March 28, 2007

Reality is a deadly place: 1960's exploitation film music

Reality is a deadly place.
I hope this trip is a good one.


As the "hippie scene" exploded in the late 1960's, Hollywood took notice. American International Pictures (led on the creative end by Roger Corman), long experienced with down and dirty exploitative "B-movies" produced several classics.

The first of these was 1966's Wild Angels, starring Peter Fonda as Hells' Angels leader "Heavenly Blues". Also featured in this film were Nancy Sinatra (!), Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Fonda and Dern would go on to be featured in many of these types of movies. Wild Angels focused on the Hells' Angels and was extremely anti-mainstream as it featured gang violence, Nazi imagery, drug usage & rape.
Of course, this proved to be extremely popular with the movie going public and Wild Angels became a hit, placing 12th on the top grossing list of 1966.

A.I. wasn't stupid, and more movies followed. The Trip (written by Jack Nicholson!) and starring Fonda, Dern, Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider had it's conception during the filming of this movie) and Susan Strasberg followed. This film was a semi-serious attempt to demonstrate an actual LSD trip (the movie's cinematography has the now quaint "flashing effects", quick edits and styles that, while state of the art in 1967, are now best served as running gags in old Batman programs). The catchphrase for the film was "A Lovely Sort of Death").

From here, Dick Clark got in on the act, and produced Psych-Out (once again starring Nicholson (as the immortal "Stoney"), Strasberg (as a deaf chick- the scene of her tripping is hilarious), Dern (as "The Seeker") and Dean Stockwell. This one is the best of the hippie b-movies, as it goes completely over the top (and has performances by The Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Seeds).



In 1968, you had to be 21 to vote. Wild In Streets took the view of lowering the voting age from not 18, but to 14. Of course, a pop star (Christopher Jones plays Max Frost) gets elected President and locks all the adults in concentration camps, where they are force fed LSD. This film starred such known actors as Shelly Winters (a great performance as Max's mother), Hal Holbrook, Ed Begley and Richard Pryor (as Stanley X). Wild In The Streets was actually nominated for an Academy Award (for film editing), and the film was a pretty big hit.

But the best of em all was GIVE DADDY THE KNIFE CINDY. Filmed in shocking Psychedelic Color, the soundtrack to Cindy was provided by NAZ NOMAD & THE NIGHTMARES. Tearing though such classics as "Kicks", "The Trip", "Action Woman" (later covered by The Rants), "Just Call Me Sky" and of course "(Do You Know) I Know", Naz & crew blaze a trail through the listeners mind.

Of course, Naz Nomad & The Nightmares are really Dave Vanian And The Damned, taking a busman's holiday through their mid-80's goth period. But it's a great album.

Toonage:
(from Wild Angels) - Blue's Theme - Dave Allen & The Arrows

(from Psych-Out) - Incense & Peppermints - Strawberry Alarm Clock

(from Wild In The Streets) - (Nothing Can Change The Shape of) Things To Come - Max Frost & The Troopers

(from Give Daddy The Knife, Cindy)-

Nobody But Me - Naz Nomad & The Nightmares

The Wind Blows Your Hair - Naz Nomad & The Nightmares

Do You Know (I Know) - Naz Nomad & The Nightmares

Just Call Me Sky - Naz Nomad & The Nightmares

4 comments:

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kaplan said...

yeah great to talk about psych out & garage stuf but why don't you put all those albums on line ???

Blank Crisis said...

Great post, mang. Thank u.

jAy @ jApAn said...

i love this stuff. thanks!