Gas-s-s-s (1971):
(Gas! Or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It)

This Roger Corman freakout closes not only his career as American International director, but also the youth-runs-wild hippie cycle of Wild in the Streets, Skidoo and The Strawberry Statement -- like those films, it crumbles the world's stability and plays its cataclysmic slapstick out in the rubble of social upheaval. The apocalypse this time comes courtesy of the titular scientific experiment, which decimates everyone over 25 and leaves a band of long-haired, post-'68 scramblers (including Robert Corff, Elaine Giftos, Ben Vereen and Cindy Williams) to trudge across in search of their communal utopia. Volumes of Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins become bonfire fuel, cowboys shoot each other down by yelling out the names of famous Western stars, and Bud Cort, the unformed waif of Brewster McCloud, shows up in the Nicholson-Hopper weirdo role. The oddest and most interesting aspect of this cheerfully slapdash psychedelia is the way the youngsters' destructive energies, freed from all of society's responsibilities, are channeled into all-American iconography -- in its most daring juxtaposition, the link between the testosterone thrust of football and raging, raping fascism gets exorcised in raucous, one-for-the-Gipper gridiron theatrics. Often very funny, the picture, unlike a clueless relic like Stanley Kramer's campus-pandering R.P.M., benefits hugely from the same anarchic impulses that had already led Corman to pulverize civilization at least half a dozen times on the screen. With Talia Shire, and Country Joe and the Fish.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home