Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
3.5 stars
Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
2.5 Stars
Supplements
4.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

An American Hippie in Israel (Limited Edition)

Street Date:
September 10th, 2013
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
November 7th, 2013
Movie Release Year:
1972
Studio:
Grindhouse Releasing
Length:
93 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

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.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'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.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

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.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • 'The Hitchhiker' (SD, 94 mins) - This is an alternate cut of the film, which was found in 2010 and only offers about 1 minute of extra footage and comes with its own DVD.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 10 mins) - Here are some extended scenes and deleted scenes that never really show anything of interested until the very end, which is required viewing that shows the true identity of the painted men.
  • 16mm Screen Tests (SD, 10 mins) - Here are some auditions from the actors, but there is no sound. Clearly, nobody knew what they were doing on the film.
  • Interviews With Cast And Crew (HD, 57 mins) - Here is almost an hour worth of interviews with the cast and crew from 2010 as they discuss everything about making the movie. It's great, because they love their film, but also are very aware on how bad it is. Great extra.
  • 'Be Careful Children' (SD, 7 mins) - Here is one of Sefer's short films from his earlier days and is war-themed.
  • A Cult is Born (HD, 5 mins) - This is a cool little feature that has us in Israel where we see how this movie is playing at midnight screenings. Interviews with fans are great.
  • Channel 10 Segment (SD, 10 mins) - This is a news segment from Israel that showcases the film and its fans, along with some interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Interviews with Moshe Berman, Susan Devor, and Fran Avni (HD, 11 mins) - Here are two separate interviews. One is with the production manager Berman who talks about the financial woes of the film, to which he is a little bitter still. And the other is with Susan and Fran who provide some of the music for the film, followed by a musical performance.
  • Shmuel's Still Show (HD, 5 mins) - Here we have one of the actors Shmuel Wolf talk about the film as he looks through old photographs.
  • Still Galleries - Over 90 images of production photos and promotional images.
  • Filmographies - Tzarfati and Sefer's bios and filmographies in text form.
  • Trailer (HD, 3 mins) - The Trailer for the film.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'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.

Technical Specs

  • Limited Edition of 2000 Individually Numbered Copies
  • 2 50GB Blu-ray Discs+DVD

Video Resolution/Codec

  • "1080p"/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • Hebrew

Supplements

  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Be Careful Children"
  • "A Cult is Born"
  • "Channel 10 Segment"
  • "Shmuel's Still Show"
  • Still Galleries
  • Trailer
  • "The Hitchhiker"
  • "16mm Screen Tests"
  • Interviews
  • Filmography

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