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Frank Zappa 200 Motels (The Movie) album cover
2.87 | 63 ratings | 6 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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DVD/Video, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

Total Time: ca. 98 min.

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / composing, arrangements, story, screenplay and directing of characters
- Tony Palmer / shooting script
- Raoul Ragel, Brian Harris / associate producers
- Jerry Good, Herb Cohen / producers
- Tony Palmer / visual directing
- Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan / special material
- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / performing of symphonic music
- Colin Staveley / orchestra leader
- John Lowdell / orchestra chairman
- Tom Petzal / acting orchestra general manager
- Elgar Howarth / orchestra conductor
- Top Score Singers / chorus
- David Van Asch / choral director
- Gillian Lynne / choreography
- Murakami Wolf Productions / Animation
- Charles Swenson / animation director
- Cal Schenkel, Kunimi Terada, Fumiko Roche, Elizabeth Wright, Wilma Guenot, Ann Oliphant / graphic production
- Cal Schenkel / production design
- Leo Austin / art director
- David Anderson / unit production manager
- Roy Garner / Lion Television Services production manager
- Tom Keylock / Lion Television Services controller
- David Alexander / assistant director
- Jim McCutcheon / 2nd assistant director
- Ray Cook / dancers music associate
- Peter Dyson / lighting director
- Alan Mashford / technical director
- Peter Hubbard / sound supervisor
- Robert Auger / 16 track recording
- Lyn Gomez / continuity clerk
- Jaqi Williamson / production secretary
- Anne Rowe / vision mixer
- Roland Brown / vision supervisor
- Harry Phipps / construction supervisor
- Sue Yelland / costume design
- Mervyn Medalie / hairdresser
- Paul Rabiger / makeup
- Ian Stock / unit publicist
- Bert Luxford / special effects
- Barry Peake / still photographer
- Inky Ingram / wire specialist
- Paddy Bennett / Props
- Richard Thompson, Selwyn Mindel, Neville Hoksfield / vision engineers
- Dave Swan, Barrie Dodd, Mike Fitch, John Howard / cameras
- Barry Stephens, Ray Nunney / video tape editing
- Rich Harrison / film editing

- Theodore Bikel
- Ringo Starr
- Maer Volman
- Howard Kaylan
- Ian Underwood
- Aynsley Dunbar
- Geroge Duke
- Keith Moon
- Janet Ferguson
- Lucy Offerall
- Jimmy Carl Black
- Martin Lickert
- Dick Barber
- Don Preston
- Pamela Miller
- Ruth Underwood
- Judy Gridley
- Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood
- Jim Pons
- Phyllis Bryn-Julson
- Classical Guitar Ensemble
- John Williams
The Mothers Of Invention, as themselves:
Mark Volman (also as the voice of the Good Conscience)
Howard Kaylan (also as the voice of Jeff, the cartoon)
Ian Underwood
Aynsley Dunbar
George Duke

Theodore Bikel as Dave and mainly as Rance Muhammitz

Ringo Starr as Larry The Dwarf
Keith Moon as The Hot Nun
Janet Ferguson as herself
Lucy Offerall as herself
Jimmy Carl Black as himself and also as Lonesome Cowboy Burt
Martin Lickert as Jeff
Dick Barber as The Industrial Vacuum Cleaner
Don Preston as himself and also as The Monster
Pamela Miller as Rock & Roll Interviewer
Ruth Underwood as herself
Judy Gridley
Motorhead Sherwood as himself and also as Larry Fanoga and the fake Lucy
Jim Pons as voice of the Bad Conscience

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Elgar Howarth
The Top Score Singers conducted by David Van Asch
Phyllis Bryn-Julson soprano
Classical Guitar Ensemble supervised by John Williams

Releases information

Released by United Artists, Rated: R, ASIN: 630196392X.

