HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy this holiday and the hope for peaceful coexistence represented by the possibly mythic meal that it commemorates. The kind of self-righteous killjoys who bash Thanksgiving are the type of sanctimonious idiots that are fun to laugh at in this hilariously bad movie.
AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISRAEL (1972) – Forget An American Werewolf in London! To hell with A Polish Vampire in Burbank! Seriously, though, it’s a shame, but this movie’s original title was The Hitch Hiker. Over the years it picked up the campier title An American Hippie in Israel.
Yes, this production was filmed in Israel and on Pharaoh’s Island in Egypt’s Gulf of Aqaba, which is up for World Heritage Site status because of the ruins of the citadel on the tiny island. That citadel is several centuries old and was at one time the residence of the Mameluke governor of Aqaba.
I figured a Golden Turkey like this would make a nice change of pace from the usual types of Bad Movies I review. Last Thanksgiving I reviewed a similarly atypical bad movie – James Batman, a Filipino movie illegally teaming James Bond and Batman.
An American Hippie in Israel was indeed an Israeli production which starred assorted young performers from the Israeli theater. Our title character is Mike (Asher Tzarfati), who has been bumming around Europe for a few years since returning from service in the Vietnam War. Having found no peace or contentment in Europe, he arrives by plane in Israel.
By the way, before we met Mike, we viewers were treated to bizarre opening credits which appeared over scenes of toplessness and nudity from later in the movie. Soon, the continuing credits appeared over pictures of idyllic fields of flowers. You can play the Moshe Drinking Game to these credits, since that happens to be a VERY common name among the team behind this flick.
After the credits finally end, the idyllic fields of flowers are run over and ruined by a steamroller. So deep, dude! This is indicative of the ham-fisted approach of the entire movie, which is to say it makes Neil Breen films and Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack Goes to Washington seem like epitomes of subtlety by comparison.
Getting back to Mike the hippie, he starts hitchhiking his way through Israel and is picked up by an attractive redhead named Elizabeth (Lily Avidan) and the two exchange HILARIOUSLY cliched dialogue. Mike is the worst offender, since nearly everything he says, like “Right on”, “This is a bad scene”, etc sounds like verbal clues that would be given on $100,000 Pyramid for the category “Things a brain-dead hippie might say.”
Mike and Elizabeth’s journey is interrupted by two figures who show up repeatedly throughout the film – two (literally) gray-faced, silent men in suits and top hats. Mike informs the alarmed Elizabeth that these two had been hounding him through Europe, too, and he manages to drive them away by calling them “shitheads” and saying he will “bust their faces open.”
Elizabeth is strangely unaffected by this encounter with a pair of creepy men who look like escapees from The Prisoner or Carnival of Souls and, still not suspecting any danger from involving herself with this weird hitchhiker she just picked up, takes him home with her. She lives in an expensive house paid for by her family’s money while she acts in the theater as a hobby.
As Mike and Elizabeth converse, he tells her about serving in the Vietnam War through a ‘nam flashback scene even cheaper than Anthony Geary’s in Blood Sabbath – it’s composed solely of news footage! (Maybe Mike’s experience with the Vietnam War came only from watching the nightly news broadcasts about it. I’m kidding!)
Mike spouts generic platitudes against war and killing, then channels Neil Breen and Tom Laughlin with the overdone lines “A push on the button and we are forced to run to our deaths, a push on the button and we shoot people, a push on the button and we are turned into wild animals. You fools stop pushing buttons, you Fools! Fools… Fools…”
Oddly, Elizabeth does not call the police on this soliloquizing madman in her living room, but instead has sex with him, and we viewers see much of the simulated sex onscreen. Get ready for more body hair than you may have seen in any sex scene EVER! And I don’t just mean Mike’s beard, chest hair and armpit hair, but Elizabeth’s thatch of pubic hair, her armpit hair, etc.
When Elizabeth wakes up in Mike’s arms on the floor, she playfully splashes water on him, causing him to chase her around the room, with his cock flopping around throughout the scene. Anyway, Mike has decided that he and Elizabeth should spend the rest of their lives together AND should gather like-minded hippies around them to form an entire community of simple-mindedly moralizing poseurs.
Next we get a silly montage of the two lovebirds frolicking around whatever Israeli city they are in as passersby awkwardly stare into the camera. Before long, Mike’s Jim Jones/ Billy Jack/ Neil Breen appeal has attracted a large following of other hippies, including two female singers – Fran Liberman-Avni and Suzan Devor, one of whom looks like Israel’s answer to Joan Baez.
This “Celebrating B.O.” parade pours through the streets, cheering and literally shouting “whoopee” every so often. Mike, who ostensibly has never been in this city before, leads his new flock to an abandoned warehouse, where Not Joan Baez and her sidekick sing a song so annoyingly saccharine that even the makers of Curse of the Headless Horseman would have rejected it.
That song is performed in front of an odd picture of two guys who look like John Larroquette and Ed Harris with the word “homosociality” (?) written underneath it. When it’s finally over, Mike regales his followers with a lame speech about how they should “get organized” (the ultimate lame hippie cliche from the 60s and 70s) and establish a society ONLY for people who agree with all of their opinions.
ALTERNATE DRINKING GAME: Take a drink every time Mike refers to people or things as “beautiful” during this movie.
