READER RECOMMENDATION: QUASI AT THE QUACKADERO (1975)

Reader Recommendation by Theodore Davis

“Now make yourself comfortable while I congress with the spirits and make them ready for their stage debut!”

DIRECTED BY: Sally Cruikshank

FEATURING: Kim Deitch, Sally Cruikshank

PLOT: “Quasi at the Quackadero” is about a lazy, humanoid duck hybrid named Quasi, who gets dragged by his kitsch-loving squeeze Anita and their robot servant, Rollo, to the Quackadero, a psychedelic amusement park that provides Cruikshank a vehicle to explore time, memory, and dreams in a variety of cabaret attractions and horrors.

Still from Quasi at the Quackadero (1976)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Although clocking at a mere nine minutes and 57 seconds, “Quasi at the Quackadero” is easily eight times as weird as your average weird movie with its polychromatic world of humanoid animal mutants and a soundtrack like a gargled symphony of cuckoo clocks, springs, and banjos.

COMMENTS: Ladies and Gentlemen, sex-starved ducks, and scheming duckettes! Come one come all to the Quackadero, a wonderland you won’t wanna miss! Confront your past, present and future in the amusement park of your dreams!

Sally Cruikshank’s “Quasi at the Quackadero” is a frenetic roller coaster ride, a candy-colored phantasmagoria, equally dream and nightmare, that takes the form of a time-warping day trip for a decadent ducky named Quasi and his cornball broad, Anita. They embark on a meandering cartoon odyssey that is both sickeningly sweet and sleazy, a “Little Nemo”-esque slumberland inhabited by the saucy personages of a pre-Hays code Fleischer brothers cartoon. Cruikshank’s magnum opus is a glimpse into a fully realized kaleidoscopic world of glop-haired hags and pompadour-bird driven velocipedes, all rendered in Cruikshank’s unmistakable round edged style.

The brain-frying parade comprises slinky-eyed lecher ducks and anthropomorphic art deco edifices that never hog the screen for more than a second as to make way for a thousand more creeps and clowns, leaving only ghosted impressions burnt into your retinas, like ducklike phantasms from a half remembered dream. Cruikshank’s fastidious obsession provides an incessant psychedelic barrage that leaves the viewer dazed and confused until the elaborate “The End” title card appears. It’s hard to make sense of the flight of fancy you’ve just seen, yet somehow in its hypnotic excess, “Quasi at the Quackadero” is unsatisfying. Mysteries are introduced and left unanswered. Beneath the colorful mishmash of styles (Frank Lloyd Wright+George Barbier++Carl Barks) some enigmatic evil lurks. From the sinister smile of the carrot at the National Vegetable Convention to the plotted demise of Anita’s bucktoothed beau, there’s a conspiracy afoot. However, we then remember that this grandiose glimpse into Quasi’s dreamworld is but a glimpse, only hinting at the myriad of mysteries left in shadow. The success of “Quasi at the Quackadero” lies in its confounding ability to enthrall and tantalize. So, step right up! Buy a silver ticket and join Quasi on a journey through time and space!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sally Cruikshank has put her films on YouTube, but if you like them, she sells a high-quality DVD of her complete works at her website, Fun on Mars.

3 thoughts on “READER RECOMMENDATION: QUASI AT THE QUACKADERO (1975)”

  1. That definitely would’ve been some childhood nightmare fuel… but then, so were Sleestaks and Fleischer Bros. cartoons, for me at least.

  2. I love this recommendation.

    I am a fan of Sally Cruikshank, having discovered her work at the same time I was falling down the weirder end of the Fleischer brothers’ rabbit hole. She’s obviously a fan of Fleischer Studios, but hers is a more rough-hewn psychedelia.

    Too bad Quasi hasn’t made the list (yet).

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