Eggshells: the Texas Hippie Love-in
Before he started throwing hippies to crazed rednecks with chain saws, Tobe Hooper was actually celebrating the Peace and Love Generation, as seen in his long-unreleased and recently rediscovered first feature Eggshells, from 1969. Short on plot but heavy on experimentation, Hooper’s movie could easily serve as a prequel not only to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but to other classic exploitation flicks such as Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, which exploited the cultural-generational gap to more horrific ends. Eggshells gives us an hour-and-a-half of a group of hippies living together in a house, leading up to the (Jewish) wedding of two of them. Meanwhile, there are coed shared baths (filmed more matter-of-factly than erotically) and possibly a ghost in the basement, while Hooper busies himself with time-lapse sequences, awkward zooms, meaningfully symbolic explosions, hyper-editing, and shaky-cam cinematography long before it was cool. If you can imagine a cross between the films of dreamy North Carolina impressionist David Gordon Green and the visual effects experimentalism of French cinema pioneer Georges Méliès, this may be it. Weather permitting, the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood plans on screening Eggshells drive-in style in its parking lot every Friday at midnight for an open-ended run. It sounds awesome, but may be slightly counterproductive, as Hooper’s movie begs the assistance of substances that significantly impair one’s ability to drive. Also on the bill is the early Hooper short Heisters, which is similarly Méliès-like and also vaguely akin to Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe movies, but far less comprehensible. (Steve Allen Theater; Fridays at midnight, steveallentheater.com)
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