Blue Sunshine Reviews
Heaven. Simply Heaven. BLUE SUNSHINE is most certainly the first film to slaughter and criticize the boomer, yuppie generation. 1968: A group of Stanford students drop the eponymous acid. Flash forward. 1978: Now professionals living in LA, one by one their hair starts falling out and they become mass murderers! No I am not making this up. Devilishly wonderful with one of the most bizarre performances this side of 1960s Marlon Brando. Zalman King, who later became a noted softcore porn producer, is so bizarre in the central role that in one very serious scene he appears to be sniffing another actors neck. BLUE SUNSHINE is just that kind of movie--an odd delight and a perfect double feature with ANGEL, ANGEL, DOWN WE GO.
(1976) Blue Sunshine
Written and directed by Jeff Lieberman coming up with a confusing beginning, but that can be the result of the film's budget. With Jerry (Zalmon King) having a little party with some friends until one of them runs amok by going on a killing spree, leaving a few dead. And then for some odd reason, the murders are somehow end up being pinned on Jerry instead of the crazed perpetrator who was eventually killed by getting hit by an ongoing car. Jerry then ends up going on the run, sought after by a detective by the name of Clay (Charles Siebert). In order for Jerry to clear his name, he seeks the assistance of his girlfriend Alicia (Deborah Winters). And with Jerry playing detective himself, it turns out that a dangerous LSD/ acid drug called "Blue Sunshine" used to be manufactured by a former student from some university campus(to be precise Stanford) and that they were sold to some students that went there. And that this student who used to be selling to help him finance his political career happens to be running for congress, by the name of Ed Flemming (Mark Goddard). And the ending doesn't explain very much either as the movie is suggesting that it's based on a actual experimental drug, with one of the main side effects is hair loss.
Anyone who's familiar with actor Zalmon King's recent work, will know that this film is a far cry from what he's usually associated with, as a director and creator of "The Red Shoe Diaries" starring David Duchovny, as well as other movies that consist to have adult eroticism. But again, if viewers are willing to put their brains on stun, ignoring total logic such as 'no autopsy performed on the bodies' then this film might work for you, but others such as myself demand better.
2 out of 4 stars
I could see a revisit at some point, see if it grows on me at all, but I dug the people just randomly going apeshit.
I Like Horror Movies
If there was ever a film to truly frighten the acid-heads and the former acid-heads alike, it would be "Blue Sunshine". A sort of cult horror flick and classified "drug movie"; it will certainly tap into the greatest fears of just about anyone who has ever used LSD. I can't say much from experience, since I've never tried the drug (or fooled around with any drug, for the matter), but I do know that as a movie, it delivers on most of its promises. It's whacky and weird, although not as over-the-top as I was expecting. It's tame but at the same time wild. In that sense, it exists in its own world; which is where it gets its cult status. Some people succumb to the world and find themselves immersed in it; others see nothing but obvious weakness. That's where the flaws - which are undeniable - begin to shine through. Luckily, I'm in the former category of people in that I honestly enjoyed the thing for what it was.
At a party of mostly young men and women, one male member goes berserk when his false hair is ripped off revealing his almost completely bald head. He then kills everyone but one young man, Jerry Zipkin (Zalman King), who is accused of the murders when the real killer is hit by a truck in the middle of the road. To prove his innocence, Jerry - with the help of his girlfriend - must find out the source of his former friend's randomly psychotic behavior. He traces it to a politician currently in office who distributed a new form of acid called Blue Sunshine to a group of college kids ten years prior. Meanwhile, everyone who took the stuff also starts losing their hair; eventually risking a similar violent reaction to that of Jerry's pal. Oh, and the stuff apparently reduces your tolerance for disco music of a loud variety.
Cult films are often appealing because they are simple, a lot of the time based on senses like sight and sound alone, and can be viewed late at night without much trouble. You can doze off and you won't miss much. "Blue Sunshine" is like the rest of them; the good cult movies, that is. But it also has a little something extra; a mystery plot that is actually consistently engaging if not overly obvious. Honestly, I've seen worse from films that take themselves completely seriously. For some, that won't be enough to justify the lack of great character development and plotting, but I'd advise you not to expect finesse going in to begin with. It's a well-crafted film, just not a spotless one.
