imaginations of different people. After seeing it, that's the image that comes to most peoples' minds. I will say that watching the movie was much more enjoyable after reading the comic, but less thought provoking.

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