Howdy folkses! Welcome to the Million Monkey Theater 2020 edition! Long time readers (hello to both of you) will know that MMT has a strict policy of hiring only cats as interns, which has proven over the years to be something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand they're willing to work exclusively for cans of tuna so we've saved a fortune on payroll since 2003, on the other hand two of the interns stole that fortune in September of 2018 and scarpered off to Europe with it.

Intern Kelby, the ostensible mastermind, is still at large, but Intern Jonesy has been in a German prison since his capture last May, his extradition on hold while he assists the international authorities with certain inquiries.

I spoke with Jonesy recently and he seemed in good spirits, still proclaiming his innocence and insisting that Kelby is to blame for the entire debacle. He couldn't reveal much about his cooperation deal, but he did say in a rare unguarded moment that "Kelby used to get drunk and tell me things. Let's just say this isn't his first trip abroad."

Otherwise things have been mighty quiet here lately. Nate has virtually disappeared on his extended spiritual retreat to the jungles of Northern India, Pam has been in Toronto attending another "Sweaters for Ferrets" convention, Intern Tizwin has largely abandoned his pursuit of Kelby to go traipsing across Europe with his French dancer girlfriend and Intern Sparky has been making the rounds of the cable news networks, warning impressionable young kittens of the dangers of genetically modified catnip.

Jake Tapper was very impressed with his whiskers.

I was therefore all alone at Million Monkey Towers this New Years Eve, sulking in the basement man-cave and feeling bored, lonely and sad. I'd spent the afternoon drinking pinot grigio and thumbing through old photos of the various MMT interns from when they were kittens. They were all so sweet and cute and innocent then. How did they grow up so fast? How could they have become so fat, lazy and jaded? Where did we go wrong?

As I sat on my crimson barcalounger, consumed by these melancholy thoughts I was suddenly distracted from my musings by a loud crash from above. I leapt upstairs to investigate, only to find that a stack of movies had tipped over from its too-precarious placement on the edge of a desk and had fallen in a chaotic heap on the marble floor. Two of the DVDs had somehow landed apart from the others, standing upright and propped side by side against a pillar as if placed there by some invisible hand. By an astonishing coincidence they were both musicals and had both debuted on the very same day: August 27th, 1970.

I took this as a sign from God that I should immediately sober up and review them as a double feature.

Ah, 1970, the groovy, cheesy, cheeky year of my birth! It was a strange and anxious time, even for a baby still pissing in his pampers and drooling on his Bert and Ernie bib.

The first toddling steps into this new decade were a restive, transitional time in American culture and entertainment. The naive optimism of the Summer of Love was still fading into heartbreak and disenchantment, but had not yet devolved into the cynical hedonism of the disco age. Cinema had finally unshackled itself from the draconian restrictions of the Motion Picture Code but was still adjusting to the softer censorship of the MPAA ratings system in the U.S. and a recently-overhauled British Board of Film Classification ratings system in the U.K. Filmmakers responded to this new but uncertain freedom by pushing the boundaries of content and genre to occasionally glorious but more often mixed or dreadful results.

The young adult market was certainly not immune to these pitfalls either, and by 1970 that valuable demographic had become a maddeningly evasive target. Entertainment trends were changing so rapidly that many films that had seemed socially relevant when they were green lit for production had already become quaint and passe by the time of their release.

Such was the fate of Toomorrow, a science fiction musical from producer Harry Saltzman, who along with Albert R. Broccoli had kicked off the 1960's spy craze with the first six James Bond Films, and Don Kirshner, the music producer who had brought us The Monkees in 1966. The plan was to create another pop sensation to tap into the teen-and-college-age zeitgeist and siphon off a bit of its sweet, disposable income. So certain were the producers that the band Toomorrow would be the next big swingin', singin', hard cash-bringin' sensation that they signed the actor/musicians playing them to a three-film contract before the film's script had even been finalized. Unlike the Monkees however, whose chemistry, charisma and well-crafted songs had already earned them a place in pop-culture history, Toomorrow as a band and as a movie missed every possible mark in every possible way, and the entire project sank almost immediately into murky and well-deserved obscurity.

Even in 1970 Toomorrow was already yesterday.

The opening credits begin to roll over the surface of the moon, and after the main cast members are listed we see a luminous teardrop spaceship slowly gliding above the barren lunar sands.

My grandmother used to hang that on her Christmas tree.

Actually she had an entire invasion fleet.

We get the first of an entire album's worth of dull, derivative pop trifles in the form of the eponymous title song. To give you some idea of what each song is like I'll be rating them on a zero-to-ten, Cheesiest-to-Grooviest scale, where zero is Bobby Goldsboro's hair and ten is George Clinton dressed as a cowboy, holding a boombox and straddling a pair of dolphins like a trick rider at a rodeo.

Many bands have found success with songs named after themselves but Toomorrow isn't one of them.

The credits end and the big ornament parks itself above the Earth. It shoots a sparkling, highly conspicuous beam of heavenly light down through the clouds, dragging it across the green and pleasant fields of England and straight through the middle of London. Apparently no one in the entire city notices it because they're too busy frying kippers and warming up baked beans for their breakfasts.

