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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Counterculture > Independent > Vietnam > Sex > Politics > Thirller > Mystery > Murder > Filmmaking > An American Hippie In Israel (1972/aka Hitchhiker/Grindhouse Blu-ray w/DVDs)/Body Double (1984/De Palma/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/CAT.8 (2013/Gaiam Vivendi Blu-ray)/The House Of

An American Hippie In Israel (1972/aka Hitchhiker/Grindhouse Blu-ray w/DVDs)/Body Double (1984/De Palma/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/CAT.8 (2013/Gaiam Vivendi Blu-ray)/The House Of Seven Corpses (1974/Severin Blu-ray w/DVD)/Wither (2012/Artsploitation DVD)


Picture: B- & C/B-/B-/C+ & C/C†††† Sound: B- & C+/B-/B-/C+/C+†††† Extras: B-/C+/C-/C+/C†††† Main Programs: C+/C+/C-/C+/C



PLEASE NOTE:The Body Double Blu-ray is SOLD OUT and was limited to 3,000 copies, but if any new copies resurface, they could be available at the Screen Archives website which exclusively handles Twilight Time titles and can be reached at the link at the end of this review.



Now for some genre films, including some of unusual noteÖ



Amos Seferís An American Hippie In Israel (1972/aka Hitchhiker) is one of a cycle of counterculture films that are often forgotten, even with wacky titles like this one has, but it is what the titles say at first.The protagonist (Asher Tzarfati as Mike) manages to thumb down a woman driver and before you know it, they are having sex.This leads to a relationship, communes, no talk of any Israeli/Palestinian conflicts (guess the peace movement has that one figured out in advance) and then leads to many surreal scenes in which the narrative collapses and the film become s a crazy trip.


However, Grindhouse releasing has issued this in two versions and they handle the issues dealt with very differently.Nudity is handled differently in each cut, with more shown more naturally in the Israeli version, which also has Vietnam footage in the beginning somehow missing from the U.S. cut and key animation missing form the end of the U.S. cut that is in the Israeli cut.Even the New Beverly audience can tell something is missing, even if they do not know what it is.


As a result, I feel the Israeli cut (entitled Hitchhiker), as scratched up as the print sadly is and only here on DVD, is the true version of the film in its counterculture form.The U.S. version that has the word Television in the beginning credits for the company issuing it, has been censored for political and possibly personal reasons.I am glad both versions are here as even if the film is not great, most of the counterculture films were not, but captured the time and open feel that was going on.Itís taken a long time for many of these orphan films to hit home video, but they are historical (and some would say hysterical) works and now more than ever, deserve to be revisited.


Extras include a nicely illustrated foldout in the Blu-ray case with notes and illustrations, while the discs adds six controversial scenes deleted form the film, a 5.1 track on the shorter, later version recorded with the New Beverly Cinema audience, Stills, Original Theatrical Trailers, new interview featurettes and the Israeli cut of the film as noted above.



Brian De Palma had made his share of counterculture film before becoming known for thrillers, but by the time he made Body Double in 1984, he had abandoned much experimentation in his work.Following the then-disappointing box office of his 1983 Scarface remake, but critics really despised this one, yet it has its following as our coverage of the DVD edition will show:




Not as big a fan of the Columbia Pictures release, Twilight Time has issued it in a Limited Edition Blu-ray that sold out upon release, only reinforcing its following.For me, it seemed that De Palma was sick of his films bombing and decided to make it a joke.Though you would not know this from the supplements, De Palma allegedly made the original X-rated cut of the film so bloody and gross that he was trying to get back at members of the ratings board for their fights with him in the past, especially on Scarface.


In the past, his takes on Hitchcock were done with new points and nuances, but the combination here of Rear Window, Vertigo and anything else he could throw in has him sadly repeating his past work and despite some interesting casting from Craig Wasson to a then-unknown Melanie Griffith, the film is just too comical and obvious to ever work.Some may really enjoy it, but I can see why it was not critic proof and De Palma never totally returned to the cutting-edge thriller form he made his name on.


Gregg Henry and Denis Franz also star.


Extras include the same four featurettes from the DVD, but we again get no trailer, but this version adds the Isolated Music Score by Pino Donaggio and an illustratedbooklet on the film including another Julie Kirgo essay.



