Amos Sefer's 1972 film 'An American Hippie In Israel' is what every cult film wants to be. Not to mention that it has tons of nudity, sex, guns, evil villains in top hats, and a killer shark. But the title of the film is indeed comical, as it isn't the most subtle of titles ever put on-screen. I think Sefer wanted to make an anti-war, anti-government, and pro-love and peace film, but he got carried away and we have, according to some, one of the worst movies ever made. That being said, this is a fun-as-hell schlocky film that still plays at midnight screenings across the globe, complete with audience participation and costumes. It's just not as mainstream as 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'.
This short 93 minute cult classic follows a guy named Mike (Asher Tzarfati), who is of course the American Hippie who is still haunted by his nightmares from serving in Vietnam. He travels to Israel for peace and relaxation and meets a rich and beautiful girl named Elizabeth (Lily Avidan). The two hit it off and share the same free political views as they take to having sex constantly. The duo meets up with another group of hippies of the sex revolution of the 60s and 70s and tour over Israel taking in the sights and sounds.
However, mass amounts of nudity, drugs, and sex come to a halt once two painted men that looks like government mafia goons in top hats enter the scene and begin gunning down hippies (literally), specifically, Mike's followers and friends. Just like one of the first shots of the film, a giant ugly steamroller drives over a beautiful vast land of pretty flowers, destroying its beauty, love, and peace. I think Sefer wanted to say that in so many words with these painted men, gunning down these hippies.
Well, Mike and Elizabeth and a couple of others escape to a remote island and hope to be rid of the painted men and build a life of drugs, sex, and free speech. However, after their first night there, their boat is gone along with their pet goat. And they can't make a life raft or swim across, because killer sharks are swimming the waters around the island. Soon, these hippies transform into something the opposite of love and peace in order to survive.
Even in its short run time, Sefer gets off track quite a bit with extended scenes of Mike having bizarre nightmares in slow motion, to scenes of drugs, sex, and rock n roll. Also, Sefer never explains the painted men at all. These two men (who resemble mimes) just show up and start killing people with their machine guns. No rhyme or reason.
But I think, Sefer really wanted to show in his own strange way how the big corporations and government (with their plain and stale faces) will stop at nothing to destroy freedom to a certain extent. With its terrible and laughable dialogue, goofy violence, and extended sex scenes, 'An American Hippie in Israel' is what a cult film is all about. And it's one fun and trippy ride that you'll find yourself talking about for months on end.
'An American Hippie in Israel' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.77:1 aspect ratio. This video presentation looks decent enough, but the source material is pretty bad given its low production cost. The detail isn't very well defined with scratches, hairs, and debris still on the transfer. In closeups, we receive a better image that shows some of the wrinkles and hairs on the actor's faces, but not to a truly satisfying degree.
Colors are on the pale side and come across soft more than vivid, which is unfortunate, considering this is a psychadelic movie. There is a well balanced layer of grain throughout that gives this movie its nostalgic and filmic look. Black levels don't always run deep and inky while skin tones seem a bit natural. Overall, this video presentation is a step up from its previous screenings and releases, but it's still not top quality.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 1.0 audio mix and is loud and to the point. The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand with their dubbed voices, and is free of any pops, cracks, or hissing. The score and songs sound surprisingly good here as well, considering the 1.0 mix. The sound effects also do not provide any directionality or depth. This is as basic as it comes. However, there is a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio option, which was recorded at a live screening of the film in L.A., and comes complete with audience laughter and gasps.
'An American Hippie in Israel' is by no means a great movie. It's actually pretty bad, over-the-top, ridiculous, and straight out bizarre, but man -- is it fun. This is one of the ultimate cult films in cinema history, one that still plays at midnight screenings to packed audiences across the globe. The video and audio presentations could have been better, but still serve the movie itself right. And the extras are amazing. This piece of work receives a high recommendation from me. I cannot wait to show this one to my friends.