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-all touched by Taxi Driver-like nods to the conspiracy thriller and 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. They all start wigging out, 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 trip. Dude, that Blue Sunshine's flashback kick is prcises as a Quartz watch.
Perma-scowler Zalman King must have been the 'guide' of the bunch ten year ago, or the conscientious objector who didn't want to pollute his chromosomes, so he's the only one not turning homicidal and bald ten years after basking in the 'blue.' He nonetheless takes it on himself to run around stopping it all, anyway, single-handed. That means looking guilty holding the knife he took from his assailant before she fell 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 it. 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 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 it can help (it's not like he's got a bag of Thorazine with him). It lacks the nerve to take two tabs and go off the deep end like everyone else, it mopes on the sidelines and 'misses the party' at which Hitchcockophiliac De Palma, STD clinician Cronenberg, downtown paranoiac Cohen and blue collar Swift Romero lost their minds. 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, too nervous to follow them into the deep end, 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.
That's a problem because we can tell Liberman has seen The 39 Steps but considering he's making a movie about the effects of LSD, has Lieberman even ever done any? 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. Star Zalman King on the far other end of the spectrum, is such a wearingly sober Sean Penn-ish scowler he makes us 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'|
|My doctor added Abilify|
|May also induce scowlingitis|