Counter-Culture



This page is dedicated only to the strangest movies of the 60s and early 70s inspired by the counter-culture movement and drugs. Keywords for this page include: LSD, acid, drug-culture, hippie-culture, psychedelia, camp, wacky spoofs and satires, and extremely odd, philosophically inclined sci-fi flicks. Of course, if you are looking for slightly weird, early exploitation movies of the era, the authorities are Something Weird.

Recommended

2001: A Space Odyssey  
The classic sci-fi coupling of Clarke and Kubrick needs no introduction. It changed cinematic history and gave the world an experience into inner and outer space like no other. It explores the evolution of man through pre-historic times (with the aid of mysterious alien monoliths) to the future where man is dehumanized and machines fight back, until the final metaphysical birth and the next evolutionary step of the universe. Puzzling and thought-provoking at the same time.
Of Some Interest

American Hippie in Israel, An  
Israeli counter-culture movie about hippies and the inherent destructive forces in man, with touches of surrealism. An American Hippie lands in Israel and is picked up by an actress. He rants about the horrible state of the world, what governments made him do in Vietnam, and about his dream of living free in a secluded spot. They hit it off, but he is hounded by strange white-faced men who always appear to spoil his fun or shoot down his friends. When they run off to a tiny rocky island, their utopia deteriorates faster than you can say 'Lord of the Flies'. Mostly a boring movie with endlessly long scenes of hippies 'being happy', dancing, having sex, and taking a road trip. The metaphor works, but its crude, and there is a surreal dream sequence involving various strange communes, violence, and a huge hammer applied to 'tape-recorder-men'.

Awakening of the Beast  
This movie is an unofficial third in the cult Coffin Joe trilogy and is by far the most bizarre. A group of people get together to discuss the perverse effects of drugs on the people's sexual habits, telling one lurid and strange tale of sexual orgy after another. As a final experiment, they show a group of people some Coffin Joe movies while under the influence to measure the effect of such evil impetuses. The result is a surreal and energetic nightmare in an insane hell where women are made into slaves, creatures and men keep appearing and disappearing in gaudy costumes with faces painted on their butts, and more LSD inspired madness.

Baby Snakes  
Much less chaotic, bizarre and random than 200 Motels or Uncle Meat and really just a conventional compilation of concert and backstage footage of a very unconventional band. But the strangeness this time is provided by Bruce Bickford in the form of stop-motion claymation with endlessly morphing shapes, objects people and monsters guaranteed to make you feel stoned just watching it, with noses morphing into bridges or creatures, and teeth into buildings, but mostly just indescribable mutations and constantly flowing animations. In addition, there is a lot of goofing off with a blow-up doll, various costumes and the usual improvised avant-garde musical arrangements by Zappa and Co. consisting of strange noises made by both instruments and humans. Overall, even if, like me, you aren't a fan of the band, this one is much more organic and impressive than Zappa's other movies and demonstrates the unique charm and talents of a band that just does its thing with 100% immersion and dedication, and seem to be one with their music. The animations were also featured in Dub Room Special and The Amazing Mr. Bickford.

Barbarella  
Campy and silly sci-fi exploitation taken to such extremes that it transcends the genre as a unique experience. Jane Fonda spends the entire movie hopping from one silly adventure to another, each providing an excuse for her to change from one outrageous outfit to another and show off her body. From a gravity-free strip-tease in a spacesuit, to children with killer animated dolls, to blind 7-foot angels, to evil liquids, to death by birds or ultimate pleasure, this creative but idiotic piece of camp must be seen to be believed. Definitely in the so-bad-it's-good genre.

Blood Freak  
This one belongs in the 'so terrible it's hilarious' genre. A biker Vietnam vet meets a female bible thumper who introduces him to her drug-addict friends, one of which seduces him and gets him hooked on drugs. While this is happening, a man preaches to us about all things Christian and the evils we must avoid. He then volunteers to be a guinea pig, and changes into a bloodthirsty turkey with a man's body (laughably bad costume), carving up mostly drug addicts. Contains some gore, 70s outfits, some female flesh, Christian preaching, and editing and dialog that would make Ed Wood cringe.

Bone  
A near-surreal, absurd, satirical debut from Larry Cohen about empty upper class America, racism and tolerance. A black man barges into a home of a rich Beverly Hills couple and, after taking care of a rat problem, tries to rob them (and finds out they are poor). Rape is threatened but the victim consoles the rapist, a black man weeps for the loss of racism which gave him identity, and other blackly humorous absurdities. Most of the offbeat feel comes from the dialog which satirizes typical empty and unreal upper class conversations, only in the most absurd circumstances. It even has a great twist ending. Amusing.

Brewster McCloud  
Probably Altman's most odd and quirky comedy. Brewster is an innocent, little, young man who lives in the Houston Astrodome and who dreams of flying with wings. To this end, anything goes, and he is protected by a very capable guardian angel, a woman with wing-like scars on her back and a raven, who kills anyone who gets in his way or stops him from getting what he needs for his project, after her raven poops on them. An assortment of odd characters become involved, all compared to birds by a very eccentric professor who serves as a kind of narrator, drawing several amusing parallels between people and birds. There's a proud strutting detective, an odd tour-guide girl who drives a car she stole from her would-be rapist, a mean old landlord in a wheelchair, a passionate health-food-store clerk who gets off while Brewster does his pull-ups, and more. There's also a theme of angelic innocence and people achieving what they want against the norm, which fits in with the counter-culture of the time.

