Friday, February 19, 2010

Blue Sunshine


I love when a movie gets off on a great start. Take for instance Cavalcade favorite Jeff Leiberman's little known BLUE SUNSHINE (1976). I've loved Leiberman's SQUIRM for years and am also a big fan of JUST BEFORE DAWN, as well as his most recent outing, SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER, so how BLUE SUNSHINE has slipped through the cracks is unbeknowst to me. I won't say I was totally disappointed and you'll see why in a second. Shall we?

Like I said, we're off to a rip roaring start while in the first ten minutes, we meet gorgeous brunette baby sitter, Wendy, who's ex-husband Ed Fleming is running for congress. One of Wendy's babysitting charges pulls her hair out in an uncomfortable character building scene and cut to a disgruntled wife telling her husband's friend how weird husband John, a cop, has been lately. She also utters the first MAD line of the movie (at her child, who for some reason, has a parrot on his shoulder, a live parrot), "Johnny, NO! No more chocolate pudding!!! I made that for your father! NOW STOP IT!" Then she just goes right back into her convo, that is, until husband John comes home and stares eerily at everyone.

Then cut again to a swinging party, where one fucked up party goer does his best Rodan impression, and I don't mean the artist. Then host Frannie (a dude) does a accapella Sinatra cover before a guest manages to snatch his hair off his head. He goes completely wild in the eyes and runs screaming from the house. The party guests decide to go look for him, leaving some of the women folk back at the house to muse about the strangeness that just occurred in front of an open fireplace. We don't have to wait long before Frannie returns and stuff all three lovelies in the fireplaces, barbecuing them to death. And this is all in the first ten minutes! Good stuff so far.

Well, so protagonist and Sean Penn impersonator Jerry takes it upon himself to get to the heart of all this weirdness. Why did Frannie go crazy? Jerry winds up getting the murders of the three fireplace victims blamed on him because he's there when the cops show up, or rather when the crazy truckers show up to take justice into their own hands, but let's not get into that at the moment. Jerry finds himself in the thick of things when he realizes this is happening to his doctor friend, David, as well as John the copy who has the kid with the parrot - remember him? Seems there's been some unpleasantness at John's residence, revealed through Jerry glancing at a newspaper that John ripped off his hair and slaughtered his whole brood, including the neighbors dog.

So why's everybody freaking out? If you guessed LSD everyone did at a Stanford ten years ago and that the future Congressman Ed Fleming was the drug dealer that sold everyone this acid then you would be correct. It's a bit X-Filesy in places, but lacks that supernatural element to really pull off something entirely of that nature. I thought I would really really love this, given the beginning. It starts off great, moves into slowness with totally 'duh' revelations, and while you might think there's an anti-drug message here, Leiberman treats it just too casually.

Is it too overt that it looses any preachiness at all? I don't think it's didactic at all, it's almost as if everything here is presented at total face value. It's not telling us 'don't do drugs.' Is it telling us not to trust politicians, being as how Fleming was the drug dealer at some point? We already don't trust politicians. BLUE SUNSHINE is just like, okay, here's some drug stuff and some political stuff, maybe even a touch of medical ethics, but I don't have anything to say about this heavy stuff, really, so um, yeah, here you go. It could have even gone the trippy psychedelic angle, but it didn't even do that, save for one picture of Fleming back in his Stanford days wearing a wig and looking all high.

So on paper here's what we've got - LSD, hairlessness, grisly murders, some unintentionally funny kill/freak out sequences, a possible anti-drug message, a possible anti-establishment message (although that's a stretch given how everyone acts and how everything is treated), a parrot, and some disco dancing. Doesn't sound too bad. I think this could have perhaps been a very punk movie, instead it's just so blah in its execution, it fails miserably. It was sort of okay fun to watch and the score was dead on - a real tension builder. Oh well, Jeff Leiberman apparently can't win them all. Look at Tobe Hooper of all people. Jeez.

Okay, onto wine and Danzig radio. You know if you program Pandora for Danzig radio - they play shit like Metallica and Pantera. I don't want to hear Metallica and Pantera. I want to hear fucking Danzig. Remind me to tell you all the story about when I met Glenn Danzig, if I haven't told you already. After dinner and Danzig, I"m going to watch Milligan's THE BODY BENEATH, so look for that write up soon.

Happy weekend!

7 comments:

  1. This movie sounds like a real head scratcher. Its funny how some of the decades and their most outrageous horror faire were influenced by certain drugs: 70's LSD, 80's coke, etc.

    And whats wrong with Pantera and Metallica missy? I can see if you just want to listen to Glen and thats it though.

    I saw him at the Wiltern in LA. Did a whole set of old Danzig tunes and then Doyle from the Misfits came on stage and they ripped through an entire set of Misfits tunes. One of the most amazing concerts I've ever been to.

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  2. Never been one for LSD myself, which is strange, given my proclivity to party. So I'm not usually a fan of 'trippy' movies, although I do like me some WIZARD OF OZ. It's totally a horror movie.

    Now there is nothing wrong with Pantera or Metallica - it's just Pandora won't play any Danzig on Danzig radio. Weird, huh?

    That sounds like a fuckin' show! When was it? I saw him back on the Circle of Snakes tour and the only Misfits they did was Skulls.

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  3. jervaise brooke hamsterFebruary 21, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Jenn, your reveiws are superb, i`d love to hear your opinion on what is one of the great "Head Trip" movies (perhaps the greatest) David cronenbergs 1981 masterwork "Videodrome", i think the dreamlike, bizarre and surreal imagery in that film combined with your intelligence might bring about one of your greatest ever reveiws.

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  4. Back in 2004. They did a larger tour back in 2007, similar set up. I wish Glen and Jerry would settle their beef and just get back together. But it was the closest I've ever been to actually seing a Misfits show. Amazing.

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  5. Unfortunately, I've never really been able to listen to Danzig. I tried long ago and immediately just heard some sort of metal Jim Morrison... Since then, I still can't hear or even think of anything else.

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  6. I've seen the Misfits many a time, but the bastardized version with Michael Graves and then the current lineup with Jerry singing. It's freakin' terrible. They rush through their set every time. It's like fifty songs in thirty minutes. Some of it is unrecognizable.

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  7. I have had this on the wishlists for a while and never grabbed it, still quasi interested in seeing it since I have to live vicariously through other peoples LSD trips, but Im slightly less interested to say the least

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