It doesn't really have all its marbles together but Blue Sunshine (1978) provides an interesting amalgam of low-rent mid-70s horror filmmaking that's roughly comparable to the slew of early 70s artsy gut-punch horror shows coming out of NYC, Toronto, and Pittsburgh--De Palma's Sisters, Romero's The Crazies, Cronenberg's Rabid, Cohen's God Told Me To. Like them it's touched by the conspiracy thriller with pharmacological implications, but this time mixing Hithcockian 'man on the run' action with a Big Chill-style alumni "what happened to the dream we all shared at Stanford ten years ago, when we all dropped this weird acid called Blue Sunshine made by our chemist friend who's now running for political office?" cross-section of compromised idealists. The answer, my friend, is that the dream is gone. All the friends start wigging out, all across the land, at the same time, more or less. And it turns out they've lost their hair and been wearing wigs and barely keeping it together - any little wig slip--figurative or literal--can send them over the homicidal edge, all right around the ten year-mark of their Blue Sunshine trip. Dude, that Blue Sunshine's flashback kick is prcises as a Quartz watch! Gimme some!
Perma-scowler Zalman King is at one of their reunions when one of them starts wigging out. He must have been the 'guide' of the bunch ten year ago, or the conscientious objector who didn't want to pollute his chromosomes, as he's the only one not turning homicidal and bald ten years after basking in the 'blue.' Sensing an opportunity, perhaps, to escape the boring party, he takes it on himself to run around stopping everyone, single-handed, before they hurt themselves or others. This means, naturally, looking guilty holding the knife he takes from his assailant before she falls to her death after he barged in on her and started yelling, etc. Rather than stick around and explain to the cops, King just presumes they won't believe him so runs off one to singlehandedly save the next acid casualty (and indirectly hasten their end). He didn't cook it up, or sell it, or even take it. He had nothing to do with it1 He's just a narcissist martyr who wouldn't share a chance to be the hunted Hitchcockian hero in a million years. To most temporarily sane viewers, no matter how much acid they've done, he's only slightly more irrational and wacko than the crazy baldheads he visits.
Oh Zalman King, your self-righteous scowl is so unrelenting you make Jason Patric seem like Harpo Marx!
Like its leading character, Sunshine can never figure out where it wants to go or how its hero can help (it's not like Zalman's got a bag of Thorazine with him), though fascinated by the power of LSD, the film lacks the nerve to take two tabs and go off the deep end like everyone else (i.e. to visualize the hallucinations), so it mopes on the sidelines and 'misses the party,' and it's the same party at which Hitchcockophiliac De Palma, STD clinician Cronenberg, downtown paranoiac Cohen and blue collar Swift Romero lost their minds - becoming lifetime master auteurs. So while those dudes broke new cinema ground and flew into cult immortality, and today have a body of work still trenchant and discussed, director Jeff Lieberman was left behind, the late arrival to the acid test, the kibbitzer,, preferring to dabble in a little bit of each of their areas, to finish the drinks they left behind and hang in the back, feigning interest in the bookshelf. And the movie is his justification for his cowardice: Turns out all that nonsense about mutating chromosomes was right! Nyah Nyah.
The only person you know for sure did some, in the whole film, is Leon the replicant (below) and the guy in the poster at top (the eyes never lie, Manolo). Star Zalman King on the far other end of the spectrum, is such a wearingly sober Sean Penn-ish scowler he makes 'experienced' viewers annoyed. Perhaps King annoyed Lieberman too, as the film seems to dryly mock his martyrish spotlight hog (he was probably directing all his own close-ups and milking lines for every last ounce of method interiority).
|"wake up, time to fly!"|
|Meth, I hear you callin'|
Luckily, the murderous freak-outs are pretty hilarious, with the killers apparently perfectly normal, if a little stressed and sleepless, until someone rips off their wig and exposes them as bald and they go apeshit with superhuman strength.
|Winters looks just an ex-girlfriend I did a lot of acid with senior year, uh oh|
|My doctor added Abilify|
|May also induce scowlingitis|