Wild in the Streets (1968)

Wild in the Streets (1968), directed by Barry Shear.

How much abuse did teen-agers have to take from American International Pictures? Beatnik slackers, dangerous drag racers, violent bikers and acid tripping hippies: every countercultural aspect was exploitation fare. Fear of youth knows no bounds.

The ultimate menace came in 1968 when young pop stars (doing a 180 here) could be too successful, too rich, and become so politically ambitious that they could actually take over and send everyone over 30 to reeducation camps for LSD therapy.

A strange entry in the catalog of a company willing to produce much strange product. It has elements of ridiculous social satire throughout, but also an ominous tone that creeps up on you. It would be a good companion to Privilege (1967) from the UK, although in that film the central character is a tool of other forces; not so here.

A problem with both films is that the pop music is too light to be menacing. A few more years and they could have gone full Jim Morrison or Metal.

I'm surprised Christopher Jones did not have a longer film career. Good looks, intensity and scary eyes. He had his own tv show, The Legend of Jesse James (1965) and appeared in David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970). Here his character has mother issues and ominous hints of bisexuality. He becomes a hippy fascist President at age 24 on the Republican ticket.

Some mainstream faces: Shelley Winters, Hal Holbrook, Bert Freed and Ed Begley. With Richard Pryor (age 28) as Stanley X.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.