I’ve never heard of Betty Blowtorch before–and after hearing their music, I’m sad I haven’t. I should really start seeking out better bands than what the media hands me. Granted, I only listen to classic rock, but you get my point. “Betty Blowtorch” is quite possibly one of the best rock documentaries I’ve ever seen. It’s the classic tale of a rock band starting out, garnering a fan base, forming a friendship, their attempts at stardom, their inevitable grasp for it, and their imminent downfall thanks to outside sources. Most modern music documentaries prefer to profile bands that suck like They Might Be Giants, or All American Rejects, but this film profiles a band–who doesn’t suck like Paris Hilton in a porno–they’re called Betty Blowtorch, four hard rocking bitches that were a hybrid of KISS, The Runaways, and Motley Crue.
The film begins with a Betty Boop cartoon in which she sings a degrading and timely song about keeping your figure to get men, a foreshadowing of the antithesis we’re about to see. The women are hot, but they’re feminists through and through. Anthony Scarpa’s direction is often very intimate as he brings us along filming the band’s music video, chronicling the making of their albums, their every day life and spend an inordinate amount of time with lead singer Bianca Butthole shopping with her, she gives him many of the band anecdotes, and in the climax shows off her lunchbox collection. We see a lot more time on Bianca mainly because in 2001 she died from a very tragic car crash which shattered the band and her family.
“Betty Blowtorch” is both the chronicle of this band, and a legacy and homage to Bianca who was just about to blast off with her band before she was taken prematurely. As for the band itself, their music fucking rocks. They start us off in the opening credits, and we enter in to the engrossing story of their rise to fame. Their music is excellent, often catchy, original, and amazing vocals courtesy of Bianca. To describe their music, you’d have to use many adjectives. Kinetic, loud, catchy, fun, ballsy. They sound like a harder version of “The Runaways”. Many of the people interviewed during the film like to compare “Betty Blowtorch” to them, but they’re much harder.
Bianca who struggled with drug abuse and finally kicked the habit for nearly ten years was finally getting to the place she wanted to be with the band, and it becomes heartbreaking because we really get to know these women, and Scarpa brings us in tight and close to the women, and you can’t help become emotionally invested in each of the band mates. I dare you not to leave a little teary once you’re done with this film. Bianca was possibly one of the rare brilliant musicians to come along every so often, and like many brilliant artists, she was taken too damn early. Bianca Butthole had charisma, charm, attitude, and she was sexy. She made the poseurs like Ashlee Simpson, and Jenny Lewis look like wannabes.
“Betty Blowtorch” is sad from the very opening, but it becomes heartbreaking in the last half when we learn the effects Bianca’s death had on her friends and family. Carpa’s portrait of this rocking band really does stay with you afterwards, and it’s one hell of a great rock documentary. Be sure to stay after the credits and shed a tear. Rock on, Bianca. “Betty Blowtorch” is a rocking homage to a kick ass band that never rose to the heights of fame they deserved. It’s also a heartfelt, and very sad homage to lead singer Bianca Halstead who never had the chance to show everyone what she was all about, except those select few. With intimate direction, and excellent music, this is a must for any rock fan.