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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable viewing experience...
First of all, the one thing that a lot of people miss about Zappa was that he was a master "resource" utilizer. - - He knew what he wanted his projects to look and sound like, and was great enough of an artist/producer to find/discipline people capable of delivering his vision - - So the big question : Despite his notorious reputation for his mixture of music and...
Published on May 30, 2004 by Eddie Landsberg

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If it interests you...
Before you turn this Zappa film down, I will note that I found the animated scene to be like something you'd see and/or feel in a dream. If that sounds interesting to you, than why Not check it out, if you can get a copy. I was able to get a Mint copy of this video, so Ha! It was truly erratic( the cartoon part, if not more than just that part) in that it follows, or...
Published on June 19, 2002 by Justin Boyd


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable viewing experience..., May 30, 2004
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
First of all, the one thing that a lot of people miss about Zappa was that he was a master "resource" utilizer. - - He knew what he wanted his projects to look and sound like, and was great enough of an artist/producer to find/discipline people capable of delivering his vision - - So the big question : Despite his notorious reputation for his mixture of music and oddball stage antics, given a REAL big budget to make a real big motion picture, could he pull something off ? - - The answer... UNBELIEVABLY FRIGGIN' YES ! ! ! - - The film captures the MOTHERS in their prime circa the antics of FLO & EDDIE... the bizarre stage routines of his group are MELTED together by a great theme... that TOURING can make you crazy... though surreal, beyond the paranoia and psychadelic wierdness, the backstage politics of a band touring on the road, the stresses between the leader and bandmembers... and yes, the neverending quest for the ultimate BJ come through in the form of a BRILLIANT opera, featuring a full symphonic orchestra and some surprizing guest appearences... including Ringo Starr as frank zappa. - - The music is great... the images are great... and the performances (musical, now and then sexual, and stagewise) are a brilliant and mindtripping experience... This film is DEFINITELY something to watch over and over into and really get into... especially (of course) if you're a Zappa nut - - just don't get too psyched, otherwise you might find yourself singing the words to LONESOME COWBOY BURT outloud on the bus on the way to wherever...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars touring can make you crazy [apparently], September 29, 2000
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Frank Zappa himself does not say/sing a word in 200 Motels, though he is often seen on screen. The starring roles are taken by Flo & Eddie, Jimmy Carl Black, Ringo Starr, Miss Lucy & Miss Pamela, & more Mothers & their friends. If you expecting a straightforward plot or a 'proper' film this isn't it, but if you want pioneering experimentalism, many subplots, a lot of bizarre humour & music, this is the place. Set in the typical American town of Centerville [despite being filmed mostly live to videotape in England], on a seemingly endless tour, the title referring to approximately how many places the real life Mothers of Invention had stayed over the previous 6 years, complete w/ "vile foamy liquids" & groupies galore [listen to the Fillmore East lp of the same year as this film as that is about 1/2 of the lyrical content]. Reality & fiction merge, cameras are openly visible, breaking all the rules of Hollywood which we don't really need anyway. The special effects & psychedelia take their toll, as the 1st time I saw this my head was spinning after. It does help to be somewhat familiar w/ Zappa mythology to get what's going on & all the obscure references, for instance, Cal Schenkel's animated sequence Dental Hygiene Dilemma is based on a band member Jeff Simmons who had recently quit the "comedy group" to get his own band together & be really "heavy", while Donovan acts as his conscience & spiritual guide. In another scene Jim Black becomes Lonesome Cowboy Burt, who frequents the redneck bar & likes to aim his rifle @ an image of a hippie on a dartboard, whilst serenading the waitresses. There are numerous other things to mention, but I think everyone should see this, it's one of my favourites definitely. I'd better finish off this review because "they're gonna clear out the studio!!!"
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "200 Motels": Performance art on film, November 22, 2004
By 
T. Johnson (PA, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a film about the world of musicians unlike any other. It is not a traditional concert documentary or a melange of interviews and images. "200 Motels" is more like a combination of performance art and philosophical musings on the artist`s role in society.

