Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Follow The White Pyramid. (The Acid Eaters)

There are many bad movies out there. I hope to watch many of them--and blogment them for your enjoyment. There will, naturally, be some that are bad, a bit goofy, a bit weird, but ultimately just pathetic.
The Acid Eaters is just such a movie. This is probably the most outright pathetic film I’ve yet reviewed here. Still, though, it provides some interesting possibilities....

It’s an alleged drugsploitation movie from 1965 and, therefore, also a softcore porn. It’s terrible at being either of those things, of course. All the same, i learned that, apparently, acid is actually 4” x 4” x 1” squares of Styrofoam. And here I thought you weren’t supposed to eat Styrofoam. But there they are, and apparently doing so causes.....hallucinations?
"You have only to take a bite...." says Roger Delgado on steroids to a man in a gay hat.
It certainly causes a bunch of middle-aged guys/drones and 30-something girls to act like teenaged idiots for just over an hour of our time. Joy.


It’s roughly established--through a series of quick, harsh cuts rudely interspersed in the second scene (?) and one character’s blatantly declaring “Ok, gang, let's find that white pyramid"--that the characters are on some asinine quest for this White Pyramid. Which is made of acid, apparently. Because it was built by the Acid Aztecs, obviously.
FYI: Acid can be absorbed through dry humping.
And that’s the plot. If you can call it that. Really it’s just a series of uselessness--not even proper scenes, really--and tits. Lots of tits. (Which is awesome if you’re into that...in my case I had to keep asking my poor, straight roommate things like “Is that what tits look like?” “Is this supposed to be sexy for you breeders?” “Would these be considered ‘hot’ tits??”.)

It’s unclear how old they’re supposed to be--one guy looks 50--or what they’re doing. They act like cautiously out of control teenaged idiots. Sexy? Shocking? Even remotely interesting?

Not really.
50-year-old angst. Not pretty.

The film’s most garrish flaw is how clearly no effort was put into making it. I mentioned before that instead of a plot it’s just a series of uselessnesses.

One bit of uselessness, for example, that “knife fight” between the girl with the beehive and a jealous blond (I’d be jealous of that beehive, too) with, count it, one plastic knife. You know, so the little lady can’t accidentally hurt herself as she “acts”. Of course this is cut short when beehiver’s swallowed up by quicksand/creamed corn.

There’s no real point to this scene. Sure there are some tits, but are they really that much more emphasized by waving around a plastic knife? In terms of cat fights it’s pretty sad, too. Beehive’s really trying, and flagrantly at that, to unhook Blondie’s dress so we can get twice the tits as they swing about in some fail square dance move. Then her man steps in to break up the fight. Then Beehive stumbles towards the camera (close-up titties!!) and then it’s creamed corn for her.

Maybe it's just the quicksand/creamed corn, but her tits look mad saggy.
The editing is awkward, the acting is terrible, and the action is aimless. The cuts are usually sudden and unnecessary if not inexplicable. One girl had to be German or something equally foreign because she couldn’t even laugh right, nevermind deliver her lines in any understandable form/dialect of English. Most obnoxiously of all, there’s gotta be at least 20 minutes of them riding around on their motorcycles--so badass!--as they, apparently, go from place to place.


Precise. Mathematical. Stupid. Take your pick. And I know it’s just a drug/sexsploitation movie. But seriously?
 
See, it’s so bad at being either drugsploitive or sexsploitive that this movie ends up as just plain ole ’sploitation. Of what, or for what purpose, I can’t say. Bottom line is this film’s neither; it lives up to neither genre’s standards.

There’s no real sense of drugs' influence--just the insistence of it. The movie is so unsubtle that they have, spliced in, some grandma looking scandalized. Considering these character's age, she's prolly more their mother than grandmother.

"You kids did what and didn't invite me?!"
As far as their behavior, these morons just do a bunch of not-so-wild shit while, apparently, doing lots of acid/drugs/beer.

Which is another thing--there’s no sense of  the “They’re on drugs! They’re totally out of control!” that could account for any kind of shock value. Their behavior is never really “out there”--just a little weird or goofy, but never excessively so; never climactically or impressively so.

Oh God, they’re making out! and she doesn’t have a top! and he’s workin her....armpit?

