The Cult of Gutsy Beauty of Linda Haynes (Part Two)

*contains spoilers

“I’ve been around the course a couple of times now,” says Linda, admitting to thirty and brooding over past boyfriends. “Poor Linda, here she goes again,” she says to herself as they leave the café, looking forward to that moment again, where they can physically and spiritually bare their souls. Before it vanishes like the time before… This is also a statement for the actress Linda and her attempts at forging a career as an actress, with each new film like a new relationship.

Director John Flynn’s The Outfit (1973) trailer

It had always led to disappointment and there was no guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. She is an everywoman. She is any woman who wanted fame and fortune, to be taken seriously in a career or simply as a woman who wants a relationship with a man if she can’t have that. It is the lack of respect after repeated attempts at chasing these – that is another key to Linda’s timeless film persona, since it is on screen and also in real life. This manifests itself incredibly in Rolling Thunder. The realism of Linda being the name of her character as well as her actual name meld the performance into one perfectly timed and realised piece. This also includes the sound of her voice – it is iconic, her character perpetual – it will eternally be in the present and Linda’s acting, if you want to call it that, in Rolling Thunder hasn’t dated.

Rolling Thunder (1977) trailer

After they tangle with Fat Ed, she decides to leave Rane and tell the police in another outburst as they speed off in the red convertible he was given as a gift upon returning by a local San Antone car dealership.

“Charlie, I’m all you’ve got,” she says after the heat of the moment and like all girls in such relationships – albeit Rane is abusive almost by proxy – she stays with him.

Iconic image of Linda in Rolling Thunder and the possible reason Tarantino loves her

After sleeping in the car, Linda wakes to the sound of sawn off shotgun fire as Rane practices. She joins in.

“I haven’t used one in years,” she says of her shooting ability, in a scene which may explain part of director Quentin Tarantino’s fascination with the actress. Remember his segment in Jackie Brown entitled Chicks Who Love Guns? Linda’s character admits to being a tomboy and a black sheep. But in real life Linda got bruises during the shoot from the kick of the shotgun. It remains a sexy and memorable scene.

Chicks Who Love Guns as seen in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997)

“I just wish we had something more interesting to shoot at,” she says, finally bored. But with every moment in this film she has let the camera capture her essence. She really does have a relationship with the camera!

Later she tries to make Rane forget the idea of revenge: “Won’t you just stay with me for a while,” says the woman with the sexy name. But we know this will never happen and that the relationship is doomed. Rane is possibly too far gone.

Linda wears Rane’s/Devane’s shirt

And that is the tragedy of women like Linda Forchet as she tries to seduce him on the floor of a motel room. He is dead on the inside. He is cold and spent and dead.

Linda was never after the silver dollars but for a hero who would love her.

“It’s like my eyes are open and I’m looking at you but I’m dead,” says Rane about his failure to speak after they have sex. Being isolated for so long has almost destroyed any chance of a relationship in the world and she asks him if he’s coming back to San Antone, but he doesn’t want it.

“Let’s go to Alaska,” about the possibility of making love all day long.

Linda is vulnerable and has big dreams

Sitting propped on her elbow in this motel scene, Linda is at her most vulnerable and beautiful as she ponders the possibilities of her life with Rane.

Later, he leaves her sleeping, money left on the bedside table and possibly never to see her again. Linda will awake and call his name, wearing his shirt, but the spell appears, like many times before, to be broken.

American International made big bucks after a major studio passed on Rolling Thunder

The revenge climax in Rolling Thunder plays out excellently thanks to director John Flynn (1932-2007 in sleep). It’s hard to believe it’s really an American International Production as it’s like a film by a major studio. Yet this is the time of American International’s Force 10 from Navarone (1978), which also plays like an A-picture…

Force 10 from Navarone (1978) is another American International fave from the period

Rane and Tommy Lee blow the shit out of those murderers and get to limp away, to jail or freedom, or bleeding to death God knows where, we don’t know.

It is reported the film made many times over its $5 million budget. While the studio primed William Devane and Linda Haynes to be stars – stardom wasn’t realised.

The bloody climax to Rolling Thunder

It’s a good picture and I’m sure after 20th Century Fox passed on it after irate preview viewers reportedly reacted negatively to the home invasion scene – they knew they had missed out.

It’s Linda Forchet’s/Hayne’s finest moment and, maybe, since Devane survived the shoot-out, there’s always a chance… don’t give up on men yet!

Stardom in a major studio film still out of the question, Linda signed up for the semi-lurid 1980s or pre-1980s horror Human Experiments (1980).

