The Monkees-Head (1968) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1968|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Bob Rafelson|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, stick around for the end of the credits|
The Monkees were America's answer to The Beatles, but manufactured for a television series. This probably was more unusual in the 1960s than it would seem today. Originally the members of the band were selected for their acting ability and their appeal to what network executives thought was the youth of the day, and they simply lip-synced to music recorded and written by others, for example Neil Diamond. Later they attempted to be a real band, writing and recording their own songs, though still filtered through the sieve of television. They were immensely popular, and made a lot of money for other people.
The series was co-created by Bob Rafelson, who later went on to a distinguished if sporadic directing career, most notably with Jack Nicholson. And this film is directed by Rafelson, based on a script he co-wrote with Nicholson. You can see both Rafelson and Nicholson appear briefly in this film, along with a very hirsute Dennis Hopper. The Monkees comprised Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork.
This is a very strange film, and quite unlike the TV show that spawned it. There is no real story or narrative as such, just a series of disconnected episodes on various themes, mainly played for laughs. The film takes swipes at Vietnam, films, television, politics, drugs, The Beatles, westerns, Eastern mysticism, Get Smart and Victor Mature. Just what is Victor Mature doing in this movie, apart from laughing maniacally?
The film is full of cameos, with everyone from Annette Funicello to Sonny Liston to Frank Zappa (a very amusing bit). Choreographer Toni Basil dances with Davy Jones, Abraham Sofaer does a Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi impersonation, Percy Helton has a bit as the "heraldic messenger" and there is a waitress played by a female impersonator who sounds just like Bette Davis. A young Teri Garr also has a small role, and Timothy Carey plays his usual crackpot.
Apparently Head was not a major success in 1968, as Monkees fans hated it. However, it has a sort of mesmeric fascination despite the lack of narrative, and is quite entertaining. The film was obviously influenced by Fellini, a fact acknowledged by giving the Italian tank commander character played by Vito Scotti the name "I. Vitelloni". The scene where a helicopter carries a black box is reminiscent of the scene with the statue of Jesus in La Dolce Vita. The black box also reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, though as the films were released in the same year it is probably just a coincidence.
This is probably the fifth or sixth time I have seen Head, though the first in many years. It was good to see it again, but I doubt whether I will dig this disc out again in a hurry.
The film is described on the case as being "remastered in full frame format". I think that is marketing-speak for "we've made a digital transfer of a projection print in the wrong aspect ratio". The aspect ratio on the disc is 1.33:1, but the original aspect ratio seems to have been wider, probably 1.66:1 or 1.85:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. It is also in NTSC format.
The transfer is nicely sharp and clear. There is a fine level of detail visible through the debris, and I had no issues with shadow detail. Contrast levels are very good as well. Colour is also fine, with realistic flesh tones and some bright and vivid colours on display. This helps with the more psychedelic sequences. Both black and white levels are satisfactory.
I did not notice anything in the way of film to video artefacts. However, the film itself has numerous artefacts, such as scratches, lines, white flecks, dirt and reel change markings.
Subtitles are provided in English, in clear white text that is close to the dialogue. There are also subtitles for the songs, which is a good feature as some of the lyrics are a little hard to decipher.
The movie comes on a single-layered disc, so there is no layer change.
The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, though the case says it is 1.0 mono.
The audio is a little thin-sounding, with very little in the way of bass response. Dialogue is clear for the most part, though as mentioned the songs are sometimes a little hard to understand, and Timothy Carey's dialogue is also a little mangled. This would have been present in the source material. There is little in the way of other audible problems.
The music score is comprised of songs by the band and a few other bits and pieces of music not original to the film. The music comes across quite well despite the limitations of the soundtrack, and will satisfy all but the most demanding listener.
|Surround Channel Use|
A few extras are provided.
A song from the film is played under the menu. Navigation to the submenus displays a brief animation.
Four TV spots of various length that must have mystified TV viewers in 1968.
Three original trailers, one of which is in Portuguese.
This is basically a submenu that takes you to the various cameos in the film.
Like the Cameos, this is a menu listing the musical numbers that allows navigation to them.
This release appears to be identical in all regions.
A strange film that may appeal, though not necessarily to fans of the original series.
The video quality is disappointing in some respects.
The audio quality is satisfactory.
The extras do not amount to much.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|