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Musical Mutiny (1970)

Directed by Barry Mahon
Something Weird DVD-R

Why is Barry Mahon awesome? Why is his filmography, with all its imperfections, so rich and fulfilling? Because the man had no fear. He would never let a genre of film that he didn’t understand hold him up. He just went out and did it. He made Errol Flynn’s last film, Cuban Rebel Girls. He made a bunch of nudie films, including the killer gorilla nudist colony romp The Beast that Killed Women. He made the wonderfully audacious and entertaining Censored. He was involved with the jaw-dropping Christmas extravaganza Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. He made one of the most faithful and the cheapest Oz adaptations ever. And, he made Musical Mutiny. A Hippie Rock and Roll film based around the fact that Mahon worked at an amusement park in Florida called Pirate’s World that put on rock shows. One of those shows was an Iron Butterfly extravaganza. The show was filmed. Then, a Barry Mahon film solidified around it.

A pirate comes out of the ocean and declares a “mutiny”. By “mutiny”, he means that every hippie in Florida should go to Pirate World and see Iron Butterfly for free. That may or may not be nasty pirate behavior. It all depends on what you think of Iron Butterfly. The Establishment believe that The People shouldn’t be getting in to the concert for free. Will the concert be cancelled? Will Iron Butterfly play “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” or not? If there’s about 17 minutes left in the movie when that plot line is resolved, you can bet your ass they will.

I like the keyboard player’s hat. And, I do love that riff. After about 10 minutes of song, though, I started to think that the Pirate did have an evil agenda. But, I don’t think Barry Mahon did. I like to imagine him shaking his head at Iron Butterfly when they hit minute 15. “I don’t mind the long hair. I can deal with the hippies. But, the song just keeps on going and going. Rudy Vallee never went more than 4 minutes.” The business side of Barry Mahon, however, is thinking: “Keep playing, boys. The longer you play, the longer my movie gets.” And then you may ask yourself: what on Earth does Barry Mahon do while Iron Butterfly jams on stage for over a quarter of an hour? Well, we get to see the crowd. There are random shots of people enjoying the show. We see some navels. A hippie pours lemonade on his friend and jumps in a lake during the drum solo.  There are some psychedelic visuals that are a bit halfhearted. Would you expect more, though?

I get a real kick out of Musical Mutiny. A lot of that comes from my feeling that Barry Mahon doesn’t really understand the world of the hippies and all that darn rock and roll music they like. Before the concert, the film is a conglomeration of random people getting told about the “mutiny” at Pirate World and heading there. Three guys make a soft drink that they plan to sell to hippies. A kid keeps appearing at a drum kit, soloing for crowds. A procession of dune buggies is followed around for some time. A gal channeling Janis Joplin sings a song that I know but can’t place. Brad Grinter is in it briefly.* He calls a hippie and asks him for financial advice. A hippie who knows about financial stuff? Is this sci-fi? All these things happen and I cannot tell whether Mahon is making fun of them or not. I think he’s just filling up time but some of these hippies are really funny looking. On the other hand, in a hippie film, logically, the filler would be hippies. Only the man Himself knows.

Musical Mutiny is a rock film by genre. But, it’s more of an enormous ad for Pirate World and that area of Florida. I’m not a big Florida fan. I like the swamps. I want to go to Vernon. But, the rest of it I can take or leave. Pirate World, however, looks like it kicks ass. They’ve got a ton of rides. They’ve got corn dogs. Live shows. They’ve got that fake horse ride where it looks like they’ve crammed rocking horses onto metal railings. Is Pirate World still there? If so, we’ll be holding the “First Annual Bleeding Skull Convention” there in the Summer of 2014. Be there! Mingle with us!

In the end, I believe a modern viewer’s enjoyment of Musical Mutiny will be determined by how long they want to look at hippies. They’re not as interesting as bikers or quite as silly as beatniks. I like some of their music. Some of their clothes are OK. But, I’m going to have to pass on the hippie lifestyle. Luckily, for me, this film is not about them. It’s all about the Mahon Worldview. That is more than enough. May it be the same for you.

*Grinter neither smokes a lot nor shows us his wiener. This may have been a wasted trip for him, unless the office he does his scene from is in his home. He was probably sitting there one day, working, and suddenly found out that he was in a Barry Mahon film. I imagine it happened to a lot of Mahon’s friends.