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25 Great Psychedelic Movies That Are Worth Your Time

02 February 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Esther Zeilig

18. Altered States (1980) dir. Ken Russell

Altered States

Ken Russell’s foray into the science fiction genre explores the mystical experience of one man’s hallucinations and the concept of these hallucinations becoming phyisically manifest. The film’s psychedelic sequences are vivid visual representations of the protagonist’s psychological devolution into increasingly primative forms of being.

A psychologist, Edward Jessup (William Hurt), fascinated with altered states of consciousness, undertakes a scientific experiment wherein he takes hallucinatory drugs while in a sensory deprivation tank. The combination of an untested Native American drug and sensory deprivation cause him to mentally and physically degenerate from man to proto-human to primordial being.

The sequences depicting Jessup’s hallucinations utilize bright colors and fast editing in order to show the viewer his altered sensory perceptions. We see religious and primal symbology, suggesting Jessup’s spiritual associations with his memories and unconcious thoughts. Toward the end of the film, his hallucinations become a wild daze of microscopic cellular movement.

Altered States is an excellent melding of science fiction and psychedelia in film. The surreal imagery adds insight into the consciousness of the main character while under the influence of his mind-altering experiences. There is a certain level of suspense during Jessup’s transformations, which make it hard for the viewer to determine what is real and what’s imagined.

 

19. Son of the White Mare (Fehérlófia) (1981) dir. Marcell Jankovics

the-son-of-the-white-mare

This 1981 Hungarian animation uses bright colors, symbolic, geometric shapes, and pulsating movement to tell the mythic tale of a man with superhuman strength, Fehérlófia, born from a white horse. The film, abundant with allusions to ancient Hungarian history and folktales, visually captures the magic embedded in fairy tales.

We follow Fehérlófia through his heroic journey to exact revenge on the dragons that imprisoned his mother years prior. The film begins with his mother running for shelter and giving birth to him in the hollow of a tree.

She tells her young son the story of how evil dragons overcame the magic kingdom and imprisoned her. After having two sons, who disappeared from the eyes of the dragons, she escaped, pregnant with Fehérlófia. As he grows older, Fehérlófia receives advice from the spirit of the Forefather to suckle at his mother’s breast for 14 years in order to become strong.

At the end of the 14 years, his mother dies of exhaustion and he leaves home with his newfound strength to find his long lost brothers. The three of them then journey to the underworld to find the dragons who jailed their mother.

The striking, prismatic visuals lead us through this adventure rich with folkloric archetypes and symbolism. Jankovics creates a magical world with this fantastic story told through the colorful, psychedelic animation. The entirity of this film is one swirling mass of sensory delight.

 

20. Come and See (Idi i smotri) (1985) dir. Elem Klimov

come and see

This twisted coming of age tale illustrates the horrors of war as seen and heard by a Belarussian boy during the Nazi occupation of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The film’s haunting imagry and sound design appropriately places the viewer in the vulnerable position of the impressionable young man as he sees his village viciously destroyed.

Flyora (Aleksei Kravchenko) is digging in the sand, looking for a rifle in order to join the Soviet forces. Once he finds his weapon, the wide-eyed youngster marches off to become a soldier, much to the dismay of his mother. On his troop’s first mission, Flyora is left behind with a beautiful young woman, Glasha (Olga Mironova), the troop’s nurse. German warplanes circle overhead and drop bombs on their camp site, deafening Flyora.

The film follows Flyora as he journeys back to his village, only to find it ravaged and occupied with sadistic Nazis. Once Flyora loses much of his hearing, the film takes a drastic turn, using warped sounds to mimic the sounds Flyora can hear. The drone of the airplanes overhead, the muffled voices of the people around him, and imagined radio broadcasts create the symphony of sound that permeate Flyora’s broken psyche.

At the start of the film we are presented with a bright eyed, bushy tailed boy ready for the adventures of war. However, we are only to see him traumatized and prematurely aged; he is driven mad by the terrors of death. The sound design mixed with the powerful performances (which oftentimes break the fourth wall) create a living nightmare that enmeshes the audience within the tortured mind of Flyora.

 

21. Dead Man (1995) dir. Jim Jarmusch

dead-man-original

Jim Jarmusch’s atmospheric, existential western takes the viewer on the lonely, dreamy journey (accompanied by the sparse, electric strummings of Niel Young) of William Blake (Johnny Depp) as he finds himself wandering through a forest, led by a Native American named Nobody (Gary Farmer).

William Blake comes to the rusty industrial town of Machine with the prospects of a job. After his job falls through, he kills a man out of self-defense, and wounded, steals a horse and rides out of town. Nobody finds him unconcious in the woods and after learning William Blake’s name, thinks he is a reincarnation of the Romantic poet. William Blake takes a spiritual journey with Nobody through the white winter forest, realizing his place as a “dead man.”

