12. IT’S A REAL FREAK SCENE, JACK: A groovy 60’s grinder.
Tobe Hooper’s first movie, which he co-wrote with Kim Henkel, is a story about a weird house in Texas, which is definitely a theme Hooper would come back to, but this one has a strange presence in the basement that starts influencing the hippies who have decided to live there.
Until the 2009 South by Southwest Festival, this movie was thought lost. What people saw was aJean-Luc Godard-influenced film that those in Austin in 1969 said was, well, Austin in 1969. It’s also a shambling, shaggy narrative where time doesn’t matter, where you take a long tour of the city, where things go fast, go slow, go weird, go introspective. Two couples, one established, one new, have to navigate a tumultuous time.
People take baths. Have psychedelic love scenes. Drive cars into fields, attack them, blow them up. Balloons appear in the woods. A man swordfights himself. It’s just what you’d expect from a movie made in 1969 that doesn’t want to be a Hollywood tale of hippies but one made by and for.
It starts with a woman coming to Texas on the back of a truck, wishing for big dreams. His next film would end with a woman leaving Texas on the back of a truck, escaping from a nightmare.