Candy  
A 'satire on porn' by the same writer that brought us Dr Strangelove, Barbarella and Casino Royale. It uses stunt casting like in Skidoo and is a series of strange adventures like O Lucky Man!, rather than a coherent movie. Candy Christian is a wide-eyed, naive, dumb blonde who is lusted after by everyone in a series of absurd vignettes and over-the-top scenery-chewing by various celebrities. A passionate Welsh poet schoolteacher with a drinking problem (Burton) that always has wind blowing through his hair, leading to his having sex with a mannequin, a Mexican virgin (Ringo Starr) guarded by female bikers, a barking right-wing general (Matthau), a surgeon (Coburn) who performs brain surgery to an audience like a melodramatic matador and who stitches his initials into his nurses, a humpback thief who can climb walls like a fly, Brando is a hippy guru in a truck that denies the reality of snow, John Astin is both the prude father and the cheeky uncle, and so on. All of these wacky personalities become drooling molesters and rapists at the sight of Candy, with every situation always absurdly leading to a 'sex scene' just like in porn, but the movie never takes it too far and ends on a very Felliniesque note. One of those 60s movies that must be seen to be believed.

Casino Royale  
An insane spoof on James Bond written and directed by over ten big names including Terry Southern. and starring even more names. David Niven acts as the original and stuttering James Bond, but everyone gets a turn at being James Bond here, including Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. He is brought out of retirement to stop the killings of spies by SHMERSH. Everything James Bond is spoofed, including dozens of seductive girls appearing everywhere, some used for spy hardening and training, a cannonball fight with big bad guys that topple under their own weight, Orson Welles tortures Bond with psychedelic hallucinations, a secret evil location has magnificently useless Caligari or psychedelic sets, a game of baccarat becomes a magic show, Mata Hari's and Bond's daughter appears in a grand exotic dance, dangerous gagdets misbehave, a UFO appears, and the insane climax features Woody Allen swallowing an atomic bomb while cowboys, indians and seals participate in a bar brawl. Non-stop colorful madness, but also extremely silly and chaotic.

Clockwork Orange, A  
The much talked about futuristic satire about violence escalating in society, and the means by which the system tries to control it, raising questions on free will, evil and how to control it. Alex is into 'ultraviolence', roaming the streets looking for fights, rape and murder with his 'droogs'. When he gets arrested, he volunteers for a mind-control experiment that brainwashes him into detesting violence. But will violent society accept the new and improved man? Features bizarre and stylish imagery, idiosyncratic dialog and very disturbing violence mixed with elegant or merry music in the background, this classic is still disturbing and original even today. In addition to the theme of state control, I think it also asks that we look at the state of a society that may be even more twisted than a despicable, bestial, violent, rapist. Dystopian, depraved and bleak through and through, probably too much so for some, with a problematic moral and intellectual ambiguity, especially since the movie seems to enjoy and celebrate the violence as something colorful and stylish, and portrays humans as requiring violence in order to be human.

Committee, The  
Intriguing, existentialist, surreal 60-minute experiment that burrows into your mind just long enough to start some wheels turning, then ends. A hitchhiker chops off the head of his driver with the car bonnet, then sews it back on and sends him on his way. There's some Crime and Punishment moments of brooding and fear as his own mind starts weighing him down and a mysterious government committee summons him along with many others. After some amusing dialogue, social interactions, and a weird performance by Arthur Brown, the director engages him in a provocative, cryptic chat about individuals vs. others, society and authority vs. revolutionaries, and impulses and expression vs. conformism. Intriguing.

Curious Dr. Humpp, The  
One of the slightly more bizarre sexploitation b-movies of the 70s featuring a mad scientist who kidnaps horny folk with the help of his frankenstein-like monster (who has a light flashing in his forehead), turns them into nymphomaniacs and extracts a serum while they are in the throes of passion. This he does under the instructions of a talking brain, while the monster serenades his victims with a lute.

Dark Star  
This first from Carpenter is a definite cult classic - a sci-fi boasting a miniscule budget about a space-ship crew out on a mission to destroy unstable planets. Amongst other things, we see a bouncing alien that loves to tickle and looks like a beachball with hands, the hilarious misadventures of the man who tries to catch it and gets caught underneath an elevator, a man trying to convince an AI bomb to follow orders by discussing phenomenology with it, and lots of quirky dialog and characters who like to blow things up and surf through space.

Darktown Strutters  
Truly wacky blaxploitation musical slapstick that has women with attitude on three-wheeled choppers looking for their momma and missing black people while fighting the KKK and cops with a single-digit IQ. The evil is personified by a Colonel Sanders lookalike who has built a cloning machine which produces pig-people and full-grown men in diapers. The cops have a siren the size of the car, there's VD, who carries a huge syringe in case somebody touches him and gets infected, a drug-dealer ice-cream man selling pot-sicle and other colorful clownish characters. Messy and wacky but not very funny.

Fongaluli  
Psychedelic comedy-camp erotica about an odd professor in charge of cross-breeding animals who comes across an Arab with psychedelic leaves. After taking them, he sees visions of orgies, his pet lobster turns into a beautiful naked woman, but since the effects don't last, he must travel to various islands to get some more leaves. He meets a horny giant naked woman, an incestual family of four, a witch, etc. all leading to silly sexual adventures until the surprise ending.

Frightened Woman, The  
It starts off like an Italian pinku, with a man kidnapping a woman for sadistic games in a strange house, but the movie has something else on its mind: The battle of the sexes. The man has corporate power, a sterilized house with an odd toy or machine for every whim, a taste for sexual sadism, and a fear of making love to a woman. The woman seems soft and vulnerable, seductive, trying to appeal to the man's softer side and vulnerabilities. Who is playing with whom? In between, we get a psychedelic house, stylish cinematography and lighting, S&M gear, strange art, machines that include a body blowdrier and a mechanized wall between bed-sides, and sudden surreal Freudian visuals like women blowing clarinets and a huge vagina dentata. An entertaining statement.

Ganja & Hess  
A cult, artsy, confusing and confused vampire movie from the 70s featuring a black cast. Dr. Hess is turned into a vampire after being stabbed by his strange assistant. He adjusts to his new immortal life, steals blood from blood banks, then starts killing people and finds it all too easy, giving in to his addiction but yearning for salvation. When a wife of one of his victims comes to visit, he finds in her something he needs. That makes it sound a lot more simple than it is though, and nothing makes sense. His relationship with his assistant and servant is incoherent and strange, as is a suicide, his motives seem to wander from staying alone, to converting a woman into a vampire, to being saved, to dying, the sound track is aggressively avant-garde, and the frequent forays into irrelevant scenes or bizarre dream-like visions of an African woman don't help either. Interminably dull and badly put together.

