Saturday, April 26, 2014

Join bad movie diva Lana Turner in THE BIG CUBE. You'll see sounds... You'll hear colors... You'll die laughing!

"You take LSD and you see sounds, you hear colors," says bathtub chemist George Chakiris in the 1969 howler The Big Cube. When he adds, "Strange things begin to happen," he's not just whistling "Dixie"--this movie ranks in our Top Five All-Time Bad Movies We Adore for, among other things, its prolonged, preposterously funny sequences of Lana Turner playing a trippy, LSD-besotted society matron.

Poor little rich girl Karin Mossberg learns that her moneybags father Dan O'Herlihy is wedding Turner, who is--of all things--America's greatest stage actress. "I can't bear that woman!" cries the distraught girl. Mossberg's best friend, slutty siren Pamela Rodgers, consoles her --"Sweetness, baby, float with the tide. That's my bag. This is a pop art world!"-- and cheers her up by taking her to meet some LSD-popping hipster pals at a nightclub called Le Trip. As you might expect, the walls of this pop spot are covered in telling graffiti: Grass is Good; Acid is Love; Cube the Fuzz? Well, we don't remember seeing that phrase on the bumper stickers of groovy VW vans back in the good old days, but it does have a certain ring to it. "Cube" is, of course, hippie lingo for sugar cubes soaked in LSD, as is made abundantly clear when Rodgers's boyfriend, Carlos East, slips one of them into the beer of a guy he doesn't like, snarling, "I'm gonna cube that mother, but good!" "Fuzz" is hippie lingo for, of course, cops, as is made abundantly clear when the unsuspecting victim's acid trip, a riotously hammy epileptic fit on the dance floor, is interrupted by the fuzz who rush into the nightclub and arrest him.
the Fuzz. Wait a minute--

Meanwhile, Mossberg falls for dropout/drug-pusher/gigolo Chakiris, who, once he sees her car and mansion, brings up the topic of marriage. As soon as dad O'Herlihy and stepmom Turner are out of town, the couple hosts an LSD orgy at the mansion, during which Rodgers does a wicked striptease routine (a favorite pastime of acidheads in the '60s). Unhappily, O'Herlihy and Turner arrive home to see all this naked flesh, and promptly throw the celebrants out. O'Herlihy angrily denounces Chakiris as a fortune hunter, but naturally Mossberg won't listen.

The real trouble starts when O'Herlihy is drowned at sea and the widow Turner is named executrix of his estate. Turner follows her late husband's suggestion by making Mossberg's inheritance contingent on her not marrying slimeball Chakiris. "That's how her kind repays loyalty -- with a shaft!" fumes Chakiris. "She has everything your father had, including the right to run your life. She poisoned his mind and saw to it that you got nothing." As Chakiris points out to Mossberg, "There are ways of dealing with cats like her," and since Chakiris's solution to most problems is LSD, we're hardly surprised that his way of dealing with Turner is to add a huge dose of acid to her nightly tranquilizers, then sit back and watch her flip her lid. It proves to be a highly successful plan. Turner is soon staggering around her luxe boudoir, seeing sounds and hearing colors. Later, Turner goes for a spin in her convertible and hallucinates--hilariously--an ocean in the sky, then sees (this is what does her in) the face of Satan. It's all Too Much for Turner. She suffers a mental breakdown and is institutionalized with "partial amnesia" (the part of her memory that's missing is, no doubt, the part about why she ever signed on for this movie). "Maybe there's no perfect murder," comments Chakiris, "but I think we figured a perfect freak-out."

After a court declares Turner mentally incompetent, Mossberg is rich and free to marry Chakiris. Their wedding celebration is a full-tilt '60s happening, replete with couples going at it on the floor and bikers riding their Harleys into the swimming pool. But when Chakiris tries bedding best friend Rodgers instead of his bride on his wedding night, Mossberg realizes belatedly that he's no good. She quickly divorces the scumbag. Now penniless, Chakiris starts gobbling so many "sugar" cubes he goes completely bonkers himself.

Worried that she's done Turner wrong, Mossberg confesses all to Turner's secret new flame, Richard Egan (America's greatest playwright). "Suppose she relived the part of her life she's trying to forget," ponders Egan with a straight face. "What if I could write a play based on her experiences, then convince her to play herself?" Thus, Turner is let out of the loony bin to star in a loony play with the loony plot of this loony movie. On opening night, she suddenly realizes she's enacting her own real-life saga and breaks down sobbing onstage, repeating over and over, "I'm not mad! I'm not mad!" Though the audience's response to Turner's statement is to shout "Bravo!" yours will be to shout "Yes, you are!"

1 comment:

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