Linda’s career deserved some kind of award. The VHS cover for Human Experiments (1980)

She plays a down on her luck lounge singer who goes from town to town singing for her supper. It also reflects Linda’s career as an actress although financially she was probably still driving a Bentley. Human Experiments is, however, the low point in terms of depression and drink and drug abuse for Linda. It is reported.

As the singer, Linda is more often than not, fighting off advances from local creeps like Aldo Ray (1926-91 throat cancer). “Maybe we can get together later on,” says Aldo before Linda gives him the brush-off.

Linda has to brush off unwanted advances in Human Experiments

“My dad always wanted a boy,” says Linda firing a gun in a scene, which was obviously written after one too many viewings or a great fondness of Rolling Thunder by the writer of Human Experiments Richard Rothstein (died 2018). Rothstein would go onto an almost respectable career with the Universal Soldier (1992) screenplay.

Linda sounds a lot like Sondra Locke (1944-2018 breast cancer) in her singing performances, which are more amateur than professional. But it is not her singing that leads Linda into trouble but stopping by a seemingly deserted farmhouse.

Sondra Locke sings Too Loose. Linda and Sondra are both amateur singers.

“He would have killed me, it was self-defence,” says Linda of the teenager who killed his family and is about to kill Linda as she stumbles across the scene.

Sentenced for blowing the kid away, Linda must go to Gates Correctional Facility to serve her sentence.

It is there that not very good things are happening to say the least. With some inmates catatonic, dreadful lesbians forcing themselves on Linda and a doctor who is very strange in his relationships with the inmates, Human Experiments is a bit of a stew of horror elements the exploitation 1970s wanted for the grindhouses and drive-ins of the day.

Geoffrey Lewis plays the doctor in the prison in Human Experiments

Linda’s character in Human Experiments is not as carefree as the one she plays in Rolling Thunder. She really is a woman who must take care of herself without the help of a man. Something which leaves her very vulnerable even before she is thrown into prison.

Linda really is tortured

“Personal contact is not permitted,” the prisoners are told and this includes play-wrestling, massages and plucking eyebrows!

Let’s skip the “on the table please, legs apart” scene which the writer and director also added. It’s obvious Linda is doing hard time on this film in more ways than one. She does a full nude scene in the movie as she strips unabashedly for the prison guards upon entry and reveals the body of a slip of a girl with a figure from a classic human form sketchbook. Linda really is giving it one last roll of the dice in Human Experiments. Having bared her soul in previous movies, she now bares her body.

Don’t get caught! Even if it’s on film in Human Experiments!

Not surprisingly, she sits on her bunk ready to crack with her head in her hands. It seems that being an actress/performer/singer leads to being some sort of prisoner of the mind and body and the torture was enough to drive Linda to drink on set according to reports from Tom Graves essay Blonde Shadow: The Brief Career and Mysterious Disappearance of Actress Linda Haynes. Thanks to that article this one was possible! Although she turned up on time and knew her lines, there was gossip.

Tom Graves’ book

In Human Experiments, the magic of Rolling Thunder is not there anymore and instead Linda has a glazed expression at times. The fact this movie is low-rent after Rolling Thunder doesn’t help and Linda is humiliated in further scenes.

“You’re in a hell of a lot of trouble,” says Linda to herself, watched through a two-way mirror by the doctor and his cronies. It’s almost as if they are watching Linda on a film screen. Like the framed butterflies on the wall of the room, she is trapped. Like Linda as an actress is trapped within the confines of this movie, like a beautiful butterfly, by the producer. The executive producer is in this case being – Edwin Brown – who went on to do a great number of soft-core sex features after Human Experiments. That director Gregory Goodell was canny enough to capture such a scene in the movie shows that Human Experiments isn’t a total write-off artistically.

Human Experiments (1980) trailer

“If you’re gonna stay in this business, don’t get caught,” says an inmate, who knows escape is useless and hopeless. Especially caught on camera and once the film is released, if that makes any sense? I don’t think Linda was really in the filmmaking business, just like she isn’t a criminal in Human Experiments. She loved the camera and the camera loved her but as for the rest of the business… beyond her acting being captured on camera? She was more or less trapped by agreeing to do this performance and at the mercy of the filmmakers and the script. And yet she knew she had no choice. She went with it like any method actor would. This is another level of dramatic tension I see in Linda Haynes. Here the hurt in her life is obvious in this movie to the max. Her character without a man except a doctor who prescribes the worst type of treatment… could be reflected in her abuse of prescription medicine in real life. Linda really is that beautiful butterfly caught in the act and filmed by uncaring filmmakers whose only want of her is exploitation.