Eventually the light settles onto the front lawn of a stately home on Hampstead Heath, a huge preserved natural area in the center of London containing a number of historic and mind-bogglingly expensive estates.

The music here is an instrumental we'll be hearing in bits and pieces throughout the film. It's used pretty much every time the aliens or the spaceship show up and is included on the not-at-all-a-hit-record original soundtrack under the title "Spaceport."

I'd describe it as a song that's in a film, but that's as far as I'd go.

A middle-aged guy with bad hair and yellow pajamas wakes up in a bare white room and seems more irritated than surprised at the blinding stellar presence hovering in his front yard.

"Just once I'd like to finish that dream with Lizzo and the sour cream."

He walks out of the house and steps into the light, which whisks him up through the clouds and into the glowing ornament. Once inside he pulls off his human skin and is revealed to be a naked blue alien with a flat nose, broad cheeks and no nipples.

Alien Ed Gein.

Alien Ed walks up to another naked blue alien and there's a cheesy little repeating light effect when he moves. It serves no purpose except to make it trippy for the hippies.

When the film was green-lit they were still dropping acid. By the time it came out, they'd moved on to barbs and coke and nobody cared about light shows anymore.

We learn that Ed is the "observer" for Earth, left there by his intergalactic kinfolk thousands of years before to monitor the planet as its culture and technology developed. Ed is asked for his report, and he derisively opines that there's nothing noteworthy, valuable or original about the planet under his purview, and that it is in fact an abortive attempt at evolution not worthy of observation at all.

Head Alien Guy disagrees, saying Galactic Control have monitored a new and remarkable "pattern of vibrations." They're not constant but they're definitely radiating from Earth, and the home planet bigwigs were expecting this important discovery to be central to Ed's report.

Get with the fucking program, Ed.

Incidentally all of the aliens look like both ends of a cercopithecus lomamiensis smashed together and beaten flat with a cricket bat.

Ed is indignant at the possibility that he could have missed anything so remarkable because he monitors everything on the entire planet. He lists some of the usual sci-fi boogey-men including rockets, germ agents and atomic reactors as evidence that humans are just a bunch of worthless, primitive shits headed for inevitable self-destruction, but Head Alien Guy insists that this new vibration is a vital, positive and curative force, and he informs Ed that he'd better find it if he doesn't want to see their entire race get ennui'd right out of existence.

It seems the monkey-ass people are in a bit of an existential pickle and these new vibrations from this otherwise worthless rock are the only thing that can save them. Head Alien Guy explains that they're experiencing a terminal "sterility of sound," and that their own vital electronic vibrations "no longer stimulate."

I could make a joke about his "little blue pill," but that would be in very poor taste.

This healing music, we are told, has only been produced by one lousy, unknown, run-of-the-mill pop band out of all the millions and millions of musicians on the planet and presumably on all the trillions of habitable planets in the universe. Ed is informed he must go back down to earth and somehow find this band and bring them and their healing vibes back with him, stat.

Galactic Control was able to get some fragmentary video of the band in question laying down their soporific, alien-curing grooves, so ed will at least have some idea who he's supposed to be looking for.

It's Olivia Newton-John!

Seriously, that really is Olivia Newton-John. She was 21 years old and had only appeared in one film previously, the barely-known Funny Things Happen Down Under (1965). It's a hokey Australian take on the old "Hey kids, let's put on a show" musicals of the 1930's and 40's, and it's not too bad, actually. It's orders of magnitude better than this stale, moldy hunk of spotted dick.

Olivia Newton-John's experience with
Toomorrow was so negative she vowed to give up acting completely to focus exclusively on her music career, and eight years later her agent had to beg her to take the role of Sandy in Grease (1978). The phenomenal success of that film ended up transforming her from a successful but middle-tier pop songstress into a bona fide international superstar. I'm not a fan of Grease, blaspheming heathen that I am, but without it we would never have gotten the mystical, magical, mind-boggling magnum opus that is Xanadu (1980). I must therefore grudgingly admit that her agent was right.

Because the world needed needed this.

There are snippets of three of Toomorrow's songs included in the aliens' video. First up is a brief reprise of the theme song, then a bleak preview of a song we'll be subjected to in its entirety later on, then about ten seconds of a song called "You're My Baby Now" that will thankfully not be featured again.

I listened to the whole thing on YouTube, though because I'm really into pain.

So Head Alien tells Ed that their ship is pre-programmed to leave orbit in seventeen Earth hours, so he'd better get cracking. Ed says that doesn't leave much time, which confuses Head Alien Guy because, as they now explicitly state, this advanced alien race doesn't understand or recognize time as a concept...even though they just gave Ed a specific length of time to complete a specific time-sensitive mission he must undertake specifically because his species is running out of time.

So Ed puts his human meat-suit back on and heads down to Earth to find this one super band and their super vibrations.

"Wouldn't it be convenient if they lived in London, just twenty minutes from my sprawling Hampstead Heath estate?"

