Friday, May 4, 2012

Ghetto Freaks (1970)

Ghetto Freaks, sometimes known as Love Commune, Sign Of Aquarius, or Wages of Sin, is one of those drug-inspired attempts at social commentary that falls flat on its face, but not before spitting in yours a few thousand times.

The premise is simple: Sonny and friends are hippies. They live a simple life in suburban Cleveland, and spend their days spreading hippie psycho-babble around town. A typical day may involve being arrested, demonstrating against the establishment, and begging for spare change. Evening activities include smoking the reefer, group sex, cheating the city out of bus fare, and not bathing. The movie flounders about this way until we meet Diane.
Diane is in many ways a typical young woman. She doesn't get along with her parents. She's curious about drugs and sex. She trusts an unshaven middle-aged man wearing a poncho to teach her about drugs and sex. I guess the world was a very different place in 1970. Anyways, she takes off with Sonny and inside a few days is a full-fledged hippie. Diane and Sonny become romantically involved, at least as involved as two stoned hippies with multiple sexual partners can be.
All is well and good until an old acquaintance of Sonny's resurfaces, wanting to bring the reformed hipster back into the drug trade. Sonny refuses, and the bullet meant for his head ends up in Diane, who dies immediately. The hippie death ritual that ensues is perhaps the most entertaining bit of the film. Sonny lifts Diane's body and walks a few feet, with the rest of the commune walking in near unison behind, and then sets her body down in the exact same pose. Why they moved her just a few feet is never explained, but Diane's death basically marks the film's end.
I mentioned earlier that the film went by several different names, which is not unusual for a low-budget picture. What makes it worth mentioning is the slight variations in each of the retitled versions. The Ghetto Freaks version features "two minutes of new footage featuring the black leader of a kinky love cult...". Where they nabbed this clip from is anybody's guess, but it's extremely obvious that it was not part of the original film. The new footage was slapped right in the middle of an orgy scene, which makes sense until you consider that the location, characters, and even the texture of the film are completely different.
There's really nothing terribly wrong with this film, but there's also very little substance here. An interesting psychedelic sex scene or two isn't enough to forgive the movie for its lack of focus; there's just no point to the story.
Ghetto Freaks comes on a DVD with another drug-related flick: Way Out. Normally neither movie would merit a review of its own, but I fell asleep 10 minutes into Way Out, so Ghetto Freaks got its own review. Bottom line: It helps to be on drugs while watching a movie about drugs made by people who were probably on lots of drugs helps to ease the pain of sitting through this. And we probably just got blocked for "drugs" by CyberPatrol due to that last sentence. Great.




Also Known As

  • Love Commune
  • Sign of Aquarius (USA) (reissue title)
  • Wages of Sin (USA) (reissue title)


  • 15 Hot-Blooded Young Drop-Outs Living in One Room!
  • They Lived For the Night and Tripped Till Dawn!
  • When the Moon is in the Communal House of Love...A Shocking Tribal Ritual Will Take You Higher Than You've Ever Been Before!

Main Details

  • Released in 1970
  • Color

Cast and Crew

  • Directed by Robert J. Emery
  • Written by Robert J. Emery, John Pappas
  • Starring Toni Ceo, Jim Coursar, Paul Elliot, Nick Kleinholz III, Gabe Lewis
  • Produced by John Pappadakis, G.B. Roberts, Paul Rubenstein
  • Original Music by Thomas Baker
  • Cinematography by Paul Rubenstein
  • Film Editing by Robert J. Emery

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