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In Roger Corman's autobiography, he says that this film, GASsss, was a deciding factor in his leaving the employ of AIP. The film, as it stands, is a valiant effort at a counterculture comedy, and although the jokes are mostly dated today, the film is an interesting bit of drive-in history.
We open in 1968, which was the current year when this was made. A hippie is running from cops, and hides in a church.The hippie dresses as a priest,and dodges the cops. While sitting in the confessional,he meets a young female scientist on the run. She can tell he's not a real priest, because he uses the F word.
The hippie learns what the scientist is running from. She had left an experiment station where a chemical gas was escaping. The gas supposedly kills everyone over 28 years old, so, in essence, the older generations would be wiped out.
This leaves the world in shambles. The hippie and his now-girlfriend scientist make a trip south, to try to locate a commune/pueblo that is setting up to shelter those who have survived.
I don't want to give much else away, except that there are several characters the two meet on their journey south. Ben Vereen and Cindy Williams(pregnant) play a hip couple, and some football players show up. There's also bikers on golfcarts (hippie: "Who are you?" , biker:"Don't get metaphysical.")and assorted failed gags, and some funny ones. I especially liked the more obnoxious characters.
But my girlfriend hated the whole film. She disliked all the whole free-love jive, and she just didn't get the jokes. I got the jokes, even the bad ones. But I enjoyed it, and she didn't. I tried to argue that Corman was talented.
In fact, until Corman set up shop with New Horizons some twenty years ago, he was consistent in making films that were not always good, but usually fairly intelligent and provocative. When Corman was hot, from the mid-50's to the late 60's, he was good.
GASsss is the tail-end of that streak.He directed one more film after this, the dull VonReichtoven and Brown, and retired to be a producer. The only other flicks I've seen him do(Frankenstein Unbound and The Phantom Eye) have been unworthy ventures.
So, my point is that GASsss was Corman's last film as director that really succeeded to entertain. Yes, the cuts that AIP imposed on some of the chancier jokes do hurt the film.(who knows how funny it would've been to hear God narrate the story with a Jewish accent? Or how breathtaking the final shot would have been, a tracking shot that Corman says was the best shot in his career, left on the cutting room floor). Then again, I'm not sure if the film would've made much more sense than it does now.
Yes, GASsss is a failure, but an interesting one. If you're feeling patient one night for a 60's time capsule, and you like Country Joe and the Fish, this the film for you.
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