Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 21st, 2003
Two classics from American International are what we have here, with lots of familiar namesinvovled. Psych-Out stars Susan Strasberg, Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell and Bruce Dern.The Trip, scripted by Nicholson, stars Strasberg, Dern, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, and isdirected by Roger Corman. You can’t do much better for pedigree. The plots of both arerudimentary (at best). In Psych-Out, Strasberg (whose character is deaf for some reason),searches for her brother (Dern… through the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and falls inlove with Jack Nicholson (sporting a ponytail, and doing the least-convincing guitar playing evercommitted to film). In The Trip, Peter Fonda tries out LSD and hallucinates for the entire film.There’s a great deal of fun to be had with both flicks, from the spectacular bad trip Strasberg hasat the climax to Psych-Out, to the extremely elaborate (especially considering the tiny budget)light and camera effects of The Trip. While each film on it’s own might not warrant much morethan 2.5 stars, having both these films as one mind-bending double bill warrants a bonus.
Mono tracks on both films. Psych-Out has far and away the best sound. Its mono is cleanand without distortion. The same cannot be said of The Trip. The problem is no doubt with thesource material rather than the transfer, but the fact remains that the dialogue is extremelymuzzy, and frequently hard to discern. The volume level is low too. So while there is no static,the overall sound quality is very poor. Interestingly, the music in the extras is in stereo.
Both movies are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The prints are in terrific shape,with virtually no speckle or damage. Grain is virtually nonexistent, and the colours are very good(again, within the limits of the material). The blacks in Psych-Out aren’t quite 100%, though theyaren’t bad. The Trip has a bit more grain, and the picture jumps up and down during the first fewseconds.
The Midnite Movies series is usually pretty bare-bones (and if you’re getting two moviesat a bargain price, who’s going to complain). But MGM has gone the extra mile here. Alongwith the theatrical trailer, Psych-Out comes with a 20-minute documentary — “Love & Haight.”This is a fascinating look back at the scene and the making of the film, as told by directorRichard Rush, Bruce Dern, and producer Dick Clark (yes, that Dick Clark).
The Trip comes with even more goodies. Roger Corman himself provides the commentary,explaining (among other things) just how close this film was to his own experiences, and howAIP interfered with the finished version. “Tune In, Trip Out” is a featurette similar to “Love &Haight” with Corman and Dern doing the reminiscing. If only all featurettes could be as good asthe ones on this disc. FX man Allen Daviau speaks briefly about the psychedelic effects in themain featurette, and gets to talk a bit more solo in another eight-minute piece. A March 1968article from American Cinematographer is reproduced, providing yet more info on the tripeffects. And if you still haven’t got enough, there’s a five-and-a-half minute montage of theseeffects (this time with a stereo score) called “Psychedelic Light Box.” Did I mention that thisfeature repeats itself until you tell it to stop? Use it wisely. Finally, there’s the theatrical trailer.The menu is basic.
A very significant addition to the invaluable Midnite Movies collection, this DVD, by virtueof its extras and the nice pairing of the films, is one of the highlights of the series. And if thesehippie characters annoy you, don’t despair. Remember: in just a few years they would be facingthe business end of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Special Features List
- “Love & Haight” Featurette on Psych-Out
- Theatrical Trailers
- “Tune In, Trip Out” Featurette on The Trip
- Director’s Commentary on The Trip
- Psychedelic Film Effects Featurette on The Trip
- American Cinematographer Article on The Trip
- Psychedelic Light Box