The big dud here is actually the Canadian Disaster mini-series CAT.8 (2013) which is somehow phonier and less coherent than An American Hippie In Israel by simply being noisy, restrictive and repetitive.Matthew Modine is the only reasons to watch this mess about a solar storm destroying the earth (this is part of Gaiam Vivendiís annoying Doomsday Series) but a secret government project might be making things worse and only Modine can save us?!?


Running a very long 175 minutes in two parts, it is really bad, the unknown actors look lost and the visual effects are so dated on arrival, the analog effects in An American Hippie In Israel look like LucasFilm work by comparison.This is not even good enough to be a time killer, but I give credit to Modine for trying to make this work.Yawn!


Extras in this great slipcase packaging include Cast/Crew interviews and a look at the next disaster (figuratively and otherwise) release, Delete.



Paul Harrisonís The House Of Seven Corpses (1974) is a not-bad B-movie thriller about an old home where a motion picture is being shot, but has a course on it from seven gruesome murders (as shown in detail in the opening credits) that may have tainted the shoot in ways no one realizes save a local man (John Carradine) who knows more about its history than the others, but maybe not enough for any of them, including himself.


John Ireland is the director trying to get his supernatural horror film shot in the old mansion and as they are all about to find out, doom Is not far away.It has been years since I have seen the film, but it has aged in interesting ways and is not bad.Most interesting is that the way the 35mm camera is being shown, the film visually suggests throughout that maybe the film being made with unintentionally capture the evil and that will somehow make it possible for the people there to capture and stop it.


Though not a perfect film, it has atmosphere, is creepy enough, plays things seriously and Faith Domergue is among the effective supporting cast.All serious Horror fans will want to catch this minor gem including those who love filmmaking.New filmmakers could learn much from it too, so they should consider it mandatory viewing.


Extras include a vintage analog videotaped interview with Carradine that is rough, a feature length audio commentary track with Associate Producer Gary Kent (Alamo Drafthouseís Lars Nilsen hosts) and the Original Theatrical Trailer.



Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund co-directed the zombie film Wither (2012) and at first, it has some actual suspense and character development, but that eventually falls apart and what is an alleged homage to Sam Raimiís original Evil Dead lands up repeating the Romero zombie films to the point that it all falls apart.Too bad, because they were on the right track early on.


One again, if teens go to an isolated place in the middle of =nowhere (read country), they must die.Here, they are Swedish and that also makes it a little more watchable (they donít act like formulaic American movie teens), but this runs only 96 minutes and runs out of ideas too quickly for its own good.At least the makers tried, though I wonder if once again having two directors ruined this one.For fans only, it disappoints.

Extras include Artsploitationís usual high quality paper booklet on the film including informative text and illustrations, while the DVD adds a Deleted Scene, Behind The Scenes featurette and a set of Artsploitation Trailers.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Hippie, CAT.8 and House have their issues, but despite the fact that Hippie and House have prints that show the age of their independent productions, the HD-shot CAT.8 actually looks worse with bad digital work, detail issues, depth issues and other anomalies (including some styling on purpose) that just make it look bad.The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Double may be a more professional shoot (lensed by Director of Photography Stephen H. Burum, A.S.C.) but it was processed in MetroColor and tends to be a bit grainy throughout despite some good sh0ots and good color in spots.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 and especially scratchy 1.33 X 1 image on the two cuts of Hippie on DVD, as well as the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 House DVD and over-stylized, anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Wither are especially soft, detail-challenged and poor performers throughout.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on CAT.8 should be the sonic champ here by default, but it has a tendency to be shrill and limited, with sound too much towards the front speakers, so the same DTS type on Double and even surprisingly clear DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on Hippie can more than compete as a result, though Double is using the 5.1 master from its DVD version, it sounds better here and the Isolated Music Track even outdoes it at times.


It should be noted that Double was originally an analog Dolby A-type theatrical sound release and some of the aspects of the sound are limited.


The regular DTS 1.0 Mono on thee Hippie and House DVDs, as well as the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on the House Blu-ray and lossy Dolby Digital Swedish 5.1 mix on Wither tie for second place as being not as sonically competent, with all three independent production having their own sonic issues (age in the older cases, mixing limits in the newer one).



As noted above, Body Double can be ordered if a new copy or copies some how surface along with other Twilight Time titles while supplies last at:





-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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