Posted by Nigel Pandomonium of Inside Celebrities on September 18th, 2013
“Without question, you should see this film. You will wet your knickers laughing.”
Last night in Los Angeles, a private screening of SkumROCKS! was held for film distributors and movie executives at SoHo House West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. It was L.A.’s first “sneak-peak” at Clay Westervelt’s — the award winning director of Popatopolis — latest film, and he was on hand to answer questions. “It was a great screening,” Westervelt said afterwards. “We had a full house and all the right things happened — so it was an exciting night for all us involved with the film.”
Audience reaction to the film, including that of this journalist, was nothing short of sensational. The story of Skum is the stuff of Greek Mythology – a Phoenix rising only to crash and burn – but perhaps rise again? That Westervelt was able to capture the essence of the band’s struggles and hoped-for renaissance – and to present it in such a raw and humorous manner – is a true testament to his talent. I am calling SkumROCKS! the most important rock movie to be made since Spinal Tap and Almost Famous. It is, in a word, captivating. You will laugh, you will shudder, and you will never forget this brilliant and completely original documentary.
Skum made their name on the East Coast of America in the mid 1980’s — three soccer mates bored with campus life who decided to become a rock band so they could meet girls. The only problem? None of them played instruments. The key to the humor of the film and to Skum’s early success wasn’t their talent – it was their chutzpah. The band knew no fear – often to their detriment. They talked their way into winning talent contests, headlining news articles, and pilfering investor’s money. Fast forward several years and a number of drummers later and Skum became a regional powerhouse, filling clubs to capacity from Virginia to Florida. They believed they were on the verge of creating their generation’s White Album — only to lose everything — including the master tapes with all their recorded music.
Westervelt blends a clever mix of celebrity cameos with band member interviews to tell the story. Alice Cooper narrates, weaving the celebrities, interviews, and vintage footage together in a manner that brings the viewer on board with Skum’s turbulent and bizarre journey. Like a faulted relative with a good heart, viewers find themselves hoping the band will overcome their demons and succeed.
This journalist gives SkumROCKS! a smashing thumbs up. But with a warning — the film is not for the faint of heart. But it is for the classic rock movie lover in all of us. The number of major rock artists appearing in the film is astounding. Westervelt has produced a tremendously entertaining film on a minimal budget, yet with an entirely original texture and format for a documentary. Westervelt said, “I wanted to make something original. I was too young to know Skum’s music growing up, but the more I learned about the band, the more I was convinced their story had to be told. They are unlike any band or group of friends I have ever met.”
SkumROCKS! is a rough-edged documentary – certainly in stark contrast to the plush, luxurious surroundings of the SoHo House last night. In attendance were a number of notable film stars, producers and executives, including Randal Kleiser (director of Grease and Blue Lagoon), Sharon Lawrence (Rizzoli & Isles, Drop Dead Diva, NYPD Blue), and Chanel Ryan (actress). Also in attendance was Ms Rashel Mereness, the film’s attorney, who appeared to be squirming in her seat throughout much of the screening.
I found the audience pulling for the band by the movie’s end — a very good sign for this “small budget movie that could …” If enough people end up rooting for this extremely likable group of guys called Skum, perhaps the band will receive the recognition that has eluded them for so long.
Westervelt and the band will be traveling to London next week in support of the film’s global premiere at the Raindance Film Festival on September 26th. Based on the film’s reception last night, they’ll be going with positive momentum on their side. Skum’s lead singer Hart Baur commented, “This is a dream come true. Now we get to show our side of the story to the world.” Lead guitarist John Eaton added, “It’s been a long time coming. A lot of people misunderstood our break up, but after 20 years, the party continues.”
For more information visit the band’s website at www.skumrocks.com. For our readers in London, you can see the film at Piccadilly Vue on September 26th via the Raindance Film Festival. Visit http://raindancefestival.org/films/skum-rocks/ for more information and show times. I will be in London to cover the premiere of SkumROCKS! exclusively for Inside Celebrities and US Rockstar Magazine.