Jarmusch himself dubbed the film a “Psychedelic Western,” and Dead Man lives up to the name through the use of Robby Müller’s exquisite, otherworldly black and white photography, Niel Young’s intense, yet minimal, music, and the philosophic musings of the characters.

 

22. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) dir. Terry Gilliam

fear and loathing in las vegas

Based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel (using semi-autobiographical events), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas takes the viewer on a two hour psychedelic trip to the heart of debauchery. Consisting mostly of distorted caricatures and hallucinations, the film successfully envelops the viewer in the drug-fuelled reality of the characters.

Hunter S. Thompson’s alter-ego Raoul Duke (Johhny Depp) and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) take a road trip to Las Vegas from Los Angeles on the assignment of covering the Mint 400 motorcycle race. The pair feast upon their collection of illegal drugs, making their stay in Vegas memorable (well, from what they can remember). Duke narrates their indulgent exploration, bringing up themes of the American Dream.

In what could be considered the director’s cult masterpiece, Gilliam distorts the reality of the characters to the point of ridicule. As Duke and Gonzo cavort through the extravagant city of Las Vegas, with a multitude of drugs turning an already bizarre environment chaotic, they hit upon the emptiness of American culture.

 

23. Requiem for a Dream (2000) dir. Darren Aronofsky

requiem_for_a_dream

Aronofsky’s melodramatic tragedy is a brutal tour de force. Depicting the mountainous highs and devastating lows of drug use and addiction, Requiem for a Dream goes far beyond any other cautionary tale with its horrifyingly distorted visuals, heartbreaking scenarios, and epic musical score.

The film follows four characters, Harry (Jared Leto), his mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn), Harry’s girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), and Harry’s best friend and drug dealing partner Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). Each character struggles to accomplish his or her ambitions, but is ultimately overtaken by their drug addition: Harry, Marion, and Tyrone to heroin and Sara to amphetamines in disguise as diet pills.

Aronofsky amplifies the drug use with continual close up shots of the characters injecting or ingesting their drug of choice. We see the routine that begins to develop and how it leads to the characters’ ultimate downfall. Visual and auditory hallucinations abound as the characters all try to maintain a grasp on their goals and in some instances, reality. Each characters’ descent is illustrated beautifully with Aronofsky’s masterful direction, with his emphasis on the distortion of reality that comes with drug use.

 

24. Enter the Void (2009) dir. Gaspar Noé

Enter the Void

Gaspar Noé’s frightening, hallucinatory masterpiece is a sensory overload of bright lights and neon colors, a swirling soundscape, and unparalled visual effects. Noé’s hardcore mind trip transports the viewer into a phantasmagoric world of life, death, and nightmare.

Loosely based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the film follows Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), an American, Toyko-based drug dealer and his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta). Oscar and Linda were orphaned at a young age, when their parents died in a car crash (that they were also in). The two promise to always stick together, and Oscar swears to protect Linda, no matter what.

One night, Oscar meets up with his friend Alex (Cyril Roy) on his way to a bar to sell some product to a young guy. The meeting turns out to be a set up, and Oscar is shot and killed by the police. For the rest of the film, Oscar’s spirit floats through the streets of Toyko reexperiencing old memories, watching over Linda and Alex, and delving into alternate versions of reality.

Told completely from Oscar’s point of view (the camera mimicks Oscar’s vision and hearing), the film captures every aspect of Oscar’s sensory perceptions, including a five minute DMT trip at the beginning of the film. The maelstrom of dazzling lights, neon colors, and distorted imagry that the viewer encounters both before and after Oscar’s death is nothing short of a tour de force in psychedelic filmmaking.

 

25. A Field in England (2013) dir. Ben Wheatley

A Field In England

A film made up of only five characters in one location, A Field in England takes the viewer on a psychological trip involving war deserters, witchcraft, and the supernatural.

Set during the English Civil War, an alchemist’s assistant, Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) and three other deserters wander through the English Countryside in search of an ale house. The men come across a mysterious Irishman named O’Niell (Michael Smiley), whom Whitehead soon realizes is the man he was instructed by his master to find in order to obtain some stolen manuscripts. However, O’Niell pursuades the group of men to help him search and dig for a treasure buried in a specific field within a fairy ring, where the men soon unravel.

Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) incorporates history and folklore into his very simple, yet compelling and extremely psychedelic film. The ancient superstition behind mushroom circles say that all those who enter are transported into a magical (but dangerous) realm.

Wheatley plays upon that superstition with psychedelic sequences that include mirroring one side of the frame to the other, and very fast editing which disrupts the viewer’s persistence of vision to the point of assault (there’s even a notice at the start of the film warning the viewer about the “flashing images and stroboscopic sequences”). The film achieves the perfect blend of historical realism and occult psychedelia.

Author Bio: Esther Zeilig is a graduate from UCLA’s School of Film and Television, with an emphasis in Cinematography. She spends her free time doing what she loves: watching film, working on her photography, and snuggling with her cats.

