Well, Kitschy Campers, we’ve made it to the end of our Summer Camp: The Season of the Kitsch film series! Do not fret, I have a new fun cycle planned for next week.
But boy oh boy what a film we have on our hands!
- Chicken violence
- Poodle strangulation
- Murderous hitchhikers
- Extramarital affairs
- A guy almost as cool as Bobby Darin
- Diamond tiaras
- A psycho cop with a penchant for violence
- And an impending nuclear explosion!
According to IMDB, this film never had a cinematic release. I was unable to verify this fact, but on closer inspection, it is a DVD cover, not a poster! So let’s get started, this week’s film is cold-war drama This Is Not A Test. I won’t lie, the movie isn’t great, but for a low-budget film, it is pretty good.
The plot: An emergency warning goes out and Sheriff Derrick Coulter sets up a roadblock to prevent travel along a desolate highway in central California. Since it is mountainous and leads toward Los Angeles, I assume it is Highway 5. At the roadblock, we meet:
- Gramps a chicken farmer and his granddaughter Judy.
- Al, a truck driver with a mysterious passenger named Clint.
- Cheryl, a drunk driver with a super-cool gambler boyfriend, Joe.
- Sam and Karen, owners of a poodle named Timmy.
Thus far, it’s a potboiler, strangers stranded together, tensions rise, but the Sheriff is a little off. You can’t put your finger on it, but you can tell he enjoys his authority, holding sway over everyone. The creep! As the radio transmits warnings of an impending nuclear attack, Sheriff Coulter goes straight up psycho! Joe attempts to leave, the Sheriff clocks him on the head, confiscates everyone’s car keys, handcuffs Joe to the car, and holds everyone hostage, he puts everyone to work emptying the 18-wheeler for shelter. His rationale: “people survived Hiroshima, they can survive anywhere.”
Now let’s talk about the truck! The truck says “Discount World”, so I picture Walmart, but no! It is the place to shop if you are going to throw a Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed Christmas Cocktail Party! They stock caviar, diamond tiaras, fur coats, Japanese bowls (Mr. Yunioshi!), bourbon, Christmas ornaments, and grapefruit juice!
Wooed with goods from Discount World, Karen takes off to the bushes for some alone time with Al the truck driver, while her husband Sam looks on.
And I think, “Oh Karen, Discount World? How could you? You could hold out for something a little classier than Discount World! How will Sam hold his head high saying, ‘My wife left me for free products from Discount World?’ Everyone will laugh and say, ‘Oh, you mean the place with the Breakfast at Tiffany’s Christmas Cocktail Party Supplies?’ Poor Sam!”
Okay, okay, back to the plot: So the big plan is to spend two weeks in the truck which should give enough time for the post-blast radiation to dissipate.
As the group preps the truck, a boy pulls up on a Vespa. Vespa Boy (sorry, I don’t remember his name so, it’s Vespa Boy) happens to know a lot about nuclear holocausts. Gramps and Judy splinter off with Vespa Boy and find water or an abandoned mine, much safer than an 18-wheeler.
The main group moves the truck further up the road, and Clint (a murderer) returns and finds his mysterious suitcase. You know, the film makes quite a to do about this suitcase, you would think we would find out what’s inside. Don’t get your hopes up.
Clint goes to the cars, to make a getaway, but the keys are missing. So in a rage, he knocks over a stack of chicken cages and starts kicking the chickens (yes, actual living chickens) around. I know people cook them, but there is no reason to hurt the poor chickens, it was very mean. He is very violent with the chickens, I found this scene fairly disturbing.
But the animal violence does not stop there! No way, Jose, we are warming up. When inside the truck, Sheriff Coulter has a super-awesome stare down with Timmy the Poodle and decides to strangle the poor little dog to conserve the group’s oxygen.
Okay, people, HERE IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE! You do not kill baby poodles! How much air can Timmy possibly breathe? He is a teeny dog!
So naturally this senseless killing got me thinking, how much air does a person breathe in a day? Well, I looked it up, a person breathes 550 liters or 19 cubic feet of air a day. I could not figure out how much air a poodle would breathe, BUT I KNOW IT IS LESS THAN A PSYCHO COP!
How much air is in that truck? An 18 wheeler truck trailers dimensions are approximately 8.53’x14’x53′ or 6329.36 cubic feet.
NOW let’s do some mathematics!
If a person breathes 19 cubic feet of oxygen a day, then if we divide 6329.36 by 19 we get 333.12 days worth of oxygen. Now if we divide that air supply by the six inhabitants (assuming Timmy breathes as much oxygen as a human) we have 55 days worth of oxygen.
If we assume it is a smaller 48′ trailer, using the same calculations we have oxygen for 50 days, the plan is 14 days. Maybe I should factor in the carbon dioxide, but I am not going to.
My point is Timmy’s death was a completely senseless killing!
And Timmy knew!
About this time, Cheryl has a nervous breakdown and opens the truck doors. I do not blame her. If I was trapped with a vicious poodle strangler, I would feel the same! Okay, okay, moving on!
Outside is a surly group of men, looking for supplies, and they kidnap Karen. I doubt their intentions were honorable. Just when things could get no worse, there is a blinding white light, and the world explodes.
According to an interview with Seamon Glass (Sheriff Coulter), between acting gigs Glass was a counselor and teacher at Fairfax Highschool. Fairfax is in the Melrose area of Los Angeles right next to CBS Studios.
Well, my Aunt Becky went to Fairfax, so I showed her his headshot and asked, “does this man look familiar?” It took her a bit, and then she remembered he was her counselor, Mr. Glass. She recalled, “Oh yeah, he was in that Woody Allen movie Sleeper!” I asked if she remembered him, she said vaguely, she remembered he was nice.
But my favorite character was Joe (played by Mike Green). Joe looked like a typical mid-century suburban husband, but Joe has the best lines, “Didn’t I tell you I have a cool feeling, everything’s gonna be groovy?”, “I’m gonna stay here, and watch you cats work!” He was Bobby Darin-esque! If you are not getting what I mean by Bobby Darin, oh ho ho, allow me to introduce you to the King of Cool, look him up on YouTube, start with Beyond the Sea and Mack the Knife.
A lot of people criticize this film because the action mostly happens off-camera. But that is the film’s strength, realistically were we all in that situation, we probably would not be able to do anything to stop the attack.
Fortunately for you This is Not a Test is in the public domain! You can see it online through YouTube by clicking here.
Finally, I want to thank my readers for following along with this kitsch movie blog series! Starting next week, we begin a new series called “Unusual Suspects” where I will explore films with unusual casting choices for criminals.
Until next time, be nice to animals, and hold out for something better than goods from Discount World!
Full Movie Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3-BeTuEOZg