Harold and Maude  
Cult classic about life and death, telling the tale of a very eccentric romance between eccentric characters. One is a spoiled rich boy who constantly fakes his own suicides and visits funerals, the other is an 80 year old, very energetic and quirky woman who loves new experiences, stealing cars, and visiting funerals. The boy's exasperated mother tries to set him up with blind dates with catastrophic results, while the boy develops a strange relationship with the old woman who teaches him how to live. Features Ruth Gordon who also starred in another tastelessly offbeat black comedy of the time: Where's Poppa. Quirky, very offbeat and amusing but superficial and unconvincing.

Help! Help! The Globolinks  
A psychedelic, sci-fi, children's opera. Is psychedelia really appropriate for children? Who cares! This is about an alien race called Globolinks who appear in multiple bright dayglo colors, and in strange indescribable costumes with huge cloth spikes and wriggling tubular shapes, while the lighting and cameras go berzerk. They have come to wage war on music and are easily scared off by musical instruments (why don't they simply sing? Oh right, they already are singing). They entrap a bus full of children while the headmaster's voice and humanity is stolen because he has no respect for music. Preachy and simplistic, but must be seen to be believed.

Howl, The  
Imagine Holy Mountain as directed by Tinto Brass on acid. This is so insane it feels like a satire on surrealism at times. A freeform delirious fantasy a la Fellini involving a woman who runs away from her groom during her alleyway wedding and has one bizarre symbolic adventure after another with a man and a lunchbox. Sex on a double-decker bus attacked by a troupe of maniacal British policemen (authority/colonialism?), seducing a bourgeoisie couple then urinating on their windshield, a cult of naked cannibals in a forest (religion?), a series of bizarre sex rooms featuring one fetish after another, including decapitation of a goose, a fascist war, a bizarre chaotic jail break, etc. Most of the movie consists of delirious romps by characters with random bizarre costumes (e.g. a barrel and an American flag) making statements or singing. Tinto always gives his women free-spirited independence, perhaps this was his way of exploring this using surrealism, symbolic unshackling of various forms in society and history.

Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, The  
30 minutes of pure hallucinative experience that is part occultism, part hippy, part Jack Smith-esque hanging out with a bunch of high freaks in costumes, backed by an acid-Tibetan-trance soundtrack. There's no story, just people in various costumes getting high and doing odd things, including a man who goes into a trance after covering himself in mud, people in various Eastern outfits playing with candles, pipes, dolls and toy animals, a green elf, other colorful insane costumes, death, and a shiny half-naked chick holding a phallic symbol, all filmed in kaledoscopic cinematograpy.

Io... Donna  
Italian conspiracy thriller that could only have emerged from the 70s, about a photojournalist who runs afoul of a feminist cult planning to overthrow male dominance with violence and drugs. The preposterous plot features an all-model group of feminists (who were obviously hired for their looks rather than acting abilities or resemblance to feminists), and features a man constantly running away from groups of often unarmed made-up models, somehow implicating another group of gangster drug-dealers, with his own girlfriend being part of the conspiracy, being tied down and forced to endure psychedelic drugs, chased across the globe from New York to Rome, and all to force him to give up some photographs taken in the park. Besides the silly but entertaining conspiracy plot, the movie is notable for its 8-minute highly-hallucinogenic surreal sequence involving menacing women with large curved blades, soft lips, and psychedelic dance routines.

O Lucky Man!  
The second and strangest in a series of three satirical, counter-culture, anarchist attacks on society in general, each punctuated with occasionally absurd, sometimes surreal touches. The first is If..., a study of a revolution against repression and tradition using a British, Christian, military-style boarding school as an allegory. The second is O Lucky Man, a 3 hour satirical attack on practically every topic imaginable including capitalism, business, science, upper-class, lower-class, religion, charity, poetry, etc. The camera follows one man's Candide-like adventures as life heaps on him one quirk or cruelty after another until he gets slapped on the head and realizes what life is about. The absurd scenes are usually unconnected and must be taken allegorically. For example, justice is shown to be sexually sado-masochistic in the way it assigns punishments, and medical scientists perform experiments on people to improve them, grafting human heads on animal bodies. The movie is cynical, but contains a message which seems to be an anarchical version of optimism. The third is Britannia Hospital, a satire on beaurocracy, politics, media and power especially in the medical community where unions let people die and immoral doctors perform Frankenstein-like experiments.

Performance  
A result of the drug-induced attitudes and pseudo-philosophies of the 60s, this cult movie starts off as a gritty British crime movie and then gets lost in a nonsensical, artsy exploration of identities, the merging and loss of individualism and gender, and the 'performances' that express such transfers. The performers in this case are a criminal whose job it is to frighten and coerce people, and Mick Jagger as a fallen rock star. Their paths cross and there is a struggle of identity transference, and lots of sex and strange mind games. If this topic interests you then this is a movie to be watched numerous times with its many subtle references, obscure events and dialog, and strange filming techniques. Otherwise, you'll just find this a bizarre, nonsensical experience.

Philosophy of the Bedroom, The (AKA Beyond Love and Evil)  
Sadean philosophy mixed with 60s style sex and psychedelia. A young man follows his lover to a cult of desire, where every erotic desire is given free reign as a form of ultimate 'liberty'. But she is devoted to the cult leader and his efforts to save her ultimately turn against him. Features tons of groping, orgiastic writhing, outrageous kinky makeup and costumes but not much sex, an insane rapist they keep in the dungeon, flaming homosexuals, lots of little animals, a sport where girls are chased through the woods by dogs, lots of S&M, philosophizing and ceremonies, and a psychedelic prison with large pictures of body parts. A curiosity.

