22 June 1999 | Scritzy
Webb Wilder: Unappreciated Genius
I first saw HORROR HAYRIDE shortly after a friend's suicide. Viewing this decidedly abnormal film, which is essentially a long-form video for Webb Wilder's disc DOODAD, made me laugh, truly, deeply and hysterically, for the first time since her death. Since then I have purchased the video (yeah, some people do think I'm crazy but get over it!) and watched it countless times. Webb Wilder is in a class of his own. An actor of the Jack Webb School of Emotion, he also writes lyrics of the type that Lyle Lovett would write if Lyle were on Prozac (or maybe something stronger).
The film unfolds in semi-documentary fashion, with Webb's reluctant agreement to help Kirsten, the governor's daughter, with her little driver's ed film. But Briley Parkway, the "film school ... intellectual smart-butt" director Kirsten has engaged to shoot the driver's ed flick is involved in something shadier than tossing mannequin heads in the audience as a careless driver is beheaded. Perhaps he isn't the "vapid, shallow ... congenitally misinformed, moronic Napoleonic fop" described by the head of the driver's ed board, but he doesn't seem to have come from the Disney organization either. Webb's search for the secret gets complicated by his reunion with an old flame, head doctor Barbara Slovine. They lament their broken relationship at a cast party ... Did I mention that at said party Webb and undercover highway patrolman Travis Byrd sing a song apparently entitled, "If You Don't Think Elvis Was Number One, You're Full of Number Two." (I once threatened to sing this ditty when I was entertaining a group of senior citizens.) Webb, a true incompetent spy long before Austin Powers said his first "baaaaayyyyybeee," gets to the truth but can't put the scum away despite his judo moves; he promptly gets tossed on his back with the comment, "Boy, you're dumber'n a bucket o' rocks." So who saves the day? Do yourself a favor, rent the flick and find out. (You'll find it in a trilogy called CORN FLICKS.)
Aliens, nightmares, tater tots and Twitty City, not to mention a kickin' cover version of the Electric Prunes' psychedelic masterpiece, "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" ... HORROR HAYRIDE has much to offer the inquiring mind. Though I've been told more than once that a person would have to be stoned to understand, much less like, this film, I disagree. It helps to be cold sober and wounded. Because there's nothing like laughing until you fall off the sofa to keep you sane. I'm forever grateful to the unappreciated genius of the self-proclaimed "last of the full-grown men." I actually listen to his music, too. And like it. Oh, and I have an autographed picture sitting in my studio. Am I crazy? Yeah, have been since the age of twelve. Am I a Webb Wilder fan? Way, major. Pick up on it!