#105) Quasi at the Quackadero (1975)

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#105) Quasi at the Quackadero (1975)

OR “Totally Ducked Up”

Directed by Sally Cruikshank

Class of 2009

The Plot: Two ducks, the immature Quasi (Voiced by Kim Deith) and the seductive Anita (Voiced by Sally Cruikshank) go to the sideshow attraction The Quackadero with their robot friend Rollo. They see such bizarre attractions as the Hall of Time Mirrors, the Think-o-Blink Machine, and the Time Holes. And things just get weirder from there.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls it “wildly imaginative” and “a favorite of the Midnight Movie circuit in the 1970s.” The description also mentions a bit of Sally Cruikshank’s influences and later career.

But Does It Really?: Wow. That…is a mind fuck of a film. There’s a lot going on and the animation is a real trip, but I dig it. I give “Quasi” a pass for its inventiveness, its surprisingly perceptive commentary on our obsession with time, and for introducing me to the work of Sally Cruikshank.

Everybody Gets One: While studying art at Smith College, Sally Cruikshank was encouraged by her teachers and classmates to apply her art towards animation. While taking a special studies class she worked on a short film about a duck that would eventually become Quasi. Cruikshank spent two years animating “Quackadero” in-between working on commercials for Snazelle Films. Her then-partner Kim Deitch provided the voice of Quasi and is credited as a “Special Art Assistant”.

Wow, That’s Dated: Yeah, this kind of experimental animation can only be 1975.

Seriously, Oscars?: Oh, what a great Oscar nominee this would have been if the Academy had been a little more uninhibited*. Instead they gave Best Animated Short Subject to a British cartoon called “Great”, which is just too obvious a title for your Oscar contender if you ask me.

Other notes

  • Cruikshank has cited the Fleischer Brothers as an influence, and it shows. This is very much a Fleischer cartoon on acid (it definitely gives “Snow-White” a run for its money in the bizarre category).
  • Quasi kinda looks like the deranged cousin of Scooter from the Muppets. Speaking of, whatever happened to Skeeter?
  • A lot of these sideshow attractions are super trippy, but also not too implausible. I’m sure we’re only one app away from “Your Shining Moment”.
  • My favorite single shot in the film is the woman looking through the Time Mirror and seeing the living animals that her various clothing articles are made of. Commentary!
  • This animation is very reminiscent of the animated film “The Point”. I’m sure it’s coincidental. I just really wanted to mention “The Point” on this blog.
  • One of the minor characters would later evolve into the character of Snozzy. Here he bares a passing resemblance to Count Floyd from “SCTV”.
  • What I would not give for there to have been Quasi Happy Meal Toys at some point.

Legacy

  • Quasi and Anita returned 3 years later in the similarly bizarre “Make Me Psychic”.
  • An attempt at a Quasi movie never got off the ground, but “Quasi’s Cabaret” did get a trailer. Consider the ancillary merchandise, won’t you?
  • Sally Cruikshank spent most of the ‘80s doing animated sequences for live-action films. Picture if you will, her take on Cartoon Hell in… “Twilight Zone: The Movie”.
  • With her trademark surreal animation, it was only a matter of time before Sally found a home at the Children’s Television Workshop.
  • Look quickly for “Quasi at the Quackadero” in the opening of “Futurama: Bender’s Game”.

Further Viewing: A lot of Sally Cruikshank’s animation is available for viewing on her YouTube page. Check it out and prepare to have your mind blown.

* UPDATE: Cartoon historian Jerry Beck recently discovered documentation that “Quasi at the Quackadero” was on the shortlist for Academy Award consideration.

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