Sunday, March 31, 2013


Jesus was having quite a cultural moment in the early 70s. The term "Jesus freak" (referring to the young folks who were embracing a counter-cultural image of Christ) was in vogue, the Campus Crusade for Christ was a growing organization, a book about the Rapture was on the bestseller lists, and the pop charts were home to some explicitly Christian songs like "Put Your Hand in the Hand" and new versions of "The Lord's Prayer" and "Amazing Grace." JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and GODSPELL were two hit musicals which also also gave birth to hit pop songs--"Superstar" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from the first, "Day By Day" from the second, and were both made into movies, neither one completely successfully.

I have fond feelings for both works because I came upon them in my high school and college years. As a teenager, I was already a lapsed Catholic (though I was still expected to attend church every Sunday until the middle of my college years) but I had a girlfriend who was a born-again Christian, and I was interested in the ins and outs of theology, so both works appealed to me. I saw the staged versions of both shows and became a fan of both, but was disappointed in the films. The movie of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, which is a sung-through "rock opera," was set in the Holy Land, with a troupe of actors arriving out in the middle of nowhere to get into costume, put up sets, and act out the story of the Passion. The show, the first collaboration of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, was groundbreaking not just because of the rock music, but because Judas is sort of the leading man, a figure presented as complicated, conflicted, and, so I think, more interesting that Jesus. The movie retains the wonderful score, and the leads, Ted Neely as Jesus (pictured) and Carl Anderson as Judas, were charismatic enough. But the rest of the cast, especially the Romans, aren't up to the task of acting like actors who are lost in roles (I think that's what they're supposed to be), and the singing, despite the presence of a couple of people from the original album, is not up to snuff, with the force of the dramatic songs feeling weakened. Even the big "Superstar" number, which should have been a highlight, is bungled by the director, Norman Jewison, who in my eyes also bungled the screen version of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.

GODSPELL was a smaller-scale, Jesus-as-hippie show, the gospel of Matthew presented as a series of gentle soft-rock songs and blackout sketches, mostly joyous until the inevitable downer of Jesus' death. I saw the show live several times and the Jesus-freak sincerity, catchy melodies, and transcendent ending always moved me without quite converting me. The movie is set in New York City with a handful of folks frustrated with the hectic pace of their day hearing the call of a scruffy John the Baptist's shofar and "dropping out," following John and Jesus (in a Superman t-shirt and rainbow pants) to a variety of locations in the suddenly deserted city (including the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park and the still-under-construction World Trade Center). They act out a variety of parables and sing about grace and salvation, without any real narrative until the Last Supper and Crucifixion (up against a fence with red ribbons tied to Jesus' wrists to symbolize blood, I imagine). At dawn, they carry his body through the still-deserted city, turn a corner, and suddenly vanish as the city is just as suddenly repopulated.

That ending is a very nice effect, and one of the few moments that really works in the movie. Victor Garber, as Jesus, is very good, and one of the few cast members who went on to have a strong acting career (also Lynne Thigpen, perhaps best known as the Chief on the Carmen Sandiego TV shows, and David Haskell as John and Judas, who did quite a bit of television). The rest of the cast is fine, but the fact that everything, the songs and the dialogue, was post-synced hurts a bit, and frankly, a lot of potential for either cute or profound touches was wasted--the settings and direction both feel a bit slapdash. Both of these movies were trying to adapt to film what were originally very theatrical experiences, and neither film finds the right balance between artifice and realism. Both are easy to sit through, especially at Easter, but the original albums still being the works home to me more strongly. [DVDs]

Saturday, March 30, 2013


In the 9th century BC, King Ahab (Eduard Franz) rules Israel and is planning to take Phoenician princess Jezebel (Paulette Goddard) as his queen, much to the dismay of his people, specifically the prophet Elijah (John Hoyt) who foresees that she will replace worship of the One True God with idolatrous worship of the god Baal, and if that happens, drought and unrest will plague the land. Ahab says that's nonsense and sends loyal warrior Jehu (George Nader) to meet her when she approaches the palace; she is quite taken with him, even deciding to ditch her advisor and his men and ride into town with just Jehu. The very day she meets Ahab, she seduces Jehu, and soon both men are under her spell; Jehu distances himself from his girlfriend Deborah, and Ahab does indeed let Jezebel set up a temple to Baal. Sure enough, drought follows. Baal's followers call upon him for rain, but it isn't until Elijah prays to Jehovah that the drought ends. A pissed-off Jezebel puts a price on the head of Elijah, and threatens to kill one of his followers each day that he remains at liberty, though Elijah foretells the day when Jezebel will be eaten by dogs. Will Jehu break free of Jezebel's spell and help his people defeat Baal's followers?