Pick-Up, The  
Underrated but confusing hippy-culture movie. A guy driving a bus back to his boss picks up two girls, one fun-loving, the other, brooding and occult-obsessed. They get lost and stuck in the swamps but have a good time with nature and sex while the man attempts to cure everyone's problems with free-love. Back-stories of repressive and abusive pasts, and trippy spiritual journeys mix with the joyous sex, and psychological fears popup as a surreal ominous clown, a perverted priest and a politician. The violent ending is like a hippy-esque version of Deliverance. Beautifully filmed, pretty girls, but impossible to tell what the goal of the movie is.

Safe Place, A  
A very young Tuesday Weld acts in this kaleidoscopic, stream-of-consciousness character study of a simple-minded young woman who escapes harsh reality with endless childish little fantasies and imaginary friends, while her lovers just want to use her for her beauty. Her patchy and elusive character emerges slowly amidst many improvised bubbly interactions and elusive emotions spliced with memories and imaginary flights of fancy, often involving Orson Welles as a father-figure magician who tries to make the bad things disappear. All this is told in a non-linear timeline, with busy Godard-inspired editing delivering minimum content, and heaps of childish dialogue and a fanciful soundtrack constantly suppressing the ocassional sadness and darker memories. It doesn't work most of the time and meanders when it should be gripping, but it has its moments.

Secrets of Sex (AKA Bizarre)  
A bizzare anthology of short stories tied together by a mummy who explains that it all has to do with the pursuit of sex and the interaction between genders. A man is tortured by a female photographer, topless stripping women are splattered with vegetables then assaulted by men with machine guns, a female burglar seduces her victim, a female spy plays cat and mouse with a military officer, one man attempts a threesome with a call-girl and lizard, and an old woman catches souls in her flowers. What it all means is beyond me. Awful but curious oddity.

Steppenwolf  
A psychological, psychedelic movie based on a book by Hermann Hesse which I have not read. Harry is an antisocial, intelligent, uptight, suicidal man who struggles with his inner trapped wolf and suffers under society and the bourgeoisie. He meets a mysterious woman during this mid-life crisis who makes him obey her frivolous demands and who takes him on a journey of dancing, women, sex, popular music and drugs - to the ultimate goal of joining a mysterious magical theatre, the members of which appear and disappear around every corner of Harry's life. Features Gilliamesque animations, and an extended psychedelic sequence as he sinks into his own conflicted mind while under drugs. A well crafted psychological study and it features the always-noble Max von Sydow, but feels trite and seeped in too much drug-culture of its time. A fitting accompaniment to Performance.

Trip, The  
The quintessential LSD movie by Roger Corman with the participation of Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. The movie is just one long strange trip that a television commercial director goes on for the first time with the help of a guide. He sees psychedelic colors and energies, images of girls and his ex-wife, a psychedelic sex scene, he wanders in a medieval setting with witches and dwarves, then the trip goes bad as he sees his own death and bizzare death ritual, paranoia sets in, he has a psychological inner talk with his drug dealer in a strange merry go round, he wanders into town and gets into some trouble with a little girl and some random people, etc. For what it is, it isn't badly done and can have an effect on your brain if watched under the right circumstances, but it has nothing to say. Much more trippy than the conventional Psych-Out.

Vertige  
45 bizarre barrage and montage of avant-garde scenes on the theme of the detachment of youth during the 60s. Domestic boredom leads to an acid trip emerging from a pattern on a teacup, a mirror and some meditation shows the woman in various guises and stages until the horror of old age, an almost naked woman with a cheetah goes shopping followed by a horde of men, montages of atrocities are experienced by youngsters as a colorful trip, there's snow-racing and parachuting, strange and visually striking dance performances with shadows and lights, and a herd of youngsters freak out in a dance club worship a guitar and generally act out in a frenzy. An attack on acid trips which is a trip in itself, backed by avant-garde music.

Wall, The  
I love Pink Floyd but found the album slightly overrated and the video a dreary, drug-induced mess. It tells the story of a rock star that grows up repressed by parents and teachers and builds a mental wall to protect himself, then suffers one emotional blow after another, and sinks into drug abuse until he manages to break free of the wall. Surreal, lots of striking anti-fascist cartoons and overall a darkly twisted and depressing visual assault.

Who Are You, Polly Magoo?  
An absurdist satire on the fashion world and beautiful celebrities. Polly Magoo is a super-model, worshipped (for the moment) by everyone. Men get run over for her, even a child-like prince broods over her and has various fantasies with her as an actress, in chains, flying through the air, etc. A TV show tries to unmask her in an interview but are afraid she doesn't actually exist under the masks so they run her through all kinds of silly tests and try to portray her in various ways, right before they move on to a special on the Pope. Godardesque rapid cutting, jokes and random musings fly by, raising fashion to ridiculous satirical heights, bashing America, trying to peel layers off people and their personalities, while models cut their skin on ridiculous dresses made of steel.

Yellow Submarine  
Creative Beatles animation that is also a vehicle for their songs, and also a wildly psychedelic experience. The Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Band is asked to save a land overrun by Blue Meanies who hate music, and use weapons like a flying jet hand, stomach jaws, big apples and explosive clown noses. The foursome are picked up in a Yellow Submarine and most of the movie consists of an Alice in Wonderland like trip through surreal landscapes full of crazy creatures, foothills of heads, kinky boot beasts, a strange nowhere man creature who talks in poetry, a sea of holes, and time-travel paradoxes. Psychedelic, bizarre, inventive and entertaining.

