Judge Bill Gibron thought he had wandered into a Cheech and Chong retrospective by mistake.
Turn on, tune in, go crazy!
Junior college student Alice is introduced to the world of drugs, and learns that one of the unforeseen side effects of smoking weed and dropping acid is a desire to have as much sex as humanly possible. The End…
Okay, there's a little more to it than that. Seems that marijuana stimulates an unknown propensity towards Sapphic encounters with really unattractive partners. And LSD, naturally, produces an equally tribade dreamstate. It's Alice in Acidland. We get it already. The End.
Turk and his buddies are waiting for the man, and we're not talking about the Velvet Underground's signature song…or maybe we are. Dude is driving around town on his souped-up cycle, copping cannabis and picking up chicks. When he finally arrives at the swinging shindig, he's ready to put the lid onto and into this potential pot party. Soon, everyone is blowing reefer and getting frisky, and it doesn't take long for clothes—and inhibitions—to hit the floor. As some partygoers give in to the munchies (and a gallon of butter brickle ice cream), others play strip slot cars. Really.
On the other side of town, Skif and his lowlife buddies are shooting pool along with the bull. Sporting some of the most unfortunate facial hair this side of a Puerto Rican teenager, our hirsute hoodlums want some action, and they want it…well, eventually. So they cram into a station wagon—their equivalent of a muscle car—and head out on the highway. Ending up at Turk's blunt bonanza, they cause some trouble by consuming all the ham (the bastards!). But Turk slips Skif an LSD mickey, and before you know it, the troublemakers are hallucinogenic toast, and the party can return to its Smoke and Flesh facets. Yippie!
Positioning itself as one of those educational cautionary tales about the evils of wacky tobaccy and sordid sugar cubes, but in actuality, nothing more than the chance to witness medical supply salesmen and out-of-work Breck girls faux fornicate, Alice in Acidland is not really a movie. Oh sure, it was created on celluloid, shot with a moving picture camera, and cobbled together like any other film you've seen. But something about the narrative is bothersome in this finger-pointing tirade about the horrors of hemp. This film features people who should never ever part with their pantaloons in what seems like endless pretend poontanging, and once our heroine discovers the joys of cigarettes, booze, and lesbian love, it's just a hop, skip, and logic leap into pure counterculture corruption.
Alice, who as a "character" provides some minor voiceover explanation as to why she went over to the shark side of life, starts out the non-plot feigning innocence and naïveté. But the minute she attends a questionable pool party and takes a few sips of sloe gin, she is suddenly playing patty-cake with some manner of scleroderma patient. Indeed, the dizzy smiling dame who helps Al discover same-sexuality grins so much you want to slap that stupid smirk off her pug-fugly face. A little more narration, this time by a know-it-all elder, and Alice is smack-dab in the middle of a full-blown orgy (wearing bad moccasins and love beads, no less). For nearly 20 intolerable minutes, we play proto-porn with five fetid couples. And lucky us, we get to watch every irritating moment as they pet, disrobe, and drain each other's crankcases.
Though it's mentioned in mere passing, we keep waiting for the full-blown Timothy Leary brain basting to arrive. But when the hallucination finally comes, it centers on some character that we've never heard of, and looks like a layout for a pre-pubic issue of an off-title men's magazine. Never alarming enough to be a deterrent, and filled with far too much asexual flesh frisking to call your crotch, Alice in Acidland is one bad titillation trip. Whoever sold us this oregano of an opiate should be sprayed with Paraquat ASAP. With a title as tempting as this, our Mary Jane journey should have been a sizable dime bag better.
Just like finding that last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pudding Pie when the munchies come calling, or discovering the stash you thought got thrown away, Flesh and Smoke is the THC-laced antidote for everything aggravating about Alice's flaccid flashback. Using an actual narrative—what a novel idea—and peppering its plot with several recognizable faces from the SWV canon, our testament to the beauty in a bong hit is just Maui Wowie. Like two separate stories sandwiched together and sprinkled with sex, this gritty throwback to the urban roughie smoothed out with sensimilla is hookah hilarious and rolling papers risqué (all right, enough with the pot references! Yeesh!).