Meanwhile in London, just twenty minutes from Ed's sprawling Hampstead Heath estate, Olivia (yes, it's one of those movies where the main characters are named after the actors playing them) wakes up in her flat in an industrial revolution-era rooming house full of semi-impoverished university students and a variety of suspicious aromas. She immediately prepares and delivers breakfast in bed to the rest of the band, because apparently that's just what womenfolk in 1970 were expected to do.

She's also not wearing any pants, which could mean two entirely different things depending on what country you're in.

As Olivia makes her wake-up rounds we meet the three other band members, who get exactly one significant personal attribute each to delineate them from the others.

Vocalist/guitarist Benny is a smarmy man-slut.

Vocalist/keyboard player Vic is an absent-minded tech-nerd.

Drummer Karl is black.

Session drummer Karl Chambers was at the very beginning of a remarkable career when he appeared in Toomorrow. As part of the Philadelphia-based MFSB pool of studio musicians he played for such illustrious acts as Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Archie Bell and the Drells. He even played drums on the Ernest Gamble and Leon Huff track "The Sound of Philadelphia" otherwise known as the theme to Soul Train.

I would hope that Chambers was chosen because he was a genuinely gifted drummer, but the movie repeatedly goes out of its way to draw attention to the fact that he's black, to the point that it becomes his sole defining characteristic. It's the cinematic equivalent of saying "I can't be a racist because I have a friend who happens to be black."

If you need to tell us you're not a racist, you're probably a racist.

There's a weird bit here where Benny and Vic take turns disrobing and using the same bath water right in front of a completely unfazed Olivia. Benny even washes his stanky socks in the tub, which is something I think no one really needed to see. Their collective libations take all of about fifteen seconds before they're up drying off and getting dressed, and Benny is soon scrutinizing a banner with the name "Toomorrow" painted on it that Vic made in case the band gets a slot to play at "the Festival" later that day. It's not "Bonnaroo" or "Woodstock" or "Lollapalooza." It's "the Festival."

Benny isn't sure about calling themselves "Toomorrow," but Karl immediately and enthusiastically embraces it, declaring "Yeah, I dig it! We're too much! We're Toomorrow!" With that hearty stamp of approval it becomes their official name and a mythical origin story for the ages.

As the band loads up their gear we get a good long look at Vic's latest creation, an effects box/synthesizer he plugs into his keyboard to make it do the bippity-boopity, bouncity synth-pop noises that are the foundation of their allegedly unique sound. This is the "Tonalizer," and it's the source of the stimulating vibrations the monkey-ass aliens need to save their cosmic bacon.

Vaccuum tubes or solid state?

The kids load up their gear and go recklessly speeding off, desperate to not be late for a Contrapuntal Phrasing class.

The incidental music here is an instrumental called "Walkin' On Air."

It's a buoyant little number. Like a turd in a swimming pool.

There's a vocal version on the soundtrack album that's even worse.

As they careen through London we learn that Vic has a ballet dancer girlfriend named Amy who doesn't like that he's involved in the band because it takes away from all the time she could be obsessively controlling every aspect of his life.

Tonight, it seems is not just the the all-important Festival, it's also Amy's birthday, and Vic had promised to take her to the ballet.

Oh dear! We have our first manufactured road block in our manufactured band's manufactured quest to win the hearts and minds of all those hip, young, record-buying consumers!

Benny impresses upon Vic that this festival is a make-or-break experience for anyone lucky enough to play in it, and the gang collectively issues him an ultimatum: if they manage to get a slot Vic had better be there to play with them or they'll tie him to the fence and ritually violate him with a size 14 ballet slipper in front of the entire student body.

This is not a real school, but rest assured, they'll use a real ballet slipper.

Once inside the not-a-real-school Benny uses his lady-playing man-slut powers to sweet-talk the receptionist into sending for him if there's a call from the festival organizers, and Karl wanders past an open room where a naked model is posing for the art students. He stands there with his mouth agape and his eyes practically popping out of his head until he catches the Naked Model Lady's eye.

She's also black so of course she's going to be his love interest.

There's no door to this classroom, and one entire wall is comprised of interior-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows, so that every single person in the entire school gets an academically subsidized peep show whenever class is in progress.

The dance rehearsal areas are similarly exposed, with an open balcony/catwalk overlooking them. Vic shouts down to girlfriend Amy, who is practicing ballet points and positions with her classmates, and asks her to meet him later for lunch. Benny joins him on the balcony and they sing her a spontaneous chorus of "Happy Birthday," shuffling off sheepishly when an angry instructor appears.

Best song in the whole damn movie.

Benny walks over to the next dance rehearsal room and shouts down to another of the easily-duped women he's constantly toying with to feed his insatiable appetite for sex. She's miffed because he didn't meet her at such-and-such a place the night before and when he claims he had a band rehearsal she gives him a death-stare, thrusts her pelvis rhythmically and asks "Who got the performance?"

I hear she gives quite a performance herself...Kaboom!

Benny finally makes it to Contrapuntal Phrasing class well after his band-mates and we see that the teacher is the very woman he was in bed with at his flat that morning. She gives him an arched eyebrow and a tongue-lashing for being late.

But not the kind of tongue lashing she gave him last night...Kapow!

