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Except where noted, all original text & art ©2009 Eddie Flowers


Just Imagine (1930, directed by David Butler) It's New York City 1980 "where everyone has a number instead of a name, and the government tells you whom you should marry." That's the set-up for this strange sci-fi musical comedy. Everybody's cruisin' around Manhattan in their own private planes, food (and bootleg liquor!) comes in pill form, people communicate through big-screen TV phones. J-21 (John Garrick) and LN-18 (a very young and fetching Maureen O'Sullivan) are in love, but the state has promised her to another man. Meanwhile, a 1930 golfer (hit by lightning!) has been brought back to life in a scene that almost seems like an early parody of James Whale's Frankenstein--except that came out the following year! The revived man (El Brendel) seems to be either very confused or just stupid--plus he has what sounds like a Yiddish-Swedish-Brooklyn accent?! He takes on the name Single O (after rejecting Double O!) and befriends J-21. Of course, the shocked Single O spends awhile simply observing the world of 1980. When he sees a sidewalk vending machine that delivers babies, apparently with no sex involved, he says, "Give me the good old days!" Likewise, J-21, while pining for LN-18's affection, lets us know that he wants an "old-fashioned" flapper girl who knows how to mix a drink and shake 'em on down! Soon, Single O is hooked on liquor-pills, which he carries around in huge bulging quantities under his jacket. He occasionally also requires a hypo shot from D-6, a cute little chick played by Marjorie White. White is by far the funniest person in the movie. She does a rib-ticklin' song-'n'-dance bit that works way better than most of the musical schmaltz here. In order to prove to the government bureaucrats that he's more worthy of Maureen O'Sullivan than the man they've chosen for her, J-21 agrees to pilot an experimental "plane to Mars." Before he leaves, there's a hilarious beer-drinking song performed by his buddies at a going-away party. On Mars, the crew encounters Martian chicks wearing metallic clothes and angular makeup (very "new wave"!). After meeting the Martian queen, her burly (and apparently gay) bodyguard makes eyes at Single O, who comments, "She's not the queen--he is!" Wow. The musical numbers on Mars come off as bizarre rituals--spooky and campy--Busby Berkeley and Isadora Duncan mixed with jungle movies and Flash Gordon--pagan and druggy (supposedly footage from Just Imagine is included in Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising, but I can't recall just what Anger might've used). Finally, astronaut J-21 returns to Earth . . . blah blah blah . . . happy ending. Very weird! The film is long (around 100 minutes) and often pretty slow--and most of the humor isn't very funny--but there's a bizarre archaic charm to this thing that I find very satisfying. There's playful sexual humor and double-entendre fun, some surprising bits of "decadence" (i.e., gay stuff), cool "futuristc" art-deco sets, quite a few obscure Prohibition references (still illegal in 1980!), and plenty of pre-Hays Code female flesh! Good clean dirty fun--the way we like it best here in Slippy Town!


Last Woman On Earth
(1960, directed by Roger Corman) End-of-the-world movies were numerous in the 50s and 60s. Roger Corman did an early one in 1955 called Day the World Ended. Five years later, this was kind of like a more compact and sexually charged version of the same basic story. Even as a semi-remake, though, it predates other classics like Panic in the Year Zero (1962) and The Last Man On Earth (1964). Made for Corman's own Filmgroup, Last Woman On Earth is even more low budget than his AIP films of the same period. It was filmed over five days on location In Puerto Rico, along with two other quickies (Creature from the Haunted Sea and Battle of Blood Island). Screenwriter Robert Towne (
Chinatown) arrived with an incomplete script, and was also recruited to play one of the three leads (using the pseudonym Edward Wain), even though he had never acted before! In spite (or because) of the very meager budget, Corman filled his 71 minutes with cool locations and some very nice camera anglin'. The first ten minutes or so feel kinda like a travelogue, as we are introduced to a crooked businessman (Anthony Carbone), his horny wife (Betsy Jones Moreland), and the businessman's honest-but-cynical attorney (Towne). The three attend a real cockfight (cinéma vérité Corman style), move on to a gambling casino, and finally go scuba divin'. When they come back to the surface, they find the captain of their boat is dead. And back on land, everybody is dead. It's unclear what's happened, except that somehow the scuba-divin' trio were unaffected. There's nothing on the radio except strangely . . . strangely repetitive jazz (never explained). With an extremely well-stocked bar, the trio move in together, and the sexual tension begins immediately. The wife starts foolin' around with the lawyer. The men get into a fish-slapping (!) fight, and eventually all hell breaks loose. Most of Towne's actual written dialogue comes off very stilted, obviously done with little or no time for re-writes--but the existential angst is writ large! After deciding to escape her oafish-but-practical husband, the babe has sudden doubts when the atheist lawyer doesn't want to breed with her and bring children into a dead world. She finds her way to a church, where we observe her pensive spiritual dilemma intercut with the two guys outside chasing and beating the crap out of each other! Buñuel couldn't have handled it better. The ending is very down and also very believable--who do you think will get the chick-at-the-end-of-time? The answer ain't pretty.


