Bummer (1973)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Rock Musical, Showbiz Drama  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This latter-day David Friedman production attempts to combine a soap opera-styled take on Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls with the nudie-movie sleaze he was better known for. The end result isn't really successful on either front but remains an amusing time capsule for exploitation fans. At its best, Bummer plays like a wild, sleazed-up version of the made-for-t.v. dramas that were popular in the 1970's: the convincingly sleazy Los Angeles nightclub locations create the right atmosphere of aimless decadence and Alvin Fast's knowingly trashy script throws some sort of kinky situation every few minutes to keep things from getting dull. Unfortunately, the film lacks the demented, over-the-top inspiration that would have made it a true trash classic: director William Allen Castleman gives the material a competent but styleless treatment that is devoid of humor and kinetic energy and the actors playing the band members lack the charisma necessary to make them the groupie magnets portrayed in the story (band leader Kipp Whitman is particularly wooden). Despite these problems, Bummer has enough inspired elements to make it worth a look for students of exploitation films: Carol Speed brings a believable warmth to her groupie character, Dennis Burkley is alternately pitiful and terrifying in a convincing turn as the group's resident psycho and the finale piles on tragic twists and shocks in a truly bravura exploitation-movie fashion. Ultimately, Bummer is too dated and awkward in its filmmaking to win over most modern viewers but offers enough kitsch value to please anyone with a sweet tooth for drive-in melodrama.