We get only about ten more seconds into the class when a messenger comes in to tell Hot Teacher that Benny has a phone call. Benny apologizes, explaining that it's an emergency. Hot Teacher quips "I hope she hasn't left it too late." And, yeah, that's an abortion joke.

"Perhaps we'll have one of our own some day."

Benny's call is a confirmation that they have, indeed secured a slot at The Festival and will be required to provide eight minutes of scintillating entertainment to a group of their peers. In his excitement Benny lets out a hearty cheer, and as the first classes end we get another upbeat, horn-heavy instrumental called "Let's Move On."

It sounds like a jingle from a vintage deodorant commercial.

Again, the soundtrack-only vocal version is even worse than what's used in the film.

Now we get a perfunctory scene where the students all meet in a big hall to figure out what they should all be protesting, because a bunch of college students without a protest is like a bunch of French impressionists without syphilis.

The raison d'etre for their protest du jour is that the administrative faculty designs the curriculum rather than the teachers or students, which is just another example of the man trying to keep them down, man. It's presented in such a way to make the students seem like entitled, reactionary, empty-headed brats, but this aspect of the film is based on a series of very real, very serious student-led shut-downs of art colleges across the U.K. that had taken place just a couple of years previous to the film's release.

Students at these schools were angry because their unions were being summarily de-funded without their foreknowledge or approval and they felt that the faculties were deliberately undermining the quality of their education in order to save money. In some cases the students actually occupied their own colleges for weeks at a time to bring attention to what they viewed as systemic abuses.

The guy organizing this rather lame and unnecessary protest happens to be Olivia's boyfriend, not that it makes a whit of difference to the plot. He kinda looks like a welterweight Oliver Reed, but without the commanding screen presence, dark charisma or acting talent. He shows up a few times during the course of the film just to be a posturing douche and to chat up the adoring Olivia with some mildly demeaning, quaintly misogynistic love talk. Otherwise the movie just kind of ambles along without him as if he was never even there.

He's got something to prove, man, but he doesn't know what it is.

The meeting breaks up with a vote by the students to walk out of all the classes and stage a sit-in, because that will certainly get them whatever it is they can't even adequately articulate that they want.

Since there's now going to be nothing else to do before lunch, Benny and Olivia decide Toomorrow should have an impromptu concert in the big hall for the rest of the students!

Karl, meanwhile has taken this whole debacle as an opportunity to sneak off back to the art room to chat up the Naked Model Lady, because he, at least has his fucking priorities straight. He's just so damned smooth, too that by the time Benny finds him to say they're about ready to play she's already agreed to go out with him.

It's just that easy when you're the only two black folks in the movie.

There's a scene outside the college now with a news crew covering the protest like it's some big, important story, with some "topical humor" at the expense of the youth movements of the late 60's and early 70's. The prevailing theme is that these darn kids today are all empty-headed young whippersnappers willing to jump on any old bandwagon as long as they get to be contrary and rebellious, thumb their noses at the old folks and have a lot of sex.

It's worth noting that these satirical barbs came from the pen of screenwriter and director Val Guest, who was approaching sixty years old when he made the film, and they're just as stuffy and flat as you'd expect from someone a generation and a half removed from the people he's attempting to portray. He was generally a fine journeyman director who made some terrific films, including The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), Quatermass II (1957) and The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), but his work here is low-energy, condescending and uninspired. He clearly has no feel for the subject matter or respect for the audience he's trying to reach.

Back in the hall the band sets up their gear and sings a song called "Takin' Our Own Sweet Time," which is actually one of the better numbers in the film.

I didn't say "good," I just said "better."

Once the band starts playing the aliens are able to home in on their music and send Alien Ed to make first contact. He shuffles in looking completely disgusted like he just got a whiff of a wicked cheese fart.

"Definitely gruyere. My nose is a finely-tuned instrument."

Toomorrow's live performance style is...unique. Benny stalks all the women like a panther on Viagra, Vic stands stiff as a post, plonking away at his keyboard like a marionette, Karl shakes his head and squints like he just stepped in dog shit and Olivia grips a stool and swivels back and forth with her knees clamped together like she has to pee.

They're so dynamic.

They finish the first number and start playing an untitled instrumental jam that isn't even on the soundtrack album. We only hear about twenty seconds of it, but I'm going to go ahead and rate it anyway.

Trust me. Twenty seconds is more than enough.

The constipated-looking Principal comes stomping out of his office, cuts the power to the hall and angrily berates everyone for having an unauthorized concert during an unauthorized sit-in. Low-Budget Oliver Reed tries to reason with him, but Principal Guy orders that any students involved in the protest are to be out of the building and completely off the college grounds by lunchtime.

As the disgruntled students disperse Alien Ed sidles up to Olivia and offers some ingratiating and complimentary remarks about how grand and sweet and groovy Toomorrow's music is, buttering her up real good.

I think we'd all like to butter her up, if you know what I mean...kaplooey!

Ed even goes so far as to help the band take their gear out of the hall, specifically carrying out the all-important Tonalizer. Vic is a little anxious about him not dropping it, explaining that it's a one-of-a-kind invention, part amplifier, part synthesizer, that makes them sound different than other groups. Alas, Vic, "different" does not always mean "better."

