On the Air Live with Captain Midnight (1979)

on the air live with captain midnight

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: A renegade radio station.

When high school teen Ziggy (Tracy Sebastian) finds himself fired from a radio station he decides to get revenge by setting up his van with equipment that will allow him to broadcast his own pirate radio station from it. To his surprise it becomes a hit especially from the area teens who even pay him to play their favorite songs. Things seem to be going great until the FCC catches on and they send out a very determined agent (John Ireland) to catch him.

This film, which isn’t too great to begin with, might’ve had a shot had it not starred such a pathetic actor in the lead. This guy, who is the son of the husband and wife team that directed this and therefore the only reason anyone in their right mind would’ve given him the part, is just downright terrible. A dead, rotting corpse would’ve had more charisma than this guy and he conveys his lines like he is reading them directly off a cue card, which really gets annoying. Having his presence take up almost the entire runtime when he isn’t even deserving of a brief walk-on bit is what categorically kills this film and makes it almost a wretched experience to sit through at all.

The idea that this bland kid would somehow create such a fervent teen following is equally ludicrous. He does nothing creative, or interesting when he is on-the-air and basically just introduces songs with his monotone voice that wouldn’t excite anyone, so seeing these kids go wild over him and even tear off his clothes when he parachutes out of a plane and then lands on the ground is just plain dumb and unintentionally funny in a bad way.

Barry Greenberg, who plays his chubby friend Gargen, is a little bit better, but the way he stutters every time he gets nervous is hooky. Mia Kovacs plays Spunky who is Ziggy’s girlfriend and was the only child of legendary comedian Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams. This was her one-and-only film appearance as she ended up dying tragically in a car accident a few years later that was eerily similar to the one that killed her father.

The veteran performers help a bit. Although Ireland, whose career plummeted badly in his later years to the point that he was forced to place a full-page ad in Variety that literally begged agents/producers to hire him, does not play up his antagonistic part enough. However, Dena Dietrich, as Ziggy’s mother, is a delight and the best thing about this otherwise limp movie.

Ferd and Beverly Sebastian had made a few drive-in flicks before this one including the cult-hit ‘Gator Bait, which starred Claudia Jennings and that is the type of genre they should’ve stayed in as anything else was clearly out-of-their-league and the ultimate result here is pretty flat.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: November 24, 1979

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Ferd and Beverly Sebastian

Studio: Sebastian International Pictures

Available: VHS

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