The key theme is noted at the beginning, when the narrator asks, "What can we do with the musician in society- what is his purpose?" If you work in any creative field, play music, or majored in anything remotely Liberal Arts- related, you`ll relate to this in a big way! Zappa goes on to show us exactly what kinds of challenges a working musician faces in a milieu which is at often at odds with his own goals. The numbing sameness of the towns and cities that bands travel through is satirized, as are the archetpal characters that await them there: greedy promoters, shapely groupies, and wacky locals, as personified by the cheerful and lecherous Cowboy Bert. This movie may not seem very coherent at first, but if you watch it closely, you`ll see that it keeps returning to the theme of the musician being perpetually outside the society he entertains. Along the way, there is a lot of good music, often accompanied by a fine orchestra, and a good deal of satiric/scatological humor. It`s been said that Zappa ferociously slams pop and rock music in this film and on many of his albums, especially early efforts like Cruising With Ruben and the Jets. I personally tend, however, to think that much of the satire is good-natured. Although he was at heart a jazz/ avant-garde enthusiast, throughout his life Zappa composed and performed many kinds of music, including standard rock, doo-wop, and classical. And many of these varied influences appear in "200 Motels" as well.

I highly recommend this fun and thought-provoking flick. And don`t miss the concluding musical number, in which the Zappa band and the orchestra sing a tribute to those normally considered to be weird or deviant by society. It`s a different kind of movie, all right!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm so commercial I could die!!!, September 11, 2006
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Flo and Eddie. Ringo Starr. Theodore Bikel. Keith Moon. And a vacuum cleaner.

This is a failure and a success at the same time. It was a total product of its times, and had very surreal moments that almost defy description.

It's a Zappa fun fest.

Too many good moments grace this movie. The naked groupies trying to comfort a depressed nun (who happens to be Keith Moon), the elixers, the Mystery Roach, Lonesome Cowboy Burt (speaking at'cha), Rance Muhammitz, Strictly Genteel, Ringo Starr as Larry the Dwarf as Frank Zappa (let's spin the big wheel!!!)...

It's all here.

Now, I know this is hard to find. It's not on DVD, and it probably never will be (all the extra tape footage was erased and sold as bulk tape). Zappa claimed that only a third of the script was in the movie. Does that mean there was more??? It's a dang shame that there won't be a remastered version, but it's good enough for now.

The music's great. The animation sequence is great. And it's tons better than Baby Snakes. TRUST ME.

- Alex
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awed and Awwwwww-ed, April 29, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
As Uncle Frank has quoted," The latter day composer refuses to die", and this is true even after they are dead. In Frank's case this is true with a vengence!! "200 Motels" is an excellent example of Frank Zappa's creative and directorial skills. It also is an excellent opportunity for Zappa fans to hear some of his early music. Frank himself thought his early works were sub-standard, but I feel as an artist he was being too critical of his own endeavors. The film is a roller coaster ride through the demented and talented mind of Frank Zappa. I originally saw the film in the early seventies at a Greenwich Village theater. I was so impressed, I said I must own this. Throughout the years I have missed the chance to purchase it. Now apparently it is not available! Thus my next statement: IF ANYBODY HAS COPIES OF THIS VIDEO,OR KNOWS OF SOMEONE WHO DOES, E-MAIL ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!! Make an old hippy happy! Right now, I have to "stop Jeff from stealing the towels."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic that preaches to the choir, August 15, 2007
By 
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If you know nothing about this movie, there are a few facts you should be aware of before watching that help mitigate the usual hatred this movie elicits:

1) It had a budget of $700,000. Of that, $400,000 went directly to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, so effectively this movie had a budget of $300,000.

2) It had a shooting schedule of five 8-hour days.

Given these two tourniquet-like limitations, it is amazing that Zappa got ANYTHING done, let alone this final product. A good companion piece to this film is "The True Story of 200 Motels" which documents these (and numerous other) obsticles Zappa encountered while making this beast. If Gail Zappa ever gets around to issuing a DVD of 200 Motels, hopefully she will be precient enough to include The Making OF as a bonus feature... but I digress.

