Color Tinted / B&W, 1966, 86 mins. 49 secs.
Directed by Edward Mann
Starring George Montgomery, Danny Steinmann, Renate Kasche, Tom Baker, Marianne Kanter, and Steve Rowland
Vidcrest (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
One of the earliest 1960s films to deal with the culture of psychedelics gaining traction among youths around the world, Hallucination Generation perhaps came along a little too early in the game when it was given a modest theatrical run in 1966 from Trans-American Films, a lower-end offshoot of AIP who followed it up quickly with fare like Teenage Rebellion, It's a Bikini World, and the apparently lost Sadismo. Roger Corman would go on to craft the far more influential The Trip the following year, opening the floodgates for American-made cinematic LSD trips in Psych-Out, The President's Analyst, Midnight Cowboy, and the king of them all, Easy Rider. Though it features some modest trip scenes in its second half, Hallucination Generation (or just Hallucination, as it was known in its early '80s VHS release) doesn't quite play by the usual counterculture rules that would soon become familiar. For the most part it's a hazy European hangout movie, closer in tone and spirit to what would come with Barbet Schroeder's More than what would be playing at drive-ins through the early '70s. It also works in some tried and true scare tactics that had been around in drug movies since the days of Reefer Madness and Narcotic, avoiding any outright moralizing but still letting you know right off the bat that even a one-time experimentation with illicit substances could send you on a downward spiral to hell.
A frantic young man runs through the streets late at night in Spain from a screaming, blood-covered antiques dealer, who's just been the victim of what appears to be an assault. In flashback we find out how this crime evolved on the island of Ibiza. American expatriates are running wild including San Francisco-based Bill Williams ("Danny Stone," a.k.a. Danny Steinmann, the future director of Savage Streets, The Unseen, and Friday the 13th: A New Beginning) who has enough cash from his wealthy family to drift around Europe. He hooks up with buddy Denny (Baker), a pot dealer who knows how to work the locals, which in turns puts both of them under the spell of elixir-brewing Eric (), a "visionary and prophet" drug maker who tries to goad Bill to "taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge" and chug one of his LSD cocktails. Distraught at being suddenly cut off by his family and eager to hang on to the pretty Carol (Blood Rage's Kanter), Bill falls deeper under Eric's influence and becomes embroiled in a robbery plan to support the group's way of life.
Mostly dismissed at the time, Hallucination Generation has gotten a lot more interesting over time with its anticipation of the end of the love generation, specifically its Svengali character of Eric whose tactics foreshadow what would come with Charles Manson (albeit with less extreme results here). This was also one of the very few directorial efforts for first timer Edward Mann, a onetime cartoonist who would go on to Cauldron of Blood and Hot Pants Holiday (which also got the Vidcrest treatment as Tropic Heat). He also went on to write Seizure and The Freakmaker, any one of which would be enough to earn a place somewhere in the cult movie pantheon.
Out of circulation for decades since its VHS release, Hallucination Generation made its Blu-ray debut in 2021 from Vidcrest distributed through Diabolik. The transfer obviously looks much, much better than anything we've had before, appearing to be pulled from the best source print around with only some minimal damage (a couple of slightly scratchy reel changes, etc.). Film grain and overall detail look fine given the source, as well as the fact that some scenes were obviously shot in harsh daylight without careful white balancing. The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track sounds perfectly fine and comes with optional English subtitles. The disc features two viewing options with identical running times: the original black-and-white version (tucked in the extras) and the main default one which adds what's described as a sepia tone tint (though it looks more like an odd shade of pink), plus a different opening text prologue, a gray bar at the bottom of the title card obscuring the copyright info for some reason, and full-color versions of a couple of short trip sequences with added digital psychedelic effects. (The B&W one just adds a light color tone instead.) A "Behind The Scenes Producer Commentary" (7m42s) is actually an SD video interview with producer Robert Weinbach about the real-life inspiration for the film (involving the murder of an Ibiza antiques dealer), the fundraising he conducted in St. Louis, his experiences with William Burroughs and the beat counterculture, his own encounter with LSD at a restaurant, and a run-in with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; a one-minute gallery with music is also tacked on at the end. "50’s LSD Experiments" (10m27s) is an archival educational short about medical experiments with lysergic acid, pulled from a dupey VHS source but nice to have here for posterity. " Take An Acid Trip With Bosch and Bruegels" (6m25s) is an odd tapestry of animated paintings by the two legendary artists, accompanied by a psychedelic soundscape On a similar note, "Fractals Meet Bosch" (3m28s) by Peter Ludwig Wegener uses digital morphing techniques and spacey jazz music to turn The Garden of Earthly Delights into a video trip of its own. That same technique goes modern with "Pouff’s Grocery Trip" (2m53s), which looks like a trip through a Toys 'R' Us store on acid. Finally an image gallery (1m27s) collates a number of promotional B&W stills. The first pressing (1,000 units) also comes with a full color slipcover designed by Hauntlove and an insert booklet reproducing the original press book.
Reviewed on June 3, 2021