Blue Sunshine (USA, 1978)
Blue Sunshine is the first real disappointment of the month. This may be because it has dated badly, or that it built up a reputation as an overlooked cult classic that it simply couldn’t live up to. My personal suspicion is that it simply isn’t a very good film.
I’ve anticipated watching Blue Sunshine for over 25 years. Back in my youth, I used to work near Waterloo station in London, and I spent many lunchtimes wandering around the street market in the Cut. A few stalls sold cheap videotapes, and I always used to stop and browse through them, despite owning neither a VCR or a TV set (I wanted to be a writer, and had no time for such frippery! Also, I couldn’t afford them on my wages). Blue Sunshine would often catch my eye, with its striking cover image of a bald-headed woman staring ahead, haloed in a blue circle, and the blurb about killer hippies tapped into my fascination with the Manson family.
In Blue Sunshine, a man named Jerry Zipkin is witness to a mass murder committed by a friend who is suffering from severe hair loss. Zipkin does as any rational person would and pushes his friend in front of a truck before going on the run, letting the police believe that he is responsible for all the murders. Piecing together a some random information from a photo caption and a parrot, he comes to the conclusion that his friend and a number of other bald murderers all took the same batch of tainted LSD and have become follically challenged psychopaths. Still pursued by the police, he decides to put things to rights himself.
In some respects, Blue Sunshine is a classic 1970s paranoid thriller, with a lone protagonist working to uncover a web of conspiracy while on the run. In this case, though, Zipman acts with little more coherence than the insane murderers he is investigating; I hoped this similarity would lead to an interesting revelation, but it went nowhere.
Maybe the goal of Blue Sunshine is similar to that of the far superior Night Moves — to examine what happens when an incompetent protagonist gets involved with a mystery beyond his understanding. Unlike Night Moves, however, the random exploits of Zipman just lead to an unexcitingly neat and unfeasible resolution.
There are a few moments of tension in Blue Sunshine, and at least one scene involving a baby sitter which almost earns it the label of being a horror film. On the whole, though, it both looks and feels like a 1970s network TM movie of the week. I half expected it to wrap up with a to-camera message about the dangers of drugs.
Blue Sunshine isn’t a terrible film by any means, but it is a dull one. For a horror movie, that may be the greater sin.