by Kevin Allman
Back in the mid-1980s, X frontwoman Exene Cervenka and her pal, independent filmmaker Modi Frank, decided to shoot something different: a "a shoot-'em-up starring their talented and twisted circle of friends, of which every member was headed for a full-size future in music, movies, and more."
The result was a short feature called Bad Day, which starred Exene and her fellow X members John Doe and Billy Zoom, along with a chap by the name of Kevin Costner:
Shot in 1986 at a secret location near Chatsworth, California, the short film features an inspired cast of irregulars playing the residents of a small town on a bad day. Call it what you will: a cow-punk time capsule, a mock-Western, a guerrilla film forerunner or just plain proof of a time when everyone didn't take themselves so seriously.
The project was never released, but Exene is making it available for download now for a donation -- saying, "A portion of the proceeds from Bad Day are going to Gulf Coast aid organizations that help both the environment and the people affected." Not sure how much, or which organizations (we'll update this), but it sounds worthwhile in any case. Variety says:
The Web site includes a trailer and the movie's entertaining back story. Most of the players will be familiar to fans of late-'70s/early-'80s punk: John Doe of X, Chris D. and Julie Christiansen of Flesh Eaters/Divine Horsemen, Dave Alvin of the Blasters, Gil T. of Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs. The future future Oscar winners were writer and X amigo Michael Blake, author of the novel and screenplay "Dances With Wolves," and that film's director and star Kevin Costner, cast as the town drunk. Alvin and X's D.J. Bonebrake supplied the acoustic score.
It isn't high art -- "Bad Day" was never intended as much more than a lark. But it's fun, and as a time capsule of a certain period of L.A. rock, it's hard to beat.
Read more about Bad Day and download it here.