Back when the world was one big freakout!
Daisy, Acid, and Dum Dum are all part of The Hooked Generation, young potheaded people caught in a downward spiral of dope smuggling, drug taking, and Steve Alaimo beating. When a deal with Castro's recreational pharmacists goes sour, our three doobages take the lleyo and head for their seaside shotgun shack. Oh yeah, they've also kidnapped some narc and his blank generation skirt, since in a fit of advanced far-outness, our nonplused pushers accidentally committed massacre in front of them. During long scenes of non-narcotic male bonding, they teach the little lady a lesson in what makes real men tick, which is aggressive sexual abuse, by the way. Trying to pass the dutchie off to the next bad guy, they hook up with an African American Al Hirt impersonator who reads them the roach riot act in jazzy hip street jive. Tipped off by this hefty hepcat, the Feds chase our bewildered bong blowers out into the Everglades, hoping to sermonize them too death. However, instead of a last dance with Mary Jane, the dim dopers end up all stems and seeds.
Father John is a mild mannered square that sips some flat RC Cola and turns into the ultimate mindless stupor hero, The Psychedelic Priest. He decides to give Jesus the high miter and hits the road looking for America, inner peace, and some hippie hitchhikers. He also wants some drugs! He finds Sunny, the most morose flower child in the history of the summer of love and together they discuss rape, witness racist brutality and share a secret, sacrosanct flirtation. The minute Sunny says "I Love You," however, John has flashbacks to late night sessions of "experimentation" in the seminary and rebuffs her like Madeline Murray O'Hare. She runs away. He motors slowly into ole' L.A. Feeling guilty, he puts a portly PI on the case hoping to locate his lost platonic peacenik. Sadly, it turns out she took the term "unrequited" literally and drove some car off a cliff. After all of this physical pain, chemical erosion, emotional abuse, and spiritual ambiguity, there is only one, completely depressing way out. He rejoins the Church!
The Hooked Generation is a movie that keeps getting better with multiple viewings. No, it does not become more compelling or lucid. However, you will grow in your appreciation of the quirky, drug-addled performances buried within this standard guns and ganja exploitation film. While completely formulaic in form, it's the mood method thespianism that will hook you. John Davis Chandler plays smackhead Acid like he's got track marks in his corneas. He's so nervous, itchy, and strung-out that you'll experience withdrawal symptoms just watching him. Who would have thought that sandwiched within this trippy cautionary tale about buying drugs from communists there would be such an effective, realistic performance? Even better, but on the opposite end of authenticity, is former junior heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano as the mindless muscle of the gang, the oh so apropos Dum Dum. Who cares if his character is nothing more than a lunkheaded henchman? Constantly off script and delivering his improvised musings in a decidedly low key, mostly mumbled half-laugh, Pastrano beats every scene he is in into submission with a kind of atrophied animal magnetism. It's as if they crossed Tony Montana with Stepin Fetchit. Director William Grefe handles everything in a professional, straightforward fashion. He is here to tell a story and he guides the goofball cast through this Peyote Place with only occasional quirky diversions. The Hooked Generation may not be an action packed thriller, but it is a uniquely charming film.
The Psychedelic Priest, on the other hand, has got to be the single biggest "downer" since rave culture rediscovered the horse tranquilizer. Here is one man's jaundiced journey through everything that is bad within society: prejudice, suicide, substance abuse, homelessness, and organized religion. At least the movie does a formidable service by proving once and for all that neither marijuana nor LSD is the true gateway drug. Nope, apparently warm Coca-cola in a Dixie cup is enough to drive any man, be he of the or sans cloth into full out skin-popping. This is one road movie where the final destination is not the real America but a soiled, odiferous mattress on the Spawn Ranch hostel. There is, of course, the typical, laughable sequence where the filmmakers attempt to recreate an acid trip. The Psychedelic Priest's idea of a journey down the hallucination highway, however, is to portray everything from an apartment door peephole lens perspective. Still the film has a gritty docudrama realism that the staged swagger of The Hooked Generation cannot match, even with its superior acting and production values. While it's as disheartening as contemplating a full blown Whitney Houston comeback, it's also an accurate snapshot of America's collective hangover after the generational social pot party called the Summer of Love.
It's been said before and will certainly be repeated ad nauseum: Something Weird Video makes the best overall DVD packages in the market. They take atypical titles and combine them with stellar extras to make a presentation that reflects on, and even accentuates, the primary product offered. Here, we get clean full screen transfers of both films, which is amazing since The Psychedelic Priest was never released. There are some age issues, like scratches and fading, but overall the pictures are good. Both soundtracks, in Dolby Digital Mono, are a little overmodulated and tinny, probably to compensate for sound recording problems within the production. It gives the dialogue too much presence, which borders on distortion. But otherwise, the aural presentation is fine, considering we also get a companion commentary track for each film. Director William Grefe (uncredited on Priest) is informative, entertaining and completely engaging. The commentary, supervised by Frank Henenlotter is more film specific on Hooked, dealing with all the actors, the location and the "reality" of the drug use both on screen and on set. The track on Priest is more of a history of Grefe's genre work and career. Together, they make a wonderful addition to the oral account of exploitation that SWV is creating with their DVD releases.
As for other extras, we get some interesting behind the scenes footage of the making of The Hooked Generation. Presented as silent home movies with various musical soundtrack cues dubbed over, it's fascinating to watch an actual crew work on this film. It puts to bed the notion that all Grade-Z independent film consists of hobos toiling under less than professional circumstances. Equally impressive is the "sales" featurette for Grefe's Jaws meets Willard weirdness entitled Mako: The Jaws of Death. The film stars Richard Jaeckel as a man who befriends all sharks, only to use them as an unholy army, seeking revenge on all who would harm nature. Seeing how this pissed fish film was marketed to potential buyers is a hoot. Add some groovy trailers for films with titles like Have You Ever Been on a Trip? and Acid Dreams and a marvelous gallery of drug related exploitation poster art, and you have another stellar SWV presentation. The Hooked Generation/The Psychedelic Priest is one huge tab of DVD magic, mixed with a satisfying spleef of genre ganja guaranteed to give you an excellent exploitation buzz without causing movie munchies.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
• Commentary on Both Films by Director William Grefe
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