Ed claims that although he is an anthropologist (apparently his "cover story" for his presence on Earth), he's also interested in modern music and has a large conservatory in his home, replete with studio space and some high-end four-track recording equipment. He invites the band to come practice and record, giving them directions to the place and saying he'll go on ahead and meet them there.

As soon as they pull away he ducks behind a wall and does his trippy little walking thing again, which gets him home almost immediately.

Never gets old.

So Ed gets back to his big old house and realizes that he doesn't actually have all that stereo and recording equipment he bragged about to lure these all-too-trusting kids out to Hampstead Heath, so he stands on a little shallow platform on the floor of his living room, pulls pictures of all the shit he needs out of some magazines and makes everything appear from his hand with some crazy alien voodoo magic.

Call me a skeptic, but I don't think you can actually do that.

By the time the group arrives he's got shelves full of records, state-of-the-art speakers, reel-to-reel recording equipment and a sweet console stereo ready to go. We cut to the Head Alien Guy watching them anxiously from his big ornament in the sky.

All of this setup is sadly just an excuse to force us to listen to the worst song in the movie. It's a slow, dreary dirge of a number paradoxically called "Happiness Valley."

It just barely makes it out of Bobby Goldsboro's nose.

The lyrics describe this mythical joy-zone as "a place in your mind that's not so hard to find," and each band member gets a little studio-bound, music video-style fantasy tableau of what their personal Happiness Valley would be like. Benny is shown reclining on a beach chair with three buxom, bikini-clad vixens rubbing his arms, legs and torso with what looks like a thick, greasy topical hemhorroid ointment.

What can I say? The man has a fetish.

Karl gets a fantasy where he's rocked in a hammock by an ebony beauty, Vic is shown sitting in a smoking jacket, sipping champagne and staring at a TV displaying a "Starring Vic Cooper" title card, and Olivia is shown...wearing a big red cowboy hat and sitting on a Shetland pony?

Excuse me, I have questions...

Vic needs to get back to the college for that lunch date with his overbearing shrew of a girlfriend, so the the gang packs everything back up and shleps it out to the yard. Suddenly the column of alien light appears and they all get zapped up to the flying ornament!

Mods in space.

The Head Alien Guy tells them they're in an Alphoid space ship and currently being adjusted to the internal atmosphere. The little capsules the band are in vanish, and the aliens explain all about how the computerized music they make doesn't get their junk hard anymore, so they need something new and special and extra stimulating to help get them off and save them from total extinction.

The aliens play some of their "music" and it's just a formless mess of beeps and boops and squealing and random waveforms. Karl in particular is appalled by how shapeless and clinical it is, and Benny explains that electronics are great for making music but, damn, blue monkey ass people, you need to know what the fuck you're doing.

Head Alien further elucidates that the music they need requires the right blend of electronic vibrations, emotion and heart to effectively get them all jiggy, and that somehow their shitty pop band has "managed to combine these elements with an electronic mode of expression to which we respond."

You mean us? But we're worse than
The Shaggs!

It turns out the Alphoids expected that the gang would just happily go with them, leaving behind everything they ever knew and loved, and teach them all how to groove and swing and stimulate their little blue winkies.

Olivia tries to explain that you can't just switch the groovy vibes on, that part of the energy of it comes from the environment and the people you're playing to, so even if they did go back with them they'd be of no use to them anyway.

Also we really do suck.
You know that, right?

The aliens tell her "Sorry, not sorry, but it's time we left for the big blue orgy in the Alphoid quadrant, and by the way we're gonna replace your human bodies with our monkey-ass bodies so you can breathe our air and join in with our cosmic three-way around-the-worlds and shit. Also there's lots of lube and don't worry about STD's because we all totally just got tested last month and we haven't had any sex partners since."

One of the horny blue dudes goes to grab Olivia, but Benny pulls her away and the band run off. There's a dull, aimless montage of them scurrying around in circles and up and down ramps, with lots of dutch angles and spooky sound effects, as the aliens do their trippy walking thing and try to corner them long enough to peel off their human meat and fit them with Alphoid suits.

Eventually the gang piles into a small, featureless room with reflective walls and a panel snaps shut behind them. This turns out to be the interior of an escape module. It spontaneously ejects from the rest of the ship and sends them flying weightlessly into space

I tried to spontaneously eject this movie but it just kept playing.

Ed argues with Head Alien that the Earth folk are right, they do require the correct environment to produce the vibrations the Alphoids need. He suggests they return them to their rightful places so they can play at the Festival that evening, and when things get like, really heavy man, and the vibrations are totally gonna peak out at "the moment of fusion," they can just lift the entire festival, audience and all, into space and broadcast the sweet, stimulating sounds of their mood-enhancing, substance-assisted joy to Alphoid land.

Head Alien Guy has had quite enough of these uncouth primitives scuffing up his shiny floors with their kinky boots and fake moccasins, especially since he just had the whole place waxed. He decides to go with Ed's plan and orders the module to deliver the gang back to Earth.

