Judge P.S. Colbert's name has been changed to protect his innocence...what's left of it.
"Step on the gas…Drive real fast! As fast as you can go…Let's crash into a tree. We're young, beautiful. We just made love…We won't have such a happier moment for dying."
Tuned in and turned on is Massimo Monaldi (Bud Cort, Harold And Maude), a politically activated college student, currently balling Cinzia (Annarita Grapputo), the beautiful daughter of obscenely wealthy—and therefore extremely square—parents. Most evenings, the young revolutionary can be found debating issues and tactics with classmates over spaghetti and vino in Cinzia's rec room, while the squares are enjoying a cocktail party upstairs. One evening, Massimo wanders into the study and breaks into a locked curio cabinet, stealing an extremely valuable snuff box. Just so you don't get the wrong idea: Massimo isn't hung up on things, or even wealth, for that matter. It's just that he needs to pawn the trinket in order to raise enough bread to help a pair of his junkie friends get out of Italy and on their way to the Orient, 'cause, like, that's their dream, dig?
Discovering that they've been robbed, Cinzia's folks call the police, who promptly dispatch one of their top men, Inspector De Stefani (Marcel Bozzuffi, Z) to the scene. De Stefani does little to hide his lack of interest in the matter, as he has much bigger fish to fry. More importantly, he's hot on the trail of "the Sicilian" (Leopoldo Trieste, I Vitelloni), one of the biggest dope dealers in the country, whom De Stefani holds personally responsible for the alarming increase of drug-related deaths in the region. If only he could find someone to testify against this mustachioed vermin…
What luck! While chasing a low-level pusher through the city streets, De Stefani spots not only "the Sicilian," but Massimo, who's engaging the villain in conversation. Using the brutish power of his badge, De Stefani later bursts into a college classroom—interrupting a lively political debate—to nab Massimo and drag him downtown to headquarters, where "the Sicilian" waits to be fingered. But, Massimoâ€™s not a fink, and he's sure as hell not gonna help out "the man," so when he denies all knowledge of "the Sicilian," the peace-loving student not only makes an enemy of De Stefani, but a friend in the dealer, who, on his way out of headquarters, tells Massimo that anytime he needs a favor, just ask.
Funny thing is, Massimo has promised to score a big cache of LSD for a party being thrown by fey artisan Rudy (Settimo Segnatelli), yet another wealthy college friend. Man, this scene is going to be far out: Rudy's been decorating his pad for maximum mind-blowing effect, in addition to choreographing a troupe of semi-nude dancers, who'll perform for your zonked-out pleasure. Of course, now that he's actually doing business with "the Sicilian," Massimo finds himself once again in De Stefani's sights…whew! Small world, hey?
Imagine an episode of Dragnet 1967, only with full frontal nudity and simulated sex scenes. And subtitles, to accommodate a change in locale:
This is the city: Rome, Italy, 1975.
Give him credit where it's due: out of step as Jack Webb was with the counter-cultural revolution of the '60s, even he knew that student protest riots and acid trips were way way out by mid Me Decade!
Not so the collegiate types and hairy hitch hikers that populate Hallucination Strip, an oblivious, glassy-eyed bunch prone to mouthing off about bourgeois hang-ups, not to repeating the mistakes of '68, and generally partying like American youths in the days of Vietnam war protests and Kool-Aid acid tests, back when mystified movie studio execs were actually green-lighting projects based on Bud Cort's participation in them.
First, the good: The 1.85:1/1080p HD transfer and PCM 2.0 audio are amazingly good for a film that barely rated a release and seems to have been forgotten by even its participants. Viewers have the option of watching the original print with Italian dialogue, or another dubbed in English. Unless you're fluent in the native language, however, I strongly advise using the optional English subtitles, either way.
Bozzufi in particular turns in a strong performance, despite having very little to go on, and there are scads of beautiful, writhing, bare bodies to behold throughout. On the other hand, though engaging visually and aurally (Alberto Verrecchia's psychedelic prog rock score is a plus), Hallucination Strip is a 93-minute romp that kills time pleasantly enough, but ultimately adds up to one big "so what's the point?" Ironic for a film that strains to make so many different points during its scant period on screen.
The LSD party sequence is especially elaborate, and reminiscent of Bob Fosse (in the manner of a number cut from "Pippin"), though in no way representative of an actual acid trip. In fact, parents may want to use this footage to effectively discourage their children from experimenting with Lysergics.
Rail-thin and mostly hiding behind mirrored sunglasses and a full beard, Cort looks totally bewildered throughout, exactly as the lone cast member that speaks no Italian should. How did he get here? And just who's responsible for this (five years too late) topical cinematic mess, anyway? For answers, look to the extras, particularly an enlightening 28 minute interview with editor Guilio Berruti. There's also important information to be gleaned from a pair of essays in the set's decorative booklet. Finally, there's a pair of original trailers on hand, one for Italian speaking and one for English speaking audiences.
Chalk up one more for Raro Video, now my official go-to vendor when I'm shopping for the film fanatic who seems to have everything!
This film refuses to be judged against your mainstream standards, man! Case dismissed.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Raro Video
Review content copyright © 2014 P.S. Colbert; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.