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Quasi at the Quackadero

Dir. by Sally Cruikshank (1975)

By Tom BakerPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read
The Quackadero

Someone once asked someone else (who shall remain nameless) if they thought they lived in "Lollipop Land." (Wherever the hell that's supposed to be.)

That unnamed and unfortunate bipedal creature exclaimed, "No! And thank the Lord that I don't, because it sure sounds like it sucks!"


Sally Cruikshank's world may not be Lollipop Land, but it sure looks like it. On the other hand, it probably tastes like sour grapes, Lemon Heads, and pickles all mixed up in a blender and served with a side of salt and vinegar Ruffles. Maybe. Maybe it tastes like the tail-end of a baby cartoon rhino or the affy tapple paint on a house that smiles.

Cruikshank is the animator behind the "Cartoonland" cartoons from Twilight Zone: The Movie, the ill-fated, arguably "cursed" movie wherein two child actors as well as veteran actor Vic Morrow were brutally, tragically killed in an on-set accident. Director John Landis, as well as five co-defendants, were charged with manslaughter but eventually skated. The movie studio settled for HUGE amounts of money for all the victims' families. To this day, watching Twilight Zone: The Movie leaves the viewer with a weird, unsettling, creeping feeling of anxiety that has little to do with what is seen on the screen.

But this short review is of the work of Sally Cruikshank. I'm a sucker for animation, especially the sort of short, experimental stuff they use to show on "Night Flight" back in the Eighties. I love cartoons, comic books, anime, and every other form of dorkery you can imagine (takes me back to childhood in a pathetic, lonely middle-aged fat boy sense), and so I wanted to watch some of La Cruikshank's short films, and was delighted to find them weirdly surreal expositions of childlike fantasy mixed with enough nods toward adult drug use they could well give Yellow Submarine a run for its multi-colored, party-favor flavored pink Strawberry Shortcake Surprise. (Better than a Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster, I'll say.)

Tom Baker's ebook: Cult Films and Midnight Movies: "From High Art to Low Trash" Volume 1. 470 big pages. $1.50 USD.

Quasi lounges around Cartoonland in a very ornate and colorful canopy bed, his smiling chair and lizard-backed horsey ride beside him when Anita, who looks like a salamander, comes in and tells him they're going to the "Quackadero" Funland amusement park, looks literal daggers at him, and then fires up the UFO and flies them there. The Quackadero is a very special amusement park, wherein past lives are revealed, and dreams can be externalized in an evershifting dive into ever-evolving animated images (something every dope-addled teen in 1975 must have just loved. (Like, wow, man. Far out!)

It isn't long before we're slipping back through a "Hole in Time." The donkey-faced Anita makes a chocolate cake for Quasi, but it somehow goes flying over a banister rail, and Quasi goes chasing it.

The end?

Quasi at the Quackadero is a nod back at the fantasy comics and short cartoons of a bygone era, with a few twists. The colors are all solid, with no shading or values, and the animation technique is not natural, but wobbling, watery, flowing images. The characters are creepily clownish, indecipherable animated mutants with squeaky-time voices, and the whole thing would delight children, I'm sure, but that is not exactly its aim (Quasi opens a hotel room door to find a bare-breasted woman sitting up in bed, panicked).

But I'm sold! Anything this weirdly mocking of conventional sci-fi tropes, while playing around the edges of being a delightful, fantasy-filled children's cartoon, has got my ticket. I just wonder where this creepy, clownish little gem has been hiding from me all these years (maybe in the literal Twilight Zone?).

Catch it on the run, man. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have my Hole in Time I have to ride the decades back with, to a better year. One where I was a helluva lot thinner, I reckon.

Oodles of toodles.

Quasi at the Quackader0 (1975)


About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.:

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knockabout a month ago

    Weirdly enjoyable, Tom.

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