How many people have seen The Last Movie, Dennis Hopper’s notorious 1971 follow-up to Easy Rider? There is no shame in having missed it, as it’s been hard to locate since its initial flop—a failure that not only demolished Hopper’s career, but possibly smothered the final gasp of ’60s counterculture. One night in the early ’80s, I stayed up late to watch a TV broadcast of a Western titled Chinchero, only to gradually realize this was the infamous Last Movie itself, sneakily renamed and dumped into a late-show time slot. The film, about a Hollywood production that leaves behind a curious legacy for natives of its Peruvian location, is gaseous and self-indulgent, yet a lot of intriguing moments are strewn about the generally insufferable goings-on. Rebel Without a Cause writer Stewart Stern was the screenwriter, although one hesitates to ascribe credit amid reports of Hopper’s freewheeling shooting style.
This is the movie that inspired co-directors Raya Martin and Mark Peranson to concoct La Ultima Pelicula, a riff on Hopper’s grand folly and on subjects as lively as the end of film (because of the digital revolution) and the Mayan prediction of the world’s end in 2012.