Movie night

So at movie night last night the host said go ahead Brick, you pick the movie and I instantly picked The Beast of Yucca Flats before anyone could tear the keyboard from my cold dead hands. Alas I was mortified, as it was the edited for incredibly bad television version and the scene where the children feed soda to the pigs was cut, losing all that pathos and and rendering the complex multi dimensional narratives a confusing mess. Not even Tor Johnson’s wailing and stumbling and Russian scientist turned into a psychopathic killer by an unexpected atomic blast shtick could save it. Imagine a Plan 9 without the 9. I say stick to the Criterion edition, where the restored director’s cut shows the children feeding soda to the pigs as well as lots more driving around. There is also audio commentary by Tor Johnson and the pigs, as well as several clips from the original Broadway production of the Beast of Yucca Flats, with James Coco as the Beast.

As soon as that ended, the keyboard still in my colder and even deader hands, I selected Bucket of Blood, perhaps my favorite Roger Corman flick, full of stoned beatniks and uptight narcs and murderous artists (well, one) and bad poets and Paul Horn playing some truly gorgeous tenor sax, much cooler than anything he did inside the Great Pyramid. Indeed all the jazz—these are beatniks, remember—in the flick is cool, with Fred Katz providing his usual amazingly hip jazz score, or maybe his identically hip jazz score, since he handed Corman the same recordings for a couple different flicks, just changing the title on the can, figuring nobody would notice, which they did not. Which just goes to show you can never trust a cello player.

Finally, the evil artist hoisted on his own metaphorical beatnik petard beneath the jagged swell of saxophones and brass, it’s over. I hate when it’s over as I don’t think there’s another film quite like it. I sat back on the couch, they pried the keyboard from my cold dead hands and said I could keep coming to movie night but I couldn’t pick the movies. I said cool, Daddy o.

The Wasp Woman

Not only is The Wasp Woman the greatest guinea pig morphing into white rat and we’re not supposed to notice movie ever (apparently the pet store didn’t have any baby guinea pigs), but Fred Katz’s score is brilliant. It’s so strange how these American International flicks have some of the finest jazz soundtracks in all of filmdom. Like who’s playing this alto saxophone solo underneath the meathead delivery men trying to pick up on the secretaries? Though I think I heard this same alto solo in Bucket of Blood when a crazed beatnik was covering a dead cat (as in kitty cat, not hepcat) in modeling clay. It was probably the exact same solo in The Haunted Sea that I heard between fits of giggling at a profoundly dumb sea monster. I remember reading that Katz sold Roger Corman the same score over and over and Corman never noticed. Serves him right for not being musical. Meanwhile, Wasp Woman is having a bad morph day. The music suddenly swells into a cacophony like Sun Ra and crashes to a halt, Wasp Woman dead, though the kids in the back seats never noticed. It was a drive in double feature anyway and who knows, they might be humping their way through the exact same alto saxophone solo in the next flick. Popcorn anyone?

The Trip

The Trip poster 2

Sat down to watch The Trip again last night, the Roger Corman/Jack Nicholson flick with Peter Fonda, and about ten minutes in it dawned on me that I had never seen The Trip. How I do not know. Great psychedelic freakout turned free form jazz score with the Electric Flag, though the occasional bass line kept making me think it was Country Joe and the Fish. A living, breathing, uncharred Gram Parsons in the club. Bruce Dern with a frightening beard. Dennis Hopper being quintessentially Dennis Hopper. Plus women in strictly supporting roles, this being the sixties. Lots of psychedelicized screwing. Grooviness and paranoia. What’s with all the horses? I didn’t know LSD came in gel caps. Peter anxious. You’re always nervous your first time Bruce Dern says. Bruce Dern knows. He knows. The score gets hazy, eastern, psychedelicized. Peter coming on. Dig those crazy colors. Peter holds an orange. That’s the sun in my hands, man! Jack Nicholson wrote, Oh, it gives off an orange cloud of light that just flows right out over the sea! Bruce Dern smiles knowingly beneath that mammoth beard. The camera follows Peter. Peter one with the universe. Peter naked and freaking. Peter home invading in a creepy scene. Peter weirding out the lady in the laundromat, who steals the scene. Peter freaking big time. You’re stoned out of your mind, aren’t you, said the blonde waitress. Peter staring, child like. Peter must have gotten laid like crazy with that look. Now Peter smelling bacon, ditching the pigs. Peter lost in acid terror, finds himself back at Dennis Hopper’s pad. Dennis senses his trauma. I wish there was some hip way of telling you this, baby, he tells Peter, but, ah… you’re one with and part of an ever-expanding, loving, joyful, glorious, and harmonious universe. I think the police are after me, Peter says. Bummer. I got a house full of pot, Dennis says, you better split. Peter back on Sunset Boulevard. Chicks everywhere, groovy blonde chicks, Susan Strasberg even, dancing, giggling, balling. Free love, baby, when in doubt, fuck. Peter is in doubt. Peter is one with everything, yet not one with anything. Crazy sax blowing turns to flute exploration. Peter is down at the sea shore to let the waves wash his mind. In the gray dawn perfectly good breakers go unsurfed. This is so beyond Frankie and Annette now. Beyond Dick Dale even. The naked lady dresses as Mike Bloomfield plays some crazy blues figure on the guitar. She asks Peter about the trip. Did he find what he was seeking? Yeah, I’m hip about time, but I just gotta go, Peter says, in the wrong movie. In comes the Electric Flag, grooving over the credits. That’s it, baby. Self-actualization, rock’n’roll and screwing on the Sunset Strip.

The Trip--waitress

You’re stoned out of your mind, aren’t you?