Swing on the wildest trip of your life!
When the moon was in the seventh house, before the Summer of Love melted into a winter of bitter discontent for the US, exploitation producer Harry Novak showed how trendy he was and released Mondo Mod and The Hippie Revolt. These two quasi-documentaries claim to expose the fun, fads and flaws in the counter-culture. Mondo's various "groovy happenings" include surfing, drug use, a really terrible band called The Group and, what appears to be, staying out late. The Hippie Revolt is told in the words of the "youth" themselves, and proves just how much brain damage hash brownies can cause. We witness love-ins, freak outs, and a visit to the Manson family's understudies who smoke weed and blather on, philosophically, at a commune. Add some nude body painting and a wild sex crazed hippie pot party (to make the target audience of all white middle aged Republican males happy) and you'll be waiting for Elton John and disco to hurry up and take over already.
Novak knows demographics, and both films reflect this pro-establishment, pro-skin favoritism. While the majority of the footage is exciting (and great to look at: future Academy Award winners Vilmos Zigmond and Lazlo Kovacs worked on Mondo), the narrative tone is mocking, making surfing sound suicidal, karate insane, and declarations against war and racism anti-American. Nowhere is this more evident than in the several staged/real events that were supposedly being captured "as they happened." The aforementioned orgiastic pot party is so phony it would make Holden Caulfield bleed internally, existing solely to show rampant youthful aardvarking and bare nekkid hippie bodkins. In Mondo, the biker gang scenes achieve angles and actions that no "hidden" camera could ever capture. Besides, the bikers look like your Uncle Gary playing dress-up with several of his more, shall we say, leather intensive friends. Oddly enough, for a film that wants to ridicule out of control young people, it's the protest scenes that strike the truest chord. Nothing, not the cheesy voice-overs or the incoherent drone of blissed-out bong suckers, can undermine the historical importance of these moments, no matter how hard Novak tries
Crisp and clean, we get shockingly good prints here. The extras, however, make this Something Weird DVD worth owning. Johnny "Mr. Sixties" Legend and famed owner of Hollywood Book and Poster Co. Eric Caidin add commentary tracks to each film, and it is a very informative and personal walk down sense memory lane. Their war-at-home stories are often more compelling than what is on the screen, and they add a present sensibility to past indiscretions. The deleted scenes are examples of "cheater reels"—more explicit scenes of nudity and sexual congress—which were added to pad out the already lengthy skin sections. There are some awesome trailers (I for one would love to see Musical Mutiny and Weekend Rebellion starring Iron Butterfly and Grand Funk Railroad!) and the standard array of "drugs are bad" archival shorts. And what would an SWV presentation be without a gallery of exploitation art? As a reflection of their time, Mondo Mod and The Hippie Revolt are as dated as palazzo pants and space food sticks. As yet further excellent examples of SWV making the most out of the digital medium, they are priceless. Far out, man.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
• Audio Commentary on Both Films
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