The first 15 minutes of this saga are very clever, with a voiceover that suggests that, in the night, the freaks really do come out—to cop. As the preparations for the party are offered in a seemingly disconnected stream of shots, we meet some of the attendees—a husband and wife team of smut peddlers (he writes the wantonness and looks like the inspiration for the aliens in Star Trek's "The Menagerie"; she provides the "inspiration"—with other men!) and our masked dope delivery boy (wearing a get-up that makes him look like Leatherface's cosmopolitan cousin). By the time we get to the smoke-out, we've run across an urbane African American girl with an affected English accent (Tina Turner Jr.?) and Jim Nabors's junkie twin. Soon, the sweet smell of hemp fills the air as director Joe Mangine offers up a montage to the wonders, and the how-to's, of wacky weed.
Why we suddenly shift over to Skif and his gang of beardy freaks is almost irrelevant, since they add a dimension to the movie that it otherwise would have required. The outside threat to the paper towel roll pipe proceedings gets us cheering for the hopheads, hoping that they defeat those who would harsh our buzz. The sugar cube in the Boone's Farm ruse is resplendent, and the resulting visualization of the acid attack cements the film's sensationalism. Had it been paired up with the bonus feature about the aphrodisiacal aspects of pot (to be discussed in a moment), this would have been one of the best Something Weird Video releases of the year. As it stands, someone shouldn't have asked Alice to this tea party. Her simulated pork product really messes up Smoke and Flesh's insane incense and peppermints.
In addition to these two time capsules to chronic, SWV includes a wonderfully wonky docu-drama-mentary about the intimate benefits of the choicest cheeba. Clocking in at over 45 minutes, Aphrodisiac: The Sexual Secret of Marijuana is like another added attraction here (Alice runs about 58 minutes, Smoke lasts 64) and boy, is it a bippy. Mixing heavily edited hardcore (one scene features John Holmes) with man-on-the-street interviews and some pseudo-science about the stimulating virtues of doobage, this supposedly straight dissertation on dope is the ultimate excuse movie. When a couple complains about marital "issues," we witness the curative powers of herb in firsthand frig fashion. A boss (Holmes) describes how ganja relieves work-related stress, and we see the randy retreat in all its bush-pushing glory. From the ergodic factoids flashing across the screen to the step-by-step description on how to cut, clean, and roll your own hash hunk, Aphrodisiac is a real jaw-dropper, a dyed-in-the-wool-headed hoot that has to be seen to be shotgunned.
Rounding out the extras is a series of sensational trailers, each one focusing on a different facet of the foul scourge of drug abuse. Highlights include the hilarious Hopped-Up, the could-be-cool Confessions of an Opium Eater (featuring Vincent Price!), and needs-to-be on-DVD-now The Acid Eaters. Additionally, there's a swell new gallery of exploitation magazine covers, accompanied by a different set of radio rarities. On the sound and vision side, both movies are monochrome members of the troubled transfer society. While Smoke and Flesh shows almost no major flaws, Alice skips around like a rugrat on Benzedrine for the first few minutes. There is so much missing footage one has to wonder if the key to the film's lack of success is somewhere lost in the projection room ether. Also, towards the end, Alice has an acid trip that is rendered in rather routine, far too red color. Still, the 1.33:1 prints are clean for the most part, and have a nice sharp balance between black and white.
Anyone who matriculated during the madcap '60s and mindless '70s will cotton to this drugged-up double—nay, triple—feature like an addict to Amsterdam. Just don't expect Alice and her lousy LSD antics to venture anywhere near a cinematic wonderland. Her claim to the kingdom of crap is already staked out.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Other Reviews You Might Enjoy
Scales of Justice, Alice In Acidland
Perp Profile, Alice In Acidland
Studio: Something Weird Video
Distinguishing Marks, Alice In Acidland
Scales of Justice, Smoke And Flesh
Perp Profile, Smoke And Flesh
Studio: Something Weird Video
Distinguishing Marks, Smoke And Flesh
Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Gibron; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.