In its semi-serious warning-label preface, Roger Corman's The Trip describes itself as "a shocking commentary on a prevalent trend of our time," but this 1967 psychsploitation classic is also both a quick-and-dirty cash-in on the LSD craze and a seemingly earnest film about lysergic mind-expansion.
Scripted by Jack Nicholson, the film follows Peter Fonda, playing a slick, young TV commercial director, as he tries to shed his hang-ups by turning on for the first time. Helped along on his journey by the usual late-60s Hollywood rogue's gallery, including Bruce Dern as Fonda's bearded, friendly-creepy "guide," and Dennis Hopper as the local hippie acid connection, the results are alternately groovy and nightmarish: gorgeous, perfume-ad-ready vistas of the California coast, in-camera kaleidoscope effects and the spastic delirium of the Sunset Strip. Scored with majestic SoCal psych-pop from Mike Bloomfield and the Electric Flag, The Trip is a masterpiece of Cormanesque economy, featuring scene shot guerilla-style in a packed Whisky-a-Go-Go, and second-unit directing by Hopper and Fonda (which led directly to their collaboration on Easy Rider the next year). Is this a cautionary tale, or an LSD endorsement? Whatever, man.
Director: Roger Corman. 85 mins. 1967. 35mm.
Part of the series Not Coming to a Theater Near You, presented by the film blog of the same name.
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