Psych Out – The Psychedelic Jack Nicholson Film

11 Mar

I’ll cut to the bottom line first: “Psych Out” is one of the best psychedelic films of the sixties. Many  cheap sensational movies were done about and around psychedelics during the end of the sixties, most of them were using the topic in a sensational way looking for an easy buck, and did not leave much of an impression.

“Psych out”, in contrast, is worth seeing for a few reasons. The first of which would be that it features the young Jack Nicholson who also wrote the script (This was actually Nicholson’s second script to deal with Psychedelics, after 1967’s “The Trip”, with Peter Fonda) which was heavily revised because it was deemed too experimental by the producers.

Secondly, for those interested in 1960s culture, it acts as a rare time capsule of the 1967’s San Francisco and allows a precious glimpse into the world of the hippies at the time: from Free Shops to Guerilla Theater scenes; while trying to deal, at least superficially, with some of the issues of the era like the ideas of ego dissolution, mind expansion and bad trips. Even the talks about the STP-Fright seem highly characteristic of the time and place (STP was a major drug problem in the Haight-Ashbury around the end of 1967).

While the film is not a piece of cheap anti-drug propaganda, it does seem to carry the message that psychedelics are probably the path to your destruction, or are a the very least a very risky business, best left to madmen. It features 2 bad trips and lots of weirded out folk that the film portrays as acid casualties.

Jenny’s bad STP trip, in the closing scene, has nightmarish, acid-horror film qualities, and does a pretty good cinematic work at making the viewer feel what it is like to be on a really bad trip. I won’t tell you the outcome, but if you want to watch the whole movie you can skip this particular one (which contains spoilers) and go to this link on YouTube where you can find the whole thing, divided into 9 parts.


4 Responses to “Psych Out – The Psychedelic Jack Nicholson Film”

  1. Nick Meador March 12, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    Thanks for this. I had no idea it existed.

  2. stm March 13, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    Hey I found a video I thought you would like. It’s by a japanese gal named “Eel”


  1. On Psychedelic Aesthetics « Psychedelic Cultures - June 27, 2012

    […] 1960s psychedelic genre of film distinguished itself through such films as “Psych-Out” (1968), “The Trip”, (1967), “Easy Rider” (1969) and of course the Beatles’ “Yellow […]

  2. The Trip (1967) « The Daily Psychedelic Video - August 18, 2012

    […] in a number of psychedelic films in the end of the 1960s, among them the classic Easy Rider and Psych Out, both of which featured the psychonauts-friendly young Jack Nicholson. The Trip (1967) is perhaps […]

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