It’s possible that a trillion years from now, a visiting alien will open a time capsule and alight upon a can of film containing this obscure 1970 movie. After ten minutes of watching it, he’ll switch it off and say to his alien comrade, “fancy a beer, mate?” – For few movies are as boringly awful as this one.
Stacy Keach stars as Jacob Horner, who walks from his graduation ceremony to a nearby railway station, where he stands in a catatonic state for what appears to be several days before the arrival of concerned psychiatrist, Doctor D (James Earl Jones).
Combative and sarcastic, Doctor D drags jake to a facility called “The Farm,” where Doctor D lets lunatics play out their fantasies as a form of therapy: One patient cross-dresses as a nun, one endures S&M abuse while crucified, and one rapes a chicken.
Doctor D leads Jake through harsh therapy sessions complete with heavy audiovisual gimmicks and occasional physical punishment. Then he declares he is cured and ready for a job.
Jake then blags his way into a job teaching English grammar at a college, soon befriending fellow lecturer Joe Morgan (Harris Yulin) and Joe’s long-suffering wife, Rennie (Dorothy Tristan). Joe is a weirdo who spends most of his time wearing a Boy Scout uniform and he’s prone to slapping Rennie around.
Jake begins an affair with Rennie, and their love-play includes a strange scene of spying on Joe while he thinks he’s alone.
As Jake and Rennie watch from a hiding place, Joe shoves a gun in his mouth and pantomimes suicide, then masturbates while reciting Shakespeare. Jake, meanwhile, exhibits loopy behaviour of his own, at one point parading around in a toga.
Eventually, the story resolves with a painfully detailed abortion scene which must set a record for butchery and horror on the screen.
Co-produced and co-written by 1960s satirist Terry Southern – the man who put the laughs into Dr Strangelove (1963) and the yawns into The Magic Christian (1969) – it’s a counterculture affair with psychedelic trips, mental illness and a graphic message about abortion.
Everyone looks stoned out of their minds and tends to cavort about naked.
Jacob (Jake) Horner
James Earl Jones
Sniper Man/Mrs Dockey