Wild Eye Releasing DVD. Region 0.
is one of the great 'lost' films of the counter-culture - that
it, if you is disregard the 1972 UK theatrical run and the mid-90's
US release, neither of which seemed to make much impact. Like
a whole bunch of unfinished, unreleased and incoherent efforts
of the time, this 1968 production is less a movie and more a document
of the period.
a vague plot, with a bunch of hippies heading out into the middle
of nowhere to form a town, start a goldrush and generally be free,
only to come up against corrupt cop Harold Jinks (Gary Goodrow),
who dresses like a 1940's gangster and represents the corruption
and uptightness of 'straight' society - he fixes the election
of mayor, beats up opponents and women, jerks off after shooting
someone and rails against free love and nudity before locking
the hippies up in a concentration camp. Only Hawk (Del Close),
a revolutionary outsider, can save the day.
expect this story to be as coherent as the description though
- rather, this is a plot that leaks out during a series of individual
scenes that have little connection to anything else. It's much
like a sexed-up, cut-price and less cynical version of The Monkees'
Head - a free-wheeling, episodic, stoned trip
that is more about the experience than the story. So random images
crop up, with copious amounts of drug-fuelled sex, hysteria and
plenty of nudity too - certainly more male frontal nudity than
you'd generally find outside porn, and some surprisingly graphic
moments (two on-screen pissing scenes for instance) in amongst
the wholesome frolicking. There are also scenes that leave you
wondering how the participants survived - watching people running
for their lives, no acting involved, you can't help but think
that car crashes and explosions would be best handled by filmmakers
who were less out of it!
the most impressive elements of Gold were added
to the film after completion, by executive producer and Radio
Caroline founder Ronan O'Rahilly, who created the impressive opening
titles that use then-current war, revolution and political imagery
(the opening image is genuinely shocking) to tie the film into
its period and perhaps nail down the film's message that The Man
is at war with The Freaks. O'Rahilly was also responsible for
much of the excellent soundtrack, which includes MC5, David McWilliams
and others - a soundtrack re-release would be a welcome thing.
is sloppily made (camera focus is hit and miss), messy and indulgent
- but never dull. Improv experts Goodrow and Close just about
hold it together (there's no screenplay credit) and as a relic
of a long-lost period, it's fascinating stuff, with enough going
on to counter any complaints that it makes no sense.
Eye's DVD pulls out all the stops too - an entertaining and informative
commentary track from director Bob Levis and a reluctant Goodrow,
another less worthy commentary by colleagues of Close, a badly
made but interesting cable TV interview with Levis and other snippets
help flesh out the ideas behind the film and its production -
even if you felt the film to be an unwatchable mess, the extras
go a long way to explaining why that is!
IT NOW (USA)