Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hallucination Strip (RaroVideo Blu-ray) - Nostalgia Trip a la Bud Cort

I watched Harold and Maude quite a lot in my teens and early twenties. It was the perfect counterculture flick for a young, goth-punk who didn't give a fuck, and understood how Ruth Gordon could be attractive even in her later years. The damn movie even made me a great big Cat Stevens fan for about three years. Let me repeat that... for three years I thought I LOVED Cat Stevens. That's quite a movie, but it wasn't Cat and it wasn't Ruth, it was Bud Cort with which I admittedly identified. I spent hours with friends watching it, getting loaded, playing strange party games and really got to know it. Funny enough this is about the same time I became enamored with Rosemary's Baby also starring Gordon. Back to the H and the M. Who wouldn't want to create their own Jaguar Hearse? Or play a joke on a Hawkish uncle in a need of a lesson in reality. Who wouldn't want to fall in love, blind love or fake his own death at the site of so many unloves.  There's comic genius in his eyes and his dead pan delivery. Cort has worked continuously for years, though nothing ever seemed to have hit me like Harold and Maude, and that's just one reason why I'm glad to recommend Hallucination Strip to Bud Cort fans, fans of RaroVideo and fans of strange, psychedelic Italian cinema.

Synopsis from RaroVideo:

Lucio Marcaccini’s only film, Hallucination Strip is a psychedelic trip with a social commentary. Bud Cort, in his debut performance, plays Massimo Monaldi, a student involved in political protests and juvenile delinquency. When Massimo steals a valuable tobacco box, he quickly becomes tangled in a dangerous web between the police and the mafia. Culminating in an extended and elaborately choreographed party sequence, underscored with an excellent soundtrack by Albert Verrecchia, Hallucination Strip excels with it’s not-so-subtle mix of sex, drugs, religion, politics and corruption.

With a name and description like that you might be apt to think that you need to dowse yourself in a few hits of blotter paper or perhaps a button or two. Not so. This is a well thought out movie complete with a balance between three distinct groups: the young rabble, out for fun and excitement, the police who wish to preserve some semblance of order while the counterculture runs amuck in mid 70's Italy and the mafiosa who don't like to be stolen from, are unsympathetic to ruckus rabble and have the means and desire to hunt like dogs. The is novel, pitting a three way orgy of strange conflict. There is minimal tension or mystery in the story and yet, knowing the title, knowing what you know about the film upfront, you await certain debauchery no matter what form it will take. The suspense is waiting for the turn on, the juice, the hallucinogenics. Late in the movie, in the third act the whole thing comes to a head. The drugs are dispensed and a strange experimental glut of colorful images pour onto the screen. It's indicative of 60's art films, and feels more like an estranged, ahead of its time Sonic Youth music video than an Italian crime story.

With a radiant score that tickles the brain with novelty, Hallucination Strip exciting and refreshing and parts way with formula to provide a story that feels fresh. Bud Cort, the aforementioned legendary hero of my youth, isn't quite the funny guy he was in Harold and Maude, but it's a pleasure to watch him create a completely different character. A cool hipster, rebel with eyes on hedonism and a distaste for control. In some ways he really is the hero I grew up with, loving unconditionally though not full of heart and with a pouting disrespect for authority that leads to trouble, drama and drives the story home.

Raro's release is a special one featuring their characteristic packaging of which I am a tremendous fan. Slip sleeve and insert with more traditional and psychedelic artwork. The booklet inside that accompanies the release includes a brief history of director Lucio Marcaccini whose filmmaking experience was rather short lived and limited to Hallucination Strip. The contents quickly shifts to the perspective of some of the actors including Bud Cort who gets star treatment. From there we encounter a short history of LSD complete with a factual lesson, anecdotal evidence from Hollywood and an eye into some of the visuals provided in H.S. It is an HD transfer from a 35mm negative digitally remastered. 1920 x 1080 at 23.976. 1.85:1 in Italian with English subtitles. Stereo audio. The extras include both the English and Italian trailers and an interview with the film editor.

You can order a copy of Hallucination Strip now, but make sure to watch it unfettered (not ripped out of your skull) once before indulging your drug tooth. The last 20 minutes are worth the wait especially with your super sonic lysergic glasses on (or at least if memory serves).

Visit RaroVideo for all their new releases and keep an eye out for their tremendous flash sales on Facebook.

-Doc Terror

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