 

 

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  • Brian Lussier

    Two points. First, the protohuman’s tool in 2001 does not transform into a space station. This has been talked about by those who’ve worked with Kubrick: it’s meant to be an unexploded space bomb, floating in space. A reference to the idea that man’s weapons have become more sophisticated, since the “tool” during the Dawn of Man sequence was used as a weapon. Second, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas is a horribly bad film, Terry Gilliam’s worse to date! Some people think it’s art because it does fit Gilliam’s style, but he did not make a great film out of it, just a weird, overly convoluted mess of a film that masks its own irrelevence behind its weirdness, people mistakenly thinking it is greater than what it is. If you were going to put that on the list, you should have put David Cronenberg’s The Naked Lunch. A far superior film!

    • chaosthetic

      “…just a weird, overly convoluted mess of a film that masks its own irrelevence behind its weirdness, people mistakenly thinking it is greater than what it is.” sounds psychedelic enough to me….

      • Brian Lussier

        Psychedelic, yes. But the title of the article is “GREAT psychedelic films”. If he’d just said “Psychedelic Films”, I would have agreed. But the term “Great” disqualifies it. At least to me. Sorry, we can’t all agree.

        • chaosthetic

          i’m pretty sure ‘esther’ is a woman. but then again, we can’t all agree

        • Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Don’t think about it. Problem solved.

        • Jarek Draven

          The irony is that it’s one of a handful of films that actually belong on the list. lol

    • Sam Henry

      I was kind of bummed Into the Void made it and not Beyond the Black Rainbow.

      • Nick

        u deserve more upvote

      • Jack Leiter

        I read this list and the first movie I thought of was this. What a GREAT movie. So underrated.

    • Alex Nasaudean

      irrelevance

    • bb

      Fear and Loathing was a mess but at least it was an entertaining one. Naked Lunch is pretty much unfilmable, Cronenberg did what he could but the movie was a bore. I don’t think even Lynch could do that book justice on screen.

    • Angela Lignos

      I just watched A Clockwork Orange last night. It should be on this list. Train Spotting as well and The Wall. My list of add ons goes on and on……….

      • Brian Lussier

        I don’t know. Clockwork Orange is my 2nd favorite film of all time, so clearly I have very high regard for it. In fact, it may be my second favorite, but I consider it to be the best film ever made. I just have a capacity to separate favorite from best, even if both remain subjective. But I don’t consider A Clockwork Orange Psychedelic. Definitely agree on The Wall, however, and I was also just thinking of both Beatles films Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine.

      • CORMAC___NJ

        I don’t agree that the Wall is psychedelic. It’s weird for sure, and includes some parts that might qualify (e.g. the opening scene), but in general I see it more as a unique vision flowing from the chronically-depressed mind of Roger Waters than belonging to any genre.

        • Psychedelic Piper

          Agreed, especially considering that musically “The Wall” is one of Pink Floyd’s least psychedelic albums, if you can even call it psychedelic at all. Only some of the imagery in the film would qualify, as you said.

          • Jason LeClair

            No the Wall is very psychedelic.

          • Psychedelic Piper

            Visually, but not musically. Listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” album, as well as Syd Barrett’s first solo album “The Madcap Laughs”, and then try telling me The Wall is “very psychedelic”.

          • Jason LeClair

            I hate early Pink Floyd and despise syd barrett. The wall is the most psychedelic movie ever made.

          • Psychedelic Piper

            You wouldn’t know the meaning of the word psychedelic even if it hit you right in the face. Nothing about “The Wall” is mind-manifesting or mind-expanding. It’s a psychological music/art film, yea, but that doesn’t make it psychedelic just because you tripped with your buddies on mushrooms watching it back in high school. Syd Barrett’s music, to me and many others, will always be a true reflection of the psychedelic experience, and the most boundless reflection of what the human psyche is capable of creatively. Anyway, great job replying a year late. I really could care less what you think.

      • shaun h

        Definitely Clockwork Orange

    • Angela Lignos

      Lost Highway

      • Brian Lussier

        Agreed.

    • HLLH

      Fear and Loathing worse than Baron Munchausen?? Have you seen Baron Munchausen? One of the worst films of all time and fuck no, Fear is one of Gilliam’s best.

      • Benjamin Dietze

        I beg your pardon, but “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” has the rare distinction of scoring 100% from professional critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s the one film that most Gilliam fans will cite as their favorite of his works. The production team went through Hell, but fans and critics alike love the film.

        If Gilliam’s “Brazil” pretty much is the “Citizen Kane” of the second half of the century, then “Munchausen”, while a bit more accessible plotwise, is the “2001” of fantasy films: Pretty much the fantasy to end all fantasy, just like Kubrick’s “2001” is the sci-fi to end all sci-fi, or like “Lawrence of Arabia” is the adventure film to end all adventure films.

