There are many psychedelic movies in existence that seem so “out-there” that it’s hard to ignore them, much less stop thinking about them once you’ve seen them.
Whether you find these movies, “trippy,” creepy or just plain different, these psychedelic movies in some way or another take you to another dimension, where reality is non-existent and anything is possible.
Below I have compiled a list of 8 psychedelic movies, I feel they have the ability to take you to another mental state, no matter what mood you are in initially.
If you haven’t seen them, head to your local Blockbuster and prepare for an intense experience, to say the least.
1. A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange was originally a book written by Anthony Burgess in 1962, which was made into a controversial film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971.
The film revolves around the life of delinquent, trouble-maker Alex DeLarge, and his gang of followers. Like the novel, the film portrays extensive violence and disturbing images, which will make sense in the big picture of the film once you’ve watched it straight through.
However, be prepared for this type of severity as it starts within less than 10 minutes of the film’s beginning.
Adding to the intensity are the vibrant visual effects Kubrick uses in certain scenes and certain places, such as Alex’s creepily infernal bachelor pad in his parent’s house, to the Korova Milk Bar which serves milk laced with various drugs to Alex and his hoodlum friends.
A Clockwork Orange is not for the faint of heart; however, the film is worth watching if you have the ability to recognize its underlying themes of human morality and psychology.
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is another book-turned-film, written originally by gonzo-journalist Hunter S. Thompson in 1971 and made into a film by Terry Gilliam in 1998.
The movie focuses on the adventures of characters Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, (played by Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro) and their reckless adventures in Las Vegas.
Perhaps what makes this movie so psychedelic is that you do not have to be on drugs to feel like you are hallucinating, unlike many other psychedelic movies. Gilliam uses every effect possible to make his audience feel like the room they are in is spinning, from the swirling rugs of the Las Vegas hotel to the scenes at the nightclub and circus show.
Usually the first time around watching this film, one will experience an overwhelming feeling of paranoia and chaos, which is probably normal. After watching the movie several times, however, you should catch on to Thompson’s witty humor and clever theories, not to mention many “trippy” background effects that may have passed your vision at first glance.
Adding to the drug-induced craze of the movie is the soundtrack; hits from the sixties and seventies help set the mood and mental state for this classic.
3. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory/ Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Whether you prefer the 1971 version directed by Mel Stuart and starring Gene Wilder or Tim Burton’s 2005 version with Johnny Depp, both of these films are undoubtedly psychedelic.
It’s questionable whether this was writer Roald Dahl’s original intention, yet this children’s book has become a cult classic for people of all ages.
Where else could one find edible mushrooms, flavored wallpaper, chocolate rivers and the infamous Oompa-Loompas? The movie even subtlety hints at the resemblance to a psychedelic acid trip; with all of the wonderful colors and candy comes to the dangers and downsides of the factory.
Whatever your opinion, this is a fun movie to watch. If for some reason you’ve never seen either version, watch the original to get a more vintage (and in my opinion, a more creepy) view. The newer version is way more advanced technologically so watch this version for better and “trippier” special effects.
4. The Doors
The Doors is the 1991 film by Oliver Stone, starring Val Kilmer as legendary Doors’ frontman, Jim Morrison.
Despite mixed reviews of the movie, consisting mainly of how Stone chose to portray Morrison’s lifestyle, the movie is nonetheless a haunting take on the popular band and its lead singer’s road to excess and eventual death.
As a huge fan of The Doors, the movie had extra depth and meaning for me, yet I insist even non-fans should see it.
Backed by hits from the band itself, along with flashbacks of sixties peace, love, and Vietnam War-violence, the film will take you back to the decade that changed America. At the film’s beginning, Stone even attempts to portray Morrison for what he truly was; a poet. These initial lines will haunt audiences till the film’s conclusion.
Doors’ fans will recognize the true meaning behind the psychedelic scenes in the desert and nightclub, along with the subtle images of death personified, such as in the horse carriage driver in one scene or the Indian dancing in Morrison’s shadow, in another.
Overall, if you are interested in the drugs, sex and rock & roll counterculture of the sixties, this film is the best of psychedelic movies list.
5. Yellow Submarine
Two words: The Beatles.
Despite their “boy-band” status, it seems no other band better personified the psychedelic era than John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
Yellow Submarine is a 1968 film of animation, produced by George Dunning. Based on the music by the band, the film features four animated characters (The Beatles,) voiced by other actors.
This movie was made at the peak of psychedelic pop-culture, making it a must-see for any fan of the genre or any fan of the Beatles. The film is completely animated with wildly imaginative images and luxurious landscapes, taking place in “Pepperland;” a paradise under the sea.
Look out for tons of hidden jokes and double entendres found in the film, such as the “Blue Meanies,” who in the film are the music-hating attackers of Pepperland. In real life, however, they could be seen as:
a metaphor for bad people in government and corporate, who force their wills on good people and carelessly deplete and ruin the natural environment, resources, color and landscape, according to www.everythingenglish.com.
Backed by a soundtrack consisting entirely of Beatles music, this film covers all your psychedelic needs. After all, “it’s all in the mind.”
6. Alice in Wonderland
Thanks to Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 hit “White Rabbit,” Alice in Wonderland quickly became more than just a cute Disney movie.
Based on Lewis Carroll’s books “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” this 1951 animated film has made a mark in psychedelic history.
From the White Rabbit and the Doorknob to the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland is seemingly filled with characters that represent different stages of an acid trip.
Falling down the rabbit hole leads Alice to a world of nonsense. Anyone who has experienced LSD can surely parallel this experience.
Overall, Alice in Wonderland is a fun movie to experience. Look closely for all the hidden symbols and meanings, as you wish.
My opinion is that film is at the top of psychedelic movies list
7. Waking Life
Waking Life is the 2001 film directed by Richard Linklater. Although at first glance the film may appear animated, it is actually “a digitally enhanced live action rotoscoped film,” which is basically a film that was originally made using real people and then is transformed into animation.
According to philosopher George Santayana, waking life is a reference to the theory that “Sanity is madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled.” In this respect, the majority of the film takes place in the lucid dream-state of the main character.
While the majority of the film deals with dialogue between two people, discussing mostly themes of existentialism and the meaning of life, the movie is a must-see, if only for the spectacular imagery and picture. At points, it seems the movie is actually breathing in ripples through your TV, which is why I am now a fan of rotoscoping.
Overall, this is a film that will dazzle you visually, and it does not require anything other than your eyes.
8. Across the Universe
Across the Universe is the most recent movie on this psychedelic movies list, released in 2007 under the direction of Julie Taymor.
Although there already is another Beatles movie listed, I figured another one wouldn’t hurt. After all, this film is jam-packed with references to not only the band but the sixties culture as well.
The film is considered a musical, featuring tons of Beatles music revamped and covered by the stars of the film, notably Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess.
Besides containing tons of “Beatlemania,” the film references sixties icons like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, as well as having cameos by Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard, and U2’s Bono.
While the entire film doesn’t use psychedelic imagery, the film has its moments of fantasy and, compared to many films of today, it’s a breath of fresh air as far as genre goes.
The movie is indeed a love story, yet this is just one of its many themes. It raises questions of war, peace, family, and freedom, while still having moments of wit and humor.
Overall, this is an excellent watch if you’re looking to find something different in psychedelic movies.
*This article was originally published at transpersonal-psy.blog.cz