The Trip (released 23 August 1967)
American International Pictures (AIP)
Produced and directed by Roger Corman
Written by Jack Nicholson
Olds: Dick Miller, Beach Dickerson (1924–2005)
Music: The Electric Flag
‘The Trip’ on View at 2 Houses: Film Tries to Simulate Psychedelic Visions
IF “The Trip” is a fair indication—as it is frankly intended to be—of how one feels and what one sees in the mind’s eye when high on psychedelic drugs, then you can take it from me the experience is not very much different from looking at some of the phantasmagoric effects in movies like “Juliet of the Spirits” and “Kaleidoscope.”
In trying to visualize a notion of what Peter Fonda goes through when he seeks release from professional and domestic tensions by repairing to a very luxurious psychedelic fun-house under the guidance of a friend, and embarks on an LSD trip, Roger Corman has simply resorted to a long succession of familiar cinematic images, accompanied by weird music and sounds.
From an ordinary assemblage of prismatic color effects, he weaves into scenes of Mr. Fonda chasing wildly along a beach or through a woods with two black-robed horsemen pursuing him, then a long scene of Mr. Fonda and Susan Strasberg, who plays hiis estranged wife, twining and writhing in sexual agitation behind a curtain of wavy lighting effects.
Somewhere along the way, Salli Sachse as a turned-on character becomes involved in his hallucinatory trip, and she pops up here and there from time to time, rigged out in assorted costumes. Likewise, Bruce Dern as the companion who engineers the trip and Dennis Hopper, who runs the fun-house (which is known as a Freakout), appear and talk to Mr. Fonda along the way.
But there is no discernible pattern to the experience. Early along Mr. Fonda evidently has hallucinations of dying, and there are horror-film effects to cover that. Later he has a droll encounter with a woman in a Laundromat, which is evidently meant to indicate his distaste for his job as a director of television commercials. And toward the end he sits through a wild dance orgy in a psychedelic nightclub with bare-top dancers and a cacophonic band.
Is this a psychedelic experience? Is this what it’s like to take a trip? If it is, then it’s all a big put-on. Or is this simply making a show with adroitly staged fantasy episodes and good color photography effects?
In my estimation, it is the latter. And I would warn you that all you are likely to take away from the Rivoli or the 72d Street Playhouse, where the picture opened yesterday, is a painful case of eye-strain and perhaps a detached retina.