MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The concert film “Rust Never Sleeps” shows Neil Young at his rocking best.
The more rarely seen “Human Highway” shows Young at perhaps his most eccentric.
Fans will get a chance to view newly restored and edited versions of both back-to-back, and hear from Young himself in a live interview, during a one-night special screening in theaters nationwide on Monday. Billed as “An Evening with Neil Young,” it will be the first time either film has received a widespread public screening in decades.
Young, in an interview with The Associated Press this week, said the time had come to release “Human Highway” after three years of filming starting in 1978, and more than 30 years of tinkering, because he finally felt like he had gotten it right.
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Why did it take so long?
“‘Cause I suck, that’s why,” Young said, laughing, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “It takes me a long time to do things.”
Young co-directed “Human Highway” under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey and starred as a goofy mechanic at an isolated diner and gas station under the shadow of a nuclear plant. Dennis Hopper co-stars as a deranged (what else?), knife-loving cook and co-director Dean Stockwell plays the diner’s owner looking for a buyer.
Young said he had a blast making the film with his friends, even though it wasn’t well received when first released.
“Most people were turned off, they thought I was destroying my career,” Young said. “But it was quite rewarding for me. I’m still here, I still have a career. It was amazing. I overcame it!”
He and actors from the film will be interviewed live on Monday by filmmaker and rock journalist Cameron Crowe.
Young said he sees “Human Highway” as a fantasy made in the way films were in the golden era of Hollywood.
“The whole thing resembles a comic book,” Young said. “Nothing in the background was real. It’s all paintings and set design and models and everything. We created a whole environment.”
The new wave band Devo take a turn as glowing, radioactive plant workers who accidentally trigger the end of the world and jam with Young during a far-out dream sequence.
“It’s a funny little film about the last day of Earth and how absent minded everybody is, kind of ignoring what’s going on in the world,” Young said. “It’s actually pretty up-to-date.”
“Human Highway” is billed as a “post-apocalyptic musical comedy” and has gained cult status over the years, after fading from public view following its initial release. Now it and a newly restored version of the 1979 concert film “Rust Never Sleeps” will be available on DVD for the first time April 1.
“Rust Never Sleeps” captures a 32-year-old Young on his 1978 North American tour first performing acoustic on such songs as “Sugar Mountain” before then being joined by his longtime band Crazy Horse for some of the best live versions of songs including “Cinnamon Girl” and “Powderfinger.”
Young, who turned 70 in November, isn’t just revisiting the past. He said he’s been in the studio completing work on a new album titled “Earth,” that will released in a couple months and in June he embarks on an extensive European tour with the band Promise of the Real.
But on Monday, with the screening of the two films he worked decades to perfect, Young said he hopes viewers simply have a good time.
“A lot of work went into creating these things and making them last forever, as long as they can last, as long as the planet lasts,” Young said. “That’s what we made them for. I hope people feel the love that went into it.”
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer