Scream Free (1969)

Richard Beymer’s (Tony from West Side Story and Benjamin Horne from Twin Peaks) Dean has fallen in love with Lana Wood’s (her sister was in West Side Story, too) character Karen. But they’ve both run afoul of a gang they’ve tried to help bring marijuana across the murder. The leader of that gang? Link, played by one-time Jet (yes, more West Side Story) and now full-time biker and drug movie star Russ Tamblyn (and Twins Peaks as Dr. Lawrence Jacoby).

Dean gets dosed, nearly set on fire and has his girl kidnapped. Also, Tamblyn’s gang has Warren Finnerty (Easy Rider) and Casey Kasem (!) in it. This is the kind of movie that introduces Tamblyn as he shoots up. Then, Karen asks Dean if he wants to trip and a scene that’s already been wild with women dancing with snakes and swirling colored lights gets even crazier, which is what I’m watching these movies for. Can you trip like I do?

Look, even if this movie was bad — and it’s not, it’s pretty fun if disjointed — it’s a movie that has Casey Kasem as a copkiller, music from California Spectrum and The Boston Tea Party, enough strobing effects to make you think you’re flashing back and direction by Bill Brame (The Cycle Savages) and John Lawrence (who co-wrote The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant).

Somehow, this movie was re-released twenty years later, with scenes slowed down, added nudity and, for some reason, a disco soundtrack.

Screenwriter James Gordon Wright was also behind Ten Violent WomenThe Tormentors, both The Thing with Two Heads and The Incredible 2-Headed TransplantThe HellcatsThe Devil’s 8Bigfoot and The Mini-Skirt Mob. Beyond co-writing from Lawrence, he also had some uncredited assistance from Gerald Wilson (Chato’s LandFirepower).

Finally, I absolutely love that Robert Beck got a credit for psychedelic lighting on this. He was also the special psychedelic effects producer on The Trip and did the effects for The Psychedelics and Blood of the Iron Maiden, a movie where John Carradine and a murder-minded director feed acid to starlets before killing them on film, so he was making a living showing the straights what LSD was all about, man. Ah, 1969. You were an amazing time.

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