Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Wild in the Streets Review

Wild in the streets is the way to be, a way to show distrust or disgust at one of the many topics on the Tombola raffle of communal horror. Counterculture has and always will be an important crux of that, a bane to the existence of those in power as a direct contrast to their actions and interactions. The UK may have a strong presence in that during the 1970s and now, but its utilisation is ill and seemingly passive. Wild in the Streets shows just what would happen if it were streamlined, if it were mounted properly, beyond the Twitter complaints and half-hearted, infrequent attempts to occasionally apply the pressures so desperately needed. Take a note from France, or LCD Soundsystem, and jump into the fire. Just like Barry Shear’s feature, Wild in the Streets, take the dive.  

Uneasy times provide solid kindling for bonfires of the troubled soul and Wild in the Streets still survives on the horrors of suburbia and economic provisions. Ripping at the plastic wraps of furniture covered to stop a pooch from jumping up on them leads to moments of character growth and development. Where Shear is unable to bring about much love for the lead and his wonderfully dense family, he does maintain a level of hysteria well needed to view anything in the cultural eye. Even now, shooting up or slowing down is the only way to deal with the real world for many, and it is understandable now more than ever. For those not frozen with fear and despair, the only reaction is action and Wild in the Streets marches toward that, a rag-tag counterculture pop.  

Predating the twangs and droning sounds of Ira Newborn’s The Naked Gun, Les Dexter brings his Giallo fundamentals to a feature which has much of the violence ensuing, just reserved and regulated through the eye of pop culture. What a horrid gaze it can be, as Wild in the Streets shows. Christopher Jones is the wild-eyed rock music representation, Shelley Winters the firm and slapping hand of old school values. Wild in the Streets is as wild as it gets just about everywhere, a stigma from youth carries over the values which no longer show themselves in those rebellious of old. It is up to the next generation to take on board what they should have learned from relatives or oldies about the revolution and carry it on. Joan Didion wrote about the drugged-up craze of posers in the counterculture, and so too does Wild in the Streets. 

People can be bought. Playing snooker with the suits behind Christopher Jones shows that. Despite the cavalcade of famous faces, Hal Holbrook and a young Richard Pryor in particular, Wild in the Streets is a well-maintained vessel for its message which loses sight of just that. We all do at some point. Everyone loses the will to fight on, as shown here. Holbrook is an essential, violent spark who lives through this feature, tearing down the posters of the mainstream and otherwise, the division of family and gluttony firmly shown with languid showcases of toothless satire which soon develop into robes, hoods and cults. Getting there makes no sense but at least Wild in the Streets has the well-humoured and horrific fight burning away within it. Addressing the camera to warn of the inevitable revolution, those brief sparks toward the bitter end are a warning that still lasts on. When, not if.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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