DIRECTED BY: Edward Mann
FEATURING: George Montgomery, Danny Steinmann, Tom Baker, Renate Kasché
PLOT: A young man becomes embroiled with beatniks, drugs, and… murder!
COMMENTS: Hallucination Generation is a cautionary tale about the dangers of vacationing in Ibiza, doing free drugs, and falling in love. This is not your typical ‘60s scare-tactic film, though. For one thing, it’s full of beatniks, not hippies. For another, the first (and only) freak-out doesn’t start until the halfway mark, meaning writer/director Edward Mann is either bad at exploitation or he’s trying to make a real movie here.
Danny Steinmann, who would later helm the likes of Savage Streets (1984) and Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), plays our lead, William Williams. Bill Williams goes to Ibiza on vacation and falls in with a group of layabouts who follow Timothy Leary-esque guru Eric (George Montgomery). It’s all bikini babes and smoking pot out of two-foot-long pipes, until Bill falls in love, immediately gets married, and is cut off by his wealthy family. After determining that his terrible poetry isn’t going to support him and his new wife, instead of getting a job, Bill flees back to Eric’s, solo.
As the drug-pushing guru, George Montgomery may be the best part of this movie (besides the psychedelic special effects). He was well known for his chiseled good looks and his work in dozens of Westerns, even guest starring on “Bonanza” the same year Hallucination Generation came out. Sinking his teeth into something different, Montgomery goes for it here. The “enlightened” Eric is mean to his son and cheats on his wife, spouts ridiculous wisdom, and he hatches a plan for Bill to steal from a timid old man in Barcelona.
Finally, some LSD! Eric uses it to brainwash Bill into agreeing with his plan. (Drugs are bad, kids!) In this early attempt to represent an acid trip on film, photographer Paul Radkai and editor Fima Noveck are constrained only by the technology at hand: quick cuts, loose focus, a gun turning into an animated bat, color swirls, painted faces, fractals, rats, more animation, naked women, masks, more swirling colors.
Two versions of Hallucination Generation are included on Blu-ray: one is black and white, the other is tinted pink (although distributor Diabolik calls it “sepia”). The pink one has the trip effects in color.
As far as cautionary tales go, Bill’s dialogue while dosed doesn’t seem well-crafted to warn people away from the drug: “Don’t want to go too far in, I would get to like myself.” “Why question? It’s enough just to be.” Of course, he’s also yelling, “It’s bad!” between statements of self-transformation, which is pretty convincing.
There’s a botched robbery, a murder, a weird pick-up, and the climax has fantastic funky architecture and giant sculpture. But really, the whole second half of the movie feels tacked on and too long. There are fun details, like, where did the dog on the bed come from? Or where will Bill’s wife’s accent be from in this scene?
Hallucination Generation has pacing problems, acting problems, and equipment problems (e.g., unintentional shaky cam). But it’s also a time capsule, a pre-hippie bad-beard-beatnik psychedelic freak-out-in-Ibiza time capsule. And for a certain kind of viewer, it is right up their dark, prostitute-filled, Barcelonan alley.
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