        “Munchausen” is pretty much Terry’s vision about the struggle between imagination and rationality, and about what the Age of Enlightenment could’ve been when it was still young, whereas “Brazil” is what cold, purely instrumental reason has made out of modernity and the Enlightenment several centuries down the road. If “Brazil” is Terry’s vision of our very real modern Hell, then “Munchausen” is his vision of Heaven or what could’ve been.

        But as much as critics in general praise “Munchausen” as one of the most ingenious fantasy films ever made nonetheless, general audiences and many critics will prefer “Brazil” over
        “Munchausen” when it comes to Terry’s films while Terry’s fans go for
        “Munchausen” for being more pure Gilliam. It’s a lot like how “Solaris” is the Tarkovsky film for the masses while Tarkovsky fans prefer “Stalker” for being more pure Tarkovsky.

    • That’s just you opinion. In the end everything is mistaken for being grater then what it is. Maybe that’s the point of the film….ever consider that? Its all just a meaningless swirling mess of color and sound with no meaning! You are creating the “meaning”, the good and the bad in your mind. wake up.

      • Scott Parker

        it is a tale

        Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

        Signifying nothing.

    • Matthew Levin

      Brian, god I agree with you 100%. Whenever someone tells me how great Fear & Loathing is, I just lose my shit. It’s so poorly made and convoluted as you said. People need to read the book, and forget the movie.

    • TheAmericanManual

      Hello!
      This is a great comment. Terry is great, but the only thing that LasVegas did (very successfully) is bring a drug trip to the audience: you actually get nauseous and loose perspective. Extraordinary.

      But:
      The Imaginarium
      Tideland
      12 Monkeys
      Brazil

  • Auxerre

    No “The Saragossa Manuscript”? No “Koyaanisqatsi”? Kind of throws the entire list into question.

  • Sam Henry
    • Rup Kamal Kutum

      How did TOC missed this gem? Ya and Blueberry also.

      • Joel Zachariah

        mo offense man … i loved beyond the black rainbow but i seriously though blueberry was a joke ..

    • Tim McC

      Agreed

    • How come this gem was not released in Europe on DVD or Blu‐Ray? Why …

    • Both of these gifs come from BTBR? It’s not release in region B. Fuck!

    • Greg Lawrence

      Totally! Along with Begotten.

    • PsyGoblin

      Thanks for sharing this. Haven’t made it through the whole thing yet as it’s a pretty heavy watch but It’s blowing my mind. I’ll probably watch this many, many times.

  • Alex Nasaudean

    No films by David Lynch, no Asian movies? Seriously?

    • Rup Kamal Kutum

      There’s lot of Asian movies that would have made the list and I have just finished watching confessions (2010) which is just awesome with great soundtrack, certainly deserves to be in the list.

    • eyeresist

      No Häxan?

  • Jeremy Stretch Armstrong

    Most of Aaronofsky’s films coul have made this list. The Fountain, Pi, Black Swan.

  • Hailey Bowen

    Where’s Blueberry? It was incredible! Also the most realistic portrayal of a trip I have ever seen! Definitely deserves to be on this list.

  • zaba
  • Alexandre Macchi
    • Mike Janowski

      Yup, that’s cycle-delik!

  • Joost

    Lucifer rising needs metioning too

    • Peter Fiachry

      Great film and soundtrack

      • Troy Lucas

        No. He was simply referring to the ruler of the underworld.

    • V.C. Privitera

      Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome
      Invocation of my Demon Brother
      —Those are my Personal Favorite Kenneth Anger Films
      Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren is also another great psychedelic feast for the senses.

  • killQuin .

    Good to see some love for “A Field in England”….

  • Robb Frank

    im so tired of seeing requiem for a dream on all these “great movie” lists. that movie fucking blows and by no means is it psychedelic

    • okcsteve

      embrace the psychedelic nature of it being on so many lists

    • Mike Janowski

      You, sir, have absolutely no taste in film. Requiem for a Dream is the only movie that has caused me to question my own drug use. It features tremendous performances by all the actors, especially Ellen Burstyn, and the choice of Aranovsky to cut the film up into four “seasons” resonates with me. Sorry, you got no taste.

      • drock7

        taste is taste. but don’t think i’ve ever hear anyone said that movie blows

        • 666threesixes666

          that movies about skag… dirty fucking skag…

        • kathy

          That movie TOTALLY blew

        • garden variety

          It blows and was obnoxious

          • Nathan Reiber

            I don’t think the film is vulgar so much as it’s subject is vulgar. Any other approach would have been disingenuous. The film certainly doesn’t seem to revel in its excesses that would be obnoxious. Rather, it’s a pretty disturbing film. There is no pleasure to be had in viewing it (except maybe in pieces, to appreciate the superb art direction). That seems to me to be the point.

      • Caption Oblivious

        Ass to ass.

