9/4/08

It's Like Heavy Man, Ya Dig.


Disclaimer: The Lightning Bug in no way advocates the use of illicit films for recreational use. All films prescribed by the Bug have been tested on willing moon subjects and approved for the general consumption. Also please stay away from the brown laser disks. That is all.

Whew, glad that out of the way. Good evening moonies. Tonight's  film features the heavy use of drugs. That's right the Bug's in the drugs, can you dig it! It comes from an era of peace and love in 1968 when you had to wear flowers in your hair and people thought you might just be able to smoke banana peels. The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album had just been released, and kids everywhere were tuning in, turning on, and dropping out. I suppose a good many of them were also dropping in... to the local theater that is, and the king of B-Movies, Roger Corman wanted to turn the kids on to this flick.

The Trip (1968) starring Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Dennis Hopper. Directed by Roger Corman.

Yes everything is groovy in 1968, well, almost everything. Seems commercial director Paul Groves (Fonda) is unhappy with his life. His wife is divorcing him and he's looking all around for meaning. So he goes to his friend John (Bruce Dern) to hook him up with some LSD which John does by getting it from Max (Dennis Hopper). They go back to John's place, and Paul drops his acid and lays back blindfolded as pretty colors swirl all around his eyes. Its getting to be a pretty groovy place in here. John is Paul's babysitter. He serves him drinks and gives him oranges to play with and turns on some music for him, but Paul is not all there anymore.

Paul is having some real vivid full 3-D interactive hallucinations. He's running along a rocky beach, over sand dunes, having a psychedelic love scene, or being offered a drink by a kindly dwarf. He sees his ex-wife sometimes and often a girl, Glenn,  he met at the drug house. He comes in and out of these visions and during the out parts is where the movie actually captures some realism. Paul seems almost childlike in his wonder of the world, and also realistically John seems a bit amused by his tripping friend. Sadly those parts are few and far between, but I suppose its for the best. Having had to listen to someone on acid babble for hours, I can attest it wouldn't make a good film.

Of course, Paul's trip is not all moonbeams and rainbows and soon he hits a bad part of his trip where horse riders looking like dollar store Ringwraiths chase him into a haunted house where he discovers his body hung up inside and also seems to be burnt alive. Yeah, doesn't make much sense, but I suppose that's the point of it though. It goes on like that for ages with Dennis Hopper showing up in Paul's hallucination to judge his life and to also show Paul pictures of everyday things which Paul says makes him feel like "everything is familiar, but I feel separate." Of all the statements in the film, this one to me seems the most accurate about the depersonalizing effects of LSD.

The film drags on with Paul getting more paranoid to the point where he thinks that John has been killed and leaves the house. He wanders all over town meeting a little girl, a lady in a laundrette, and ending up in a hippy bar. From there he goes and seeks out Max who doesn't want him there since Paul thinks that the cops are after him. Soon after it ends up in a denouement that doesn't really sum anything up or provide resolution to the story.

I had looked forward for years to watch this one, and perhaps my expectations were too high. Some of the psychedelic footage was fun to look at, but there was so much of it that be became very boring. The script for the film was written by Jack Nicholson and of course in 1969 Jack, Dennis, and Peter would team up again for much better results in Easy Rider. It's an interesting drug movie in that, at the time, I don't know how many were made that didn't show drugs in a negative light (i.e. Reefer Madness). Tripping acid has been something I have seen many times in movies, and it's never able to be captured with any kind of accuracy. If you want to see a fairly interesting try, then give it a shot. It's not a bad flick, not groovy, not a bummer, just alright, man.


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