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  Eggshells Trippy Hippies
Year: 1969
Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Ron Barnhart, Pamela Craig, Allen Danziger, Sharon Danziger, Mahlon Foreman, Kim Henkel, Amy Lester, David Noll, Jim Schulman
Genre: WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A young woman full of hopes and dreams leaves her home behind and sets off on the back of a truck for the big city where she can attend university and work out what she wants to do with her life. There she finds the students are very politically active, what with the Vietnam War going on and very much in the public consciousness, be they a draft-dodging hippy or cheerleader for the Nixon administration who is happy to send the young men off to fight. She settles on a place to live with other students, an old house in a leafy suburb which is purported to be haunted - and if it isn't, who on earth threw that paper aeroplane that was launched at the porch and exploded?

Tobe Hooper will forever be known as the man who directed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and even a career spent making other works and plenty of them would do nothing to change that. But if you make a movie that alters the cinematic landscape, much like George A. Romero before him with Night of the Living Dead, you have to get used to the idea that it's better to be known for something as good as that than forgotten for something like... well, something like this, which was barely one step up from his student film education where he had recently graduated in his native Austin, Texas and had been teaching at the university there, as well as providing camera services.

But he had ambitions, and became one of the first directors of an independent movie to genuinely strike gold with a worldwide hit. But it wasn't Eggshells, which was created for an extremely niche audience of the counterculture who wanted to see themselves represented on the big screen as more than simply a bunch of uncouth and unwashed social menaces who would show up to be lectured by Jack Webb on Dragnet or harass William Shatner on Star Trek. They felt they at least deserved to be taken seriously, and with one little movie that became a blockbuster across the globe they did it, finally a film that spoke to the flower power generation and their experiences.

That film was Easy Rider, as meanwhile Eggshells played a few dates in American cinemas before being believed forgotten for decades until a print reappeared, was restored and rereleased to a smattering of interest from Hooper's horror fans, but not much else as far as ripples in the pop culture pond went. Was it worth rediscovery aside from those specialist interests, or did you need to be well-versed in the milieu of late nineteen-sixties Austin to get the most out of it? Well, it may constitute an education of sorts, but even if you enjoyed its relentless experimentation and casual chats you would be hard pushed to find many people to recommend it to as it did meander and waver from documentary-style domestic scenes to Hooper flexing his imaginative muscles in extended sequences.

Like what? Well, early on in a stretch of film he obviously quite impressed himself with, Hooper took a trip inside the haunted house in speeded up and effects-filled photography (the effects nevertheless being very basic, smoke, torches and glitter essentially) which was pictorially quite entertaining if you were sympathetic to that sort of thing. There were scenes of his cast chatting in baths, as if to indignantly say "how can you accuse us of being dirty hippies?", and an extended bit of washing breasts which was more a prelude to a psychedelic sex scene, not that you could work out what was actually going on, as well as such skits as a walk through the woods festooned with coloured balloons, or one of the cast driving his crazily-painted roadster out into the middle of a field, smashing its windows, taking off all his clothes and blowing the vehicle up in a huge explosion. That was what you were in for, and the non-sequitur mood was mildly diverting, if not giving you a whole lot to get a handle on. For some incredibly tedious, for others, a bit of hippy fun.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Tobe Hooper  (1943 - )

American horror director who has spent his whole career trying to live up to his electrifying The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. After the similar but not as good Eaten Alive, he directed the miniseries of Salem's Lot, slasher The Funhouse, and blockbuster Poltergeist (despite rumours of producer Steven Spielberg's hands-on involvement).

Then a string of under-achievers: vampire sci-fi Lifeforce, sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and remake Invaders from Mars led to mostly straight to video or television work: Spontaneous Combustion, Night Terrors, The Mangler and Crocodile. In TV he has directed episodes of Dark Skies and Taken. A remake of The Toolbox Murders went some way to restoring his reputation with horror fans.

 
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