As the module floats through space we get another miserable song, a miasmal yet scrofulous little trifle called "Goin' Back."

I wish I could go back to my life before I watched this.

As they sing about "Goin' back to those sweet old simple days" we get a truly embarrassing music video featuring Olivia, Karl, Benny and Vic floating around the interior of the pod and transforming via jump-cuts into child versions of themselves then back again. The song is rather whimsical but watching Olivia writhe around like she's having an orgasm then suddenly change into an eight-year-old is anything but.

There's just so much wrong with this.

Back on Earth the gang ends up on Ed's front lawn, and they have a little bit of a post-trauma freak out, not so much because they were just forcibly abducted by horny blue space aliens, mind you, but because they can't find their all-important gear and just won't know what to do with themselves if they don't have something to tote around back and forth all day. That would be a real crisis.

They bang on the front door and Ed answers. He tells them he thought they'd forgotten the stuff so he brought it inside the house. After getting Ed's assurance that the Tonalizer is safe Vic calms down for about a half second before he starts worrying about his girlfriend Amy again and how she's gonna remove his ever-lovin' chestnuts with a melon baller if he misses their lunch date.

As he heads off to grab a cab back to the college he says there's no way he's going to the Festival that night if Amy is gonna kick him to the curb over it.

Ed, of course is very concerned that Vic may back out of the show and derail his plan to transmit their panacea of putrid pop across the galaxy. He asks Olivia what would happen if Vic didn't show up and she explains that they can always get a replacement but, horror of horrors, the music just wouldn't be the same.

"That might not be a bad thing."

Just then Benny comes running out to report that there's something important on the radio and they all scurry inside to listen.

It must be a really slow news day because it's a report about the sit-in protest at the school, as if anyone outside of the school itself gives a fuck.

Anyway it seems welterweight Oliver Reed somehow convinced the principal to agree to a compromise and avoid the shutdown, so now all the classes are back in session and now the gang can load up and run back over there, because damnit we may only have twenty minutes' worth of plot but we have a whole hour and a half of screen time to fill up.

So the gang says they'd better get back to the school, and Ed says he hopes to be at the concert for their big gig that evening if he can get a ticket. Benny says it's been sold out for weeks and there are no tickets to be had, but Olivia suggests they tell the festival organizers that Ed is their road manager so he can get in for free!

Ed asks what a road manager does and Karl says "Nothing!"

That's what they call an in-joke.

When the gang leaves, Ed finds a record Vic had pulled off the shelf and had been ogling and drooling over before they all got abducted.

He was strictly interested in the music. He's also strictly interested in Playboy for the articles.

Ed grabs the record and heads out into the yard with it. He looks up at the sky and tells his Alien pals that he needs a "generously proportioned earth female" delivered to him immediately.

I guess Olivia got him all worked up, the dirty old bastard.

Now, before any of you out there in internet-land decide to go off and have a vigorous wank, I should warn you that this is not actually a stereotypical, late 60's, bubbly blonde bimbo. It's one of the male monkey-ass aliens wearing a stereotypical, late 60's, bubbly blonde bimbo meat-suit. I just thought you should know. Now go do what you must.

Back so soon?

Ed inexplicably names the bimbo "Johnson," and does his little thing with the platform and the magazines to give her a green dress, string belt and sunglasses. He tells her that her mission is to locate and seduce Vic Cooper. When she says she has not been instructed on what "seduce" means, Ed steps in close and says he will have to give her "what's called a crash course."

She's not wearing any pants no matter what country you're in.

Honestly this whole middle act is nothing but a mess of bogus obstacles and allegedly wacky shenanigans designed to give us some conflict and uncertainty about the band making it to the cosmically important pop concert we all totally know they're going to make it to.

The next hurdle involves Amy giving Vic the old heave-ho and breaking his poor, sensitive heart because he's blown off a date with her for the umpteen thousandth time.

Cheer up, Vic. It's a blessing to be rid of her.

Vic wanders off looking like a diabetic basset hound and he runs into Benny and Olivia dragging the fucking gear back into the big hall, even though there's absolutely no legitimate reason they would need to put it there between now and the Festival. We shall revisit that in a few moments.

Olivia tells Vic to go home and take a hot bath, assuring him she'll smooth things over between him and Amy. Why does he take a bath? We shall revisit that in a few moments.

Olivia's big plan to patch up Vic and Amy's failed relationship is to waltz into the art room while everyone is busy looking at Naked Model Lady, steal a vase full of flowers and send them to Amy with a note that says "Happy Birthday Amy, Love Victor." Because no matter how shitty you are to a woman, no matter how many times you ditch her and don't call or show up for a promised date, one bouquet of flowers will magically make her coo and fawn all over you like you're a goddamn rock star.

As Olivia pilfers the flowers she notices Karl at one of the easels drawing Naked Model Lady with the other peeping toms.

He's suddenly developed a keen interest in the fine arts.

Meanwhile Ed takes Johnson to see a dirty movie so she can learn about sex and seduction. When she steps out of the theater she's laughing so hard Ed has to take her aside and give her a stern lecture explaining that although the Alphoids have long since given up procreating biologically she needs to show the proper respect and gravitas if she wants to see a human willie in the flesh. Humans, he explains, take sex very seriously.

