Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Unseen #30: Gasssssss

Why’d I Buy It?: Came in the Roger Corman Boxset I bought.

Why Haven’t I Watched It?: Its tucked away in the corners of said Roger Corman Boxset. Its reputation is less then sterling. I just never got around to it.

How Was It?: Not bad actually. Going into Gas there is one thing you have to know. It is a movie made by complete fucking hippies, for complete fucking hippies. A Gas is released that kills everyone over twenty five. Resulting in a world ruled by well, complete fucking hippies.

Gas is a pretty naked attempt to capture the post Easy Rider zeitgeist (and profits therein) of hippie kids with Camera’s fucking around (Corman acts as director here, making his ability to capture said zeitgeist oddly impressive). The film has a colorful aesthetic and an appealing slapdash feel that doesn’t quite overstay its welcome. Despite the fact that by all rights it really should.

The film has a slapdash lets put on a show vibe. Not even reaching eighty minutes, and padding itself out with scenes like its opener, where an “animated” John Wayne like general and a scientist argue for about ten minutes before accidentally releasing the titular Gas. (Placing in the film’s padding contest a distant second to its, “Oh fuck, watch this band play.” That it desperately tries to fill time with)

The film doesn’t have a plot per se its more of a sketch comedy, with only the slightest of overreaching plots separating it from The Groove Tubes of the world.. But is mostly a loosely connected series of incidents, ranging from banal, a gunfight where the fighters cry out the names of Western Heroes while shooting at each other. To actually pretty funny, such as their adventure in a small Colorado town that has been turned into a paramilitary cult run as a zealous football team. Led by a despot who uses a combination of Religious mania and Ra Ra tactics to inspire his team to burn El Paso to the ground. Not that would be, you know, a bad thing.

The film stars pre fame Bud Cort and Talia Shire, who both do strong, if a little stoned seeming work.

Gas is a film that has aged poorly. . Which makes is both the key to its charm (hippies) and other less recommendable attributes (Including what must be the single most tasteless consequence free Rape Joke I have ever seen).

Its tough to imagine anyone getting anything out of Gas on more then a purely academic or ironic basis, but I have to admit I kind of like it. Don’t mistake that as a recommendation. Perhaps more then any other film I’ve written about YOUR MILEAGE WILL VARY dependent upon how much you like weird shit. It might not be what you would call a good movie. But it’s such an odd little artifact, like all of Corman’s film an accidentally meticulous record of its time and place. What can be said except, Groovy.


Erich Kuersten said...

I think that long pointless opener is one of the many instances where Corman and Co. went back and shot new scenes for TV, so the film would measure up to industry length and fit a two hour time slot, or something like that. Depending on the version you get, these intros either will or wont be on the prints.

I forget which Poe film it is, but one of them (Pit and the Pendulum?) has a long opening in an insane asylum, and WASP WOMAN has a long scene with a bunch of beekeepers that goes nowhere. Jack Hill shot a lot of these, as I dimly recall reading.

I loved GAS-S-S when I was a hippie, as it's freewheelin' and fun, but Corman apparently hated how it was butchered up by Nicholson and Arkoff and that's what led to his breaking away from AIP. Fun factoid!

I love the big 'crack in the world' Edgar Allen Poe on a chopper finale, though for campy fun, nothing really beats THE RAVEN

Bryce Wilson said...

I do love how Edgar Allen Poe and God are just straight up chatting through the entire movie.

Gideon Strumpet said...

I am not a fan of this film, but if you haven't seen it, then let me recommend Wild in the Streets from 1968 with Christopher Jones, Shelley Winters, and Hal Holbrook. A far superior piece of hippie takeover filmmaking.

Bryce Wilson said...

I'll definitely check it out Gid. You had me with Hal Halbrook and Hippies in the same sentence.

stonerphonic said...

i'd have done it off the fact of having bud cort in it alone. despite me being a dedicated horrophile, harold & maude is one of my top 5 movies of all time, and it's a shame bud's talent wasn't picked up and catapulted further.

the world was not worthy...

Bryce Wilson said...

I fully agree.

You have seen Brewster McCloud though right? Its a must for us Cort lovers.