Zardoz  
A unique oddity that has equal parts unbelievably silly cheese and interesting, mystical sci-fi. It's like an attempt was made to make this the next 2001: A Space Odyssey but something went terribly wrong. The future consists of a utopian commune where humans are immortal and psychically linked, or punished to eternal madness and apathy, and the rest of the world where a band of barbaric exterminators run around massacring humanity while inspired by a huge flying god-like head that spews weapons at them and tells them 'Guns are good; Penis is evil'. Sean Connery runs around in an outrageous costume that must be seen to be believed while messing with the Immortals' dead sex drives and slowly discovering that he is the Chosen One from the Matrix who can destroy the system and make an angry mob move backwards in time. Gets weirder as it progresses, spewing grand philosophical statements while tripping in the mind of a god-like computer. Both terrible and interesting at the same time.

Zazie in the Subway  
Insane, freewheeling French New Wave comedy by Louis Malle. It's a combination of fantasy-comedy involving a young girl on a short vacation in Paris with her uncle, a series of surreal improvisations (musical boots, waves on top of the Eiffel Tower), a satirical attack on Paris and Parisians, making fun of sightseeing, elitist restaurants, the crazy night-life, sex-starved tourists, traffic that carries cars along with it, fascist invasions, and a dreamy woman that attacks a policeman with kisses, slapstick comedy that seems to be cataloging every old-school physical gag as well as some new Tati-esque inventive ones, a live-action Roadrunner cartoon chase complete with exploding dynamite, and a coming-of-age comedy where a saucy, rude, foul-mouthed but cute young girl discusses various sexual deviations with adults, some of which are transvestites or suggested child molesters while desperately wanting to ride the (allegorical?) subway. And this is only a broad description, the movie being so energetic and unrelentingly over-the-top wacky, that it isn't really funny but unforgettably entertaining.

Worthless

Acid Eaters, The  
Extremely silly, off-the-wall flick about a group of people that go wild after a dreary day in the office, riding motorbikes, partying, painting each other, have sex, making jokes while watching their girl drown in some quicksand after which she climbs down a ladder to a hell with a card-playing Native American, kill a random passerby, bathe under a tree-shower, talk to a Native American pimp, then search for an LSD pyramid during which a girl dances to some bongos, one of them turns into a devil and they have sex-trips and an orgy, all while a shocked old woman watches. Characters keep disappearing and re-appearing, and the lip-sync is off. Features more boobs than you can shake an LSD cube at.

Angel, Angel Down We Go (AKA Cult Of The Damned)  
Weird, tripped-out, mean-spirited, trashy movie about an overweight debutante of rich parents (a closet homosexual and a lush porn star) who becomes entangled with a provocative, idealistic, groovy, skydiving rock band who solve her insecurity, virginity and parent problems. There are songs about the superiority of fat girls and the life of a pill-popping mother, many trippy hallucinations and clipping montages, a scene where the fat girl is stuck on the ceiling, and lots of weird dialogue ("I'm a sexual clam!", ""Your breath stinks. I dig it." and "You have all the manners of a prize blue-ribboned pig!"). This would have made John Waters proud except the groovy nonsensical dialogue and psychedelic atmosphere gives it a unique edge.

Chappaqua  
All hail the LSD trip for it is all-knowing and omnipotent. This drug culture 60s movie tells the real tale of a spoiled rich man who did nothing interesting in his life except have trips and go to a special clinic to cure his alcoholism and drug addictions. He takes drugs, travels to Europe, lies in a bed, talks to a French doctor, then flies back. Since this isn't interesting enough, this 'story' is flooded with scores of his visions and hallucinations which make no sense to us but have spiritual meaning to him. He sees a beautiful woman walking by a river, Indians, Native Americans, Druids on Stonehenge, Dracula in a casino, an ice skater in the clinic, other assorted weirdly made-up creatures and humans, and throughout all this he dances, freaks out, does the jiggle, shakes, stands on his head and runs away while being chased by a strange bald chauffeur.

Ciao! Manhattan  
Edie Sedgwick, a pretty Warholian superstar, model, and short-lived celebrity that burned herself out fast, acts as Susan, a burnt out ex-celebrity, model and denizen of the Warhol factory. She lives in a pool surrounded by pictures of herself, rambling on about her life as a model, deaths and abuse in her life, and endless experiences with drugs, her every whim catered to by a highly eccentric hippie and a Texan bumbkin who aspires to build a flying saucer. Past footage from her celebrity life, and some Warhol-esque footage of boring people rambling about boring things, are spliced with a strange, obtuse story about a powerful old man (God?) and his assistants as they plot and manipulate her sleazy ex-boyfriend's life. The Texan and Susan narrate incoherently as if they were watching the movie within the movie. A film as hazy, unfocused, fragmented, incoherent, empty and dull as her mind probably was. A complete waste.

Dirtiest Game, The  
An old exploitation movie that pushed the violence and sex envelope. A politican tries to infiltrate the hippy and marijuana culture to gain votes, he scorns his wife and gets involved with free-sex and sex orgies. It's all near-hardcore exploitation until the wife goes berserk, leading to a bloody, violent ending with razor blades and a gun. There's a morality tale in here somewhere about extremely dirty politics but its lost somewhere between the breasts and genitalia.

Ecstatic Stigmatic  
An hour-long epic in the New York Cinema of Transgression movement featuring punk anti-art and in-your-face experimentalism with shock value. Rose is an insane stigmatic who is shown writhing in bed for about 20 minutes while an annoying narration first reads from a medical book about a stigmata case, then erupts into shrill nonsensical worship of a blood-letting cult she formed. After this we get the incoherent no-budget back-story of Rose as a kid and her strange, tattooed performing parents, some guy in two-face makeup that talks to himself, and a key episode involving a backstage pedophile, all backed by a soundtrack consisting of howls, wails and various instruments being abused. I'll take conventional culture over this any day.

Elevator Girls in Bondage  
For most of its running time, this is just another dreary drag-queen movie starring the Cockettes, a 'psychedelic drag queen' troupe. In Warholian and Jack Smith fashion, they self-indulgently romp, prance, act-out in campy fashion while the camera whimsically watches. There're buckets of ugly makeup and a room-full of ugly campy costumes, there's gay sex and unwanted nudity, weird props, 'psychedelic' performances, some scatter-brained campy satire on Marxism and workers that is too air-headed to have any effect, until the surprise ending of a 'monster' lizard crawling through a toy city and eating up the cast while a dressed up 'bible-thumper' preaches about the end of the world.

