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GAS-S-S-S (1971)
Article #1521 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2005
Posting Date: 10-11-2005
Directed by Roger Corman
Featuring Bob Corff, Elaine Giftos, Bud Cort

 

When a gas is released that kills everyone in the world over the age of 25, several hippies take off on an odyssey to an oracle.

Some people hate this rather silly counter-culture curio, but I'm not one of them. Maybe it's because I always had a bit of a yearning to be a hippie; unfortunately, I spent my late teens/early twenties in the era of disco, an empty experience indeed. Still, I have little use for a lot of these hippie curios; they're usually pretty ugly, unpleasant, and filled with bad music. Not this one; I like the music here, mostly suppled by Country Joe and the Fish. I also found the characters quite likeable in their own ways, even some of the bad guys. The best thing about the movie is its lightness of touch; the movie never really takes itself too seriously, which is a good thing for one that flirts with pretentiousness as well as touching upon some rather unpleasant themes. And some of the scenes are genuinely amusing. There's the scene where the hippies engage in a gunfight with a highway bandit named Billy the Kid in a used car lot; every shot is punctuated by the calling out of a name of a western movie celebrity ("Johnny Mack Brown!" "William S. Hart!" "Gabby Hayes", etc.). There's also the scene where the hippies dress up as regular people so as not to call attention to themselves, but end up finding that the local golf course has been taken over by a cycle gang. Then there are the Indians who have decided to give everything back to the white man that was given to them (including smallpox and the English language). I also like the greek chorus-like Edgar Allan Poe character who tools around on a motorcycle with a raven on his shoulder. All in all, it felt like a parody of the post-apocalyptic movie, with the heroes meeting any variety of odd cultures that have developed in the wake of the release of the gas. This would also be the last movie Corman would direct for American International Pictures; he objected to their editing the movie against his wishes.

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