Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Flareup 1969 (Raquel Welch as a Psychedelic Go-Go Dancer !!)

"Most Men Want To Love Her... One Man Wants To Kill Her !"

  Upon first glance 1969's Flareup has a great premise - Raquel Welch as a go-go dancer pursued thru late 60's Las Vegas & Los Angeles by psycho killer Luke Askew (Hey - sign me up !). The one problem we got here is that between a major studio (MGM) & a major at the time star (Raquel Welch), what might have been a great exploitation flick is turned into an interesting, but somewhat pedestrian thriller (Not that we thought that Raquel was gonna show anything anyways).
   Opening in 1969 Las Vegas (in all its pre theme park glory) go-go dancer Michele (Raquel) is meeting two of her go-go buddies Nikki (Sandra Gilles) & Iris (Pat Delaney) for lunch at an outdoor cafe. Nikki's ex- (and highly disturbed) husband Alan (Luke Askew) shows up and attempts a reconciliation. When that fails he suddenly shoots her and then attempts to blow away Michele & Iris, as he blames them for the break-up. Alan escapes after wounding Nicki, then after visiting the police Michele & Iris head off for their night shift at the go-go bar. It should be noted here that obviously Raquel Welch's character has a special deal with strip club owners, as she's the only dancer who doesn't have to go topless.

   Later the girls visit Nikki at the hospital and learn she's died. Alan shows up and runs over Iris in the parking lot. This prompts Michele to run off to L.A. and once there she gets a job at a go-go joint and meets nice guy parking attendant Joe (James Stacy) who's into bullfighting, photography & model airplanes. Alan follows her, killing a motorist on the way played by veteran character actor Tom Fadden.
  Once there he begins stalking her, at one point ending up in the same abandoned Griffith Park Zoo that was featured in the climax of Rape Squad (AKA Act of Vengeance 1974). In spite of some randomly placed footage of topless dancers the film has the feel of a TV movie and it pretty much stops dead in its tracks when Raquel first gets to LA. Once she's there and hooks up with Joe we get the whole "falling in love" montage complete with horseback rides on the beach as we wait for psycho Alan to show back up and kick things back into gear. Raquel's pretty good here, as by this time she was starting to come into her own as an actress and has she had been mostly doing western roles (and cave women in fur bikinis) this was probably a nice change of pace for her. In addition she seems to change from one late 60's fashion statement outfit to another about every 10 minutes.

   Besides the go-go stuff & Raquel the best thing here is Luke Askew as the psycho stalker. A tall actor with chiseled features and an intense stare, he sort of reminds one of an off kilter Chuck Connors. He was a remembered presence as Boss Paul in Cool Hand Luke (1967), in 1968 would appear in John Wayne's ultra right wing war epic The Green Berets and rather weirdly the next year would appear as a hitchhiker in Easy Rider. He did tons of work in TV (usually cast as a killer or heavy) and passed away in 2012. I've always really liked him.
   One of the great things about this movie is the views of late 60's neon Las Vegas & psychedelic Los Angeles,  plus you gotta love those go-go bars with pop art interiors, wah wah guitars & pulsating lights (this would look great on blu-ray).  The Los Angeles strip club where Raquel works is The Losers which was located on La Cienga Blvd. Supposedly Russ Meyer hung out here and discovered dancers Haji, Tara Satana & Erica Gavin and set them loose upon the world.

 Hey look, Raquel's into model airplanes. That's pretty cool !

   Not a great movie, but a decent little thriller that unfortunately drags somewhat when Luke Askew isn't around - but hey, its got Raquel Welch as a go-go dancer (albeit a clothed one), a great Les Baxter theme song and some James Bond inspired opening credits. You really got wonder what could have been done with this a few years down the road with Arthur Marks producing and Tiffany Bolling starring. Look for Gordon Jump (Maytag repair guy & WKRP) in a quick role as a security guard.

Wow ! - Topless, Bottomless & The LSD Revue !! (and no cover charge !)



  1. She was quite the beauty. Really ahead of her time in many ways. Her look is kind of timeless.

    1. She still looks pretty fantastic to this day