Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Nov 8, 2012 16:28:52 GMT
An old fanzine review of mine.
‘HWY’ an American Pastoral.
At long last I was able to check out Jim Morrison’s only surviving attempt at film-making for myself and rather intrigued I was! No truly sane person can describe Jim’s movie as brilliant because it isn’t anything of the sort but to a Doors fan it is an invaluable glimpse into the mind of James Douglas Morrison poet/filmmaker/artist extraordinaire. Beginning enigmatically with Jim taking a swim in some desert rock-pool to the strains of some weird Indian/Beatnik soundtrack nothing much happens for quite a while as our hero just wanders about seemingly aimlessly taking in the atmosphere and putting some clothes on then he decides to hitch a lift...without a lot of success it seems... It’s certainly no big surprise that nobody seems to want to pick the guy up as with his beard and unkempt look he seems the epitome of every Hollywood movie ever made with a scary hitchhiker.
“The Hitchhiker Stood by the side of the road And levelled his thumb In the calm calculus of reason.”
It’s nearly ten minutes before we get any dialogue but when it comes it is worth waiting for. Jim expands on the ‘Indians lying bleeding by the side of the road’ we are all so familiar with….. “I had the feeling when that happened, like I didn't want to look back, like a child, like a flower whose head is just floating in the breeze man. But the reaction I get now thinking back... is that, possibly, the soul of one of these Indians, maybe several of them, just ran over and just jumped into my fucking brain.” ..One of the more interesting things the movie gives us a glimpse of is how natural Jim was in front of a camera. His matador routine in and out of the cars that pass by and ignore this celebrity hitcher just one of the numerous excellent moments of Morrison ad-lib...wonder if any of the drivers ever found out how close they came to meeting Jim Morrison?
“And all of a sudden I just realised that...ah...they were just little, screaming creeps in the face of reality. And that they didn't know what was happening anymore than I did. That was the first time I tasted fear.”
Eventually someone is insane enough to pick up the hitcher (even if it is one of his mates!) and this is when the movie takes a left turn into ‘Twilight Zone’ territory. Suddenly Jim is driving leaving us to ask what the hell happened to the original driver? Very spooky!!
As we trundle along on our journey to ‘who knows where’ we stop for a while at a gas station where our ‘hero’ checks out the paperbacks and has a fag on the forecourt which is pretty dumb! Then continuing his journey, screaming insanely as he drives along, stops to check out an injured dog lying on the side of the road and taking a break chats and dances with some kids. Rather bizarre sequence of events and without a narrative it is not possible to glean much of what actually is happening which is what Morrison probably intended leaving the actual story to the imagination of whoever was watching his movie.
The movie is similar in feel to the South African horror road movie ‘Dust Devil’ and one has to wonder whether the director had seen HWY? Jim’s character does become rather creepy as the film rolls along and as we enter the outskirts of the city it’s hard to know what to make of him until the final few moments tell their own chilling story.
One interesting image that is featured as we enter the city is of Clara’s Café and one wonders whether this was deliberate or a mere coincidence. (Jim’s mom was Clara) Was he missing his mom? We get some cool images of the ‘City of Night’ including famous Doors haunt The Phone Booth and Room 32 at The Alta Cienaga Hotel with Jim taking a piss. Wanting to confess, our ‘hero’ then finds a darkly lit phone in a gloomy alley and confronts some poor soul with the tale of his misdeeds (actually poet Mike McClure who really thought Jim had killed someone)
“Hi. How ya doin’? I just got back into town. LA. I was out in the desert for awhile. Hey listen man. I really got a problem. When I was out on the desert, ya know. I don’t know how to tell you, but, ah, I killed somebody!”
Jim delivers his spiel so matter of factly and deadpan it is little wonder Michael was so taken in. Luckily Jim and his friends called him back to explain they were only making a movie or Lord knows what might have been the consequences. Morrison arrested for murder and police combing the desert for a non existent body!! Very surreal!
So finally we learn just who the hitchhiker really is. For a while he gives an almost Jesus like impression only for us to find out he is in fact Satan. Cool! Then the killer wanders off into the darkness of the LA night to annoy the ‘straight’ folks and the film fades out with what else but a storm...
So is the movie any good? Not really it’s too fragmented and for most of the time goes nowhere of interest. But is the movie a worthwhile exercise for a Doors fan? Hell yes. It’s a brilliant look into Morrison's mind to a neat bluesy soundtrack with a sprinkling of Airplane/Sinatra. Check it out.
Scorpywag Doors fanzine September 2002 AP.
"That's the trouble with reality!.... it's taken far too seriously! I do hope God is good to me and Santa Claus to the children! Celebrate...this parties over...I'm going home!"