Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Trip

A friend of mine, left a little... herbal present with me over Christmas, so armed with that I sat down and watched the Roger Corman directed, Jack Nicholson-penned acid-epic The Trip... In the film a commercials director takes LSD to open his mind to new ideas... And that's about it for the plot, but The Trip is a primiarly a visual film. Corman floods the screen with trippy LSD soaked visions, stroboscopic lighting, and enough rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness editing to rival Natural Born Killers. There's some incredible set pieces here - a love scene shot in strobe lighting with extraordinary color effects, and a stunning sequence where Peter Fonda finds adventure on the Strip - Corman will never be a hero of the Underground like Kenneth Anger or Warhol, but this sequence is one of the few instances where American mainstream cinema has matched the amphetamine rush of Scorpio Rising.


Admittedly Fonda is a little wooden, but he's backed with a good cast - Dennis Hopper, and a bearded Bruce Dern who looks like he just walked out of The Band. The music for the film is provided by the Electric Flag, and is a rather good mix of lounge-y jazz, fuzz guitar and freak out electronics - one piece of music even turns up in Easy Rider. Look out for the copy of Howl lying around Bruce Dern's groovy apartment, and fans of Ministry's Psalm 69 album, listen out for some dialogue lifted for "Just One Fix"...

The US MGM DVD of The Trip looks great, featuring a Making Of... and a fine engaging Roger Corman commentary. Best of all, its on a double bill with another LSD film The Psych-Out, which is essential viewing if only to see Jack Nicholson playing rhythm guitar.

POST-SCRIPT Not a hallucination, I'm glad to say, from the August 1994 issue, Empire's listing for The Trip on the satellite channel Bravo, a rare opportunity for UK audiences to catch what James Ferman once referred to as a "tremendous advertisement for LSD". It was thought that the BBFC had no jurisdiction over television but the screening of The Trip was cancelled at the 11th hour...


2 comments:

  1. A great DVD pairing of some fine 60's cinema. It was the AIP altered ending of The Trip that fittingly put the first cracks in their relationship with Roger Corman - after this the end was in sight...

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  2. ...which is a shame because Corman did some really great work at American International. The Trip has long been a favourite of mine - it seems ludicrous now but this film was still banned by the British censor well into 90's - the reasoning that the film would be a "tremendous advertisement for drug taking", (if I remember the quote right) - the BBFC were particularly worried about the rise of ecstasy culture in the early 90's... The Trip is easily the best of the 60's drug movies - that reminds of a great peice by Steven Puchalski about Drug Cinema - it's included in his Slimetime book but I found an online reprint of the article here - it's well worth checking out - lots of good, interesting films mentioned in the text...

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