      • vibe runner

        >>Requiem for a Dream is the only movie that has caused me to question my own drug use.

        I saw it as a screener in Rotterdam and it didn’t make me question my (very heavy) drug use because I wasn’t sticking 2nd-hand needles into the veins on my dick.

      • Maxie Pad

        I agree with Mr. Frank. The movie blows. And it made me question nothing other than my decision to waste eight bucks and two hours of my time.

      • garden variety

        It was a shit film feeding off of the pretentiosly gothic or weak impulsive abusers.
        It wad a bad trip but not psychadelic

      • Kosta Jovanovic

        Damn, a sad story you have and a bad taste it seems

    • 666threesixes666

      beyond the black rainbow…
      the qatsi trilogy….

      • Have to watch Qatsi. Thanks

    • Rup Kamal Kutum

      @robbfrank:disqus I hated that too, Pi is the only movie made by afronosky that I liked.

    • Erick Renan

      I liked the movie, but it wasn’t that good.

    • Russell Alderton

      its a terrible film. agreed.

    • Yvonne Ritson

      It blows. Jared Leto is majorly over-rated also, a film I have tried to watch several times- as it is so highly attested- yet every-time, nadda.

      I also feel the same about steak, and fear and loathing in….

      • TheAmericanManual

        Jared is a great actor, actually. He (or his agent) suck at accepting roles/directors/contracts. I feel bad for him.

  • Austin Roberts

    David Lynch?

    • okcsteve

      He is pretty good, but I think he tries a little too hard to be psychedelic or whatever you want to call it.

  • city zen

    pink floyd the wall

    • Road Less Traveled

      YEs!

  • Maria

    What about “Enter the void” by Gaspar Noe, 2009, it is about DMT. “Behind the green door” by Mitchell brothers’, 1972, its a erotic movie but definitively Psychedelic and also any Jodorowsky movie is Psychedelic. To disagree, “Un Chien Andalou” is a surrealistic movie and 2001 definitively is not Psychedelic…

    • Szlartibartfaszt

      Enter The Void is on the list, nr. 24.
      Holy Mountain is nr. 12

    • Szlartibartfaszt

      Behind the green door, nr. 11

    • TJ Francis

      did you even read through the damn list? lmao

      • Jarek Draven

        To be fair, they actually may not have. They might not have even noticed that there is more than one page. IMHO the “next page” buttons are in a REALLY stupid place on this website– because they appear UNDERNEATH all of the stupid “share this on social media” links– which often appear at the BOTTOM of the article, on many sites.

        While there’s no need to break up short articles in the first place, if they’re going to do it, they REALLY should make the “next page” buttons more prominent. They may be losing quite a number of page views to crappy site design.

    • HLLH

      The term “psychedelic” means something like to show the mind, so it’s pretty subjective, I find 2001 very psychedelic.

      • Jarek Draven

        Literally I believe the term is closer to “mind manifesting”

        Psyche = Mind Delos = manifest

        But let’s be even more clear– the word “psychedelic” did not exist before psychedelic drugs. It was specifically invented to describe this type of drug, and their strange effects.

        Yes, psychedelics can manifest differently for each person… though IME there is some common ground.

        But I’ve spent lots of time talking to psychedelic enthusiasts, including quite a number of discussions about movies, specifically. And a few of the movies on this list (for example “The Holy Mountain”) are recommended again, and again, and again, by the people who are heavily into these drugs, and the psychedelic experience.

        However, some of the other movies on this list, I have literally NEVER heard mentioned within that context, and I personally would not consider to have a psychedelic aesthetic at all.

        But if you think 2001 is “very psychedelic”…. remind me to never go to your dealer, because your drugs must suck. lol

        • HLLH

          lol, nice one, what other movies they recommend?

  • Alvaro Mar

    Psychodelic movie??? Dune!!!!! Smell like DMT.
    I lived this scene in a trip, but a little diferent…

    • Jim Wexler

      Omissions:
      Don’t look Now
      The Shout
      Tommy
      No Survivors Please
      Snowpiercer
      Fantasia
      Clockwork Orange

    • Psychedelic Piper

      Jodorowsky’s “Dune” would have been a real psychedelic spectacle. Lynch’s “Dune” was one of his worst.

    • Joel Zachariah

      after watching jodorwsky’s documentary i seriously lost all previous feelings for this one …

  • okcsteve

    This is in excellent piece of writing. Reminds me of back when the internet did not suck. I will look for more of your stuff in the future.

  • Justin Wiemer

    The Color of Pomegranates?

  • Don Ash

    Eraserhead?, Barbarella? Fantastic Voyage? Modesty Blaize? How I Won The War? The Trip? The Bedsitting Room?, El Topo? Head? Drugstore Cowboy? the Man With X Ray Eyes? Jan Savenkmajer’s Alice? Repulsion? No Corman films.?? The Science Of Sleep? The Fall? …..