This is kind of fun in a campy way; it wants to be a big DeMille-type epic, but with a very low budget, the big action scenes are kept off-camera and told rather than shown, especially at the climax. The outdoor locations (undoubtedly in California) make the Holy Land look more like the Old West, and the sets are sparse and cheap-looking. A song of praise to Baal sounds like a Weavers folk song. The film is in color but over the years it's gotten a bit faded and murky. The acting is generally weak: Goddard, in her 40s, is attractive but not especially sexy or vibrant, though at her best she sounds like Katherine Hepburn; Nader, at 32, is stoically handsome (pictured with Goddard) but looks rather put-upon and unhappy. Franz lacks energy, which leaves Hoyt to ham it up and give the movie some juice as the doomsaying prophet. He also plays the film's narrator, a present-day Biblical scholar who is relating the story of Jezebel in a classroom, though when he leaves the room at the end, it's hinted that maybe he actually is Elijah (?). Joe Besser, who became one of the Three Stooges in the 50s, has a comic relief role as Master of Chariots, though his screen time is mercifully brief. [DVD]

Thursday, March 28, 2013


A philosophy professor (Hans Conreid) bids farewell to his wife, who is off to visit her sister. As she leaves, she warns him that a new-fangled appliance, a television set, will be delivered soon. She hopes it will keep him company, but when it comes, it does more than that: it walks around, shoots a beam from its screen which lights his cigarette, puts dishes away, and produces a stack of dollar bills. It turns out the TV is inhabited by a spirit from the future and all it wants to do is meets Conreid's needs, even though Conreid is freaked out and keeps trying to get rid of it—as in the song, "The Cat Came Back," the TV keeps returning no matter what, even when Conreid puts it in a car and tries to drive it off a cliff.

The inspiration for this low-budget fantasy comes from a 1942 short story which focused on a walking radio. Perhaps ironically, the film has the look and feel of a TV show. Things begin well, with Conreid giving a relatively nuanced performance—in one of his rare leading roles—as a mildly absent-minded professor, and the potential for satire on the way in which television can take over our lives is present, but the movie takes a sharp turn for physical humor after the first half-hour and it goes downhill from there, playing out almost like a series of uninspired vaudeville sketches. The supporting cast is not strong; Janet Warren is OK as the wife, and it was fun to see Joan Blondell's sister Gloria in a small role as a sexy bill collector, but Billy Lynn drags down the proceedings (he was in his 60's at the time of filming and died before the movie came out) playing a college football coach who comes up with the name "Twonky"—a name to use when you don't know any other name—and who, through bizarre plot machinations, winds up sleeping over in Conreid's house. This leads to one of the better scenes, in which four husky football players try to destroy the TV and wind up almost zombified, each chanting, "I’ve got no complaints." The Twonky itself (pictured above left) is a cheap puppet-like prop; it's fun to watch for a few minutes, but it quickly wears out its welcome. Conreid (at right) a very familiar TV face, tries his best and is the main reason to see this oddity. [TCM]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


John Winnington is a doctor who is paying more attention to his research than to his more lucrative private practice. He is also ignoring his bored wife Sophie, who has a number of male admirers hanging around her at parties. When Sophie's sister Christine arrives to work with John, the two find themselves attracted to each other, and Sophie, with the use of a detective, builds a case against them as grounds for divorce. The day the divorce is finalized, also the day that Sophie plans to leave for Cape Town, John finds out that the law will not allow him to marry his ex-wife's sister unless the ex-wife dies. Later that day, on her way to the ship, Sophie collapses and dies, apparently a victim of poisoning. Circumstantial evidence points to John, and when he's found guilty, Christine and John's friend Eric frantically try to find the real culprit. Could it be whichever admirer of hers gave her a black orchid on the morning of her death? This British B-crime thriller is nothing special but is short and sweet, on the level of a decent TV show. There is no atmosphere at all—no one would ever mistake this for a film noir—and the lead performance of Ronald Howard (Leslie Howard's son) as John is passionless. However, the other actors are fine, especially Mary Laura Wood as the conniving Sophie, the handsome John Bentley as Eric, and Sheila Burrell as Sophie's neurotically devoted maid—think a less sinister Mrs. Danvers from REBECCA. There aren’t really enough characters here, so the identity of the killer is fairly obvious, and in the last 20 minutes, as things should be getting exciting, the film degenerates into scenes of Eric and Christine (pictured) driving and talking. [Netflix streaming]

