Cult Movie Review: The Trip [1967]

The Trip [1967]

The Trip [1967]
Director: Roger Corman
Genre: Drama
Starring: Peter Fonda, Susan Strasberg, Dennis Hopper and Bruce Dern
Runtime: 85 minutes

After reading Jack Deth’s great post on Roger Corman over at Front Room Cinema, I was inspired to see one of the legendary director’s films. There was one in particular that stood out to me: The Trip, a 1967 feature written by Jack Nicholson. As luck would have it, the film is currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.

As the title would suggest, The Trip is all about LSD. Filmed in “psychedelic color”, the movie stars Peter Fonda as Paul Groves, a young television commercial director who is heartbroken over the divorce proceedings with his adulterous wife. Looking for some sort of guidance with his life, Paul decides to embark on his first acid trip with the help of his friend John (Bruce Dern), an experienced advocate of psychedelics.

The Trip [1967]

From this point on, we follow Paul as he fades in and out of reality, essentially joining him on this trip. He sees all sorts of things, some real, some not. Kaleidoscopic colors, dwarves, strobe lights, naked dancers, druids, police.

Paul meanders aimlessly through these visuals and starts to freak himself out. In a fit of terror, he escapes the house (and his ‘sitter’) and wanders off to the city. This is when the movie really shines, as now we get to see how Paul interacts with others. A conversation with a not-so-classy lady at the laundromat is freakin’ hilarious and is the highlight of the movie. The lady suspects something is off with Paul as he plays around with the washing machines, but she appreciates the attention regardless.

The Trip [1967]

The movie culminates with Paul returning to where he came, this time running into a young Dennis Hopper, whose character also acts as a sort of guide for our acid-ingesting friend.

The Trip is a relic of its time, a fascinating snapshot of the Summer of Love and its free-spirited hippies. It has been said that Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson all took acid together in order to prepare for the film. Even Roger Corman dropped acid for the first time so he had a better idea of how to direct this film. Perhaps most amazing is that Bruce Dern, not a fan of drug culture whatsoever, was able to play an acid guide so effectively. He is the voice of reason throughout the film, a way to keep Paul in check and make sure he has a good time.

Obviously, this isn’t a movie that everyone will enjoy. The first half of the film drags along as Paul doesn’t do too terribly much, but it becomes wildly entertaining once he hits the city. It certainly helps to have an interest in the late 60s counterculture period and/or psychedelics in general to fully appreciate this. Music buffs will get a kick out of The Electric Flag’s groovy soundtrack as well.


One thought on “Cult Movie Review: The Trip [1967]

  1. Alex Withrow says:

    Awesome review! I LOVE old, cheesy Roger Corman flicks. The Trip is definitely one of my faves. All those young, fresh faces… crazy.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks man! Yeah, it was pretty wild to see Hopper, Fonda and Dern all so young. Definitely a fun little movie — looking forward to seeing more from Corman.

  2. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Eric and company:

    Excellent, in depth review of a little known, nostalgic gem!

    I caught ‘The Trip’ a few years after it first came out and was impressed with all the principles. Knowing they had something and wondering where they’d take it. A great film to look back on to admire talent and from whence it comes.

    Thanks so much for dropping by and linking my tribute to Roger Corman over as FRC. I had a ball doing it and perhaps, may start a trend.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Jack, thanks for stopping by! Without your list, this movie wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. I’m glad I was able to catch it on Netflix, as it really is a fun film. Fonda, Hopper, Nicholson and the rest sure were doing some interesting work during that time period.

  3. Jim says:

    Anyone one know where the scene locations were like the house where Fonda takes his acid trip and the drug house
    where they get the acid and other locations and street names ? Thanks.

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