The psychedelic film genre is characterized by the impact of psychedelia in films. Psychedelic films generally contain visual distortion and experimental narratives, often emphasizing on psychedelic imagery or distorted reality developed through the use of psychedelic drugs. Their experimental narratives often purposefully try to distort the viewers’ understanding of reality or normality. Here is our non-psychedelic list of ‘Top 10 Psychedelic Films of All Time.‘
“What we call reality is, in fact, nothing more than a culturally sanctioned and linguistically reinforced hallucination.” – Terence McKenna
10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an American psychedelic satirical black comedy road film. It is adapted from the 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas written by Hunter S. Thompson’s. The film was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam and stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro as Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo, respectively. The film details the duo’s journey through Las Vegas as their initial journalistic intentions devolve into an exploration of the city under the influence of psychoactive substances.
Johnny Depp embraces the character with grace as Hunter who was a dear friend to him, to an extent where for a second you think you are looking at Hunter S Thompson and not Depp. It is one of the most entertaining one in Psychedelic Films of All Time!
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is streaming on Netflix.
9. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
If you are a fan of Robert Downey Jr or like psychedelic films or both you are going to enjoy this highly underrated movie.
Bob Arctor, an undercover agent, is on a mission to investigate groups involved in the drug trade. In the process, he becomes a drug addict and tries to protect his secret identity.
A Scanner Darkly is streaming on Netflix.
8. Fantastic Planet (1973)
Fantastic Planet is an animated film directed by René Laloux which follows the relationship of small human-like organism Oms and their much larger blue-skinned oppressors, the Draags, who is the ruler of the planet of Ygam.
The film’s story explores the life of humans living on a strange planet dominated by giant humanoid aliens who consider them animals, is based on the 1957 novel Oms en série by French writer Stefan Wul.
7. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, is an experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio. The film is available on YouTube.
The film’s plot was psychedelic and I failed to explain it, please go through and experience the trip, yourself.
6. The Holy Mountain (1973)
Statutory warning: This one is not for a simpleton as you have to be extremely psychological and psychedelic to understand this one.
The Holy Mountain written, produced, co-scored, co-edited by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky is a Mexican surreal-fantasy, one of its kind.
In the film, A Mexican master played by Alexandro Jodorowsky leads a Christ figure, Horacio Salinas, and other disciples to a mountain of immortal wise men. What follows ahead is a journey as trippy as a DMT influence. This film deserves to be on the list of Top 10 Psychedelic Films of All Time! and is one of my personal favorite one.
The Holy Mountain is streaming on MX Player.
5. El Topo (1970)
The mole or originally called El Topo is an acid Western film written, scored, directed by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky. The film is known for its bizarre characters and occurrences, especially for the use of maimed and dwarf performers, and heavy doses of Christian symbolism and Eastern philosophy.
The film is generally about the eponymous character – a violent, black-clad gunfighter – and his quest for enlightenment. This one was responsible for the Beatles manager Allen’s first impression of Alejandro Jodorowsky and he was highly impressed and I hope you will be too.
4. Waking Life (2001)
Waking Life written and directed by Richard Linklater is an American experimental philosophical adult animated docufiction film. The film explores a wide range of philosophical issues, including the nature of reality, dreams and lucid dreams, consciousness, the meaning of life, free will, and existentialism.
It is centred on a young man who wanders through a succession of dream-like realities wherein he encounters a series of individuals who engage in insightful philosophical discussions.
It will bend your mind folks!
3. Samsara (2011)
Samsara directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson is an American non-narrative documentary film of international imagery.
My tip is that before you watch it, take a couple of drinks or whatever is your poison and enjoy the masterpiece!
2. The Trip (1967)
Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda give you a glimpse of the late 60s again.
The Trip directed by Roger Corman and written by Jack Nicholson is a counterculture-era psychedelic film released by American International Pictures. Peter Fonda stars in the film as a young television commercial director named Paul Groves.
Paul Groves played by Peter Fonda is a television commercial director. Paul takes his first dose of LSD while going through the trauma of heartbreak and ambivalence of divorce from his beautiful but adulterous wife (Susan Strasberg). He starts his psychedelic trip with a “guide,” named John (Bruce Dern), but quickly runs away and abandons him out of fear.
What happens next? Watch and find out!
1. Enter The Void (2009)
Finally! The OG psychedelic movie and the best one ever is Enter the Void!
Written and directed by Gaspar Noé, Enter the Void is a 2009 English-language experimental drama art film. The film stars Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, and Cyril Roy and is set in the neon-lit nightclub environments of Tokyo.
The story of the film around a young American drug dealer, Oscar who gets shot by the police, but continues to watch subsequent events during an out-of-body experience. Shot from a first-person viewpoint, it floats above the city streets and occasionally features Oscar staring over his own shoulder as he recalls events from his past. Noé labels the film a “psychedelic melodrama”.
The first person perspective of film-making is extremely bizarre but if done correctly gives you a film that has aged like wine.
So here, we end our list of Top 10 Psychedelic Films of All Time. Some of Top 10 Psychedelic Films are streaming online for instant watch, others will be updated soon, as and when they are made available by streaming services. If you think, we missed a title, then do let us know in the comments below.
Enjoy and share the list with your friends who love watching Psychedelic Films.
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