    • Not popular enough it seems.

    • HLLH

      He listed Holy Mountain instead of El Topo, I think he did this thing of restricting the list to one film per director.

      • V.C. Privitera

        El Topo is more of a “SURREAL” film….NOT Psychedelic….HOLY MOUNTAIN is PSYCHEDELIC.
        I would’ve chosen Santa Sangre myself, but Holy Mountain is Pure Psychedelic Cinema….Jodorowsky states this himself.

        • HLLH

          That makes sense.

    • Caption Oblivious

      Jacobs ladder

  • Munchrat

    Where is ‘200 Motels’?
    That is the movie that pioneered much of the techniques used in the psychedelic genre…

  • Patrick Taylor

    I find about half of this list of “psychedelic” films to be
    questionable. What is 2001 doing on there? Nothing psychedelic about
    slit-scan video sequences. All kinds of popular films were using the
    technique at the time. Boring, Mr. Kubrick. Boring.
    Why wasn’t The Trip (1967 Roger Corman)
    on the list, or even one of my 60s-cheese favorites, Psych-Out. (1968
    Richard Rush)
    The Monkees/Frank Zappa collaboration, Head (1968 Bob Rafelson) should really be on this list, prominently. Truly under-appreciated film.
    And, if you’re going to have 1970s B-grade sci-fi films on
    the list, then you should include Sssssss (1973 Bernard L. Kowalski) for
    it’s fantastic snake-venom trip sequence alone. You really need to
    revise this list.

    • HLLH

      Tell me your top ten 1960s slit-scan video sequences, else zip it.

      • Patrick Taylor

        I’ve no desire (or time) to sit through that much tacky stuff. Oh and “HLLH” (whomever you actually are) don’t be rude!

      • Jarek Draven

        Nah… even if that was exaggeration or hyperbole, his point is still excellent, and 100% true, as far as I’m concerned.

        2001 is not a psychedelic film. I don’t think a number of films on this list are terribly psychedelic. And/or they’re psychedelic in some mild way, some lame way, or some way that was surpassed by many other (better) films.

        Is a film like 2001 important in the history of cinema? Of course. Is it one of the best psychedelic films ever made? Not even ALMOST.

    • V.C. Privitera

      I completely agree for Roger Corman’s “The Trip”
      Honestly, once I saw that film, it made me think differently about 2001: A Space Odyssey; only in terms of the Special Effects.
      While both films are completely different, I think The Trip deserves more credit than it gets….
      1.) Being filmed in 1967 [the Peak of the Counter-Culture & the Summer of Love]
      2.) Jack Nicholson wrote the script [nuff said]
      3.) While there are certain sequences that are Laughable, “The Trip” really is an Honest-Take on what an LSD experience can be like……aside from the Dennis Hopper/Merry-Go-Round scene, but the “Love-Making” sequence is definitely Psychedelic.
      After the Film was over, I couldn’t help but think that maybe Kubrick isn’t the Genius everyone makes him out to be. NOT to say he isn’t one of the Masters of Cinema, but there’s a lot going on in just this “little” unknown film (for todays standards).
      The Special Effects and Sequences really do add to the aesthetics of raw psychedelia’.
      The only problem I had with the film, was surprisingly Bruce Dern…..I LOVED that he passed on the Joint when they were passing the joint around in the circle; thinking: “Man, he’s the cool one of the group…” but then when Fonda is walking around the House tripping his ass off, Dern’s character was getting on my nerves and would definitely ruin anybody’s acid trip.
      The fact he would get in Fonda’s face and ask these random questions……I mean, come on, I know he’s trying to help or guide the guy, but to that extent would give a person a bad trip, especially on their first acid trip

      • Benjamin Dietze

        Honestly, I hated “The Trip” just as much as “Head” by The Monkees once I’d seen them. Much too cheap and conventional for my tastes, and undeserving of their respective hypes. Both “Easy Rider” and “Ein großer, graublauer Vogel” (aka “Bottom” or “A Big, Grey-Blue Bird”) were much better at what “The Trip” was trying to achieve, and “The Bed-Ritting Room” at what “Head” tried to be.

    • Benjamin Dietze

      How come you supposedly know “so much” about psychedelic films and don’t know that “2001” was and still is a favorite with hippies and stoners who would go see it several times just to time their acid trip right in time with the iconic Stargate sequence and the surreal apartment scene at the end, and would lie down on their backs in front of the projection screen in groups to make it all an even trippier experience? “2001” is still known as a hippies and stoner film for that legendary hippy group phenomenon in theaters alone.

      • Patrick Taylor

        Did I say I know “so much?” I have an opinion, just like everybody here does. To me, watching 2001 is like watching paint peel. My first time watching it was stoned, in a pot-filled theatre. I’m sure some of the hippies were into watching paint peel. Whatever. The term ‘hippie’ was originally derogatory. It meant the same thing a ‘hipster.’