Sunday, March 24, 2013


The head of the Bancroft Paint Company is T.M. Bancroft, but the board knows that the reason they are successful is T.M.'s secretary, Antoinette, known around the office as A.B. She hides her femininity under a short haircut and mannish clothes (including a button-down shirt, tie, and vest) and she gets things done in her busy office while the male executives loll about in T.M.'s office talking about golf. Her latest accomplishments: firing T.M.’s lazy grandson Jimmie and buying up some nearby land which has rich deposits of a mineral needed for coloring in paint. When another secretary tells A.B. she's getting married and leaving the business, A.B. says she's glad for her; she'll get to be "a happy wife instead of a sexless, loveless machine like me." At a working weekend house party at Bancroft's estate, Jimmie shows up to ask T.M. for his job back. When T.M. tells him he’ll have to patch things up with A.B., he scowls and refers to her as a "dried prune" and a "flat-heeled, flat-chested Amazon." Unknown to him, she overhears him, and soon T.M.'s wife forces A.B. to submit to a makeover, not just in terms of looks and dress, but manners; A.B. is taught that she can’t be too smart ("A man wants a woman pretty enough to please him and dumb enough to love him") so she should learn to flatter and "twitter" and say things like "Aren’t you wonderful?" and “Oh, do go on!"and generally be a clinging vine. She tests her new wiles on Tut, a confirmed bachelor, then goes to work on Jimmie, who has no idea that the lovely young woman is the notorious A.B. When Jimmie flirts back, she falls in love and even helps him get financial backing for a ludicrous egg-beating machine he's invented. But will he still want her when he finds out that she’s really A.B.?

This silent film contains many romantic comedy threads that remain active into the 21st century: hidden identity flings, a woman balancing romance and work, a boss's no-good relative bettering himself for love, and the makeover of the drab caterpillar into the sexy butterfly. Much of the narrative is predictable but there are a couple of surprises here. A.B. (Leatrice Joy) gets her man without having to give up her job—something that rarely happened in the classic movie era. Jimmie (Tom Moore, pictured above to the right of Joy) is not particularly young or attractive, or smart for that matter, and the boss is on A.B.'s side in his firing. T.M.'s wife (Toby Claude) is introduced as a grandma, but despite her age, she's vibrant and youthful in spirit—we see her exercising first thing in the morning, and when Jimmie arrives, she slides down the bannister to greet him. Joy, married briefly to John Gilbert, is credited with helping the flapper bob cut become popular. Oddly, I think she's more attractive here in her mannish looks than when she's dolled up. [DVD]

Thursday, March 21, 2013


When a British agent investigating a neo-Nazi group is killed, American secret agent Quiller (George Segal) is sent into Berlin by his handler Pol (Alec Guinness) to continue his work. He makes contact with Inge (Senta Berger), a teacher at a school where another teacher was exposed as a war criminal and killed himself. Soon Quiller is drugged, kidnapped, and taken to an unknown location to meet Oktober (Max Von Sydow), the neo-Nazi big shot, who tries to get information out of Quiller about his bosses, but despite torture and more drugs, Quiller doesn't break.  Oktober orders him killed, but he wakes up in a canal--apparently Oktober changed his mind and released Quiller, assuming he'd lead them to his handler. Instead, Quiller goes to Inge who knows someone who knows someone, etc., and they soon find Oktober's headquarters in a dilapidated mansion.  This time both Quiller and Inge are caught, and Oktober may be not be so willing to let anyone go this time.

