Poppin' off - Page 2

August is a big month for the Werepad-Vortex Room diaspora -- we're talking classic porn and Pop-art anniversaries

"New" releases from indie cinema-land

Then the weirdness level rises dangerously again August 23, with two lysergically bent missives from the "turbulent" decade. From 1969, Cult of the Damned (a.k.a. Angel, Angel, Down We Go) is the least-known of American International Picture's psych flicks, and no wonder — compared to giddy The Trip (1967), Psych-Out (1968), and Wild in the Streets (1968), it's a twisted downer. Future feminist singer-songwriter icon Holly Near plays the plump, unhappy only child of a jaded Hollywood couple whose household is seduced whole by rock singer Bogart (Jordan Christopher) and his entourage. Advertised with "If You're Over 30 This Is A Horror Story," Robert Thorn's only directorial feature is rancid, baroque, and bizarre to no end, offering the opportunity to hear Roddy McDowell say "Baby man, I am just sexual. Like sometimes I can just stare at a carrot and baby man, that carrot can turn me on," as well as Jennifer Jones (as mom) brag "I made 30 stag films and never faked an orgasm." (It should be noted that shortly after completing her role, Jones had a nervous breakdown.) Cult's co-feature is 1962 sci-fi oddity Creation of the Humanoids, which was purportedly Andy Warhol's favorite movie — that should be recommendation enough.

The series' final bill moves upmarket to showcase two expensive early 1970s flops. You may search in vain for defenders of 1972's Bluebeard, which features Richard Burton as the famed ladykiller and an array of Eurobabes as his victims — alas, not including American lounge-act extraordinaire Joey Heatherton, whose final wife is by far the most annoying but lives to tell. For a movie that features Raquel Welch as a nun, it's pretty slow going, despite some imaginative production design and hints of a satirical zest that old-school Hollywood director Edward Dmytryk just couldn't grok.

A more rewarding curio is 1974's 99 and 44/100% Dead, a gangster spoof that supposedly represented a career nadir for director John Frankenheimer. (Actually, his nadir came the prior year with Story of a Love Story, one of those movies so interesting in concept and cast you can't imagine it's worthless — until you see it.) What can you say about a film that features Chuck Connors as a thug who screws different lethal weapons into his severed arm socket? Plus a rare appearance by the mysterious Zooey Hall of I Dismember Mama (1972) and Fortune and Men's Eyes (1971)? That it can't be all bad, and in fact it isn't.


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