Psychedelic Fever

Reviewed By The Ultimate Dancing Machine
Posted 03/06/03 16:33:54

"Sex, drugs, sex, drugs, sex...."
3 stars (Average)

A documentary from 1968 about a pack of wild and crazy hippie types in San Francisco, this obscure film (A.K.A. LIKE IT IS) is sometimes silly and sometimes surprisingly thoughtful. I wasn't around back then, and I've never been anything close to a hippie, but somehow this film feels like the real thing. I've seen more than a couple movies like this; an awful lot of filmmakers tried to cash in on the psychedelic/hippie/youth culture craze of the late '60s, and most of their efforts rang very, very false--embarrassing attempts to woo moviegoing teens.

I can't be sure how much if any fakery was involved here, how much was "real" and how much was posed for the camera. I have trouble believing that all these guys and gals just spontaneously took off their clothes when director William Rotsler had the camera on. Rotsler indeed shows lots of nudity, as you might expect from the man who brought us the infamous MANTIS IN LACE. He also interrupts the commune scenes every now and then with montages of silly but rather cool-looking faux-psychedelic effects (fireworks bursting in air with image of naked chick dancing superimposed on top, etc.), which is supposed to emulate an acid trip, though I think Rotsler was just trying to pad out the running time (only 70 minutes long).

The participants come across as reasonably clear-headed types, and when they talk (in lengthy monologues presented in voiceover; there's no synchronized sound), they don't sound like drugged-out caricatures; their theories about the beneficient effects of LSD and pot actually seem coherently worked out. Despite the blatant exploitation elements, the movie is fairly informative, if rather disorganized; it has a thrown-together feel.

Maybe I was blinded by all the naked-chick lightshow effects, but I kind of liked it--learned a few things, too.

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