Heartland: Sleeze Lake
By Bob Bloom
“Sleeze Lake” is a nostalgic look at custom van enthusiasts and their own little subculture.
The documentary, part of the Indy Film Fest, is a fun ride, especially the comments from the nonconformists who were part of Midwest Vans Ltd., the main organization.
A big chunk of the film is set in Monticello, IN, where, on Memorial Day weekend in 1977, about 20,000 people with 6,600 vans showed up at Andy’s Hide-Away, a private campground just outside Monticello.
The grounds had a pond, which the attendees nicknamed Sleeze Lake, thus the title of the movie.
The film is subtitled “Vanlife at Its Lowest and Best” and, as the film shows, that is an apt description.
While these gatherings were not dangerous, they were wild — drinking, drugs and sex were the norms.
Various attendees described the gathering as “the Woodstock of vans” and “Disney World on acid.”
The men and women who attended these truck-ins were average people who held regular jobs.
Their love of custom vans united them whether they worked in a factory or an office.
The majority who were interviewed admitted they had rebellious streaks and used these gatherings to blow off steam and allow their true selves to run free.
They admit they were considered misfits, potheads or gangsters, but most were hard-working people who, with the exception of smoking a joint once in a while, were honest citizens.
While the Monticello event was the biggest truck-in, the initial gathering was held in Colorado. Attendees tell of their surprise when they saw how many people attended and the large number of vans that dotted the landscape.
“Sleeze Lake” is a fun excursion that examines this niche culture that allowed people to let loose in a fun manner as well as meet people from various parents of the country whose love of these vehicles united them.
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
3½ stars out of 4
Not rated, language, nudity, drug use