Video release dates:
1984 - VHS NTSC - Warner Home Video WB PGX 9949 (German)
1985/06 - VHS - Warner Home Video PEV 99498
1988 - VHS NTSC - Warner Home Video WB PES 99498 (English)
1988 - VHS PAL - Warner Home Video (UK) V PES 99498
1994/12/07 - VHS NTSC - MGM/UA M200423
1994/08/01 - VHS PAL - MGM/UA Rock Classics S050423 (UK)
1997 - Laserdisc MGM/UA ML100423

Thanks to Eetu Pellonpää for the addition
and to luisbraida for the last updates
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Buy FRANK ZAPPA 200 Motels (The Movie) Music

FRANK ZAPPA 200 Motels (The Movie) ratings distribution

(63 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

FRANK ZAPPA 200 Motels (The Movie) reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I consider this film a really hilarious movie, containing both funny jokes and good musical sequences. Ringo Starr plays "Harry The Dwarf", who is some kind of alter ego of Zappa, and also the narrator of the movie. Frank himself appears in the musical numbers, and he's also the mysterious band leader who is seldom seen, except when appearing in disguises when he sneaks in to tape the band players' discussions and trying to steal their good ideas. Along with the music numbers the film paints portraits of the band members, and introduces us "Centerville", an imaginative city where the band is performing and the players are going nuts. There are some funny features here, like Keith Moon performing a nun, a guy who is constantly turning to a monster plus a Swedish cartoon about dental hygiene. If you like the music of Zappa's early 1970's production time, and you are into anarchic Monty Python-like humor, don't miss this fabulous movie!
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars 200 Motels ( The Movie) is nearly a disaster IMO and really not worth your money. Zappa was after his failed attempt to release the Uncle Meat movie anxious to make and release another movie and that turned out to be 200 Motels. The dialog is written on tour busses and in hotel rooms and it shows that not much thought has been put into this. Zappa was a great composer, producer and musician but he should have stayed away from making movies as this is something he didnīt have a talent for IMO.

Itīs hard to really understand what the movie is about other than a very simple story about a rockīnīroll band on tour and their groupie status. Besides that there is an animated movie which is the only treat here about Jeff who ripps the towels from his hotel room. Itīs actually pretty funny and it is acompanied by one of the greatest songs from the soundtrack sung in cartoon style. This very part of the movie saves 2 stars for 200 Motels even though it really only deserves 1. Other good things in the movie is of course the rock music. I still feel that some of the rock songs played here are some of Zappaīs best straight rock songs ever.

The movie has lots of strange personas and an even more strange scene with fishheaded things and vacuum cleaners dancing ballet. Iīm sorry but I just donīt appreciate half of the humour in the movie and quite frankly Iīm not entertained. Keith Moon and Ringo Starr also have roles in the movie, which might have brought some The Beatles or The Who fanatics to buy 200 Motels. What a shock they must have gotten. The narrator Theodore Bikel has a very pleasant voice and I enjoy the finale where he also sings. Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan are here too and they always make for a fun experience in my ears.

The filming is not done very professonaly and the quality is often murky and the sound is bad.

2 stars is all I can give for 200 Motels ( the Movie). I would recommend that you get the soundtrack instead as all the great songs from the movie are also featured there. Both the movie and the soundtrack are some of the least exciting releases in Zappaīs career though and really only for the fans. There are some great songs on the soundtrack, but due to the bad production and the orchestral parts which I donīt care much for that one is also mostly a fan thing.

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars a bad acid road trip

A Zappa fantasy about life on the road with some well-known friends like Ringo and the Loon (as a nun) and Pamela "GTO' Miller among others As far as the script, it's all non- sensical humour, typical of what you find in their albums like Uncle meat and previous stuff. Definitely not my cup of tea, this is so weird and whacko that it makes Monty Python's humour aimed at Maggie Thatcher's clique, as it compares a bit as its American equivalent, trouncing National Lampoon. The goofiness and absurdity of the scenario hinders with the music's propos, but it's not like 200 Motels is a Hot Rats or Grand Wazoo

