Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Unseen #49: The Trip

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.


Elwood Jones said...

I've had this on the to watch list, for ages but never actually bothered to pick it up, much like The Monkees "Head" and I'm sure those two films would make for a fun double feature, for a rainy sunday, perhaps even throwing in the equally trippy "Fantastic Planet".

Still now I have seen that picture of "Yellow Submarine" I also really want to watch that again. Thanks for increasing the to watch pile even further Bryce!

stonerphonic said...

drugs man... DRUGS!!!

and, just for a total fuckin head-trip, my captcha = aphippy

no shit, i didn't make that up!

like i said... DRUGS

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Elwood: It's what I do.

@ Stonerphonic: It all becomes so clear now.

Aaron said...

Man, sorry you didn't like this one. I thought it was fucking hilarious. Loved Fonda's performance in it. But then again I don't do drugs, so I can't really vouch for its accuracy or lack thereof.

Biba Pickles said...

I actually bought this movie along with "Psych-Out" at Insomniac 5 years ago. My favorite part is when Peter Fonda randomly wanders into a little girl's house.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Aaron: Oh don't get me wrong dude I thought the movie was a blast. Just not actually any good.

@ Biba: That's a hell of a double feature.

Erich Kuersten said...

Bryce, man, you're wayy wrong, this film's a master... not piece or work, but master... talking auntie fish piece.. oh man, it's all spiraling.

As someone who's 'legally insane' a dozen times over, I never fail to get the lysergic tang of recognition watching Fonda freak out over an orange or at the laundromat, and the creepy closeted come-ons of 'guide' Dern are so spot-on for bad trippiness, you just know these people know what's going on.

PS - the dwarf shouted 'bay of pigs' not Fonda. and he more just said it. But I love that scene since it taught me to not wallow in guilt, i.e. when Fonda goes "I'm guilty, I'm guilty," and Hopper says "yeah but don't wallow in it, cuz it's weak and disgusting!"

Everytime I start to wallow, Hopper comes around on the carousel and tells me that.

PS - read my own review of the film at Acidemic, and with Psych-out on Popmatters

Unknown said...

Ha ha ha - great review and pretty accurate too. I love this crazy exploitation movies. Always good for a laugh!

Franco Macabro said...

Watching this movie will probably be the same as watching Ken Russell's Tommy. Just fucking insane.

Lazarus Lupin said...

Oddly enough I have found that one of the films that best shown how it felt to take a psychedelic substance was of all the bloomin' things "Young Guns." By not showing "Freaky" things and just concentrating on the range of reactions from grim stone faceness to "Did you see that CHICKEN?"

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Erich: Well arguing with you on this one would just be folly Erich, so I will decline. I'll just note that your takes are great as always and I'm pissed I forgot it was the midget.

@ Cyberschiziod: Thanks for reading.

@ Film Connoisseur: That's as apt a description as I can come up with.

@ Lazarus: FINALLY a use for Young Guns.