Originally scripted as a grim film noir homage, a series of financial dry spells stretched out the film's production schedule to three years, whereupon the screen story underwent as many dramatic changes as any of the hard-living bands from the music scene the film adopts as its backdrop.
Star Chris D. insists in the supplemental features that the original script's noir aspects are what attracted him to the project, but it was only once he became involved that the thing took shape as a "rock movie," with the added participation of D.'s friends (and sometime bandmates) like John Doe and Dave Alvin. Alvin went on to create an eclectic and memorable score for the film (now out of print, sadly), with players culled from friends and colleagues from X, Los Lobos, The Blasters and other local heroes.
Not every film could survive three filmmakers AND active contributions by everyone in the cast, but then it's a rare project that manages to pack this much simpatico talent onto one movie poster.
Additional DVD extras include deleted scenes, a potent "trailer" (including several moments not in the finished film) set to a driving musical score, and a pair of loose, enjoyable commentary tracks. Another welcome addition is Chris D. and The Flesh Eaters' vintage ain't-no-WAY-this-is-running-on-MTV music video for their classic "The Wedding Dice" (comically mangled by Chris Shearer in the film itself).
Had it followed its intended "straight noir" course, BORDER RADIO may well have survived as an interesting curio; but as it turned out, the film stands as a fitting elegy to an era, both in its depiction of a musical phenomenon's sunset and for its unique collaborative approach to filmmaking. That both still feel like breaths of fresh air twenty years on only stands as a testament to their legitimacy.
Like so many of the "lost" bands of the music scene it salutes with unabashed affection, BORDER RADIO is ripe for rediscovery.