  • bullshitlicker

    requiem for a dream is just boaring.

    • Rosie Spaceboy

      It’s “just” boaring? Hunting boars is pretty impressive in my book. What else does a movie have to do these days, eh?!

  • Patriota Sa Severa

    Scanner Darkly ? No ? Waking Life ? No ? Eraserhead ? No ?

  • Trannøn Gøble

    The Trip (1967) with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper? One of the greatest!

  • Wolfgang

    Why the hell Enter the Void is not the #1?

    • Sean Luke McCard

      They are not ranked. They are presented in chronological order based on release date.

      • Wolfgang

        Oh, i didn’t notice that… thanks!

  • Mariam MH

    Haven’t seen it yet .. but I think A Clockwork Orange should be on this list

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  • shaun h

    Surely Naked Lunch belongs on this list.

  • Jose Alberto Hermosillo

    Natural Born Killers, Fantasia?

  • Cinema Phenomenology

    If Idi i smotri, 2001 and La Planète Sauvage are included I think something like Yellow Submarine,The Objective, 2046, Arizona Dream, Sunshine, Alice in Wonderland (Disney), Charlie and the Chocolate factory would fit

  • Qualiarella18

    pls, join this cinema forums 😉

    http://www.welikecinema.com/

  • Adrian Smith

    What about
    The Fountain
    The Fall
    Baraka
    Samsara
    Clockwork Orange?

    All amazing films

  • V.C. Privitera

    THANK YOU to the Author of this List.
    I pride myself as a Psychedelic-Film Enthusiast and surprisingly there quite a few on here I’ve yet to see or even hear about, especially the last one with Ben Wheatley. I LOVED “KILL LIST”
    I know that MAJORITY of the comments are blasting the Author for either NOT adding this or that or for even putting a film in here that most don’t consider “Psychedelic” at all, but PEOPLE PEOPLE PEOPLE!!!
    You NEED to understand the difference between “Psychedelic” & “Surreal”
    While yes, Films by Jodorowsky are always considered Psychedelic, he’s a Surrealist more than a Psychedelic filmmaker….BUT!!! For those mentioning El Topo, that film is Surreal, while HOLY MOUNTAIN is Psychedelic; just read up on the film and Jodorowsky’s words himself that he made that film for psychedelics.
    I always say that the problem with lists is that there’s always wayyyyy too many to choose from to really make a list of such. You could argue all day long about what’s missing, but in the end, this is this particular’s AUTHOR’s “Short List,” it’s not like it’s 26 or 27 Great Psychedelic Movies….so don’t harass the dude for trying.
    I really enjoy reading the Comments that offer suggestions of a plethora of other films that aren’t mentioned and that’s what’s great about these Sites and Lists.
    SO QUIT WITH THE:
    Oh this guy doesn’t know dick about this or that, or why not mention this one or that one.
    Make your own list and post it and don’t be a dick about it.

  • Jack Leiter

    Add Beyond the Black Rainbow to your viewing list. Its a visually stunning film with a perfect soundtrack that came out a few years ago. It deals with loosing your sanity and escape from a literal hell.

  • tompaine99

    Yellow Submarine? 200 Motels? The Man Who Fell To Earth? The Magic Christian?

  • cabal23

    Awful list. No Holy Mountain.

  • michaeldal65

    My God!!!! Where the hell’s TOMMY? The final word on “psychedelic”.

  • Under the skin

  • Mario Gp

    “Enter the void” was a draining experience. I had to force myself to finish it. You have to be mentally prepared for the chore.

  • Munchausen, RedLine and maybe Opfergang

  • John Davidsson

    Only god forgives

  • Scot Mellor

    Saragossa Manuscript?!

  • Tom Kidd

    I agree with “Behind the Green Door” for the most part, but I rewatched it recently and it needs a tighter editing of the audience’s participation scenes near the end. Otherwise, it qualifies.

  • K.C. Fahel

    No “Magical Mystery Tour”? No “Head”? Yet you have “Fantastic Planet”, a movie I’ve seen several times since my teens and have never thought of it as psychedelic.

  • acgogo

    “The Devils” is a rarely seen gem. A brilliant performance by everyone involved. Only Ken Russel could have risen to this type of excess and made it gorgeous and entertaining. The only film where you’ll see a person burned at the stake – in closeup without CGI.

    See: Russell’s “The Music Lovers”

    • V.C. Privitera

      Absolutely Agreed!
      Ken Russell’s The Devils is without a doubt one of the Greatest Films EVER!
      There’s really nothing that compares or is even in the same ballpark…
      I always say “The Devils males A Clockwork Orange seem like Sesame Street”
      Quite ironic & unique that both films came out in the same year, both sparking so much Controversy with their Explicit Content & Extremism.