A poster of one of Edwin Brown’s less remarkable soft core productions

It’s as though in Human Experiments, that Linda has given up all hope, perhaps in real life as well. Only an idea of escape brings a twinkle back to her eye in one scene. It is not surprising that shortly after her last movie, which followed this one, Linda ended up in rehab and, fortunately, came to terms with her addictions. It was the business that was going to kill her if she continued.

Director Goodell had some talent

“All these things play terrible tricks on the mind,” says the doctor to a paranoid Linda, in his room full of pinned and framed butterflies. Symbols of both lack of freedom and the vagina held captive. And also symbol of the “frame” both in terms of crime and as a movie.

“Alcohol kills in many other ways too,” says a public service film in the prison about alcoholism as Linda takes a drink of water.

Were the filmmakers aware of Linda’s drinking when the film was being prepared? Perhaps the scene was improvised? Anyway, it’s enough to reduce Linda to tears and pray: “Please God.”

Linda went through horror

Life in prison, we are also made aware, leaves no time for masturbation as Linda indulges momentarily only to be unhappily interrupted.

Linda goes through a lot in this movie and no wonder she never took on another starring role following it. She had flowered in Rolling Thunder but it was only the low rent sex and horror producers who would take her on, leaving her at the end of her tether. The final humiliation she must suffer as a performer in Human Experiments is when Linda is showered in live cockroaches and bugs. She was in shock from it initially and almost refused a second take. Shown to be throwing up in a toilet as a result, it’s as though this sequence of the film is some sort of alcohol induced nightmare followed by a bad hangover.

Can’t a girl touch herself up in peace!

Good on Linda for making Human Experiments, it is a brave, full frontal performance, which like her character’s primal screams after being covered in creepy crawlies – cuts to the bone in terms of acting.

It’s not a classic movie by any means, although the bags under Linda’s eyes are well earned, and critically and box office-wise the film didn’t pay off.

Linda apparently felt like this in real life by the end of Human Experiments

Human Experiments ends with a shootout, with Linda sprung from prison and singing in front of an audience as if the whole movie never happened. Happy ending? Linda is left with the scars of making this film.

Linda at the end of the movie

She got the worthless part of a prostitute in Brubaker (1980) starring Robert Redford but despite being released by a major studio, it was a step back.

Her last movie, filmed the same year, was the well-regarded television movie about the life of the Reverend Jim Jones entitled Guyana Tragedy for short.

“Oh, free at last, free at last,” says the voice of Jim Jones (1931-78 gunshot to the head), one time lover of Linda’s character in the movie, as she perishes fleeing with a suitcase full of cash which bursts open. This is the ending of the movie and Linda is free of Hollywood and the business. She wouldn’t make another film.

With gun in Human Experiments. So iconic – let’s do it again!

In the years that followed, she would find sobriety and give birth to a son. She would remarry the millionaire again, divorce again and would find peace on the west coast of the United States with another man in her life.

DVD cover

Was she used by the industry for her beauty and talent like the character Jim Jones used her for sex in her last movie? If Linda Haynes wanted freedom from her demons, which came with the movie industry, along with her addictions, she got it. She didn’t get away with stardom and a case full of money in payment. But then the Jones film could be a reflection of her relationship with her rich Svengali-like husband. He obviously loved her at some point and more than once.

Linda’s career came full circle after “introducing Linda Haynes as Dr Anne Barton” in Latitude Zero showed us a fresh-faced young thing for who the world was her oyster. Linda Forchet/forchette in Rolling Thunder shows a pearl from within that oyster well in progress. I’m heavy-handedly using the “do you prefer oysters or snails?” analogy from Spartacus (1960)… In Guyana Tragedy, the suffering ends… for both Linda and her character… after years of disappointment in terms of stardom and employment.

I can see it in your eyes! But now the suffering is over!! Linda heard that one often.

“Anyone who knows life and the pain involved will also know you’ve suffered,” says Jim Jones, played by Powers Boothe (1948-2017 pancreatic cancer) to Linda near the beginning of Guyana Tragedy. “I can see it in your eyes.”

Somewhere along the way a strong and gutsy pearl of a woman was born who knew men like she knew a camera and went on to find fulfilment beyond the lighted stage. Linda is living proof of life beyond the limelight and the struggle behind and in front of the camera.

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