Loosen up, Ed. Sex is hilarious.

Johnson heads over to the flat building where the band lives. She sneaks in and finds Vic in his bedroom in the bathtub. Why is the bathtub located in Vic's bedroom? Because the screenplay requires it to be there, so shut the fuck up. Why is Vic even taking a bath in the middle of the day? See "shut the fuck up" above.

Vic is embarrassed at first by this invasion of his personal privacy, but when he realizes that Johnson wants to fuck him then and there, no questions asked, he completely changes his tune . As soon as she starts to undress, however, there's a knock at the door. It's Amy, come to make up with him and get back together!

Vic, dressed in his bathrobe, tells Johnson to keep quiet as he slips into the hallway to talk to Amy, but Amy wants to go back into Vic's room for a chat!

Just then Benny appears and Vic yells at him to go clean up the mess he left in there, wink, wink, and can they please use his room instead because they really need to go talk things out. Benny goes in and finds Johnson, and because she's an alien, see, all humans look the same to her! Benny tries to explain that he isn't Vic, but at this point Johnson is just in it for the experience, man and decides to get it on with him instead.

Suddenly the angry blonde from the modern dance class, the one with the power-pelvis and the bad attitude, shows up looking for Benny. She catches him about to show Johnson his Johnson, flies into a rage, and starts throwing whatever breakable shit she can find at him, sending the entire house into a noisy, broad comedy uproar!

Did I not promise allegedly wacky shenanigans?

Just as the mayhem reaches a fever pitch Olivia shows up to announce that the school board has locked everyone out of the college in retaliation for the student walk-out earlier in the day, which means they can't get to the gear they need for the big show later that night!

Oh, no! How will they ever get past this sternly worded sign?

Never mind making even a cursory attempt at any kind of narrative sense. There was one box left to check for a carefully constructed crisis and they couldn't leave it blank or the movie would have been five minutes too short.

As Vic hides in the back seat of the car, because he's still in his bathrobe, Olivia distracts a cop by playing stupid about having engine trouble. This allows Benny and Karl hop the fence and sneak across the verboten college grounds. The exterior doors to the big hall are locked, so Benny slinks over to Hot Teacher's office and gets her to let him in. He creeps around through to the hall, avoiding several staid-looking professors, and manages to let the others in so they can finally get the instruments out safely.

Ed watches with a smile as they drive away to the festival then does his stupid alien walk again so he can get to the venue before they arrive.

Show-off. Why can't he just take an Uber like everybody else?

So now that they have the gear back for the twentieth fucking time it becomes a race to get to the show in time for their set.

Gee, do you think they'll they make it?

The first to arrive is Hot Teacher, who slips in through the stage door and tells the guy there that she's with Toomorrow. He says they aren't there yet and probably aren't going to make it in time because they're almost on. When she tries to slip inside the arena he says she can' go in because it's sold out, but she tells him she's their road manager so he lets her go.

They're gonna try to get some mileage out of this road manager joke.

Meanwhile the three guys frantically change clothes in the car, into their snazzy matching stage outfits, as Olivia frantically lead-foots it across town.

As Ed and Johnson wait for the band to arrive another band shows up and starts unloading their instruments only to be accosted by Johnson, who is still desperately looking to get laid while she still has nipples to play with.

Her human suit features a carbon-fiber reinforced vagina.

Finally the band arrives and starts frantically unloading their goddann fucking gear. Again. They go inside with it and the very helpful man at the stage door tells them there's no way they're going to make it in time. He notices Amy, Ed and Johnson going in with them and says he only has four members listed for Toomorrow, and Ed, as instructed, says he's the road manager. The doorman says Hot Teacher road manager already went in, and they explain it away by claiming that Hot Teacher is the assistant road manager, Amy is her assistant road manager and Johnson is Ed's assistant road manager.

A lot of mileage.

It's a good thing they all came along, though because there's barely any time left to set up. With everyone pitching in, however, they manage to get it done with half a minute to spare.

Olivia has to duck behind a prop wagon at this point to change into her stage outfit, and Val Guest uses it as excuse to show off her bare legs again.

Can't say I blame him.

Now just to give you an idea of how lazy the producers were and how little regard they had for the observational skills of their audience, when the the gang arrives at the venue the previous band is playing the exact same instrumental they were playing in the school hall back when the Principal shut the power off.

Naked Model Lady appears at the stage door now and says she's with Karl Chambers of Toomorrow. Backstage guy says "I suppose you're the road manager?" but she replies "No, I'm his number one chick!" He shakes his head sadly and lets her in.

Clearly this is a man who has had enough of the goddamn road manager joke. I'm right there with ya buddy.

Maybe we should start a support group.

The emcee, who looks like the town crier from a Renaissance Faire with a lot of health and safety violations, introduces our heroes by pointing out that this show is their professional debut. He describes them as "Three guys, [and] one beautiful dolly all the gentlemen are gonna want for Christmas."

"Casual sexism! Huzzah!"