Weirder yet: considering these are supposedly all grown-up office-workers, there’s no relevance to the actual acid wave or love generation, which, as far as I’m aware, were really more youth movements. These people are easily in their 30s at youngest; how much appeal did acid really have to that age group? Plausibly enough that we could believe they’d fritter away a whole Friday afternoon/weekend in search of some White Pyramid?

As a ‘set piece’ for titties, it also fails. Maybe I’m just too gay for these ladies’ tittie powers to have any effect on me, but it honestly strikes me as unsexy. It doesn’t feel like a softcore porn or anything really. Most of the sexual situations are defused almost immediately by incompetence or outright by aimlessness.

When Beehive is resurrected by an Indian chieftan (who, prepared pimp that he is, also provides them a blanket), the 50-year-old bodybuilding juvenile makes out with her dispassionately then asks if she ever had a twin sister because he can’t believe she’s back (neither can we), then exclaims, ‘let’s show the rest of the gang!’. So they have a perfect set up suggesting sex is undone before it gets even 5 seconds into its opening kissing. Like, a solid bit of making out and groping, etc, then a cut back to the rest of the group with those 2 love birds showing up a little later would have functioned the same--“let’s show everyone else!”--while still leaving room to imply they’d continued where we’d left them to possibly more exciting (ie, interesting, sexy) things after we’d cut away. Nice soft-core porn set up dashed by bad writing/directing.
I don't know how she can stomach kissing her father; he's got terrible teeth!
Similarly, possibly the sexiest scene is ruined by a lack of...going anywhere. Blondie does a “belly dance” topless. Hot, right? Yeah, maybe for a minute or two, but it’s got the most sterile camera work you could hope for and the mystery black dude with a cigarette banging out a drumbeat for her clearly isn’t drumming the one the scene’s set to--the drumming goes on even when he’s not actually drumming. You can't imagine this scene leading to any kind of sex--it’s just so...so...dispassionate.

There--that’s a good word for this movie. Dispassionate.


In “I Can’t Get That Monster out of My Head”--an essay I didn’t much care for by an author I very much care about, Joan Didion--, my beloved suggests many of those supposedly “out there movies” aren’t so out there; that so many of the so-called “new” or “original” movies aren’t much of either; that so much of what was being called “the Establishment” seemed more imaginary; and the efforts to rebuke said Establishment ended up within its boundaries more than breaking any.

Which seems the case for The Acid Eaters. For all its intended schlock and ’sploitation, the movie still exists very much within the limits set by The Man. This may account for its lack of shock value, impact, or anything all that interesting for that matter.

For example, during the knife-fight scene, you can’t see Beehive’s belly button--very much an artifact of that generation’s taboos against showing navels.

A guy punches Blondie and everyone laughs, but it lacks impact. Of course, there’s the old “boys can’t hit girls!” mindset that was perhaps even more predominant then than it is now; still, if that’s its shock value it isn’t much.

It happens right after Beehive “dies”; Blondie apologizes to her guy, “Smiley”, for hitting him. See, he’d been making out with Beehive at the time, thus causing Blondie to RAGE, and thus ensued the whole knife fight. So she apologizes for hitting Smiley for hitting him for being a skanky asshole, he smiles creepily then kisses her, at which point he punches her, right in the kisser, as it were. She’s downed and all helpless looking as he says “Yeah, well, don’t ever do it again”.

"Bitch, please. 
"Also, get me some sunblock. And a sammich."
So he “puts her in her place”. It boils down to pre-feminist mysogyny, really. That’s maybe a little shocking to us, but would it have been so far removed a norm for audiences of the mid 60s? I don’t know, but I doubt it. It certainly counters the “boys don’t hit girls” thing because it proves that, obviously, she’s a bitch, not a girl.



So not only is this a pathetic movie in its own right, it seems to be a pathetic movie in its own genre. There's another drug movie I really want to see--Psych Out. In the trailer for it, there's a scene with some acid head tripping baaaad--he's staring at his one hand while holding a buzzsaw in the other. I can't imagine anyway that could turn out disappointing.


Meanwhile, it's hard to explain this so-called drug movie. Maybe it makes more sense in the context of other drug/schlock movies. Or maybe it was just a paltry attempt to make some bank on something its filmmakers knew next to nothing about. Thing is, I don't see anyway anyone could have expected this movie to make much money. So maybe they were on drugs afterall.

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