At any rate, one hippie suggests that they form their society on a tiny island that is just over 200 yards from shore. The place is one big rock that makes Malta look like a rainforest and has ruins with walls but no ceilings. Yet, oddly enough, Mike thinks it sounds perfect!
The hippies celebrate their plan with dancing, toking and sex until the two Gray Faced Men show up again, this time with machine guns. They mow down all of the hippies in a scene so clumsily edited that you’ll be laughing your ass off. The two killers then drive off in their black car.
With no explanation given, Mike and Elizabeth have somehow survived the carnage along with one other hippie couple, Komo (Shmuel Wolf) and his girlfriend Francoise (Tsilla Karny). Komo looks like Israel’s answer to Vincent Schiavelli and speaks only Hebrew, so Francoise often serves as a translator for him.
The four hippies use Elizabeth’s car to head down the coast a few miles to the island. Enroute, they have sex – Komo and Francoise while the car is in motion – and Mike falls asleep. We now get a silent, four-minute dream sequence in which Mike sees peepee caca level metaphors for the rich and the poor and for the futility of warfare, as lines of soldiers shoot each other to death.
For the piece de resistance of this dream sequence, Mike sees himself wielding a clownishly large hammer against some computer-headed humanoids as he literally “rages against the machine” I guess. He wakes up, and at length, the group reaches their destination and park where they can see the ridiculously tiny island where they plan to launch their commune.
The proto-Portland idiots finally realize they might need food and drinking water to survive, so they drive to a market and buy a baby goat. No, I’m not kidding.
Eventually, even these morons figure out that they will need more supplies than one baby goat, plus a way of transporting the supplies to their barren, desolate island home, so they buy one whole boxful of food & drink plus a rubber raft and oars.
Our simpletons reach CHAZ Island and spend a happy night eating, drinking, having sex and sleeping (but not building any shelter against the inevitable rain). If you predicted that these clowns wouldn’t be able to last one full day on their own, you’re quickly proven right, as morning shows them that they forgot (or never knew about) the tides. Their raft has been carried out to sea.
You’d think that wouldn’t pose much of a problem, given that they are within shouting distance of the shore, and they got there on a road which other vehicles will presumably drive along at some point. But no, Mike and his followers panic because they brought only enough food for one night and now feel trapped on the rock island.
Mike decides to try swimming to shore and using the car to go get some more supplies, a fairly obvious solution which Elizabeth joyfully declares “ingenious” for some reason. Our title character tries to swim ashore only to be stopped by a pair of the fakest looking sharks ever to grace the big screen.
With those two predators hovering nearby and licking their chops with anticipation, Mike, Komo, Elizabeth and Francoise fall to pieces. Mike and Komo try to put their heads together and come up with a solution, but the language barrier hilariously rears its head.
For some reason, the two men are trying to hatch a plan of action without Francoise on hand to translate, so we get the Abbott & Costello Routine from Hell as Mike speaks English and Komo speaks Hebrew, resulting in one long dialogue of the demented. This scene will redefine the quote about “sound and fury, signifying nothing” for you. To say nothing of the “tale told by an idiot” part.
Anyway, eventually the entire foursome begin arguing, with Francoise threatening Mike and him telling her “Shut your ass” as if that makes any sense whatsoever or has ever been said by any other human being. The group lapses into savagery, with the men violently abusing the ladies and dragging them off to separate sides of the island, like they’re the Flintstones and Rubbles feuding with each other.
The baby lamb wanders onto the scene, prompting the two famished couples to compete at attracting the poor thing by bleating at it (I’m serious) and ultimately fighting over it. In the battle that follows, everyone is killed except Mike, who screams to the heavens in impotent rage.
From the shore, the two Gray Faced Men note all this with smug satisfaction, then get in Elizabeth’s car. They presumably drive off in it, but before that can happen, the words THE END slam onscreen so abruptly that you can’t help but laugh like hell.
An American Hippie in Israel is definitely a Bad Movie Classic in waiting. If you are ever in the mood for a Golden Turkey from outside the usual bad sci-fi, horror, raging youth or educational video realms, by all means give this baby a try. It is virtually one of a kind.
FOR MY REVIEW OF THE GRADE Z SCI-FI FILM MYSTERIOUS PLANET CLICK HERE.
FOR MY REVIEW OF SIX-STRING SAMURAI, A POST-APOCALYPSE SAMURAI FILM/ SPAGHETTI WESTERN, CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LEO FONG MOVIE MARATHON CLICK HERE
FOR MY ROBERT GINTY MOVIE MARATHON CLICK HERE
12 responses to “AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISRAEL (1972): THANKSGIVING TURKEY”
Haha, this does indeed sound a prize turkey but the review is wonderfully written and entertaining! 🙂
Thank you very much for the kind words!
You are very welcome! 🙂 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!
Very interesting. A lot of times Film Festivals will hold ‘Student Divisions’, and they are about always quite interesting. Maybe not real polished, but they often have an idea you haven’t considered. To make something THIS bad seems on purpose. Its a shame, because that time period was a great time to be alive.
I understand. Yes, with so many options, that they went down this route is something else.
Great description of events, I thought I was there.
Thank you very much! I appreciate it!
OK, I’ll probably skip this one. Thanks for watching it so I didn’t have to.
Ha! I’m glad to do it! Happy Thanksgiving!