Film (1968). American International Pictures (AIP). Directed by Barry Shear. Written by Robert Thom from his own story, "The Day It All Happened, Baby!" (original publication not found). Cast includes Hal Holbrook, Christopher Jones, Millie Perkins, Richard Pryor, Diane Varsi and Shelley Winters. 97 minutes. Colour.
Senator Johnny Fergus (Holbrook), a Kennedy-style senator from California, realizes that, through demographic shift, half the population in this very Near Future world is now under twenty-five, and enlists rock star "Max Frost" Flatlow (Jones, looking like James Dean) to help sway the youth vote. The strategy backfires when the senator accedes to Flatlow's demand that the voting age be lowered (eventually to fourteen), which allows the rock star himself to become president, and to transform America into a hyperbolic Dystopia. In an act of revenge against his awful mother, Daphne Flatlow (Winters), Flatlow now consigns everyone over thirty to concentration-camp retirement homes where they are force-fed LSD behind barbed wire fences. The film's LSD-in-the-water-supply sequence created some stir at the time, and inspired some real-life imitations (see also Drugs; Urban Legends). The Satire – though the hippy sections are inevitably dated – is still effective, especially the finale where the subteens are fomenting further revolution; though it is clear that the tongue-in-cheek tone is inconsistent with the savagery of the closing sequences. Thom novelized his script as Wild in the Streets (1968). [JC/PN]
see also: Cinema.
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