Thanks to a troupe of witlings stranded in outer space, Jeff Lieberman is best known for 1976's Squirm. It's an entertaining inefficacy, but it's not an accurate representation of Jeff's worth as a filmmaker. With 1981's Just Before Dawn, he offered up a grim, atmospheric slasher. He also directed Satan's Little Helper, which is one of my favorite fright flicks from the aughts (I hate that term). Last night, I spent quality time with his sophomore outing, 1978's Blue Sunshine, and I'm glad that I did. I could say that it leaves Squirm in the dust, but that wouldn't be saying much, now would it?
There is a warrant out for Jerry's arrest. Three of his friends were offed in bestial ways, and he is the prime suspect. Did he kill them??? No. No, he did not. But the murders happened right in front of him. The culprit is a balding lunatic who dropped acid in college. When you think about it, that could be anyone, but Jerry's detective work has narrowed down the field of potential litigants. Let me rephrase that; he has identified the guilty party and he knows that other people are on the brink of madness. The title refers to a recreational drug that certain hippies enjoyed ten years prior. It seems that this hallucinogen has delayed side effects, and I'm not referring to dry mouth or vaginal secretions.
In case you're slow on the uptake, Blue Sunshine is about lysergic acid diethylamide. Y'know, Lucy in the sky with diamonds? Purple haze? Electric Kool-Aid? Strawberry fields? Neon pussy? Okay, I made up "neon pussy." That should totally be a drug, though. Where was I? Oh, the film's first half serves as a mystery, and despite overanxious marketing (every synopsis you'll come across spoils the secret behind the killings), the exposition is engrossing. Zalman King gives an uneven performance as our main protagonist. Still, we're in his corner, and we want to see him get to the bottom of this mess.
Lieberman imbues Blue Sunshine with a pulpy drive-in vibe that I simply cannot resist. It never becomes a comedy, but it's easy to spot the scenes that were embellished for the purposes of selling this as a trashy b-movie. The climax is just too much. A discotheque is ravaged by a hulking acid zombie, and we follow Jerry as he hunts it through a solitary shopping mall. It's a riot, but the abrupt ending dampens the mood. I was hoping for a more explosive payoff. In any event, Blue Sunshine deserves your attention if you're looking to rent a cult classic that you haven't already seen a million times. Now, do you know where I can score some neon pussy?
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:32 PM