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Mar 15, 2013

In the late 1960s, as LSD and opposition to the war in Vietnam fueled a thriving hippie counterculture in the United States and Britain, Hollywood rushed to cash in on the the fear and lurid fascination that hippie imagery inspired in movie audiences. In this episode of Psychonautica, Olga and KMO are joined by their Z-Realm co-host, Marty, for an examination of three hippie exploitation films.

First up is The Trip, a 1967 film directed by exploitation king, Roger Coreman, written by Jack Nicholson, and staring Peter Fonda and Bruce Dern. While the film opens with a stern warning about the illegal proliferation of LSD and other dangerous drugs, the film provides a very sympathetic portrayal of LSD and the people who take it in as part of a journey of self-discovery.

Next up is Skidoo, another favorable view of youth, counterculture and psychedelics. This 1968 Otto Preminger film pokes fun at the stodgy condemnation of 60s youth culture by clueless adults, but it seems clear that while the filmmakers made a good faith effort to portray the kids in a positive light, they still don't "get it." The film boasts a high-profile cast including Jackie Gleason, Carroll Channing, Gerorge Burns, Frankie Avalon, and Slim Pickens.

Finally, the media-minded trio take on The Magic Christian. This 1969 film isn't explicitly about LSD or the psychedelic experience, but it embodies and acid-inspired visual style and anti-establishment ideals. Olga and Marty enjoyed the film a great deal, while KMO disliked it's relentless, hit-you-over-the-head message and the fact that the main characters, played by Peter Sellers and Ringo Star, used their great wealth to get the people they encounter to betray their own ideals but don't seem to have the moral authority to justify their upsetting anybody else's apple cart.

Music by Badfinger, Anoushka Shankar, and Fumarious Bandersnatch.