Archive for the ‘Dennis Hopper’ Tag

The Trip (1967)   Leave a comment

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Made during the height of the psychadelic 60s, THE TRIP tells the story of a man taking his first acid trip. Peter Fonda plays the married director of television commercials who decides to try LSD. Guiding him through his psychological journey is Bruce Dern.  Dern looks professorial with his civilized beard, corduroy blazer, and turtleneck. His demeanor differs immensely in his film too.  He’s worlds away from his usual snarling criminal, but no less convincing. Dern will stay sober and remain with Fonda ensuring that if he gets too high or has a bad reaction to the drug, Dern can calm him down. Roger Corman based this film on his own experiences with LSD.  He went on a controlled trip himself and his experiences and that of screenwriter Jack Nicholson make up the bulk of the film.

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“This antelope just wants her babies, man.”

I watched The Trip with director Roger Corman’s audio commentary.  He paints a fascinating picture of maverick filmmaking and the 60s counterculture. Filmed at Big Sur, the Sunset Strip, and beach homes owned by those immersed in that culture, the film looks authentic. Corman says they barely changed the decor of the houses and paid a great deal of attention to detail when dressing the sets. For example, in one scene we can see the book HOWL by Allen Ginsberg sitting on a shelf. He filmed in a real nightclub and laudromat and for one long shot of Peter Fonda walking along the Sunset Strip at night, the cameraman sat in a wheelchair behind Fonda and Corman pushed him down the street.

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“Please look at me.”

To be honest, the film itself, which also stars Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg pales in comparison with the stories Corman tells about it in his commentary and the effects he uses to tell it. The cinematographer, Arch R. Dalzell used light, color and psychedelic paint in some cool new ways. During a love scene between Fonda, Strasberg, and Salli Sachse, Dalzell projected wild colors and designs onto the stars’ naked bodies. It looks fantastic.

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I enjoyed watching this film, but the commentary made it for me. Corman liked making it very much and speaks fondly of the entire experience. He also gives us some great background stories. During one scene, Dennis Hopper tells a story while a joint is passed around a circle of people. Corman says he was so intent on getting the shot that he barely heard the story. When it was over, others on set laughed because they had never heard the word man so many times. Apparently Hopper was riffing a bit. Bruce Dern, that symbol of the counterculture, never took drugs. He was a marathon runner who tried out for the Olympic team and has always led a very healthy life. You can even see him in a scene in which a joint is passed just handing it to the next guy. If you watch THE TRIP, bring a buddy and opt for the audio commentary. Roger Corman won’t let you down, man.

Bruce The Trip #4

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Queen of Blood (1966)   3 comments

Queen of Blood

An alien spacecraft sends a distress call to Earth moments before crash landing on Mars. Since it’s 1990 and the United States has a cadre of rockets at the ready for such an emergency, we send one up to see what all the fuss is about.

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“Have you tried wearing it down?”

A crew of five, including John Saxon and DENNIS HOPPER, flies up to Mars to save the day. They find one survivor, a female in a catsuit with a weird tulip hairdo and green skin.

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“Sure! Let’s bring her on board. What can happen?”

They decide to bring the alien on their spaceship because that always works out well. Before you can say, “Have you seen my cat?” Tulip Head gets hungry.

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“Perhaps a soupçon of O positive before bed?”

Dennis Hopper…let me repeat that, DENNIS HOPPER tries to feed the alien but she won’t eat the weird Soylent Green-like astronaut food offered her. Later we find out why. Her tastes run to liquid nourishment and no one in the crew is safe from her snacking. Instead of killing her or jettisoning her into space, they tie her loosely and try to stay awake.

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“Is there a Dunkin’ Donuts around here?”

As you might have guessed, she gets out and let’s just say, her efforts leave a few empty bunks in the crew’s quarters.  They still don’t kill her though because science (Basil Rathbone!) needs to study her and, oh crap, she laid eggs.

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“Game over, man.”

Director, Curtis Harrington made some nifty films for American International Pictures like Night Tide and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. He also wrote Queen of Blood and a number of other screenplays. You don’t have to look too closely to find connections between this film and a couple later, more famous science fiction favorites. This is a fun one.

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“Put. The alien. Back.”

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