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Paul Groves (Peter Fonda), a television commercial director, is in the midst of a personality crisis. His wife Sally (Susan Strasberg) has left him and he seeks the help of his friend John (Bruce Dern), a self-styled guru who's an advocate of LSD. Paul asks John to be the guide on his first "trip". John takes Paul to a "freak-out" at his friend Max's (Dennis Hopper) pad. Splitting the scene, they score some acid from Max and return to John's split-level pad with an indoor pool. Paul experiences visions of sex, death, strobe lights, flowers, dancing girls, witches, hooded riders, a torture chamber, and a dwarf. He panics but John tells him to "go with it, man." Would you trust John? Written by
There were (and are still) many imitators, but there's only one real "Trip", and this is it!
This is a classic exploitation film that inspired a ton of imitation "acid films", most of them having no plot and lots of the same imagery you see here (complete with naked females and zooms). "The Trip" definitely has more direction and structure than it's spinoffs, yet one would still hope for more story development in the early half of the film. Clearly, Corman's savvy was able to get away with putting lots of cheap effects on the screen, thus stretching a 30 minute plot into an 85 minute feature.
Much of the film is full of various imagery of Peter Fonda running around in different costumes, in different strange places, and very little is told about his real character. He is a rather passive character in this film, and doesn't elicit much sympathy from the audience, even though his performances were satisfactory. The cinematography is quite uninspired, even if adequate from a techical POV, though it has some fine point gaffes (like double shadows). One of the most frustrating aspects of this film is that the potential it had for visual treatment was not used to nearly it's full potential, even on the budget it was made for.
With the exception of the flash cuts editing, stylistically this film bears a more conservative filmmaking approach that might have not been as appropriate as a more "new wave" approach. Indeed, two years later, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were to take elements of "The Trip", and the earlier "Wild Angels", combining them with the 'new wave' style of filmmaking to produce the masterpiece "Easy Rider".
For all it's shortcomings, "The Trip" did very well at the box office, something that would not have happened today without much more expensive effects, and more known cast members (even though Fonda, Strassberg and Dern were known faces at the time).
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