Sergeant Deadhead DVD Review: All Involved Should Be Sent to Leavenworth

Look, no one is going to confuse Frankie Avalon with an Academy Award-winning thespian, but he appeared in some fine films including The Alamo, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and of course Grease. The many beach-themed films may have been nothing more than brain candy, but Frankie and Annette made for an enjoyable Saturday night at the local drive-in. So how is it possible that our dear friend Mr. Avalon could have been surrounded by a supporting cast of comedic all-stars the likes of Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Harvey Lembeck and the legendary Buster Keaton, and still ended up with the disaster that is Sergeant Deadhead?

You will know you are in trouble as the film opens so awkwardly, that you are sure to check the remote to insure the film cued correctly. In a film so poorly written (by Louis M. Heyward) that it should head up all lists pertaining to the worst that Hollywood has generated, Avalon plays Sergeant DeadHead (Yes, there is no indication that this is simply a moniker assigned to the simpleton soldier, nor is there an explanation how he managed to achieve said rank) who manages to get himself shot into space with a chimp, and according to the DVD packaging the minds of the chimp and the astronaut are switched. I say according to the packaging because the effects of the trip never really seem to play out as Deadhead does not really act like a chimp and the chimp is nowhere to be found. What we do get is a collection of poorly constructed scenes that play out like a porn film without the nudity and sex. The only chimp-like qualities portrayed in this film is by the supporting cast as they are left chewing scenery as if it were a banana tree.

This 89-minute disaster is part of MGM’s Made-on-Demand Limited Edition Collection, though I can’t imagine it being in demand by anyone. There is no bonus material included, most likely because they could not find anyone who wanted to admit they had been involved in 1965, or anyone who wanted to touch it now. A commentary by Annette Funicello might have been fun as she apparently had sense enough to stay away from this bomb and leave Deborah Walley to play the love interest.

Recommendation: No! The script is bad, the performances sad, and the songs will simply make you mad at the thought of the waste of time and money. Check out Plan 9 from Outer Space or Gigli instead.

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