BACK ON BADSTREET – A Review by John Strange



By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Keith Alcorn
Cast: Michael Hayes, Jimmy Papa, Larry Velez, Troy Randal Smith
MPAA Rating: NR
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 45 Min.
In 1984, Michael Hayes, Jimmy Papa, and Larry Velez wrote what would become the anthem for the wrestling team, The Fabulous Freebirds.  This song jumped into an arena that previously had been populated by songs used with (but mostly without) the artist’s permission.  Surprising everyone it became a popular standard for a team that loved to be bad.
I grew up in Dallas and attended wrestling matches at the Sportatorium in the shadow of Downtown, an area that was seedy and to young men like myself, a challenge that we had to meet head-on.  When we got inside we watched the good guys wrestle the bad guys, the Von Erich’s versus Michael Hayes and the Freebirds.
Director Keith Alcorn takes a look at the phenomenon that was and is Back on Badstreet.  He takes a sometimes tongue-in-cheek stroll through what some might call a bizarre story.  This song grew way beyond its humble roots.  It was written and recorded by Michael and his friends who formed a band and recorded the song at a local studio.  When MTV picked up their ambitious music video, the world became enthralled with the train wreck that was Michael’s life.
The wrestler rarely had money; the three friends who made up the wrestling team, The Fabulous Freebirds, shared an apartment just to make ends meet.  Michael eventually managed to record an entire album.  Alcorn touches on the commercial designed to sell the record.  It tells us a lot about the men’s mindset perhaps as much as any other fact in the film.  They didn’t use a post office box or a service to handle sales.  They sold them out of Jimmy’s home and proudly placed his address and phone number right there on the screen!
If you watched wrestling (or currently watch the sport) and want to take a walk down memory lane complete with a chuckle or three and a plethora of “OH MY GOD” moments, come out to the Dallas VideoFest screening at 9:30 PM on Friday, October 10, 2014, at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Richardson.  Tickets can be purchased here:

The Selig Rating Scale:

FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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