Is this your brain on drugs?
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Shot mostly outdoors in and around the same SoCal canyons the Manson family called home shortly before the fateful nights of August ‘69, The Acid Eaters disposes of Meyer’s brand of structured narrative for a stream-of-consciousness rambling Mr. Mabe and screenwriter Carl Monson (aka Carlos Monsoya) imagine one would encounter while under the influence of LSD (codename: ‘acid’). What they’ve concocted, however, occasionally suggests a fractured homage to Kenneth Anger by way of Ed Wood. Indeed, some of the personnel involved had a hand in the Wood-scripted Orgy of the Dead (1966).
Starring a group of seamy neanderthals who look as though they were fished out of a West Hollywood saloon at lunchtime, they cavort as aimless, topless crazies en route to a pyramid where hallucinogens are served by Lucifer, here played by a simian bodybuilder with short legs who resembles ‘Toody’ ("Ooh! Ooh!") on the old Car 54, Where Are You? TV show. Chewing on the drug (a prop brick of Styrofoam), they sink down a rabbit hole of incongruous fantasy subplots including a woefully un-arousing orgy held in Satan’s crib.
Made near the height of LSD’s popularity, The Acid Eaters shows no awareness of the cultural precedents set forth by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters or Timothy Leary, while its music soundtrack, credited to Billy Allen, is ersatz jazz far removed from Sgt. Pepper or The Grateful Dead. One does wonder, though, where Mr. Mabe’s head was when he inserted those brief flashes of a bewildered granny (is that Louise Latham, who played Tippi’s mom in Marnie?) or the unrelated, Godardian vignette of literary characters conducting an obscure discourse in the middle of an isolated field.
Above: A bucolic moment from Alex de Renzy’s Weed
Although clearly liberal in its views, Weed makes an honest effort to be objective, Renzy on camera (he’s a middling interviewer), traveling from the thousands of acres of marijuana growing freely throughout Missouri, to points far, far east, at a time when you could buy a pound of Cambodian Red directly at the source for less than two dollars. (In Nepal we pass a store with “Freedom for Angela Davis” posters in the window.) He talks with a handful of law enforcement figures, drug dealers and users, soldiers idling in Vietnam, who explain some of the smuggling and black market techniques, economics and philosophies surrounding pot. It’s not the definitive word on the subject, but it’s a lively attempt.