Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Human Highway

Human Highway is a 1982 comedy film starring and co-directed by Neil Young under his pseudonym Bernard Shakey. Dean Stockwell co-directed the film and acted along with Russ Tamblyn, Dennis Hopper, and the post-punk and new wave band Devo. Included is an unusual collaborative performance of "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" by Devo and Neil Young with Booji Boy singing lead vocals and Young playing lead guitar.

The film was shown in only select theaters and was not released on VHS until 1995. It received poor reviews upon its premiere and with the benefit of hindsight has received favorable reviews more recently.

Much of the filming was in 1978 on a Hollywood soundstage. Over four years Young spent $3,000,000 of his own money on production. A portion of the dream sequence was filmed at Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. The soundstage set which included the diner and gas station was built to Young's specific requests. Young's initial idea was to portray a day in the life of Lionel and his bystanders during the Earth's last day. The actors were to develop their own characters. The script was a combination of improvisation and developing small story lines as they went. Young, Stockwell and Tamblyn were central in the writing.

Dennis Hopper who played the addled cook was performing knife tricks with real knives on the set. Actress Sally Kirkland attempted to take a knife from him and severed a tendon. She spent time in a hospital and later sued claiming Hopper was out of control. Hopper has admitted to drug abuse during this time period.

For Devo it was their first experience with Hollywood. Gerald Casale said the band felt removed observing the odd behaviors including excessive alcohol and drug abuse and rock star adulation with Young as the central "most grounded" person.

The "Hey Hey My My" footage with Devo was recorded at Different Fur, San Francisco. Mark Mothersbaugh as "Booji Boy" during this performance inserted the Devo line, "rust never sleeps". The line would soon after become the inspiration for Young's works with the same name.

No comments:

Post a Comment