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PSYCH-OUT (1968) **

Jack Nicholson stars as a hippie named Stoney who along with a couple of pals (biker movie staple Adam Roarke and The Mack’s Max Julien) helps a deaf girl named Jenny (Susan Strasberg) find her drop-out acid-head brother (Bruce Dern).  Another hippie (Dean Stockwell) gives Jenny a powerful form of LSD called STP and it causes her to trips balls and wander around Haight-Ashbury.  That means that Stoney has to go find HER while she’s looking for her brother.

 

So basically the whole movie is just a bunch of stoned out of their gourd hippies looking for other stoned out of their gourd hippies.

 

I have a low tolerance for hippies as it is so the soft focus scenes of hippies frolicking around while being high as a kite didn’t do much for me.  The barest minimum of plot didn’t help matters any either and the hippie characters were all thinly sketched.  The cheesy kaleidoscopic faux trip sequences were pretty annoying and mostly just served to pad the running time.  Also, the random ass downbeat ending is more or less just there to remind you that “Drugs are bad”.  (The flick was produced by Dick Clark after all; not the kind of guy who would condone illegal substances.)

 

The music is also pretty lame.  At one point Jack plays some fake Jimi Hendrix music; which is kinda hilarious.  Oh well, at least you get to hear Strawberry Alarm Clock sing “Incense and Peppermints” two years before they were in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

 

The only real reason to watch this flick (unless you’re an old hippie trying to remember what the heck happened in the 60’s) is the cast.  Nicholson (who also helped concoct the story) is decent in the starring role and it’s funny just to see him wearing a ponytail.  Psych-Out may reek of hippie bullshit, I still say any movie that features Nicholson, Dern, AND Stockwell is worth checking out at least once.  I also had fun spotting future directors Henry Jaglom, Bud Cardos, and Robert Kelljan in small roles as well.

 

There is one great scene however.  It comes when Jaglom takes a bunch of acid and has a major freakout and imagines all of his friends are zombies.  Then he tries to hack off his own hand with a band saw.  If director Richard (The Stunt Man) Rush put a couple more of these cool touches into the flick, Psych-Out might’ve kicked a little ass.  Unfortunately, it’s just kinda whatever.  Rush also directed Hell's Angels on Wheels the previous year, which featured a lot of the same people.

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