The Doors: Feast of Friends Eagle Rock Entertainment; 144 mins.; $14.98 DVD/$19.98 Blu-Ray
While definitely not for the casual fan, Feast of Friends offers hardcore Doors aficionados a treasure trove of rare and unreleased footage, all of it all glowingly restored. Shot with the band's cooperation while on their 1968 tour, the fly-on-the-wall documentary Feast of Friends was shelved once singer Jim Morrison -- who would have turned 71 years old Monday -- was arrested in Miami the next year for lewdness and profanity.
That put the band's very future in jeopardy, though some footage here was clearly shot later, judging by the length of Morrison's hair.
Directed by Paul Ferrera, a film-school friend of Morrison and Ray Manzarek's, the documentary was eventually completed (sort of) and screened at a few festivals, but never saw a proper release. Instead, it has only leaked in crummy bootlegs, said to have originated from Morrison's own personal copy.
Unfortunately, it's a herky-jerky hodgepodge of random footage of the band on an often chaotic stage, backstage and out in the world; sometimes with natural sound, sometimes with overdubbed music and talking. And while the kind of filmic experiment is right in line with the band's thinking at the time, it's ultimately something of a letdown.
But some segments are of interest, such as Morrison's uncomfortable interview with a grey crew-cutted, pipe-smoking, collar-wearing "Minister at Large" who questions the group's direction and aim. There's also Morrison tenderly (and creepily) swiping his finger across the blood-stained head of a female fan who was bashed by a chair. It ends with some shots of the band and friends on a sailing cruise.
The second segment, Feast of Friends: Encore, is a new effort culled from footage not used in the initial documentary. There's also a lengthy segment as the Doors record "Wild Child" in the studio.
"It's a fictional documentary...we're not making it, it's making us," Morrison tells the camera about the film. When asked what he hopes audiences take away from it, he offers "We hope it leaves them puzzled."
Mission accomplished, Lizard King.
Next is the ultra-rare 1968 black-and-white UK documentary The Doors Are Open. It's framed with overly-dramatic English narration, along the lines of the Doors' message is uncompromisingly loud...please do not adjust your set." It's also intercut with news footage of U.S social unrest, Nixon and the Vietnam war in an attempt to make them seem more of a political and protest band than they were.
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One segment is particularly unsettling. As a middle-aged mother attempts to take two young girls away from a peace rally in her car, masked and threatening National Guardsmen scream at her, poking multiple rifles with barrels just inches from her terrified face.
But the extended concert footage, shot at the Roundhouse, is fiery in its quality. Highlights include "When the Music's Over," "Five to One," "Back Door Man," and a bizarre "Light My Fire."
On that number, a seemingly out-of-it Jim wanders around the stage and into the audience, at one point tangling his mike cord in a TV camera and then sitting down. There's also some of the extended noodling/Morrison rambling and screaming that tended to drag Doors shows down.
We also get to see Manzarek on lead vocals during a rehearsal of "Hello, I Love You," something he'd have to do with more frequency as Morrison's stage behavior became more erratic.
"The music can't help but reflect things that are happening around you," Morrison tells an interviewer during one of the interview segments.
Finally, a rare, stellar, 10-plus-minute live 1967 clip of "The End" from a Canadian TV show wraps things up. It also features recent interviews with the surviving members and collaborator Danny Sugarman.
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