Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

31 Days of Halloween: Alabama's Ghost

I swear, everybody in Hollywood was on drugs in the early '70s. I mean, yes, we know that they were on drugs. More drugs than that, I mean. I'm two for two since yesterday. If you can find a coherent story in Alabama's Ghost, I'll buy you enough of whatever its creators were on to put you in the same state.

Not that I didn't like Alabama's Ghost. Some explanation is in order. Some years ago I was making a purchase from a website that sold bootleg DVDs of stuff that was not legitimately available elsewhere. We're not talking about anything objectionable, just stuff that's never been available for purchase. Bittorrent and YouTube have more or less replaced the need for such sites, but they still exist. Anyway, this particular site was running a BTGT ("Buy Two Get Three") special, and decided, based on its description, that Alabama's Ghost should be the third disc. Then I completely failed to watch it for seven years.

So here's what I think happened in the movie: Alabama is a janitor (and he's black, which comes into the story several times) who crashes a forklift through a wall and discovers a network of catacombs which eventually leads him to the long-lost stash of Carter the Great, a stage magician so good that no one's ever heard of him. Carter had discovered Raw Zeta, a substance which can be refined into Deadly Zeta, which (apparently) gives its users the power to enslave people using only one's voice. Also, it resembles a particularly potent form of hashish called Cartoon Khaki. Or Khartoum Khaki, which seems more likely.

Anyway, among the rest of the stash, Alabama finds Carter's actual stash, and decides to pay a visit to the woman whose name and address are inside the box. The woman turns out to be Carter's elderly sister, who basically instructs Alabama to become an even greater magician than Carter. This is, like, the first ten minutes of the movie.

Alabama begins his quest by getting a rock and roll band to back him up. He becomes established as a real and powerful magician, and we start wondering if Alabama is going to bring about the apocalypse.

We have no such luck. Before Alabama can get that far, he falls in with a Scottish promoter who convinces him that surrealism is where it's at, man. Alabama takes the advice to heart, and pretty soon he's fallen in with a clan of vampires who plan to take over the world by holding hippie music festivals, and hypnotizing everybody through the use of Deadly Zeta and, I dunno, eating them, I guess. An insane Nazi scientist named Kristin Caligula is in league with the vampires, and has created a robotic version of Alabama. She tells us that the animatronic Lincoln at Disneyland was the prototype. There's also a monkey, and an elephant which is supposed to disappear (but never does), and a racist ghost and a beating heart that's not attached to anybody and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON. Except that all the vampires die at the end.

Alabama's Ghost stars no one you recognize, because most of the cast never acted in anything else. It's the work of Fredric Hobbs. I've never seen any of his other films, but searching for him on the Internet, I see a few repeated points:
  • Alabama's Ghost is an incoherent movie.
  • Alabama's Ghost is more coherent than anything else Hobbs ever made.
  • You shouldn't watch Fredric Hobbs movies more than once, because eventually they'll cause your brain to liquefy and ooze out of your ears and stain your shirt.
  • And besides, if anyone ever figures out what Alabama's Ghost is really about, the universe will implode and be replaced by a different, weirder universe.
Myself, I have a theory that this has already happened so many times that we now have the weirdest possible universe, and therefore the weirdest possible version of Alabama's Ghost. Is it blaxploitation? Horror? Surrealism hiding behind the idea of a plot? Beats me. Beats everybody who's seen it, I guess. And yet, I seriously recommend it. I mean, you have to know what you're in for, but I think I've prepared you sufficiently.

I should really, really have picked my movies for this month beforehand, but I didn't do it last year, and I didn't do it this year... Maybe next time? Maybe not. I have a tremendous backlog of horror movies I'd like to get through, and between two movies I haven't seen, I'd rather see the one that's remarkable (Alabama's Ghost, for instance) than the one that's generally accepted as good (say, The Shining). I feel like I'm getting a great deal out of this exercise, but anyone else -- even if they were interested -- probably is not. That's tough. I'm sorry to say it, but not so sorry that I'll sit through a slasher flick I'm not interested in.

Anyway, here's your trailer. There are torrents available, but you'll have to find 'em yourself.
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