End of the Road  
The novel this is based on, which I haven't read, is supposedly a surreal exploration of existential epistemology using radical and blank slate characters, but none of this comes through in this completely bizarre, messy and pointless movie. A man who frequently goes catatonic is picked up in a train station by an extremely insane doctor who runs The Farm, a madhouse populated by people who are encouraged to do any insane thing that comes to mind, including screwing chickens. The performances in these scenes, especially of the doctor (James Earl Jones) are as bizarre as you'll ever see. He is soon released onto the world to conform as a teacher, and he develops a pointless relationship with an odd couple (the book supposedly makes these two much more central and meaningful), has an affair with the wife, and the movie ends pointlessly with a disturbing abortion gone bad. In addition, pointless iconic images of the 70s are added to bookend the movie and attempts are made to refer to the individual vs. the establishment. Pointless, unrewarding, very bizarre horsecrap.

Final Programme, The  
The Avengers set in an entropic future with trippy sets, sci-fi jargon and apocalyptic nonsense. The messy plot involves a programme invented by a brilliant physicist that makes use a super-computer, some scientist brains and an incubator to create a new kind of being. The microfilm containing this secret is the main focus of most of the movie as siblings, spies and scientists fight each other and strange booby traps against a backdrop of an anarchical Europe in order to get hold of this prize. Colorful, but never manages to pull itself together in any way.

Gas-s-s-s  
A hippy movie so in love with its own whimsy, it becomes a boring chore to watch. A group of hippies travel across the country after an apocalyptic gas erupts causing anyone over the age of 25 to die. They travel amidst the chaos while doing their laid-back happy thing and living the moment, clashing against various groups of youngsters reduced to stereotypes, every time ending in a bit of nonsensical hippy fluff and wandering attention deficit disorder rather than with climactic showdowns. They meet aggressive fascist jocks and their victim cheerleaders, Edgar Allen Poe on a motorcycle, some strange golfers that hijack them after they make an attempt to conform to social norms, etc. all the while throwing satirical barbs at society, or making jokes and references only a stoner or 60s dude would appreciate. Makes me consider the element of smugness in hippies as everyone is reduced to stereotypes and they travel to their fantasy utopia of whimsy and denial.

Gold  
This is your mind in the 70s on pot and LSD. This is a movie with a message that you tried to make while your mind was on pot and LSD. A very loose plot involves a law-enforcement-man-cum-politician in a suit who keeps clashing with groups of laid-back hippies, a strange clownish figure that keeps popping up, and some revolutionaries dressed up as Castro and Che. Some silly political campaign speeches are made, the various corruptions of power are shown as the man argues, tries to wield his power uselessly or pontificate about nudity, morality, ownership, law and hygiene, while a jarringly eclectic soundtrack blasts and the hippies run around naked a lot, have multi-colored sex, or roll in mud-orgies. A mess.

Head  
The Monkees were a juvenile pop-rock band created for a TV show in order to emulate The Beatles. This movie was supposedly some kind of send-off, at once showing them in a new light and making fun of their image. They sing about how they are manufactured, break the fourth wall, make jokes about which of their characters is supposed to be the dumb one, and so on. In between the very forgettable and uninspired songs, this movie (co-written by Jack Nicholson!) meanders randomly between all kinds of wacky scenes: They play in a fake and silly Western shootout with cowboys and Indians, pretend to be dandruff in Victor Mature's hair, get constantly trapped in a strange black box, receive mystical advice from a guru in a sauna, have a whole platoon of Italians and a tank surrender to them in a desert, fight with a coca-cola vending machine, hallucinate, meet with a talking cow and various celebrities in cameos, perform other unfunny short sketches, etc. up until the action climax that brings all of these together into one jumbled mess. Chaotic, dull, and not funny.

Magical Mystery Tour  
50-minute experiment by the Beatles involving a bus-full of passengers who are supposedly taken on a magical tour but nothing much happens. They sing, play, crawl, chase, they watch midgets wrestling, and intercut with this random boredom are some bizarre and pyschedelic music videos, including the trippy I Am A Walrus, and random surreal scenes such as a sergeant barking nonsense in front of a cow, silly wizards overseeing the bus route, and a woman's nightmare where she has a nervous breakdown while the waiter shovels spaghetti off the floor onto her table. If any movie deserves to get the reaction 'what the hell were they thinking?!', then this is it. A terribly messy flop.

Magic Christian, The  
Another oddball 60s satire by Terry Southern (Candy, Barbarella) that thinks its making fun of society by showing people who do outrageous things for money. Peter Sellers is the rich Sir Guy Grand KG, KC, CBE who adopts Ringo Starr as his son and teaches him about the exploitable greed of man and the joy of shocking and undermining various of society's occupations. A pheasant hunt turns into a military bombardment, a possible Rembrandt is bought and then mutilated, there's a very confusing, nonsensical scene on a train with a revolving chair and a Chinaman, a panther is dressed up and brought to a dog show with chaotic results, a cop is paid to eat his parking ticket, and, in one of the only funniest scenes, Sellers uses various outrageous props to bid at an auction. These are only some of the vignettes leading to an ultimately bizarre chaotic climax on a ship with a vampiric Christopher Lee, a naked female slave galley, a gorilla, midgets and male strippers. The trouble with this one is that it is obvious and mean-spirited and is neither insightful nor amusing.