Yes, this film is technically "bad," but it's so bad it's good, and it has much self-effacing humor within it about how bad it is. Admittedly, the movie doesn't have a plot per se: it is a collection of "road stories" designed to underscore the central theme that "touring can make you crazy." 200 Motels has a heavy dose of Dadaism, which admittedly I have never been a big fan of, but in this case it semems to work, as it lends well to the budget limitations and surreal feeling of the film. Likewise, much of the score is avante garde neo-classical, which I have never been into (if I want classical music, give me the baroque masters.)

If you are new to the Zappa universe, this probably is a bad place to start, as the film relies heavily on "inside jokes" and references to the previous corpus of Zappa/Mothers musical inventory -- what is known as his "Conceptual Continuity." I've got his entire catalogue so I GET the jokes, but friends I've shown this to who knew little to nothing about FZ merely scratched their heads with a perplexed look. Tellingly, though, they all admitted they *liked* it, even if they didn't *understand* it.

Obviously, this film is not for everyone, especially those prone to epilepsy (a joke/warning which is made early in the film!) or those who need a linear, well-defined plot. If you're willing to risk something "different," though, give it a try.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Video Masterpiece!!! * * * * *, February 7, 2004
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Frank Zappa was a creative genius, and his "200 Motels" was a true video masterpiece! "200 Motels" tells a simple story about how touring in a rock band can seem to make you crazy. Zappa used a new medium of the early 70's, what we now call "video", and really pushed it beyond the known limits. The effects he used in this movie have often been copied, and were used to describe the weird world of touring. City after city, sandwich after sandwich, the towns all begin to look fake after awhile; the effects where used to emphasize how the struggles of touring and how all that traveling and responsibility really tweaks your brain, your ability to perceive reality. This movie was possibly the first true "music video", since it originated in video, and possibly tweaked the minds of the engineers up in the control booth. When you look at how the video was structured, well, it's all shot entirely in a studio environment. It's a story within a story, and like so many other filmmakers, Zappa was almost making fun of himself, in a lighthearted manner, much as Felini and Allen have done in some of their films. Yes, this movie is twisted, in fact just as twisted as life in America tends to get. This movie is best seen projected in a theater, and unless you have a t.v. larger than 27", I recommend you wait, because it really needs to be seen larger than life!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must be a fan to enjoy this film!, October 4, 2000
By 
Tommy Kelly (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If you're unaware of Frank Zappa then this might scare you away from him. Start off by listening to his albums (okay CDs) first then warm your way to concert footage (which you will love, trust me on that one!). The film does have a clever plot and great acting. Also the guys from The Turtles (who tour with him for awhile) and Ringo Starr (who plays Frank in the movie) are the stars in the film. Frank, however, has to deal with the BBC studio schedule and their orchestra so you wont get to see him a lot. If your a fan you'll love it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars when will it come out on DVD?, February 8, 2005
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
What an all-time classic.

I saw it a bunch of times in the theaters, when it was first released.

Is it ever going to come out on DVD?

(Centerville .... a nice place to raise your kids ... )

("He made me do it!", says Ringo Starr, dressed as Frank Zappa ...)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conceptual Continuity, January 25, 2002
By 
D A Beckham (Misery, Missouri) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 200 Motels [VHS] (VHS Tape)
200 Motels fits neatly in Zappa's concept that everything is related. Using members of the Mothers from different time periods and following a storyline that places characters in amd out of space (one character is talking to one group of mothers, then suddenly we are shifted to another location where the conversation is being continued in a completely different context with other band members). This is Zappa at his most audacious. Music is not easily digestible 3:30 songs with memorable hooks, this is Zappa playing with the Orchestra. Frank himself rarely appears on screen, allowing Ringo Starr to fill in his part. With Beatle Ringo, Turtles Flo & Eddie, and Who Drummer Keith Moon making appearances on and off throughout the film, what we have is Zappa's dream/nightmare of what it is like to spend a year on the road, where every town looks the same. Sets are relegated to cardboard cut-outs to increase the uniformity, and Zappa also pays tribute to Kubrick, with appearances of 2001's monolith and Clockwork Orange's pig-masks. This is the first film shot on video, then transfered to film stock, which allows for quicker editing and electronic image manipulation. Rated R for nudity, language and beer drinking (Remember, Zappa was anti-drug)
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200 Motels [VHS]
200 Motels [VHS] by Charles Swenson (VHS Tape - 1994)
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