The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (1968)


A classic underground film made in 1968, it is divided into three parts, the Opium Dream, Shaman, & Heavenly Blue Mylar Pavilions. A unique film by the originator of mylar photography.

Director: Ira Cohen.
Writer: Ira Cohen.
Stars: Ira Cohen, Donna Allnut, Zisca Baum, Peter Birnbaum, Robert LaVigne, Angus MacLise.



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One Comment

  1. January 3, 2021

    thanks, jon. saw this on youtube a while back. much better version here. in context, you wouldn’t be wrong placing this alongside the films of kenneth anger and other proponents of mythical, mystical cinema, but add in a subcategory for psychotropic drugs. nobody would dare (because there is no intellectual justification anyone can make for this…pure inspiration…by which i mean ingestion), making something like this unless they were totally stoned half the time; which is what makes it sui generis. in the early days of LSD, there were a lot of perfectly rational (or otherwise) beings who would ‘turn on, tune in, and drop out’…only to find that the higher you got, the more symbolic everything became. rituals of allegorical meaning were practiced by avant garde artists on both coasts (like ken kesey and the merry pranksters in the legendary ‘FURTHUR’ bus) but–when considering the enormous impact of the living theater of julian beck and judith malina, the radical performance collective/communes–this is distinctively the new york strain. maclise was a founder of the original velvet underground as well, which is why he made an entirely different soundtrack to this that recalls, at times, nothing so much as the very early pink floyd at their trippiest. ira cohen’s own album from that time is equally weird in its own way, but his treatments, that turn the surface image into a warping, funhouse-mirror distortion, are what he is best know for. the mylar techniques may seem primitive today, but when seen through a cloud of hashish smoke in a cafe or art-house midnight showing…trust me: this was the equivalent kubrick’s ‘obelisk’ 4D space freakout in ‘2001’. recommended to try at bedtime to turn off the critical facility and simply…merge.

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