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3.7 out of 5 stars7
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 April 2009
Psych-Out is hard to judge. It is something of a critical enigma - definitely a film of its time, yet remaining eminently watchable for those of us who are too young to look at it from a nostalgia bent. On one hand it reeks of cheese, lots of camp then-supposedly-trendy slang dialogue, crazy groovy dated fashions and a San Francisco rock band that drive around in a psychedelic van that recalls the Scooby Doo cartoons. We are also expected to believe that this band are going to "make it" which is fine until we get to hear them, although their "Purple Haze" cover has its moments. It is not an art film like other psychedelic pieces of the period are such as "The Trip" or "Performance", and much of the trippy-folky pop music featured is rather average. On the other hand, it is easy to overlook what the film does very well, it transports the viewer effortlessly into the 1968 San Francisco world right from the opening shot, the story is well-paced and quite absorbing, and ultimately, quite moving. The characters are well defined and there are some spectacular set-pieces like a tripped-out character thinking his mates are zombies (good make-up here!) and another thinks he is a a warrior fighting soldiers and monsters when he is in fact fighting a nasty bunch of redneck-types in a scrap yard. And the final trip scene has some breathtaking special effects which still look good. So this is a film that is both tacky and impressive. It deserves to be better known, and is reminiscent of films like "Human Traffic" taking a balanced look at drug culture and the nature of the youth movement. Looking at this, one can see why the San Fran hippy movement was so popular and joyful, as well as revealing the reasons for its ultimate extinction. For those interested in the history, music and culture of that time, or for those out to watch some good stoner film entertainment, this is highly recommended.
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on 30 November 2000
A runway teen named Jenny (Strasberg) is searching for her hippie brother (Dern) amid all the madness of the acid soaked reality that was the Haight in the 1960s. Jenny falls in with a rock band and begins a relationship with Stoney (cynically played by a phony-tail wearing Jack Nicholson). As Jenny continues to search for her brother she gets more and more wrapped up on the vices of the day. Soon things get heavy. Will Jenny split the scene or ride it out? The story is punctuated by bursts of trippy sequences that do not serve the plot but are high on camp value. And of course, the music, like a fine wine, is perfectly dated. Bands like the Seeds and the Strawberry Alarm Clock sing their psychedelic ear candy like "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow", "Incense and Peppermints" and "Two Fingers Pointing At You". Also of note is Jack Nicholson and his band (called Mumblin' Jim) faking their way through a bastard version of "Purple Haze". If you missed the Sixties or (like me) you don't remember very much, then check out this gem. Hear phrases like "It's all one big plastic hassle", "Warren's freaking out at the Gallery" and "You sound better on acid". With the right kind of eyes you can see a certain bleakness that the film takes. There are lots of subtle digs at the hippies and the straights. Dig it.
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on 12 July 2001
This film may not have done much for Jack Nicolson's career but its unparalelled for real street footage of the Haight. This film,although undeniably cheesy, really captures an era when Tim Leary's Millbrook posse(east coast) and Ken Keseys Merry Pranksters(west coast) had more effect on the youth culture of America than the government. With music by the Strawberry Alarmclock (incense & peppermint) and the Seeds the story follows a young runaway deaf girl who falls for the romantic myth of the hippie lifestyle. All is fun and laughter until she finds out there is a darker side to the free love and drugs of the era.
This film captures the essence of the 60's in San Francisco.What started of as harmless exploration and free expression spawned a monster in the form of drug hysteria which the media whipped into a sensation..
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on 7 December 2012
On one level this is a really, really bad film - feeble plot and hilariously stilted dialogue. On the other hand it's a brilliant time capsule of the hippy days in San Francisco. It's got great music, lashings of psychedelic visuals and a young Jack Nicholson with a ponytail. What's not to like?!!
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on 9 December 2015
Despite what it says on the cover, this is not the 101 minute cut, just the usual version that runs to around 85 minutes. Picture quality isn't great either, but it is a very good film - seek out the 101 minute blu-ray for the full experience.
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on 19 January 2012
Psyche-Out is an obscure sixties film that is probably now best known for featuring Jack Nicholson in a role before Easy Rider made him famous. It's a tame and sanitised account of hippies at play that is corny, at times unintentionally funny but also, when all is said and done, endearing and enjoyable. The fact that this movie was the work of American International Pictures, an outfit best known for beach-party bikini pics and cheap horrors, means that it was hardly meant to be taken seriously.

Susan Strasberg plays a deaf teen who wanders around hippie central in Frisco in search of her deranged brother, sort of like little Dorothy in a seriously spliffed land of Oz. She teams up with a couple of musicians, one of whom is Nicholson, and what follows is a meandering journey that takes us to every right-on port of call where every hippie cliché is done to death. A couple of bands provide the music, notably the moderately iconic Strawberry Alarm Clock, and by the end we might just have forgotten that all the main players are on the wrong side of thirty and that Jack can't play a guitar to save himself (the fingers need to move on the fretboard if different notes are to be produced).

There are far more serious hippie pics out there, but if all you want to do is wallow gently in some idealised sixties grooviness and listen to some surprisingly good tunes (the theme is particularly enjoyable) then Psyche-Out might do the trick.
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on 14 February 2013
Unusual film which is the story of an LSD drug trip from an observers perspective and the person taking the trip. Must be fairly unique. Its all quite tame but worth a look. It is from the hippy era and features the always watchable Peter Fonda.
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