Rome and the students there are up for protesting, as long as it's against the authorities, and for drugs, as long as they have a nice trip and preferably someone else is paying, but they think little of petty crime and other lawbreaking behaviour, believing it sets them apart as rebels in an unjust society. Tonight one of their number, Massimo (Bud Cort), has been over at a mansion house of an acquaintance and helped himself to a priceless snuff box, which makes him a person of interest with the police. But worse is to come when Massimo's rich friend Rudy (Settimio Segnatelli) wishes him to secure a batch of LSD for a party he is planning to throw: he has the money for it...
But does he have the brain for it? This was a somewhat late addition to the hippie movie genre, as there had been a fleeting heyday back at the turn of the nineteen-sixties into the seventies, lasting about as long as hippies themselves were relevant, but like many culturally vivid movements their lasting influence over comedies and other entertainments were felt for decades afterwards - everyone knows what a hippy is, right? And this is well into the next century. Bud Cort was the imported star who seemed to sum up what the producers wanted, maybe as much for his long hair and beard as for his acting ability, but in spite of his cult status, this was a minor effort for him.
Much of that was down to how difficult it was to see Hallucination Strip, for a fairly substantial amount of time at least until home video picked it up, but once you had seen it, assuming you were sufficiently interested, you would understand why its cachet had not endured too far, if indeed it had ever enjoyed any. As if recognising it was somewhat past it for hitting the zeitgeist, there was a drug thriller element patterned after The French Connection, which itself was four years old at this point but still something to emulate for the Italians who loved American movies, especially the crime efforts, to the point they would straightforwardly copy what they liked and include them in works like this.
What was on offer here, then, was a mixture of the indulge the tripped out and blissed out generation shenanigans and the investigation of the Inspector (Marcello Bozzuffi) who is trying to catch out Massimo, and eventually becomes involved in a death that has resulted from the hippies' neglectful relationship to each other and to the drugs they take. Being an Italian movie of the seventies, this had to have its cake and eat it too, so while it was down on the youth and their reckless ways, it was also on their side against the bourgeoisie who the film wanted to see taken down a peg or two for being rich and in charge, essentially, a common thread in many a film out of this nation when the filmmakers tended to be polarised to objectionably right wing or objectionably left wing, depending on the director.
The director in this instance never made another movie, and only seems to have had a glancing association with the film industry, but we could see from the plodding approach to much of this that the only bit he was truly engaged with was trying to create the most convincing LSD trip on screen. That occurred around halfway through the running time, maybe slightly after, and saw Massimo bring a collection of white pills to Rudy's party which we can tell will have a bad effect on the wealthy, pampered young man when in an early scene we have witnessed him being bathed by his mother. When Rudy starts tripping, his darkest fantasies exhibit themselves, which appear to mostly be envisaging having sex with said parent and getting so caught up in the plants and greenery around the mansion that he imagines them as interpretative dancers and eventually, himself as a plant devoured by caterpillars. That old chestnut. This is leading to a downbeat ending for the kids, as the last thing a film like this would do is endorse tripping, leaving the impression of a lecture. Music by Alberto Verrecchia.