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OCTOBER 20, 1997: 

Alice in Acidland

1968; No credits listed

This nudie masquerades as a cautionary quasi-documentary; Alice goes to parties, smokes weed and disrobes with her friends, turning into a "wild and provocative twilight hippie, complete with the Indian beads and moccasins." Actually, though, they look more like girls from the steno pool pairing up with fellas sporting Bobby Kennedy hair to go off and rub their underwear-clad crotches together. Alice eventually does too much acid and comes unglued, of course. Not really living up to the lurid title, Alice in Acidland is more suited for playing with the sound off at parties. The ultra-annoying retardo-jazz soundtrack is full of drum solos that sound like a box of pots and pans getting kicked down a flight of stairs. Plus, didn't hippies not really wear much underwear? More worthwhile is the second unnamed feature on the tape, in which a true-blue, square-john, Ken-doll type guy goes to a party and tries a whiff of reefer while everyone dances to a record that makes the Ventures sound like MC5. The grass makes him stumble around like a shambling zombie, and soon he quits sports, his grades plummet, etc. Soon the dork falls in with the wrong element, who get him strung on heroin and then his life really goes to hell. You can almost hear the whir of the 16mm projector over the stern narration in this stiff educational yarn. --Jerry Renshaw


The Godmonster of Indian Flats

D: Fredric Hobbs (1973) with Richard Marion, E. Kerrigan Prescott, Karen Ingenthron, Steven Kent Browne, & Stuart Lancaster

The Godmonster of Indian Flats first seared the cerebellums of audiences during a very short theatrical run in 1973, then gathered dust until Something Weird Video truly lived up to their name and unearthed it. This is one severely twisted movie indeed. Let's see if I can keep this straight... a pregnant sheep is infected by an orange gas from an ancient mine shaft in a Nevada desert town, then gives birth to what appears to be a pulsating raw brisket. The rather slow-witted shepherd boy (Marion) hands the embryonic mutant over to the neighborhood mad scientist (Prescott), where he puts it in a glass incubator and nurtures it to maturity, while dictating into a shoebox-sized cassette recorder. Meanwhile, there's some lengthy, lengthy exposition involving an out of town carpetbagger (Browne) who comes to town representing real estate interests and tries to sell hunting leases. Not being too partial to strangers, the mayor (Russ Meyer regular Stuart Lancaster) frames him like a Jackson Pollock print and hands him over to the fat slob of a sheriff, who in turn serves him up to the local vigilante committee. They prepare to lynch him, but he gets away. The only tie-in between all this and the monster is that when the deputies find him at the mad scientist's pad, they shoot tear gas inside, which pisses off the monster enough that it breaks out, wrecks the lab and starts shambling off across the desert (no wonder, it was probably pretty bored by that time). This is where things get out of control. Picture Sesame Street's Snuffleuphagus with Joe Camel's face, ratty fun-fur on its body, one very short arm and one ridiculously long, dangling arm, walking on its hind legs and tottering around the wasteland. It crashes a tea party of little girls, makes friends with the mad scientist's assistant Mariposa (Ingenthron), and is eventually rounded up by the posse. The mayor declares that he wants to make money off of "the damaged mongoloid beast" and puts it on display at the city dump. As weird as this all sounds, the movie is actually quite a bit more bizarre than I can describe. The director had to have been trying to make a Big Statement about Greed and Commercialism, but it's submerged like a U-boat in the berserk plot. Lancaster is at his most bombastic as the crazed mayor of the tourist trap old-west town (actually Virginia City, Nevada) and takes his role so seriously that he wears Victorian-era clothes all the time as befits his position, while uttering such pithy prounouncements as, "Time will be the final judge of all deeds!" All I'll tell you is that it eventually builds up to a finale that defies all description. Invite some of your more straitlaced friends over, and listen closely as their synapses sizzle while they gape in slack-jawed incredulity and wonder what the hell planet this was made on. "Make them all paaaaaay!!!!" Truly stupefying. -- Jerry Renshaw




Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas dance in -- say it with me now, teeth clenched together -- The Eeeeenglish Patient.

The English Patient

D:Anthony Minghella (1996)
with Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe

patient. 1. adj. bearing annoyance, pain, etc., without complaint or anger. 2. n. a person who is under medical or surgical treatment.

You'll understand both definitions after sitting through the rambling, three-hour epic of The English Patient, the indie gem that stole the hearts and tears of every woman in America last year, not to mention pretty much all of the Academy Awards. If you missed its theatrical release, home video is a great place to catch it; even though you'll miss out on some of the majestic cinematography, the promise of a pause button more than outweighs any loss of quality. You'll probably need rewind as well, if you want to follow the subtlety of Minghella's unnecessarily convoluted plot structure, tracing might-be-a-Nazi Fiennes through the African theatre of WWII, his love affair with the often-naked Thomas, his care under Oscar-winner Binoche after being horribly burned in a plane crash, and his dealings with Dafoe as the mystery man in all of this, as if things weren't complicated enough. While it's an adventure on the surface, The English Patient has a love story as its heart, and its earnest soul ultimately redeems any superficial flaws. Be forewarned, though, that the best movies never have happy endings
-- Christopher Null


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