Manipulator, The  
Off-the-wall hallucinogenic madness featuring none other than Mickey Rooney in the role of an insane has-been director that keeps an actress locked up as a pet for his theatrical fantasies. This is a theatrical feature, featuring only three actors (one of which only appears for 5 minutes) in what feels like improvised acting. The setting is a warehouse full of props and mannequins lending surrealism to the scenes. He rants, soliloquies, puts on drag makeup (!), a big cyrano nose, plays out scene after scene from random plays in his head, talks to imaginary people from his past and imaginary film crew, reminisces in acid-flashbacks of family and parties with actors dressed in bizarre costumes and makeup, acts out a heart attack and kill-scenes with a sword, all the while she half-cooperates or pleads repetitively for food and to be untied while she hallucinates nightmare sequences. The acting is very good, so good in fact, that it's boring as hell. It's the equivalent of going to an insane asylum to stare at a some strange old guy mumble and rant for 90 minutes. We learn nothing about him, and the script is unrewarding, making this a masturbatory actor's film, and a very painfully tedious watch.

Mr. Freedom  
Very dumb and infantile satire on American jingoism, blind allegiance to anything with the word freedom, and fear of Communism. Mr. Freedom is a big dumb superhero dressed like a colorful football hero covered with the American flag, out to spread freedom by killing everyone. He is sent on a mission to France that is being overrun by Communists, but he is confused when he is not welcomed. The French leaders are rubber blow-up figures covered in French colors, the Chinese super-villian is a huge air-filled dragon, and his team of freedom fighters are either muscled idiots wearing colorful rubber outfits or bare-breasted women singing American anthems, preaching slogans and punching each other silly. Dentists are killed to maintain security, Mr. Freedom gets depressed when he finds out a kid doesn't like him and develops stigmata, and the war for the freedom of the French escalates into total destruction, or does it? Boring, obvious and uninsightful.

Myra Breckinridge  
Absolutely terrible satire that feels like an immature teenager trying to be provocative and clever and can't even get his mind away from his whimsical kinks and lusts long enough to make a movie. This is a dumb, uninsightful and obvious attack by Gore Vidal on conventional society and its attitudes towards sex and relationships. Raquel Welch acts as a transexual (!) out to take some kind of undefined revenge on all men and the family unit, her male version appearing in parallel in many of her scenes, to the point where they even perform a dance number. After some genital surgery performed in front of a cheering audience, she goes to blackmail her uncle for an inheritance, sabotages his acting academy, and sodomizes a man, while a 76 year old Mae West gets laid dozens of times a day using her casting couch. Trashy, over-the-top, and annoyingly smug, setting up juvenile straw men for some juvenile taunts and juvenile kinks.

Niklashausen Journey, The  
Fassbinder does Godard, via his usual stilted theatrics, random costumes, heavy makeup, and melodrama. It's his most abstract movie, dealing with the timeless revolution of the people in various periods, and its failures. The title is based on a folk hero who led peasants to a revolt after claiming to see the Virgin Mary, but he preaches modern Marxism and dresses like a hippy, and his followers include a member of the Black Panthers, an armed Mexican, and so on, their dress reflecting their period, and the medieval setting mixing with cars and rock practice-jams. People pose against settings of industrial decay and sing songs, three witches douse themselves in blood and curse mankind, there's random religion-bashing, and a gay aristocratic bishop, who is everyone's nemesis, gets excited. Pretentious boring nonsense.

Psyched by the 4D Witch  
Laughably bad in an Ed Wood way, this psychedelic piece of cheap sleaze tells the tale of a virgin girl who gets involved in sexual witchcraft and encounters her ancestor Abigail, an evil witch, during meditation. Abigail guides and controls her through perverse sexual fantasies and dark acts of magic with evil effects on her friends. This is not what it sounds like though as the camera only lingers on various facial expressions while silly voice-overs further the story, and then displays a confusing collection of psychedelic colors, superimpositions, floating eyes and masks while Wagner plays loudly in the background. Offbeat.

Savages  
An oddity produced by Merchant Ivory. Primitive mud-people are collecting narcotic leaves and about to kill one of their people when a croquet ball lures them into a deserted mansion where in no time, they become cultured sophisticates. Only they retain their core personalities and assume a role (maid, geek, etc) suitable to their character, to the point of a woman dressing as a man and vice versa. A croquet ball leads them back to primitive life, thus concluding the obvious point of this movie. This would be simple arthouse fodder with a touch of Bunuel absurdity if not for the constant added weirdness of their behaviour and dialogue: They find a dead dog and the mansion lights flicker, a croquet ball ominously interrupts their dinner, a man kills himself in the swimming pool and a woman swims laps over his dead body, they play weird games, sing silly songs, read fruit, and practice strange oriental rituals, all to point out the strangeness of any culture I presume, while an unsubtitled German narrator and intertitles educate us. Good idea, but a bad, chaotic, strange execution.

School Play  
Plot? We don't need no stinkin plot! This is a campy, freewheeling, very-low-budget, improvised fantasy movie slightly in the vein of Kuchar's creations. It mashes together several characters and elements from many fairy tales and fantasies such as Cinderella, Wizard of Oz, Sleeping Beauty, etc. the actors acting out any character they wish, breaking character whenever they want for some improvised jokes, trash-talk, horny ad-libs, quotes from other movies and plays, and asides to the audience. At the center of the movie is a man who finds himself in a dream, encountering many strange characters in the woods, including a talking balloon and a hungry man-witch with an oven, on his way to meet the wizard. At random, the director throws in new characters like a Spanish bull-fighter and a horny African Queen. It's like they dressed up in random costumes for the day, and had fun filming whatever role the costumes inspired. But it's all too whimsical and self-indulgent to be either interesting or funny.

Skidoo  
Between the oddball comedy that wanders all over the place like a drunk hippy, the strange casting choices such as Groucho as a mafia boss, the painfully unfunny plot and the LSD trips, this one has cult fans drooling. An ex-gangster is sent to prison by Groucho (AKA God) to kill a rat while his dancing wife invites a few dozen hippies into her house to save her daughter. The gangster and the whole prison take LSD, resulting in some cheesy hallucinations while they make their escape. Oddball indeed.

