Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Raro Video - HALLUCINATION STRIP on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Raro Video - HALLUCINATION STRIP on Blu-ray

HALLUCINATION STRIP (1975; Lucio Maraccini)
Outside of HAROLD AND MAUDE, it seems that the films of Mr. Bud Cort are rather difficult to find. I can think if at least a few off the top of my head (TED & VENUS, ELECTRIC DREAMS, WHY SHOOT THE TEACHER) that aren't readily available on DVD (at least in the states), let alone Blu-ray. It must be some kind of conspiracy. Thankfully BREWSTER MCCLOUD has been a available for some time at least. Now another of his lesser seen items finally sees the light of day (and in high-definition) thanks to Raro.
HALLUCINATION STRIP is certainly a film of its time. It has a certain kinship with movies like DEALING and THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT (which also features Cort), but differs in it's Rome setting and that it gives Cort another rare leading role. It also shares some similarities with films like EASY RIDER and JOE as well (tonally at least).
HALLUCINATING STRIP is an interesting 70s hybrid though, part crime film and part drug movie. The crime/investigative side of the movie is not all that strong, but as a psychedelic drug flick it is interesting and the overall vibe is memorable enough (even if the movie is a little structurally weak at times). Apart from the movies I mentioned previously, this also has a lengthy hallucination/drug trip scene at one point that puts it in the same league as something like Corman's LSD-spoliation 'classic' THE TRIP. Though these sequences can seem a bit silly at times in hindsight, I have a certain nostalgia for them nonetheless. These kaleidoscopic curios can be such oddball nonsequitors and they have all but disappeared from movies today. One recent example I can think of is in something like the Coen Brother's film THE BIG LEBOWSKI wherein Jeff Bridges' "Dude" character takes a literal magic carpet ride and ends up in a Busby Berkely-esque bowling alley. Even this bit of weirdness seems more narratively coherent than the drug trip excursions of late 60s and 70s films. As within HALLUCINATION STRIP, they have no need of any logic other than experimental dream logic and that in and of itself can be an enjoyable departure. As with the set pieces in classical musical cinema, the movie itself can stop and let these drug trips take their course. Another one I'd compare this to is some of the sequences in the Monkees psych-classic HEAD. HALLUCINATION STRIP has a bit of a darker edge to it than others I've seen, but that meshes well with its genre mashup-ness. I still think it'd make an interesting double feature with the aforementioned STRAWBERRY STATEMENT.

The HALLUCINATION STRIP Blu-ray comes with an essay/booklet which touches on the film's somewhat mysterious director Lucio Marcaccini as well as a brief history of LSD and psychedelia in general.
Additionally, the disc has a video interview with Film Editor Giulio Berruti, who was editor on this film as well as the 1973 cult item BABA YAGA. This 20-minute on-camera interview entitled "Hallucinating Editing" features Berruti discussing his experience on the film and how he became involved. He tells a rather fascinating story of being invited by the film's producer to help salvage films on several cases. I guess he was typically called in later in the process to help stitch together some films that needed help. In this case he was called in after the first week of shooting because the director was not really able to do what he needed to do and the set was quite disorganized. The footage that Berruti had seen at the time was not very easily put together and was rather mismatched. Ultimately it's an interesting portrait of a troubled production and it kind of explains some of the looseness of the narrative and how it does feel a touch slapdash overall. It also makes the genre mix seem a bit less intentional than I had first assumed. A fascinating interview.


DEATH OCCURRED LAST NIGHT (1970; Duccio Tessari)
Like HALLUCINATION STRIP, DEATH OCCURED LAST NIGHT is also a genre cocktail of sorts in that it combines elements of the police procedural with the classic Italian genre of the Giallo film. As I mention below, an apt comparison story wise might be to a film like Paul Schrader's HARCORE ( which this movie precedes by almost a decade). The plot concerns a man's search for his daughter who has apparently been sold into sexual slavery. It's definitely a "voyage into the underbelly" kind of film and as you might imagine, it being an Italian film, that underbelly is pretty seedy to say the least. One thing that stands out from the opening frames of the movie is the music. The opening theme almost feels like a Bond film. It features a prominent female vocalist that is a bit bombastic and overall a bit more pop-feeling ( of this period at least) than I expected. It takes some getting used to for sure, but it certainly makes the film feel different than most Italien films I've seen before (especially those with such gritty subject matter comparable to this). 
Director Duccio Tessari has interesting roots in Italian cinema. He was initially a prolific screenwriter and worked with industry genre giants like Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci. He penned the epic classic FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (my favorite Leone film) and went on from that to direct his own western, A PISTOL FOR GRINGO (both circa 1964). His career as a director had enough variety to it that it is no surprise that he would take on a melange like DEATH OCCURED LAST NIGHT.

This Blu-ray includes a fully illustrated booklet with an essay by Chris Alexander (editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine and GOREZONE). Here, Alexander talks about the hard-to-define amalgam that is DEATH OCCURRED LAST night and how it is something of a combination of Paul Schrader's HARDCORE and Joel Schumacher's 8MM (which is a rather deft and accurate analysis ). Also included on the Blu-ray is 7-minute  on-camera introduction to the film with Chris Alexander. Alexander certainly is a good choice to intro this movie as he is clearly a big fan of not only this film, but also of director Tessari in general. I found it advantageous to watch this intro before I viewed the movie especially because of his mention of the score and how it was something that he initially rejected, but has since come to see as an integral and unique and memorable part of the film. Being prepped in that way helped keep me on board with it more than I would have.

1 comment:

quidtum said...

Hi,

how long this Blu Ray of Hallucination Strip run for exactly?
Some problems about the dvd authoring have been reported, so I'm very curious.