  • acgogo

    Much is said of “2001” but, before HAL and the whole acid trip ending, there is that, I think, beautifully directed tense scene between the American and Russian scientists where every line is a study in pre- ‘Detente” Soviet/American scientific polite non-cooperation that demonstrates that tense state of near mutual annihilation which defined American politics of the 1960s.

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  • Russell Alderton

    serious spoiler alert in the reviews!

  • Gavin Lawson

    You can’t have ‘The Devils’ without having the film that inspired that style of historical sci-fi, ‘Fellini’s Satyricon’, a collective dream-hallucination of our fragmentary ancient psyches, all wrapped up in a psychedelic imaginary projected from our deep unconscious.

    http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ma1i3kRTrw1qg39ewo1_500.gif

  • Sourav Deb

    The mention of A Field in England made me happy.

  • garden variety

    Dead man is awesome, maybe the most underated film ever.
    Good to see it on here.
    The woman’s apartment in point blank hardly makes it psychadelic. It just had a great look, same with zabriskie but not psychadelic.
    Your list gets minus two “points”

  • handytrim

    Yellow Submarine.

  • Klaus Dannick

    Umm… PERFORMANCE?

  • Wayne You Nerd

    Natural Born Killers?

    Doom Generation?

    Belly?

    They’re not psychedelic enough?

  • Ohhh noo, where’s “Spun”?

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  • Brian Christgau

    Andrzej Zulawski’s POSSESSION certainly belongs on this list!

  • Frank N. Blunt

    Must distinguish between psychedelic & transcendence, like breaking the chains of social norms. Sometimes the inspiration, vision, & journey doesn’t have to be drug-induced.

  • Ultra Woodman
  • Klaus Dannick

    Performance (1970) is sorely missing from this list.

    Also, the films Walkabout and Apocalypse Now strike me as more psychedelic than some of the other entries on this list.

  • fantail31

    Vanishing Point. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. Barbarella. Whats New Pussycat.

    • K.C. Fahel

      BTVOTD was more SICK-adelic. LOL

  • Wendt Alan

    Eraserhead?

  • Some thoughts about some of these films:

    Un chien Andalou: the eyeball-slitting sequence is scarily realistic because it used a close-up of a real eyeball; that of a cow from a slaughter yard. I missed the reference to stigmata when i first saw it. Of course, i was eighteen and that was fifty years ago…

    The Red Shoes: Inspired by a Hans Christian Anderson story in which the magical red shoes force the dancer to continue dancing continually, until she asks a woodman to chop off her feet.

    Easy Rider: I was in the appropriate demographic at the time; i went to see it to see what the hoopla was about – there is no there there. If you gotta have motorcycles in your culture-clash film, Electra Glide in Blue is a lot better film, from about the same time.

    The Wicker Man: So far as i have been able to discover, there is not an uncut print of this film available – even the longest-running print available is something like ten minutes short of the original running time, and there are even shorter ones. Great film, anyway. See it if you haven’t.

  • Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, Only God Forgives

  • uma singh

    today news telugu
    Nice post. And it is very clear and informative. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

  • bring down the shadow govt

    Strange Colour Of Your Bodies Tears, Horrors of Malformed Men and Japanese Hell 1999, El Topo and Holy Mountain, Female Convict Scorpion series, War Witch, The Trip, The Void, Branded,

  • awruk

    what a crap

  • Francisco Dilon

    Apocalypse Now!

  • I’d definitely add Liquid Sky to the list.

  • tommy amoeba

    This list is sorely lacking in Fellini and though he has much visually wilder creations, my choice would be La Strada which Dylan has cited as an inspiration for Mr. Tambourine Man, itself a strong contender for psychedelia ground zero. I can see that influence in these lyrics:
    Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
    Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
    With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
    Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

  • tommy amoeba

    A rather trippy Japanese movie from 1977 called House belongs on this list as well as something by Tarkovsky, though I’m having a hard time narrowing it down so that may be why he was left off: Solaris, Stalker, The Mirror, Sacrifice, just sooo many contenders…

  • EasyAndy

    Never thought of The Wicker Man as a psychedelic film.

  • Nathan Duthoy

    Yellow submarine and. Head, The Trip

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  • Beardfacewood@gmail.com

    Good list, great stuff.

  • Elliott

    _Performance_ starring James Fox & Mick Jagger has for decades been for me the most authentic cinematic portrayal of a psychedelic experience. And a lot more. Too many of these “psychedelic” movies are just creepy. 🙂

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  • mudsharkbites

    No doubt many will want to add to this list. What about:
    Sweet Movie – Dušan Makavejev
    Tetsuo: The Iron Man – Shinya Tsukamoto
    Paprika – Satoshi Kon
    For that matter, what about I, Pet Goat? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzPpDDB46lo

  • jim

    Needs more Gaspar Noe. Irreversible

  • Sarah Autumn Miller

    I am CRUSHED that Heavy Metal (1981) isn’t on this list. It’s my FAVORITE