Space Is the Place  
Sun Ra was a cult, avant-garde jazz musician who pioneered the use of synthesizers and delivered his strange music in a package of new-age space gobbledygook, speaking in prophecies, sci-fi jargon and aphorisms, and telling about his travels to Saturn. In this movie, he is a pharaoh-cum-guru in tune with the victimized black brotherhood and offering space employment, powerful music imbued with black spirit, and transportation to a better planet. His adversary is the Overseer, another black man with superpowers exploiting the people (and constantly setting up two fangirls for some sex without sharing the wealth). White men in power try to take control, while he plays a mystical game of cards in the desert with the overseer, flies around in a little plastic toy-spaceship, and performs a magical concert before the Earth gets destroyed. It's all rather lame and lacking conviction though, and the music is terrible.

Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures, The  
A relatively more psychedelic and slightly surreal work by the cult horror icon from Brazil, Coffin Joe. A hokey opening act involving colorful dancers, bongos, cheap masks and lightning, resurrects Coffin Joe, only to have him promptly settle in a strange hostel that selectively and mysteriously admits only certain people. The guests are welcomed and spoiled, while the help is terrified by their strange boss. The guests indulge in their various pleasures and weaknesses leading to a psychedelic orgy of nakedness and psychedelic hallucinations. But what is he really up to? The concept is good in this one, but the execution is too hokey and heavy-handed, not to mention his babbling pseudo-philosophical nonsense.

Thundercrack!  
If John Waters had gotten stoned out of his mind and decided to write a hardcore pornographic comedy tribute to Rocky Horror with miles and miles of hammy and artifical dialogue, this may have been the result. This notoriously deranged grainy black and white movie features a group of strangers that get caught during a storm in a strange house full of sex toys and perverts and soon occupy their time indulging in every sex act possible. Blow-up dolls, sex-starved gorillas, oral sex, gay sex, cucumbers and penis enlargement machines serve as distractions while they ramble on endlessly about pickled husbands, lust, circus stories, or nothing in particular, even while indulging themselves.

200 Motels  
What a bunch of brainless, random twaddle from a group of stoned minds in love with all of their whimsies no matter how idiotic or tasteless they are. This is a Zappa film featuring random 'humorous' sketches, songs, joke-songs, improvisations and experiments. They make jokes about not getting paid, about wasting time in the movie, they sing about penises, dress up in any and all costumes, perform a bizarre number about a boutique in a town with psychedelic camera work, perform other very unfunny and boring sketches, sing songs that involve some horrible and avant-garde symphony orchestra arrangements, talk about sticking an Aladdin lamp inside some girl's vagina, dress up Ringo Starr to look like Zappa, show an LSD-inspired animation that makes no sense, and so on, all with the usual psychedelic colors, filters, backward-effects, superimpositions, etc. Only a stoner could think this juvenile, tasteless, self-absorbed randomness is entertaining. A complete waste of time. Seeing this, it is difficult to take anyone who calls Zappa a genius seriously, but I suppose they must be referring only to his musical abilities.

Uncle Meat  
Not really a movie it pretends to be, but more of a backstage documentary on Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention with the majority of the film consisting of various band members goofing off or doing weird things. There's a plot somewhere about a man who keeps turning into a monster (making weird faces) while trying to compose a song made of items arranged on a cloth, and a woman who falls in love with him with a fetish for meat, but this is sliced up chaotically with random footage, a lot of it taking place before '200 Motels' but all jumbled together 15 years later. Even if one claims that this serves as an inside view into the wacky, improvised and wild creative process of the band, you will get no insights here other than that they were silly, boring and seemingly insanely stoned even though they claim they weren't. The phrase "measure it with a chicken" is repeated no less than 30 times throughout the film while various people do weird things with a rubber chicken, even though it wasn't clever, creative or amusing the first time. A man asks to be beaten up with toilet brushes after which they do exactly that. There's a lot of fetish activities and washing with hamburger meat, bizarre costumes, snippets of a live performance and dumb sketches, games with a vibrator and a guitar neck stitched to a crotch, lots of rambling about nothing interesting, psychedelic colors and negative splicing, a naked guitarist learning Italian, etc. An interminable, chaotic bore.

Virgin's Bed, The (Le Lit de la vierge)  
Garrel's strange hippy/drug parable take on Christ. Jesus seems to be a lost teenager with a Freudian mother-complex, pressured to proselytize and save the people by his mother, when all he really wants to do is hang out with Mary Magdalene. But the people reject him at every door, thugs on horseback push him and his mule off the road, and Mary demands a constant payment of stones for her services. I make this sound like a comedy, but this movie takes itself very very seriously and employs striking black and white cinematography in medieval, Pasolini-like scenery. Other random symbolic scenes include the hellish opening of Pandora's box, preaching to water-bearers, and Jesus taking flight (probably while on drugs). Presumably a parable on the social revolution of the 60s that nobody wanted to listen to, but seeing this movie, it's clear why nobody did.

Weird World of LSD, The  
Extremely silly 70s B&W documentary-like exploitation about the alleged effects of LSD on people. LSD supposedly turns people promiscuous, exhibitionist, murderous and suicidal. It even makes a sandwich turn into a huge meal. One man "flies a giant bird" literally by flapping his arms while a chicken floats over the screen, another sees masked monsters instead of models, another man runs to death in deep paranoia and a woman flirts with mannequins. LSD is dangerous alright if it causes movies like these.

Wonderwall  
Psychedelic oddity from the 60s with touches of surrealism. An absent-minded, eccentric, mousey professor who needs to reminds himself of the mundane habits of life though his notebook, spots his glamorous, hippy fashion model neighbour through a hole in the wall and this starts an obsession. He neglects his work, drills more holes in the wall and spies on her while having surreal dreams and visions revolving around her. The set design is painfully colorful and psychedelic, and the dreams include the professor fighting her boyfriend in a superman costume with huge pens and lipsticks as weapons. The soundtrack is noisy Indian-sitar music composed by George Harrison. Pointless and unromantic, and very much a product of its time, like a hippy art movie.




2000- by The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre Table of Contents