Tuesday, May 13, 2008

THE GROOVY FACTOR part 1

In some of the movie reviews I've done on the Trash Palace website I mention the Groovy factor. But what exactly is the Groovy Factor? HAVE I LOST MY MIND!!?? Well, for me it represents films that contain certain elements from the time period of roughly 1966 to 1972, although there are many exceptions. Any scene in a film that has psychedelic lighting, clubs with body-painted go-go dancers, people freaking out on acid trips, mod fashion models in mini-skirts... and so on. The fact that so many movies from that era contain the "groovy" elements and that, subsequently, most movies thereafter don't (although there are still some that do) one can assume that these things are products of their time naturally. But how did they come to be that way? It didn't just change like that by itself. And why do I dig the Groovy Factor so much and go on and on about it? Look at how things changed so drastically in the 5 years spanning say 1964 to 1969. Look how long men's hair became, the drastic changes in the way popular music sounded, not to mention the attitudes of people, the expanding of people's consciousness and open-mindedness. And a big part of this social revolution came from, or at least was somewhat helped along by, LSD. In my opinion there never in the history of popular culture has been such a noticeable change in such a short amount of time. Certainly since the '60s any changes at all have been much slower, almost unnoticeable. Does 1982 really seem that different from 1987? No way, Jose! And along with the '60s new social attitudes came artistic and sexual changes as well. And commercial art, like the clothes and music, were a reflection of this new young culture. The wild colors that come from an acid trip changed the way clothes were designed. The flowers handed out by hippies that represented a good will gesture of peace and love became absorbed into popular art of the times. And once psychedelia became commercialized you had flowered wallpaper, black light posters sold in mainstream stores, etc. Remember those groovy looking flower-shaped rubber sticker things you put inside your bathtub to keep from slipping around? And remember when Snoopy was suddenly "Feelin' Groovy!"? Hmmm... why was he feeling that way? And where did those designs come from? Yes, there is no question that it can all be traced back to the influences of the times; the drugs, the big pop stars of the day (particularly the Beatles) and, subsequently, the trippy mind-expanding drugs they were using. Those things had a major effect in changing the way we looked too, and the way all commercial art was created. Movie-wise things were affected in the obvious ways; films went from exploiting youth culture in the "don't-let-this-happen-to-YOUR-kids" style to the "turn on and tune in" approach. To me it seems that you can look at a few seconds of pretty much any movie or tv show that was made in the late '60s or early '70s and tell it was from that time period. And for me, personally, I have a soft spot for films from this era, and the groovier the better! Even the flicks that aren't considered particularly "good" still have those qualities going for them by default and sometimes that's enough.



A movie like "The Touchables" (1968, above trailer taken from Something Weird Video's "Dusk To Dawn Drive-In Trailers" vol. 7) I never get tired of watching although most people seem to despise that film. I've never read anything good about it even in supposed pop-culture and counter-culture film books. But who wouldn't like to watch 4 cute mod chicks kidnap a rock star and take him to their inflatable dome for some groovy frolicking? There is a real anarchistic approach to the way the girls act and speak, a "modern" look to the film and some really cool music and colorful visuals,... things that make this movie a product of it's time for sure. And for me that is ultimately 100 times more entertaining then ANYTHING playing at the multiplex right now.

Sometimes the Groovy Factor alone can make a bad movie worth watching. And the GF was applied to all film genres of the time. Like the comedies: There was a period where mega-comedies with blockbuster casts were all the rage. Films like "Skidoo", "Candy", and "The Phynx" where the producers tried to cram as many celebrities into 1 movie as possible, sort of trying to one-up "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" from 1963.


Take "Casino Royale" for instance (the 1967 James Bond satire). It's really quite a disaster of a film. There were 5 different directors working on it and the parts don't really mesh up making for one uneven mess. But why do I love this movie so much? First, there is an amazing score by Burt Bacharach and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, groovy pop to be sure. A mega-star cast featuring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Orson Welles and Woody Allen, plus, more importantly, uber Euro-babes including Ursula Andress, Joanna Pettet, Daliah Lavi, Barbara Bouchet and others. Plus the storyline gets wackier and wackier as it progresses, like the film is writing itself or something, becoming quite psychedelic and ending in a slapstick comic free-for-all. A real mess to be sure, but a very groovy mess! The same thing can be said about the movie "Candy" (1968). A great groovy cast (Ewa Aulin, John Astin, Elsa Martinelli, Ringo Starr, Marlon Brando, James Coburn...), but the idea of trying to do a commercial film version of the x-rated book (which itself was basically a paraody of a smut novel but still very smutty) would be impossible. What director Christian Marquand did pull off was another mega-comedy mess but with a great Groovy Factor. I know it's not considered to be a "good" movie, but I can watch it a hundred times and never get tired of it. And the Groovy Factor did not stop there. No way, baby! Pretty much all cinematic genres were affected. And thus some of my favorite horror and erotic movies are films from that era and have major doses of groovieness permeating their celluloid vibes.

TO BE CONTINUED? OH YEAH!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, agreed. GF rules. That was a golden age, and women looked a lot better in heavy mascara and long dark eyelashes. They say they had real breasts back then.

Movies nowadays are tightly regimented with filmaking-school hyper-literalism, seems like everyone is consulting their textbooks to see if they are doing it right. Everything is too literal, corporate controlled. The cinematographic formula is computer generated and accountant controlled.

BTW: None of the Youtube videos posted work. Most things with nudity in the first few seconds get dropped from YT.

Brian D. Horrorwitz said...

I agree! Things are way too bland nowadays.

The Youtube videos appear to be working okay on this end. There is no nudity in them so they should be fine.

juju79 said...

I recently stumbled over a movie review of "The Touchables" and saw the trailer on YouTube. Unfortunately it seems impossible to get my hands on a copy of the movie. Does someone know where to buy it? Or download it? Any help wouldbe great. Thanks in advance.

Brian D. Horrorwitz said...

juju79: Why, at Trash Palace of course! Just follow this link below and scroll down, it's on this page:

www.trashpalace.com/collectorsmovies/rocknschlock.htm