So out our heroes come out in mustard yellow pantsuits and perform against a mustard yellow curtain, and if you let your eyes go fuzzy it looks like their arms and heads are just floating independently around their instruments.

The costume designer and set dresser were not on speaking terms.

They wave and smile and head right into a number called "If You Can't Be Hurt You Can't Be Happy," which has a slight Motown vibe in the chorus, but any soul or feeling is completely flushed out of it by the puerile lyrics and banal arrangement.

Measurably even less soul than an Osmond family reunion.

Okay, so I know we're in the final stretch here, but I have to pause a moment to address Olivia Newton John's really wonky dancing. She does this distinctive bent elbowed, arm swinging, finger popping, foot shuffling, bird-head pecking, white person overbite thing at some point during almost every song and it's just incredibly awkward. I watched a bunch of her early TV appearances while I was researching this film and it seems to have just been something she was doing at this point in her career. Right around the time she really started taking off in the United States, however it disappeared from her performance repertoire.

Screenshots can't do it justice. Follow the link above and fast forward to 1:58.

This is clearly just Olivia being Olivia, but sometime before her first Tonight Show appearance in 1973 I suspect one of her management team took her aside and said "You know we love you kid, but we gotta lose the dance. You look like a pigeon having a stroke."

So the crowd are really getting into the song in a way that is in no way justified by what we're hearing. I believe there may be drugs, hypnosis or mass hysteria involved. Tight-ass Amy is loosening up and doing pirouettes, Naked Model Lady (who looks every bit as fine fully clothed, by the way) is swinging like a Solid Gold Dancer, and even Alien Johnson is shaking her meat-suit moneymaker like an extra on an episode of Laugh-In.

The power of the positive vibrations overwhelms even the usually stoic Alien Ed, and for a brief instant he throws cautions to the wind and gives in to the seductive allure of Toomorrow's mellifluous pop stylings.

That's what they call gay abandon.

So eventually the crowd reaches a feverish apogee of ecstasy and the aliens, as planned, lift the entire contents of the arena up into the sky in a sparkling beam of light.

Again, no one in London notices because they're all too busy making their bangers and mash or bubble and squeak or some shit.

Suddenly it's morning again and Olivia is waking up to make the tea and breakfast for the band. We jump ahead to the point just before they started debating whether Toomorrow was a good name or not and we see Karl playing around with the string belt and sunglasses Johnson left in Vics room when she was trying to fuck everyone in sight.

We are given the distinct impression that the aliens, having broadcast the delightful healing synth-pop across the cosmos to rejuvinate their ailing world, have somehow turned back Earth local time to the moment when it all began, leaving our heroes to relive their day and presumably discover fame, fortune and the two subsequent films they were still under contract for but would never be made.

The End.

This is the kind of bad movie that gives bad movies a bad name. It's basically a TV sitcom padded out to feature length with endless scenes of the thinly-drawn leads being cheeky, schlepping their gear in and out of cars and yards and buildings, talking in circles about bullshit and getting into clumsily fabricated scrapes for five minutes at a time until the inevitable, foregone-from-the-opening-credits conclusion. There's no believable stakes, no narrative tension, no authentic hardships to overcome, just contrived plot twists piled on bad jokes piled on broad caricatures and badly seasoned with shitty songs and cheap titillation. Not that there's anything wrong with cheap titillation, I just wish I were being titillated cheaply by a better film.

Movies don't necessarily have to be smart or logical to be worth watching, they just need to be made with enough effort and care and respect for the audience to be entertaining and engaging. There are plenty of objectively terrible films I will watch over and over again because the joy and love with which they were made shines through the flaws like a diamond in the mud. The biggest problem with Toomorrow isn't the crappy music, laughable plot or one-note characters, it's the fact that almost no one involved in it seems to have been the least bit interested in what they were doing. The result is a total mess that ends up being just about the worst couple of things a movie can be: tedious and dull. Why should anyone want to watch a movie the filmmakers didn't even want to make?

In conclusion there are three things you should avoid if you wish to live a long and happy life: capitol murder, store-brand toilet paper and Toomorrow.

I thank you for your time.

Final Observations

--Writer/director Val Guest got a court injunction against producers Don Kirshner and Harry Saltzman because they had not paid him, which resulted in the film being pulled from theatrical release after only one week in a single theater. Guest won the case but never got his money. The film was not shown again or officially released on home video until after all three of them had died.

--The Roundhouse, where the pop festival takes place, is a repurposed 1847 railway building in London that has been used as a performing arts center since 1964.

--Olivia Newton John was reportedly paid an annual retainer of 10,000 British pounds, more than six times the average yearly salary in the UK in 1970.

--Future AC/DC member Chris Slade was originally signed as Toomorrow's drummer but dropped out of the production shortly before filming began.

--Benny Thomas had a brief, largely unsuccessful solo career in the mid 1960's. He also released one solo album called "Boy on a Pony" on Olivia Newton John's ONJ label in 2004.

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in December 2019.

Questions? Comments? Expressions of disgust? Why not skip the middleman and complain to me directly?

comments powered by Disqus

Go ahead, steal anything you want from this page. That's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god.