Brink of Disaster (film #252 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

College student John Smith holes up in the library while a riot is going on, armed with a baseball bat. While there, he encounters the ghost of an ancestor of his who was killed in the Revolutionary War. They are soon joined by one of the history professors, and the three of them "discuss" the recent student protests. Both the professor and the ghost are dead set against the students, equating any sort of dissent with the worst kind of violence and looting. The student responds by occasionally giving extremely lame justifications for the students' behaviors, justifications that totally play into the hands of the professor and the ghost. In the end, though, the student turns out to be one of "them"––i.e. the hippies––and is just about ready to turn the professor over to his cronies, when the ghost knocks him out with the stock of his rifle. However, this only will only delay the ultimate confrontation, as the rioters are already chopping through the locked door with axes. It ends with the lurid title “Will you let this be...THE END??" This strident right-wing film tries to address student violence using a Sid Davis approach, which ends up being laughably unsuccessful. The filmmakers show absolutely no understanding of the students point of view. Indeed, the students are portrayed as Bad Guys whose only point is wanton, pointless destruction, which misses the point that students were also supposed to be the films' audience––when was the last time you were swayed by an argument that portrays you as evil? Student dissent is equated with "filth," i.e. "dirty" books and movies, sexual promiscuity, illegal drug use, and communism, which therefore makes it Evil in the eyes of the filmmakers, leading innevitably to wanton violence and destruction. This black-and-white thinking is laughably simplistic and ignorant of the real factors playing into the violence on college campuses at the time. The film, if it had any impact on its intended audience other than laughter, probably just made it more angry and rebellious. After the professor's self-righteous harrangue, the students in the audience were probably rooting for the rioters by the end of the film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

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