Why’d I Buy It?: Came in the Roger Corman Boxset I Purchased (Last One Of These!)
Why Haven’t I Watched It?: Indifference.
How Was It?: There is a problem inherent in making any movie about psychedelic. As anyone who has ever dabbled in it even the slightest bit knows, any hallucinations in the Beatles sense of the word is completely secondary to the profound shift in perception that occurs in the user.
(Not entirely accurate)
In other words what’s remarkable isn’t so much that you would meet a clown with the face of a fish who speaks in the voice of your dead auntie. Its that this would not surprise you at all. But it's not even really about that either, its about the sense of connectedness, seeing behind the makings of things however temporarily. A sense of profundity. However fleeting it ultimately silly it may feel in the harsh light of sobriety.
So basically no matter how many fish eyed lens, vibrant colors, quick zoom ins and zoom outs, or how much you shoot in Widescreen without anamorphically adjusting the image you’re never going to capture that intangible feeling. Which is why so many of the most famous psychedelic movies, Fantasia, 2001, The Fountain, have absolutely nothing to do with Psychedelia.
Instead, you’re going to just waste your time and effort looking really really silly.
Which is as you may have guessed exactly what happens in The Trip.
The kind of movie were people do things like were Nehru Jackets and speak lines like “Hey don’t bogart that joint!” whilst wearing them, all without even the slightest whiff of irony..
Peter Fonda plays a young executive suffering from malaise (were there any other kind in the sixties). He procures some acid from Dennis Hopper (always a dicey proposition at best) and with Bruce Dern as his spiritual guide (once again, always a dicey proposition at best) he wanders out into the night on the Sunset Strip. A Place where young nude painted dancers gyrate wildly to music provided by a band called Electric Flag. Brightly colored strobe lights flicker and everything is always canting CANTING CANTING!!! He also wanders in and out of random peoples homes. Giving long winded musings about commercialism, sex and women’s lib. Some are so pleased to find Peter Fonda stoned out of his ever loving gobstobber has deigned to stumble into their home and drop his science that they have no choice but to have sex with him. I have a feeling he would have less success if he tried this now.
Also Bruce Dern pulls him naked from a pool.
It all culminates in the hallucinogenic “Trip” of the title. In which Dennis Hopper wearing purple velvet menaces Fonda as he rides a carousel (Man I’ve been there) and then Fonda looks at pictures of Che Guevera, Sophia Loren, and Khalil Gibran (one of those things is not like the other) with mounting horror until he screams “BAY OF PIGS!!!”
It’s all profoundly inexplicable.
As you might have surmised The Trip is a pretty big turkey. But I think its almost impossible not to have fun with. It’s goofy as you can get, and calling it a time capsule does damage to the right honorable and venerable tradition of Time Capsules.
But every once in awhile it is nice to remember that for however briefly there was a time when Nehru Jackets and a band called Electric Flag were both the very height of cool.