Night Tide
(1961, directed by Curtis Harrington) Cool, creepy low-budget flick with Dennis Hopper as Johnny, a young Navy man on leave near the ocean in Los Angeles (mentions of Venice, Long Beach, and San Pedro). He wanders around v
érité-style before landing at the Blue Grotto, a downstairs club where an interracial jazz combo is blowing (Paul Horn on flute). Johnny meets a mysterious dark-haired chick named Mora (Linda Lawson). She slowly cozies up to the young sailor, and he learns that she makes a living playing a mermaid at a beach sideshow. As the couple grows closer, Johnny starts hearing strange stories about Mora. Is she really one of the "sea people"--an authentic mermaid? He finds it all hard to swallow as the plot continues to unfold into what finally seems like an inevitable tragedy. Night Tide has the kind of sub-AIP existentialism and documentary touches that make these early 60s Corman-influenced films come alive. The film even ends with a Poe quote! Nice minimal "jazz" score too--and a great scene at a late-night beach party with conga player Chaino wailin' while Mora dances herself into a wild, ecstatic trance.

La Danse a-Go Go (1964, directed by Allan David) 10-minute short on the arrival of discos in the U.S. Filmed in Chicago, at the Whisky a Go Go (not the L.A. club!) and the Bistro a Go Go, this has a nice sleazy surreal quality to it. Big-bazoomed honeys in glass cages dance the watusi, the swim, the hully gully, the frug, etc. to some real groovy jams being spun on record: "Walking the Dog" (Rufus Thomas), "C'mon and Swim" (Bobby Freeman), "Do the Mosquito" (the gals dance with aerosol guns!), "Go Gorilla Go" ("It should've been out before the Monkey"). Besides the titties and rockin' R&B go-go hits, there are some very David Lynch-like moments here--the skinny, kinda homely chick gyrating on a table while two dudes ogle her is just SO Blue Velvet! In reverse, of course. A geeky looking band called the Squires make the scene and pretend to be playing live. They do "Hully Gully" and close with their own variation on "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow"/"Surfin' Bird"! Too much, man! Good dirty clean sleaze--UNH!!


The Fat Spy
(1966, directed by Joseph Cates) Totally ridiculous, incredibly unfunny, super low-budget comedy that has a lot going for it! The best thing is the Wild Ones, an above-average garage band who open the movie suddenly, with two of the guys playing a live acoustic folk-rocker. They also fake their way through studio stuff--cool sub-Beach Boys vocal surf, with a bit of R&B thrown in. Plus the grating presence of Jack E. Leonard as twin brothers, a stupid plot involving corporate spying (not the Bond parody you'd expect), pregnant Jayne Mansfield trying to hide her baby bump, Jayne Mansfield strutting her baby bump (!), psychedelic drug references, a sub-plot that serves as an unfunny parody of beach-party movies, way too many horrible musical numbers by the main leads (yes, including Jack E. Leonard singing!), Phyllis Diller, a mermaid, the fountain of youth . . . ! What else? The beach punks (searching for a sunken Spanish galleon!) dance in bad slow-mo imitations as the Wild Ones provide the music for the Turtle, "the slowest dance you'll ever do." Very tripped--but could be a bad one! This flick is NOT necessarily "recommended," but it is something else--enjoyable on a kinda disturbing level. It's one of  the most disjointed bits of celluloid entertainment I've ever seen. It's barely a movie, but also seems intentionally surreal at times. It's hard to tell WHAT they were trying to do. Directed by the father of 1980s super-hottie Phoebe Cates!


--all  the reviews above by Eddie (that's me!)


re BLONDE DEATH:

I came across your website during a search for Blonde Death, which I had the good fortune to acquire on DVD, though with a Roxy Music soundtrack instead of the Angry Samoans.

I don't know if you're aware of it or not, but "James Dillinger" [Blonde Death director] is actually the pseudonym for the author James Robert Baker, who wrote Boy Wonder and Fuel-Injected Dreams, among other titles. For the life of me, I don't know why he didn't use his own name on the film, though I suppose it probably had to do with his increasing disenchantment with filmmaking, and his nascent career as a writer.

Anyway, since you have the film featured on your site, I gather you enjoyed it as well. Just thought I'd give you the info about who was actually behind it. Incidentally, do you happen to know what happened to Jack Catalano?

All the best,

Jeff Woloson


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SLIPPY TOWN TIMES #3
IN THIS ISSUE:
Intro
This Week in Slippy Town
Meercaz Q&A
Paul Revere & the Raiders
Watchin' Videos
Spinnin' Some Vinyl

Comix???

Shout Bamalama!
Outro (R.I.P.)

Extra! Extra!
TRASH #6
Remnants, leftovers, and "related" items from the never-published last issue of this zine from Krazee Ken and Ready Eddie. With Lester Bangs, Patti Smith, Richard Meltzer, Metal Mike, Mitch Kapor, etc.