Musically-speaking, when there is music (which is not that often), it is the usual fairly impressive pot-pourri of Zappa's general influences ranging from contemporary classical music and operatic movements (that's a novelty in Zappa's works at the time) to wild bluesy-jazz-rock moments where the shows their virtuosity without overdoing it. Those moments are pure bliss, but way too rare and far in-between to make this enjoyable. Other moments are melting pot is overflowing from some uneasy mixtures of elements taken left, right and centre, but you're sure that the out-coming soup will be hardly digestible. One of the few musicians to come out well out of this adventure is the absolutely brilliant drummer Ainsley Dunbar, but that's only so when doing his craft.

BTW, I chose to rent the movie than the double album, but I doubt that the vinyls are anymore "musically?inclined" than the movie. This is too much ridiculous non-sense for this proghead, whose humour glands are simply not tickled by Francesco's delires, despite his eternal question: "does humour belong in music?" My answer is yes, in a Canterbury way, but not necessarily when it hinders the music itself. It's actually fairly weird that an anti-drug artiste like him developed such thick layers of dopey humour that can usually only please to dopeheads close to overdose levels. Surely Zappa was aware of whom his works where pleasing mosts, and probably that it was one of his kicks, making a living of the guys he was biting the hand off. Considered by aficionados as an excellent Zappa project, I find this film (and soundtrack) completely forgettable and even embarrassing when speaking of Frank's genial musical talent that is simply buried in the goofyness.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars They don't make movies like this anymore. Zappa had already started an earlier film (Uncle Meat) in 1968 but this was his first major film to be released. Zappa fans will be the first to tell you that you should just listen to his music and stay away from his films. I find the film oddly amusing. It's my favourite genre of film: so-bad-it's-good. For a guy who was so anti-drugs he sure knew how to make a movie tailor-made for people tripping out. However, Frank was an avant-garde dude and sometimes his eccentric weirdness is mistaken for drug induced weirdness.

The film includes real life groupies playing groupies (and yes you get to see their t*ts), a cartoon, Keith Moon playing a nun trying 'her' best to be a groupie, bizarre everything really and of course Ringo Starr as a dwarf puppet who is disguised as Zappa. There are members of Zappa's bands (past, present and future) in the film but the rock songs are done by the Flo & Eddie version of the Mothers, while an orchestra does the avant classical stuff. Only tracks from the 200 Motels soundtrack album appear here. 200 Motels is not one of Zappa's best but the double-album is much better than the actual movie.

One of the most memorable scenes is where bassist Jeff Simmons (who quit halfway through the making of the movie; they actually tell you that in the movie) is giving original Mother Don Preston a lecture about working for Zappa and how he would be better off going solo. "He makes you be a creep," he tells Don. "You could be playing the blues like John Mayal or far- out, exciting jazz like Blood, Sweat & Tears" he explains in his English accent. The whole joke that probably went over most people's heads is that a white British guy is being used as an example of "blues" while a popular rock group of the time is being referred to as "jazz."

Frank himself is only seen in the hard rock numbers the band performs. There is much more going on in this film than I have mentioned, but trust me, after you have seen the whole thing you will still be confused as to what just happened. This probably deserves 1 star (for completists/collectors) but some Zappa fans might be interested in it. Fans of the Who and the Beatles maybe not so much. 2 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I only saw 200 Motels once and have no immediate way of watching it again, but hopefully I can still say something intelligent about it. As a film, it's terrible, absolute rubbish. Musically it isn't much more solid, although it does paint a picture of the Mothers' remarkable versatility. Jimmy ... (read more)

Report this review (#292055) | Posted by KyleSchmidlin | Monday, July 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Unfortunately I only had one chance to watch this film (the library needed it back), but I can definitely say it has one of the most incoherent plots (if you can call it that) I have ever seen. And that's not a criticism, merely a fact. To put it simply, the entire movie is crazy, from the first ... (read more)

Report this review (#164234) | Posted by ClassicRocker | Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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