Filmed at the height of spy-movie mania, this isn't quite the near-campy James Bond, nor is it quite the somber dread-fest of John LeCarre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, filmed the year before. With a screenplay by Harold Pinter, it's not surprising that the film's primary tone is that of ambiguity: Pol seems a bit sinister, even though he's a good guy; Oktober is the most interesting figure in the movie, even though he’s a 2-dimensional bad guy; and we're never quite sure what Inge's motivations are. As spy thrillers go, it's not a shoot-'em-up, but a tense atmosphere is kept throughout, even though Segal feels a bit lightweight for a spy—there are moments when I expected things to veer off to comedy, but it never really does—but Segal generally holds his own with Von Sydow (with whom he is pictured above) and Guinness. There are several fine setpieces: Segal's first meeting with Guinness in a stadium that had been the site of Nazi pomp; the torture scene; and a nicely set-up sequence involving a car bomb in which Segal is trying to throw the bad guys off of his track.  [FMC]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


In the fall of 1941, Glenn Langan comes to Hawaii with his wife (Mari Blanchard) to try and solve some labor problems at the sugar plantations. James Westerfield, a plantation owner, claims that an outside agitator has been causing accidents and slowdowns. Langan is revealed to be casually racist ("Chinese, Japanese, what's the difference?") and believes that the native workers should be treated like slaves because they're meant to be under the yoke of their betters. But the local doctor (Lex Barker) is sure that Japanese spies, working with Nazis, are responsible for the disruptions. Oddly, Westerfield's plantation is the one place where nothing bad has happened, and soon Barker, with help from Rhodes Reason, an Army officer (who is something of an outcast because he is married to a Japanese woman), discovers that there are indeed fifth columnists at work trying to prepare the islanders to bond with soon-to-arrive Japanese invaders. When Reason's wife is framed as a spy, and Blanchard finds herself attracted to Barker, the stage is set for confrontation. The climax occurs during the night just before the dawning of December 7th.

This B-flick hasn't generated much love from reviewers on IMDb, but I found it quite tolerable, if not much more so—a decent way to pass a lazy Saturday afternoon. Although Barker (a movie Tarzan) is the hero, Langan is more interesting to watch, giving a sweaty, slimy performance as a thoroughly unlikable villain—though actually, I suppose the real villain is Westerfield, and Langan is just a nasty piece of work. The subplot with Reason's interracial marriage gives the narrative a bit of heft which it is otherwise lacking since Barker is a fairly colorless lead and he and Blanchard don't work up much chemistry. The last shot, with Barker and Blanchard on the beach at dawn, is not to be missed. [DVD]

Friday, March 15, 2013


British diplomat Harrington Brande is upset at his latest move, from Madrid to the less important coastal town of St. George. His career has stalled out, he believes, because of his messy divorce, though later he is told by his boss that, for all his academic credentials, it is his coldness and lack of humanity that keeps him back. Indeed, he loves his 11-year-old son Nicholas very much, but has a hard time showing it; he is overly protective of the boy, homeschooling him and keeping him away from companions his age because he's "delicate." At St. George, Brande hires a local gardener named José and soon Nicholas is outside helping José with his chores. The two form a close bond which makes Brande irrationally jealous. Eventually he forbids the two to talk to each other, but when Brande is called back to Madrid briefly, José and the boy go fishing together. That night, the drunken servant Garcia threatens Nicholas and he runs to José's house, spending the night there. When Brande arrives home, he is furious. To cement José's fate, Garcia frames José for the theft of Nicholas's watch. Brande has the gardener arrested and intends to press charges, but José escapes into the hills and Nicholas goes after him. When confronted with evidence of Garcia's guilt, Brande tries to do the right thing, but he may be too late.

Like THE FALLEN IDOL, another classic British film centered on a diplomat's son, this is about a child and his first experiences of disillusionment with the adult world. Nicholas believes his father loves him, but also misses his mother and, without knowing it, misses having friends. José sees what the father is doing and takes on the role of surrogate father, knowing he'll probably pay for it somehow. This being a character study, the acting is important and the whole cast is fine. Dirk Bogarde (pictured), at his youngest and most handsome, makes José a believable character, not just a plot device. Jon Whiteley is excellent as the boy, and Cyril Cusack is just as good as the slimy servant, who truly seems to be diseased and decadent, though he's not fleshed out enough for us to know why. But despite the title, this movie is really about the diplomat and he is embodied perfectly by character actor Michael Hordern who manages the difficult feat of seeming to be both a distant and smothering father. Some critics have suggested a homoerotic sheen to the relationship between José and Nicholas, perhaps because of the secretive nature of the friendship, though except for the fact that José is intended to be an earthy and sensual character, I don't see it. I do, however, see something a little strange in the makeup of Brande; we never find out why he and his wife are divorced, and when his boss explains why he's not getting a promotion, he tells him, "It is as a man that you fail." Mostly shot in England, but the Spanish exteriors are lovely.  [TCM]

