Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Free Wheelin' Feelin' with Supervan(1977)

Directed by Lamar Card(Disco Fever,The Swinging Barmaids,The Clones)

Written by John Arnoldy(Cycle Vixens,Disco Fever) and Robert Easter(The Toolbox Murders,Sworn to Justice)

Starring Mark Schneider(Burnout),Katie Saylor(Invasion of the Bee Girls,Dirty O'Neil,The Swinging Barmaids) and Morgan Woodward(Cool Hand Luke)

Since I have written incessantly about my love for the 70's drive-in spectaculars and how it pertains to my day-to-day, I decided to take the first paragraph to say something different. You may have noticed the written format of this entry is different than previous review entries. I have decided to take the first section of each review I write to highlight those that were most important in the making of each film. I do this not only to give you, the audience, the reference points, but to also highlight each of the artists other works related to the types of cinema both you and I enjoy. Frequently I find films to watch based upon the IMDB of another film I enjoyed. Instead of taking the time to look it up yourself (which you should still do) you can just link up from the entry. Let's make it easier for all the parties involved...

It was only a matter of time before I got a hold of the van fetish/culture classic Supervan(1977). Despite the fact I have never possessed a license in my life, there is just something about automobile related drive-in cinema that makes my day, especially when it's van related. Up until this day The Van was one of my favorite 70's car comedies, and then Supervan drove through my living room. I know there has to be van flicks I'm missing. If you know of any, leave a comment.

Clint is a free spirit, or rather I should say a freewheelin' spirit. Even though he has close to zero back story, it only takes seconds to realize that he can't be held down by constraints of mature society or, um, his bad ass mechanic father. With nothing but a van and a CB radio, Clint is off to Kansas for the 2nd Annual Bicentennial Van Freakout of 1976 (did I say that right?). Not far along the way he rescues Karen from a rather rapey situation involving some gnarly bikers, but not without a loss..his prized van the Sea Witch. How and the hell can Clint go the the Freakout and win $5,000 without a vehicle to do it in? Thankfully Clint and Karen are able to make a pitstop at the lab of Bob Boz, who happens to be something of a mad scientist. Bob works for Karen's Rich father T.B Trenton, and just happened to milk a shitload of money out of him to create the van of the future, the solar-powered Vandora. Unbeknown to Mr. Trenton, Boz is lending the Kit of Rolling Breadboxes to Clint so he can win the competition. When the rich windbag finds out he is not too happy, especially when he find out that our hero has been doing the deed with his estranged daughter.

After seeing the trailer, I expected Supervan to be a less funny and a little more sci-fi than my previous experience with van-culture films, The Van. What I ended up getting out of it was far more than I foresaw, yet still equally as cheesy. The humor, as well as the script, in Supervan was less juvenile and more coherent the that of The Van. I had a harder time following The Van and it's elementary-school editing, but I have stated over and over again that vulgar and sexual humor is my cup of tea, and it had plenty of it. While Supervan was much easier to follow,and the acting was a couple steps ahead, the humor stayed closer to PG-13. Even though the boob shots and fart jokes were minimal, There still is nothing like seeing the real Charles Bukowski fondling the winner of a wet t-shirt contest. That by itself made up for the lack of smut.

Even though the humor was more mature, it still only got a couple of giggles from me. I would like to think it is most likely because of the generation gap, but I'm pretty sure the writers just weren't so suited for the Funny. I look at other films of this era and laugh my ass off, so I know it can't be the time period. I wouldn't call the humor a complete flop, but for those of you out there looking for Animal House you are going to be utterly disappointed. The funniest part of the movie, as far as I'm concerned, are the subjects that are supposed to be slightly serious, like the van itself. Even today, solar-powered vehicles are incapable of reaching speeds of 90 MPH, so the idea of one existing 35 years ago is moronically hilarious to me. Maybe the writers were optimistic enough to believe such a thing was right around the corner. Nowadays we would call that type of thinking naive.

Other enjoyable points to the movie:The Hulk smoking weed with Spock,mustaches,enough bellbottoms to clothe the US Navy and motherfucking vans. Let's not forget my reason for watching this 70's cheese....the vehicles. Like The Van, there was plenty of stock footage of airbrushed exteriors and shag interiors. Seeing these one-ton works of movable art make me yearn for a time before my own coming of age. Before the Aids virus and the height of the drug war. Whatever happened to van culture? I can only assume it so strongly symbolized the carefree "me-me-me" attitude of the 70's that the angry-and-coked-up of the 80's just threw it away. Who Knows....?....

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