Jeff Lieberman, the director, has gone on to direct a few more films after this one such as "Squirm" in 1976 and "Satan's Little Helper" in 2004. He seems to possess the same kind of macabre humor sensibility that most solid horror directors do; even though I don't view this film as a straight-up horror outing. Its audience is primarily made up of horror fanatics, although the only things "horror" about it is the slasher film aesthetic of the plot and the lingering ambiguity. There isn't too much blood although there are a few death scenes, most of them fairly discreet and non-graphic. I smell a low budget, but thank God it's not an artistic handicap.
But here's why it works: it's respectively strange. The things that you expect from a proclaimed "cult film" are pretty much all here: a trippy soundtrack, a peculiar editing job, and a twisty plot. There are some great scenes such as when the characters are in a state of extreme psychological turmoil. They seldom over-act on their part, and we actually get a decent approximation of what it might like to be a former acid-head getting a taste of their own mind-fucking medicine. I like horror films that are also cautionary tales, and "Blue Sunshine" is part thoughtful genre picture and part escapist film. I do not mind it and I was very entertained throughout. I'm a sucker for the "old" feel of a 70's or 80's film (or any film before the current age, really), so you can imagine I ate this one right up. I'm glad I've never tried acid, or had bad acid; because I love me some good disco music.
Jeff Lieberman, it turns out, was quite the busy little beaver during 1976. First off, he released Squirm, a fun, intelligent ecohorror/monster movie in the vein of Frogs or It Happened at Lakewood Manor, but that doesn't play it anywhere near that straight. It was featured on the final season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and has been unjustly maligned ever since; it's actually a pretty good little flick. And then he turned around and finished Blue Sunshine, a movie that plays it a lot straighter than Squirm. It faded into obscurity almost immediately in America, then went overseas in '78, playing in a handful of European and South American countries before once again disappearing beneath the waves.
Thank god for the Catalans.
Blue Sunshine was rediscovered early this century and screened-for what may have been the first time in a quarter-century-at the Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia, Spain, in 2003. It was a smash with the festivalgoers, and the Sitges screening led to the movie getting a proper DVD release for the first time ever. It's not terribly surprising that someone noticed, given that a number of folks in the cast have since gone on to bigger and better things.
Plot: Jerry (Zalman King, the guy behind The Red Shoe Diaries in one of his final appearances in front of the camera) is at a party with his kinda-new girlfriend, Alicia (Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo's Deborah Winters) and some old friends. One of those friends, in the middle of a song-and-dance routine, suddenly goes nuts and runs out the door. Jerry goes after him, but while Jerry and Alicia are out driving around, the friend backtracks to the house and kills the three women who remained behind. He also attacks Jerry, which leads to a foot chase back to the highway, where Jerry throws him in front of a truck. Needless to say, he's accused of murder and goes on the run. While hiding out, he sees a newspaper article about a Navy man who suddenly went crazy and started killing people. The two had one thing in common: they suddenly started losing their hair, and right before they went homicidal, they went almost totally bald in one fell swoop. Jerry and Alicia start digging around, with the help of David Blume (All the President's Men's Robert Walden), a half-burnt-out doctor and one of Jerry's oldest friends... who happens to be losing his hair.
Trust me, I'm only scratching the surface of the awesome cast here. Mark Goddard (Lost in Space) and Ann Cooper (Seems Like Old Times) play a husband-and-wife team. Ray Young (Bagdad Cafe) is a bodyguard. The late, great Brion James (Bladerunner) turns up in a minor role. Bill Adler. Barbara Quinn. Stefan Gierasch. Alice Ghostley! And it's in no small part because of the stellar cast that the mystery plays here, even when you already know what's causing these people to go nuts (and if you've even heard of this movie, you probably know what it is).
Jeff Lieberman, to date, has directed just five big-screen features. Of them, I have now seen four (the 1981 thriller Just Before Dawn is waiting for me at home), and I've found all four quite enjoyable. This is not deathless cinema by any means, but Lieberman is a whole lot better than he's given credit for. This one gets a solid recommend. *** 1/2