Monday, March 11, 2013


Lady Clair Corven has returned to England via ocean liner from Ceylon to escape her abusive husband—among other things, he beat her with his riding crop—and on the ship, she spent quite a lot of time with Tony, a young admirer. He's clearly in love with her, but she insists the friendship remain platonic. Clair's family, including her kid sister Dinny and influential uncle Sir Mont, accepts her with open arms and she starts a new life, getting a job as secretary to a local politician. But when Lord Corven returns, he wants her back; he promises that his sadistic behavior will end, but we can tell by looking at him that it's in his nature. She refuses him and continues to be squired about by Tony. Soon, Lord Corven hires a private eye to follow Clair and Tony and, when one night the two spend the night together in a broken-down car, he feels he has the evidence to begin divorce proceedings against her. Unsavory details come out that tarnish her reputation—did she, in fact, "reestablish the marital relationship" with Lord Corven one night when he visited her apartment? Could young healthy Tony really have controlled himself that night in the car? Will Clair free herself from her husband's clutches, and if so, can she find happiness with Tony (or does she even want to)?

James Whale directed this adaptation of a novel by John Galsworthy, and it is largely his sprightly stylistic touch that makes this more than just a turgid romantic melodrama. Diana Wynward, whose specialty was upper-crust sufferers, is OK as Lady Corven but sometimes is so veddy placid and stiff-upper-lip that it's difficult to feel much for her. The rest of the cast is solid: Colin Clive is exactly right at the villainous Lord Corven, the boyish Frank Lawton (pictured with Wynward) is equally as right as Tony, Jane Wyatt is a breath of spring as the sister, and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the legendary stage actress who only made five films, is great fun as Lady Mont, who says what she likes (picture Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey); my favorite line is hers as she heads up the stairs to bed one night with a pain in her stomach—she announces loudly, "I don’t know if it's flatulence or the hand of God." Also with great character actors C. Aubrey Smith, Reginald Denny, and Henry Stephenson. The courtroom scene at the end is well played (Lionel Atwill is especially fine as the prosecutor), though the aftermath leading to a relatively happy ending is rushed.  [TCM]

Friday, March 08, 2013


A French Revolution story told like a film noir.  In 1794, Robespierre, calling himself the voice of the people, has instituted his Reign of Terror in the aftermath of the revolution, denouncing dozens of supposed villains and collaborators whose names he keeps in a secret Black Book. Robespierre can keep his hold on the Republic because no one knows who might be in that book to be arrested and executed next. When his former ally Danton is called out and killed at the guillotine, the few friends Robespierre has left, including Saint Just, Barras and Fouché, get nervous. Robespierre decides to have himself declared dictator at the next general assembly, in 48 hours, but his Black Book has gone missing and he calls in Duval, known as the Butcher of Strasbourg, giving him absolute power to find the book before his enemies do, worrying that they will band together to fight him. However, Duval is actually Charles D'Aubigny, a spy working for Lafayette, and he and his underground cohort, the lovely Madelon, must deal with the shifting loyalties of those around them, and the growing suspicions of Robespierre, as they try to get hold of the Book for themselves.

This is probably not historically accurate, but it is a damned good spy thriller: fast paced, exciting, well-acted (though no one really even tries for a French accent), and beautifully photographed in the deep shadows of film noir by John Alton and director Anthony Mann. The biggest surprise is how good the usually lightweight comic actor Robert Cummings is as Duval/D'Aubigny; I wouldn't have thought he'd have the gravitas to play the hero of a historical action thriller, but he pulls it off nicely. He also pulls off the movie's best line, in character as the executioner Duval, explaining why he opposes death by guillotine: "What this country needs is an elegant slow death; give a man four hours to die—it's worth watching." As good as Cummings is, Richard Basehart (pictured) steals the show as the vicious Robespierre, always stoic and cruel. Arlene Dahl is satisfactory as Madelon, and the solid supporting cast includes Arnold Moss as the tricky Fouché, Jess Barker as Saint Just, Norman Lloyd as another underground spy, and Beulah Bondi as a rural grandmother who gets caught up in the intrigue. The fairly low budget is hidden by the inky shadows, the claustrophobically low ceilings, and the reliance on close-ups on faces: sweaty, distressed, grimacing. I’d never heard of this film before TCM showed it; it's in the public domain and available from a number of video companies, though the print quality is quite variable. An excellent little gem.  [TCM]

