The Big Cube
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By the time LSD was made illegal in California in 1966, the drug had already attracted such far-flung users as Aldous Huxley, Cary Grant, and John Lennon. William Castle's The Tingler (1959) had branded acid (even when taken in a clinical setting) as the gateway to a guaranteed freak-out and subsequent movies, from Roger Corman's The Trip (1967) to Byron Mabe's The Acid Eaters (1968) and even Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider (1969) did little to dispel the notion. Four months before the acid-fueled murders of Sharon Tate and six others in August 1969 by acolytes of messianic madman Charles Manson, aging Hollywood icon Lana Turner starred in The Big Cube (1969), as a high society widow whose coastal showplace pied-a-terre is invaded by hippies. "Cubed" by gigolo George Chakiris (who hungers for wealth rather than enlightenment), Turner hallucinates up a psychedelic storm through The Big Cube's kaleidoscopic midsection but the film - whose third act is a Hamlet style theatrical reenactment performed to spur Turner's memory - is less an LSD scare strategy than a kissing cousin to the trippy psycho-thrillers then coming out of Italy. The Big Cube's triangulation of mother-daughter protagonists against a predatory male antagonist offers an eerie echo of Turner's involvement with Latin lover Johnny Stompanato, who was fatally knifed either by Turner or daughter Cheryl Crane back in 1958.
By Richard Harland Smith