Paul Groves (Peter Fonda), a television commercial director, is in the midst of a personality crisis. His wife Sally (Susan Strasberg) has left him and he seeks the help of his friend John (Bruce Dern), a self-styled guru who's an advocate of LSD. Paul asks John to be the guide on his first "trip". John takes Paul to a "freak-out" at his friend Max's (Dennis Hopper) pad. Splitting the scene, they score some acid from Max and return to John's split-level pad with an indoor pool. Paul experiences visions of sex, death, strobe lights, flowers, dancing girls, witches, hooded riders, a torture chamber, and a dwarf. He panics but John tells him to "go with it, man." Would you trust John?
*** I am uploading this in memory of Dr. Albert Hoffman who passed away on the 29 April 2008, in Switzerland, aged 102 ***
Peter Fonda ... Paul Groves
Susan Strasberg ... Sally Groves
Bruce Dern ... John
Dennis Hopper ... Max
Salli Sachse ... Glenn
Barboura Morris ... Flo
Judy Lang ... Nadine
Luana Anders ... Waitress
Dick Miller ... Cash
Caren Bernsen ... Alexandra
Katherine Walsh ... Lulu
Bárbara Ransom ... Helena
This is a classic exploitation film that inspired a ton of imitation "acid films", most of them having no plot and lots of the same imagery you see here (complete with naked females and zooms). "The Trip" definitely has more direction and structure than it's spinoffs, yet one would still hope for more story development in the early half of the film. Clearly, Corman's savvy was able to get away with putting lots of cheap effects on the screen, thus stretching a 30 minute plot into an 85 minute feature.
Much of the film is full of various imagery of Peter Fonda running around in different costumes, in different strange places, and very little is told about his real character. He is a rather passive character in this film, and doesn't elicit much sympathy from the audience, even though his performances were satisfactory. The cinematography is quite uninspired, even if adequate from a techical POV, though it has some fine point gaffes (like double shadows). One of the most frustrating aspects of this film is that the potential it had for visual treatment was not used to nearly it's full potential, even on the budget it was made for.
With the exception of the flash cuts editing, stylistically this film bears a more conservative filmmaking approach that might have not been as appropriate as a more "new wave" approach. Indeed, two years later, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were to take elements of "The Trip", and the earlier "Wild Angels", combining them with the 'new wave' style of filmmaking to produce the masterpiece "Easy Rider".
For all it's shortcomings, "The Trip" did very well at the box office, something that would not have happened today without much more expensive effects, and more known cast members (even though Fonda, Strassberg and Dern were known faces at the time).
Roger Corman, king of b-grade Science fiction, horror, juvenile delinquent and biker movies, tunes in, turns on, and helps create a classic piece of psychedelia. Scripted by Jack Nicholson, and co-starring his future 'Easy Rider' collaborators Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, as well as the always great Bruce Dern ('The Wild Angels', 'Bloody Mama', 'Silent Running'), the late Susan Strasberg (with Dern and Nicholson in 'Psych-Out' the following year - another psych classic), Corman regular Dick Miller ('A Bucket Of Blood',etc.), Luana Anders (Coppola and Corman's 'Dementia 13'), and even blink and you'll miss them cameos from Peter Bogdanovich and cosmic cowboy Gram Parsons.
Fonda plays a disillusioned director of TV commercials who decides to drop acid for the first time in the hope of finding some meaning in his life. Dern plays his guide. Fonda's trip includes stroboscopic lights, quasi-medieval scenes including dwarves and hooded horsemen, naked go-go dancers, fast cuts, and his own funeral. Apple juice and a visit to the laundromat also play quite significant roles. This is a must see for anyone interested in 60s pop culture, and is still one of the most entertaining psych movies. Take 'The Trip' or you'll regret it forever!
This virtually plotless film is about an advertising executive, going through a divorce, who decides to experiment with LSD.
Most of the film, and obviously the whole reason behind making it, are the psychedelic "trip" sequences. That is the main problem with this film. While the hallucinations initially look impressive and quite enjoyably surreal, they lose their impact quickly and soon become quite dull.
However, the film can be quite enjoyable as a snapshot of late sixties Californian psychedelia (all the weird, colourful paintings on walls, and almost every second sentence ending in "man").
Peter Fonda is quiet bland as the executive, but Dennis Hopper is worth watching in his role as a drug dealer.
It is worth watching if you're interested in late-sixties psychedelia, LSD, Peter Fonda or drug movies, others may want to pass.
* The film was rejected for a UK certificate 4 times by the BBFC (in 1967, 1971, 1980 & 1988) as it was considered an advertisement for the use of LSD. The film was finally granted an uncut 18 certificate in November 2002.
* Some of the music was provided by the group The Electric Flag.
* In order to prepare for the film, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson all engaged in a group LSD trip.
* Roger Corman also took LSD before starting the film, figuring he couldn't make a film about LSD without trying it himself. He had a good experience, and had to ask others what a "bad trip" was like in order to incorporate it into the film.
* Jack Nicholson wrote this screenplay for Corman based on his own experience of taking LSD under controlled laboratory conditions and also on his marriage break-up with first wife, Sandra Knight.
* Bruce Dern wanted nothing to do with the drug culture, and had to ask director Roger Corman what LSD was in order to prepare for his role.
* The band in the club near the beginning is the International Submarine Band, featuring Gram Parsons on vocals. However, their early country-rock sounds were removed and the psychedelic sounds of The Electric Flag were dubbed into the film.
* According to Bruce Dern, Jack Nicholson wrote the part of John for himself. Corman however would not agree to Nicholson playing the role and choose Dern instead.