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


In WWII London, Mary McLeod has been left all alone after her family house was destroyed and her parents killed in an air raid, so she is given a room above a tobacco shop. The owner of the store, John Abbott, seems friendly but also a little aloof and maybe mysterious. A dog-owning old harpy (Anita Bolster) is certain that Abbott is up to no good in the evenings, and it's rumored that the room McLeod is occupying was the site of one of Jack the Ripper's murders many years ago. As it turns out, there is something strange going on in the neighborhood: a series of murders which occur during blackouts and air raids. The victims are seemingly respectable men who are poisoned in public by someone wielding a hypodermic. McLeod notices that Abbott, a former physician, has a hypodermic hidden in his pipe. When McLeod's Dutch soldier boyfriend arrives, she confides her suspicions to him. As we already know, Abbott is indeed the Blackout Killer, but the real mystery is his motive. He seems to choose his victims carefully—but why?

The first 40 minutes of this B-thriller are quite good. The shadowy atmosphere works well and Abbott (pictured) does a nice job keeping us off-balance—even though we know from early on that he is the killer, we can't quite puzzle out the why. He has a thuggish partner (Carl Harbord) who gives Abbott information about the men he's targeting; Harbord wants to do the killing as well, but Abbott won't let him. Lloyd Corrigan is a Scotland Yard inspector who zeroes in on Abbott but can't find concrete evidence to back up his suspicions. Unfortunately, the ending plays out in a most undramatic fashion, and the ambiguous vigilante-style morality in which Abbott has indulged is left mostly unexplored. Still, Abbott and the atmosphere are reason enough to recommend this to B-movie fans. [Netflix streaming]

Friday, March 01, 2013


Three small-time drug dealers have joined forces and used their life savings to get their way into big-time drug-smuggling: Daisey, so named because he uses a daisy-shaped roach clip, is—theoretically—the brains behind the operation, and the only one who manages to stay more-or-less straight during the day; Dum Dum has muscles but is, yes, a little on the dumb side, and seems to maintain a low-level buzz; Acid is hooked on heroin and constantly needs to shoot up to function, though once he's got his high, he tends to pass out, negating the "functioning." The three are on a boat on the Florida coast to make their connection with a group of Cuban drug sellers, but when the Cubans say the price for the drugs has gone up, Daisey shoots the leader in the chest with a harpoon gun and sets their boat on fire. At dawn, the Coast Guard stops them for a routine check, and Acid, in the middle of shooting up, gives them away, necessitating the slaughter of everyone on the Coast Guard boat. A hunky young guy named Mark and his girlfriend Kelly are witnesses to the events and become hostages. Back on shore, they try to sell the dope to Book, a hep-cat club owner, but he says because of the publicity over the murders, the stuff is too hot. Soon, the FBI is after them and they head into the Everglades where they terrorize an Indian reservation and Acid finds some friends at a hippie commune where everyone is pretty much as high as he is. But one by one they meet their fates, climaxing with a shootout in the swamps.

Despite the title and the fact that the three are often high, this isn't really an anti-drug scare piece as much as it is a routine crime-doesn't-pay B-movie melodrama. Shot on a shoestring budget, this is no gem but it has its moments, mostly due some actors who don't seem like they’re acting—sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not. Steve Alaimo is Mark, the supposed hero, though he's rather ineffective until the climax; luckily, he's dressed only in bathing trunks for much of the running time and best functions as eye candy. Jeremy Slate (Daisey), who had a lengthy career as a TV character actor, comes off as an old pro, trying for a slightly nuanced performance here as the chief baddie. As Acid, the blond John Davis Chandler seems to be indulging in bad method acting, staggering around with his eyes barely open and delivering his lines in a thin, whiny voice, but like Slate, he had a lengthy acting career, appearing in movies and TV into the 90s. But the strangest performance is given by former boxer Willie Pastrano as Dum Dum (pictured above with Slate on the left and Chandler on the right); he seems to be truly high all the time, mumbling and looking like he's improvising most of his lines. Oddly, the three bad guys do work up some chemistry and are mostly fun to watch. The sequence with Acid wandering around in the swamp commune also seems improvised—it keeps threatening to become interesting, but isn't, merely serving as a way to get Acid to meet his fate. The best line is from the nodded-out Acid refusing to do cocaine with the others: "I ain’t no fiend!" [DVD]