Wednesday, January 1, 2014

SCREAM FREE! - The Boston Tea Party - California Spectrum - "Free Grass" (1969)

Merry Happy everybody, and welcome to 2014 down in The Dungeon! We've got an amazing array of films on tap for this year that's even got my head reeling, so let's just get that shiny multifaceted ball spinning with a classically bad movie that personifies everything about everything there is to personify! "Free Grass!"

This movie has it all, and a whole lot of nothing, all at the same time! It's amazing! It's called "Free Grass" or "Scream Free" depending on who you're talking to, and it's got some cast members who were riding the crest of the highest cinematic wave a mere eight years earlier! Talk about flying high in April, and knocked down in May! It's about sixties drug culture with a whole lot of footage of nothing but music and imagery, and some really long, drawn out sequences about potentially nothing!

First scene: Hippie in trouble! What he has done, and to who, is not known, but he's running away from something!

This camper is in hot pursuit, and follows the young man right into this dirty alleyway!

End of story? No, it's just the beginning!

One of the gentlemen in the camper is Los Angeles's number one 60's radio DJ, Casey Kasem! One of Casey's essential credits is the voice of Shaggy in all the "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, and he appeared in quite a few kickass low budget biker movies like "The Glory Stompers," "Wild Wheels," and "The Cycle Savages!"

Here we go, one of the stars of the 10 time Academy Award Winning film "West Side Story" was Russ Tamblyn! In 1956 Russ won the Golden Globe Award for "Best Promising Newcomer" along with Ray (Secret Agent Super Dragon) Danton!

Warren Finnerty is the third member of this group. In the same year as this film, Warren had a role as a rancher in "Easy Rider!"  Five years later and he'd be dead from a heart attack at age 49! So, Casey, Warren, and Russ are ruthless drug dealers/smugglers, and they don't let anything get in their way! That's what happened to the Hippie in the opening scene!

Bring into the picture the innocent and "Peace and Love" lovin'  Richard Beymer! Richard was also one of the co-stars of "West Side Story!" He's just chillin' at this club when Russ Tamblyn's character asks him to do a drug run to Mexico for him and his buddies! He doesn't want to do it, but decides it would be worth the money for a one time risk! Bad decision!

Richard falls in love big time for the lovely Lana Wood! Lana was not in "West Side Story," but her better known sister Natalie, was THE star! Lana has 7 or 8 films in pre or post-production right now! At this point the viewer is subjected to what seemed like a lifetime but was probably only 15 or 20 minutes of Richard and Lana falling deeply in love at first outta-sight! The reason I didn't bother telling you the individual character's names is because they are as follows: Dean, Link, Karen, Phil, and Barney! Doesn't really seem to make much difference, does it?

Richard goes on a successful drug run to Mexico, but when he gets back, the guys decide that he's no longer needed, kinda like the other guy at the beginning, but he's a little bit harder to dispose of, so they grab his girlfriend!

In the meantime, being the good buddy that he is, Russ Tamblyn's character slips Richard some L.S.D. After tripping all over the place for what seemed like another lifetime, Russ tells Richard that he thinks his girlfriend must be over at this other bar called The Red Velvet to see a super cool, psychedelic band playing called The Boston Tea Party! 

As far as I know, The Boston Tea Party only ever released this one album!  
Here's just a taste of one of the songs they perform in this club scene! I'm pretty sure it's a song off this 1968 Flick-Disc LP called "Free Service!" Good band!!

So they spend another lifetime tripping out in the bar before Russ tells Richard, no I guess she's not here after all! One thing that cannot be denied is there's a lot of filler in this film both good and bad!

 I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the trip in this movie, is a lot longer than the trip in the movie "The Trip!"

In a terribly insensitive moment Russ attempts a fake ceremony out on a cliff by the ocean to purify his tripping buddy by dousing him with gasoline and setting him ablaze! Richard somehow gains back his sanity just long enough to turn the tables, and then it's Russ who is blazing!

Casey keeps guard on the girl!

Even though he's still tripping, Richard has to find and release his kidnapped girlfriend against almost insurmountable odds!

The cops converge on the scene, and Richard and Snow White manage to escape just in time! In the end, Richard ends up with all the drugs which he proceeds to give away so him and her can start a new life together in Iowa or somewhere! Hence the second title, "Free Grass!"

The movie "Free Grass" is  a trip, a bad trip no doubt, and probably most of the people involved in it would just as soon forget about it, and that might be why it's almost impossible to find! The groovy Title Song performed at the end of the film just kind of puts an exclamation mark on the whole thing as it's performed by members of The West Coast Pop Experimental Band, performing as the little known California Spectrum! For more information on The West Coast Pop Experimental Band and California Spectrum, check out this in depth page from the "Acid Archives"!


Grant said...

I can watch almost any film like this without any "irony" to speak of, because I really just enjoy them for themselves. I'm just embarrassed that I didn't know about this one till now.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Before the internet came around, I thought I had heard of every band from the 60's! Boy, Was I wrong!

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