Blue Sunshine (1978)

One of the joys of watching horror and exploitation films is that there is no way you can ever have seen them all.  Sure, you may be familiar with all the normal ones that Quentin Tarantino mentions or some of the more obscure titles you used to see at your video store, but there is no way you will have ever seen them all.

I know that Blue Sunshine isn't the most obscure title, but it's one that I had never run into when reading any of the old cult movie books, nor does it come up in many books about horror films.  I guess it was well-known enough in the 1970s that it was projected during many punk concerts (especially the part where a discotheque is attacked), but it is one of those that has faded into obscurity over the years.

Jerry Zipkin (Zalman King) is at a party with friends when a photographer named Frannie (Richard Crystal) suddenly goes crazy after a girl pulls off what appears to be a wig, revealing that he is bald underneath except for a few strands of straggly hair.  He runs off into the night, and the group goes looking for him.  While they do he returns, throws one of the female guests into the fireplace and proceeds to murder the other two and dispose of their bodies in the same manner.  Jerry interrupts him and chases him into the road.  They fight, and Jerry pushes Frannie into the path of an oncoming truck.  One of the truckers pursues Jerry, finds the cabin, making Jerry the number one suspect for the killings.

With the help of his girlfriend Alicia Sweeney (Deborah Winters) and doctor friend David Blume (Robert Walden) Jerry tries to clear his name by investigating what is happening.  After a police officer violently murders his family and neighbor before killing himself, Jerry sees the officer's photo with his hair gone the same way as Frannie's.  He starts to piece together that whatever is happening has to do with students that attended Stanford University ten years prior.  A picture of a Congressional candidate named Edward Flemming (Mark Goddard) in Frannie's apartment, labeled "Blue Sunshine", leads to the discovery that Flemming was once a drug hookup and Blue Sunshine was a variety of a LSD that his customers took.

Obtaining tranquilizers from Dr. Blume, Jerry tries to find out who else took the acid at the time so that he can bring someone in for testing while they are still alive.  However, the cops are closing in, and Flemming may know more than he is telling.

Given that this is a low budget thriller with LSD as a plot device, I was expecting something much stranger than what Blue Sunshine actually is.  From the description you would think it's a hairless hippy cult.  Instead, this is a very 1970s-style action movie, using the time-tested device of the wrong man in the wrong place, with some horror elements thrown in.  I was quite happy that it decided not to be "trippy" like most movies that use LSD as a plot device do. 

And it does have some great horror-style set-pieces, such as Flemming's ex-wife (Ann Cooper) going crazy while babysitting and the attack on the mall discotheque.  Zalman King is also creepy enough that anyone looking at him would believe he is the real killer. 

So, never believe you have seen it all. Again, I know this is not the most obscure title, but it is one that I had never heard of, and now I am glad I did. 

Blue Sunshine (1978)
Time: 94 minutes
Starring: Zalman King, Alicia Sweeney, David Blume, Mark Goddard
Director: Jeff Lieberman


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