Stuff to Blow Your Mind is all about the journey to the edge of human understanding, and there are a number of paths to that terrifyingly awesome precipice. Psychedelic movies are mysterious, enigmatic and totally out of our control. Very often, it’s a chance for an auteur to take their audience on a trip through the most lavish and ‘indulgent’ techniques they can conjure a feast for the eyes and a task for the brain to keep up with fractured story-lines, hallucinogenic imagery, and booming soundtracks. For your fair share of a roller-coaster ride, see below. Here’s the list of 10 best Psychedelic movies.
10. Enter the Void
Among other things, Gaspar Noé is a master of controlling his camera. His two-hour forty-minute film created with the purpose of simulating an LSD-esque ‘trip’ is an exercise in testing his audience’s endurance. Enter the Void does fully live up to its name — and with so many complaints about the uninspired and generic state of film nowadays venturing into something like this might restore your faith in the power of contemporary cinema.
Italian maestro of the Giallo horror Darigo Argento (besides having a cracking name) may have made better movies than ‘Suspiria’- and his nagging ineptitude at effectively directing actors is on full display here- but the sensory overload achieved with this slasher classic really is worth seeing.
8. An Andalusian Dog
Luis Buñuel’s fantastical debut embraces his later through-line of playful surrealism with a crushing grip- immediately throwing us into the image of an eye being sliced open by a razor blade. Despite its bloodshed, the visual poetry Buñuel and two-time collaborator Salvador Dalí unearth in their landmark 1929 piece would go on to inspire countless film-maker and become one of the definitive artistic statements of the silent era. At less than 20 minutes, it’s not exactly the most patience-testing dive into the psychedelic but in itself, An Andalusian Dog is still absolutely seminal.
The fantastic ‘Point-Blank’ remains one of the most subversive and fantastical Hollywood movies of the 1960s. Attracting big star Lee Marvin despite its strangeness (a-la Rock Hudson with John Frankenheimer’s seminal ‘Seconds’) it follows a man betrayed by his friend wreaking a terrible trail of revenge.
6. The Holy Mountain
Probably the most openly psychedelic flick on this list, Mexican midnight-movie legend Alejandro Jodorowsky made his mark with 1970’s ‘El Topo’, another brutally violent and gloriously psychedelic movie. Five years later with help from all sources, notably John, Paul, George and Ringo from big fans The Beatles, he got another project off the ground.
5. Mulholland Drive
This flick remains one of the greatest works of 21st-century cinema: Each set-piece worthy of study for its expert use of spacing, subtle surrealism and most importantly music ever so carefully placed at precise moments to create feelings of insecurity and discomfort in the audience. Unlike many of these movies Mulholland Drive’s aesthetic is nearly naturalistic, with sparing use of colours and lighting to craft and ever-so-slight alteration of the world we live in.
4. Last Year at Marienbad
Whilst the most important artists will be debated for all time perhaps even more heated is the argument over whether ‘Last Year at Marienbad’ is a masterpiece or an absolute waste of time. Totally disregarding plot and character in favor of powerful cinematic effect, the film’s abandonment of convention gives Resnais room to explore empty rooms and even emptier faces far before Kubrick did- this movie’s chateau d’Marienbad a dead-ringer for ‘The Shining’s’ Overlook Hotel.
Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’ weaves its lucid mood through expert editing: Segwaying between scenes without a word or a single split-second to pause and in doing so putting together a series of disconnected conversations as if they were absolutely crucial to each-other. For those who have seen the film know they are such a simple, wholly effective way to impart importance onto simple things absent of any flashing lights or neon signs. All you really need to make a point is a good editor.
2. Come & See
Come & See is assuredly an uncompromising portrait of the Second World War, though its unapologetic nature is second only to its realism. All of this happened — and the screeching cacophony of pain and anguish the man traps us in for a full 136 minutes is in a sense noble for how it refuses to bow down to any form of sugar-coated heroism. Many of the movies above can be both frightening and fantastical in their use of psychedelic elements — but ‘Come & See’ is a straight-up nightmare.
1. Marketa Lazarová
Marketa Lazarová is dizzying dive into the very depths of cinematic possibility; the wonders that can be achieved when you let go of what has been established and strike out into the most fascinating, uncharted territory ever put on a screen. Impassioned, evocative and almost frighteningly dynamic.
So now pick your movie for the weekend and enjoy the trip!