After Billy Jack, Laughlin Repeatedly Ran For President
The non-start of Billy Jack Goes To Washington did not deter Tom Laughlin from continuing the Billy Jack legend. In the mid-'80s, he planned for a sequel called The Return Of Billy Jack, which would follow the saintly Native American warrior taking on New York child pornographers. The production was decidedly not successful, as it was held up when Laughlin injured his head when a prop didn't work. He also broke up a New York fight and made a citizen's arrest during the shoot. At that point, he was more likely to bust someone despite not being a cop than he was to actually finish a movie project.
"I played Billy Jack. Now put these on."
The Laughlins continued to try to bring Billy Jack back to the screen for decades after that. A 2005 New York Times article describes their plans for an aughts-era Billy Jack sequel that "will take on social scourges like drugs, and power players like the religious right. They say they will also outline a way to end the current war and launch a political campaign for a third-party presidential candidate. They have already formed a 527 nonprofit committee with the aim of ending the war, and say they will run full-page ads in major newspapers beginning next month explaining their plan to withdraw from Iraq. (Money raised for that committee is separate from the film project.)"
In a shocking turn of events, this film was not made. And my memory is fuzzy, but I also don't remember Laughlin ending any war ever or being behind a legitimate third-party presidential run. The Laughlins continued to work on their dream of a Billy Jack comeback movie, and their plans for it grew more ambitious with time. In keeping with their fierce antiwar views, the couple toyed with titling this comeback vehicle Billy Jack's Crusade To End the War And Restore America To Its Moral Purpose, and having Billy Jack "debate" George W. Bush through movie magic. Laughlin told a reporter from The St. Petersburg Times that it "will influence the presidential election in 2008."
Mission ... accomplished?
Not coincidentally, Laughlin himself ran several times for president as a Democrat, Republican, and Independent. Your history books are not lying to you -- he did not win. In fact, he didn't really win anything but the knee-jerk scorn and pity that typically greeted novelty presidential runs in the age before Trump. They seemed so innocent then.
When not being elected president or finishing late-period Billy Jack sequels, Laughlin whiled away the time the way old folks do, writing books about Jungian psychology and cancer and, in a departure, the movie business. Laughlin never seemed to have given up on his ferocious dream of changing and saving the world through Billy Jack, but at a certain point, the public did.
It's Spring Break! You know what that means! Hot coeds getting loose on the beaches of Cancun and becoming imperiled in all classic beach slasher ways: Man-eating shark, school of piranhas, James Franco with dreadlocks. There are so many films about vacations gone wrong, it's a chore to wonder if there's even such a thing as a movie vacation gone right. Amity Island and Camp Crystal Lake are out. So what does that leave? The ship from Wall-E? Hawaii with the Brady Bunch? A road trip with famous curmudgeon Chevy Chase? On this month's live podcast Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff are joined by some special guest comedians to figure out what would be the best vacation to take in a fictional universe.
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