Tune in and drop out. Seek altered states of reality and a quest for the truth. The era is the 1960s and 1970s. LSD was not just a drug, but a connector to the deeper meaning. Hippie exploitation films are free in style and form, the genre is not a rigorously researched cinephile favorite. In fact, it is a term used mostly by B-movie and grindhouse enthusiasts in internet forums. The cultural revolution of the 1960s fought against social conservatism and war, and the cinema of the time depicted these tensions with films bearing messages of the dangers of revolution and hallucinogens.
In its most basic definition, these films live within the realm of the exploitation genre and heavily feature LSD and hippies (however, the degree of hippie identity and exploitation mood varies from film to film). The films depict the various trips experienced by characters, on a scale of positive to negative. In the wake of the Manson murders in 1969, the media amplified the message of the dangers of drugs and hippies. Some hippie exploitation films went with this message, there to shock and persuade—these were Hollywood machines intent on rousing the hyper moment. Some films from this era were purposely subversive, playful and artistic. They were made by filmmakers on the revolutionary side of the culture war. The opposite of intentional moral tales, these films were made for audiences in the know of all things cool and countercultural. Alongside these fictional works is Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock (1970), a time capsule of the real life counterculture. Collectively these films can be viewed as representative of a particular era within the exploitation genre at a time of shifting values.
In this mix we go on a journey through the loose genre, films made with differing intentions. Some, like Edward Mann’s Hallucination Generation (1967), set out to warn against the risks of LSD and ended up being a poster film for the counterculture movement. David E. Durston’s I Drink Your Blood (1970) satirized the mood post-Manson: The mix begins with Horace Bones (Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury) the leader of a Satanic hippie cult, “let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head. Drink from this cup; pledge yourselves. And together, we’ll all freak out.”
These films are rich with great musicians of the period collaborating on the soundtracks and scores. This mix packs these varied tones into its 1 hour and 5 minute running time. Riot on Sunset Strip’s (1969) garage punk soundtrack featuring bands like The Standells floats into Friends of Distinctions “I'll be Moving” on from Quentin Master’s Thumb Tripping (1972). There are melancholic masterpieces like Tim Hardin’s live from Woodstock (1970) performance of “If I Was A Carpenter” and Buffy Sainte Marie’s commanding “Codeine” from Jack O'Connell's Revolution (1968). George MacDermots audacious score from Milos Forman’s 1979 adaptation of the music Hair waxes lyrical on horoscopes and the beauty of a trip, themes that run dominant in conversation through this genre's songs and sounds. The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s psychedelics lends itself to Richard Rush’s Psych Out (1968), a band whose music went on the feature in tongue in cheek cinema such as Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970).
Tobe Hooper's beautiful avant-garde first feature Eggshells (1969) is shot like a fly-on-the-wall documentary, with politics and psychedelics merging in a day in the life of a group of hippies in Austin,Texas in 1969. Shiva’s Headband provides a twisted experimental score and original songs—one scene in particular with a giant floating bubble stays with the mind for some time to come.
Bound closely against the variety of far out songs within the mix are characters calling out messages from the periphery of the trip, such as Lana Turner’s Adriana Roman, “I’m not mad!”, an unexpected turn of events causes the retired actress to take LSD in The Big Cube (1960), a cult favorite admired amongst many, including John Waters. We also hear characters such as Dennis Hopper’s Max in The Trip (1967), a wise and all knowing acid guru who guides a heartbroken Paul (Peter Fonda) Paul through an acid trip around Los Angeles. .
Many of the 60s and 70s best underground sounds show an exciting and X-rated era, musicians collaborating with filmmakers. Some of the films aren’t as well known, others have become staples defining an era. The films captured in this mix burst with great music and sound and mixed up, tripped out messages from a time of great political and artistic change in America.
1. Excerpt - I Drink Your Blood (1970) (edit) 00:00
2. Renn Woods, Hair (1979), “Aquarius” 02:00
3. Excerpt - The Trip (1967) (edit) 05:47
4. Elmer Bernstein, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968), “A4 Untitled” 07:01
5. The Standells, Riot On Sunset Strip (1967), “School Girl” 08:24
6. Friends Of Distinction, Thumb Tripping (1972), “I’ll Be Movin On” 10:33
7. Excerpt - Eggshells (1969) (edit) 17:05
8. Tim Hardin, Woodstock (1970), “If I Were A Carpenter” 19:09
9. Excerpt - Hallucination Generation (edit) (1966) 22:40
10. The Senators, Wild In The Streets (1968), “Psychedelic Senate” 23:45
11. The Chocolate Watchband, The Love-Ins (1967), “Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In))” 25:44
12. Excerpt - The Big Cube (edit) (1969) 28:01
13. Electric Flag, The Trip (1967), “M-23” 29:32
14. The Storybook, Psych-Out (1968), “The Love Children” 29:59
15. Mugwumps, Riot On Sunset Strip (1967), “Sunset Sally" 33:10
16. Excerpt - Wild In The Streets (1968) (edit) 35:30
17. Elmer Bernstein, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968), “B9 Untitled" 35:35
18. Debra Travis, Riot On Sunset Strip (1967), “Old Country” 41:00
19. Excerpt - Eggshells (1969) (edit) 42:03
20. Galt McDermott, Hair (1979), “Walking In Space” 44:01
21. Excerpt - The Love-Ins (1967) (edit) 48:59
22. The Seeds, Psych-Out (1968), "Two Fingers Pointing At You” 49:31
23. The 13th Power, Wild In The Streets (1968), “Shape Of Things To Come”
24. Electric Flag, The Trip (1967), “Inner Pocket” 54:30
25. Elmer Bernstein, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968), “A6 Untitled” 58:00
26. Excerpt - The Big Cube (edit) 60:30
27. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Revolution (1968), “Codine” 60:45
Part of our on-going series Notebook Soundtrack Mixes.