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AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISRAEL (HA-TREMPIST) (director/writer: Amos Sefer; cinematographer: Jacob Kallach; editor: Amos Sefer; music: Nachum Heiman; cast: Asher Tzarfati (Mike), Lilli Avidan (Elizabeth), Shmuel Wolf (Komo), Tsilla Karny (Françoise), Fran Liberman-Avni (singer), Suzan Devor(singer); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Amatsia Hiuni; Grindhouse Releasing; 1972-Israel-dubbed in English)
One can say without any trepidation that the filmmaker is a meshugener.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A heavy-handed preachy dated love message underground film about a group of idealists finding an undisclosed desert island to live in to promote their free-spirit lifestyle of song and dance. The four freedom seekers from society come across as arrogant snots. This weird inept movie was made by a former lifeguard with no training as a filmmaker, Amos Sefer. After this turkey, take a guess if the Israeli filmmaker ever got a chance to direct again. This film is a classic in bad films.

NYC bearded hippie, Mike (Asher Tzarfati), an angry Vietnam vet with a motormouth, has been aimlessly traveling around Europe for the last two years and arrives in Israel by plane. While hitch-hiking he’s picked up by a wealthy native red-headed theater actress Elizabeth (Lilli Avidan). Back in her family’s pad, Mike goes on a rant about how shitty the push button world is and makes a love connection with his like-minded host. In the city they meet a group of like-minded hippies who plan to follow Mike’s vision of building a peaceful commune with no rules outside of civilization, as someone mentions the perfect spot might be an isolated island off the mainland coast. But two mimes, looking like ghostly morticians, appear, who have been following Mike around the world in a hostile manner, and they use machine guns to kill off most of the commune seekers. The survivors include Mike and Elizabeth and another couple, the Hebrew only speaking Komo (Shmuel Wolf) and his French girlfriend Françoise (Tsilla Karny). The foursome travel to the island in Elizabeth’s gas-guzzler car.

There’s a bizarre dream sequence on the car trip of Mike dreaming he’s smashing with a hammer dudes with reel to reel tape recorders as heads.

When they reach their spot of crossing to the unnamed island, Mike grabs a rubber dinghy for the crossing and a goat for the food supply. At a nighttime campfire on the island, Mike delivers a ridiculous rant on “wonderful feelings.” When things look bad on the island, with only snails to eat, Mike learns he can’t swim back for supplies because of the sharks.

There are two girl folksingers (Fran Liberman-Avni & Suzan Devor) singing limp songs throughout about the eternal search for peace. When things go completely wrong on the desolate island, the others turn against the boastful Mike and it leads to a truly bizarre ending–an incomprehensible allegory, a mind-fuck.

It’s either disheartening or looney tunes funny to hear all the sermons delivered about finding peace from these losers. Perhaps Ed Wood fans will enjoy such an inept “hippiesploitation” flick. Its pretentiousness and outdated visions and ill-advised attempt to make it appear as an art-house movie, brings it to new lows in film-making. But as a curio to goof on, it’s a must see for those who can appreciate a bad flick. The film is so perplexing and maddening, that one can say without any trepidation that the filmmaker is a meshugener.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”