Psych-Out (1968) Poster

(1968)

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10/10
Holy S**t
kakkarot26 November 2000
When I first read the synopsis for Psych-Out, I expected it to be incredibly stupid, but once I watched it I decided otherwise. This film provides a rare look into a time too offen reduced to nostalgic simplicities. A true time capsule, watch and see. NOTE: It is quite embarrassing when Nicholson is miming (on guitar) a bastardized version of Purple Haze, but the scene is enjoyable nonetheless. Great music by Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Seeds (both bands perform live in the film). The STP sequences are fun to watch. Another part is where Elwoood (Max Julian)fights a bunch of garbage gargoyles in a local dump, but since he ate a hit of acid, he sees them as knights and dragons. Bruce Dern plays a good role in this film as 'The Seeker' who is being looked for by his sister Jenny (Susan Strasberg). Dave (Dean Stockwell) is an acid freak and his role is equally effective. But the main treat is seeing Jack Nicholson (as Stoney) with long hair saying 'out of sight' and crashing around in a van with his psychedelic band, Mumblin' Jim. Although not for everyone, this film can be incredibly enjoyable.
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Classic psychedelic trash!
Infofreak3 January 2002
If you try and take 'Psych-Out' seriously you're making a big mistake. This is Haight-Ashbury presented by Dick Clark after all! But as 60s camp it's great fun, and dare I say it worth watching more than "real" head movies from the period like 'Chappaqua' and Antonioni's 'Zabriskie Point'. This mightn't be what the 60s were really like, but after watching Mumblin' Jim and fans at the Ballroom, or the happiest funeral ever, music courtesy of garage Gods The Seeds, you'll wish that it was, and that you were there!

Jack Nicholson stars as Stoney, the leader of small time psych rock band Mumblin Jim'. His band mates include Adam Roarke ('Dirty Mary Crazy Larry') and Max Julien ('The Mack'). Deaf beauty Jenny (Susan Strasberg, 'The Trip') is a runaway looking for estranged brother Steve (Bruce Dern, 'Silent Running'), now known locally as "The Seeker". Dean Stockwell ('Paris, Texas') returned to the screen after a few years absence as tripped out oracle Dave ("It's all just one big plastic hassle", "reality is a dangerous place",etc.). Also look out for future directors Gary Marshall (an uptight cop) and Henry Jaglom (a classic zombie-hallucinating freak out scene!), and performances by Strawberry Alarm Clock.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all just as long as you stay away from the rednecks at the rubbish dump, avoid playing in the traffic on STP, and nobody doing the dirty dishes. Grooovy baby!
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6/10
The Seeds cameo was too short
ethylester19 September 2003
Most everything people have already said about this movie is how I think about it, too. However, I would like to say for the Seeds fans out there that might try to see the film so they can see the Seeds footage that it's way too brief. I love the Seeds and I wanted desperately to see some closeups of the guys in action. Maybe see some good dancing by Sky or even get a good group shot. I was pretty disappointed to see Sky rocking out to some bad synchronizing on part of the audio engineers. It makes him look like he has no sense of rhythm! And you only get to see him for half seconds at a time. And Daryl Hooper (organist) isn't even shown when the band plays! It spends more time showing Jan Savage's fingers playing guitar than it spends on the any other Seeds shot. Quite a disappointment, especially since there is hardly any footage of this amazing band anywhere. Aside from that, the Strawberry Alarm Clock get great coverage, which is nice.

The plot of the movie is really entertaining as well. But I wonder, why didn't Jenny talk like a deaf person? I guess it's because you're led to believe she really isn't deaf.

Either way, it's a good movie with some good tripping scenes and cool clothes and lines: "Why are you dancing alone?" "I'm not, I'm dancing with everybody!" yikes! that's heavy! haha
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6/10
Wickedly good fun from the era of Flower Power
emm21 November 1999
It's a rock band - hippie gang trying to protect a deaf runaway girl while on the search for her missing brother, but instead, they're taking The Trip to nowhere. Director Rush, who gave pony-tailed Nicholson some star treatment in HELL'S ANGELS ON WHEELS, delivers this pretty good view of offbeat, sublime hysteria pertaining to the drug frenzy that popularized late 60s culture. One troubling factor, though: it was made to immoralize society as we once knew it. Just say "wicked", and you'll enjoy this cinematic acid trip that isn't half-bad. RATING: * * 1/2
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8/10
Stupid, but VERY colorful and never dull
preppy-32 December 2002
A 17 year old deaf mute (Susan Stasberg!?!) tries to find her brother (Bruce Dern) in 1968 San Franciscos Haight-Ashbury area. A musician (Jack Nicholson) and his friends try to help her.

The plot is unbelievable from the word "go" and, despite location shooting in Haight-Ashbury, this is a very Hollywoodized look at hippies. Everybody is so healthy, friendly, helpful and they live in colorful, spotlessly clean huge houses happily. That was NOT the way it was--any documentary on the 60s could tell you that. Realism aside, this is one of AIP's best pictures.

The dialogue is VERY dated (and hysterically funny) as are the situations, but the film never stops moving, is shot in deep rich color, has good acting (considering) and is never once dull. Check out a most interesting "funeral" in the film and a very funny sex sequence. However, at the end, it gets VERY serious and has a depressing ending. Too bad--it's totally at odds with the rest of the film. Still--well worth seeing.

It also stars Dean Stockwell (who has the best lines) and Garry Marshall (!!!) in a bit as a cop! Produced by Dick Clark!
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10/10
I'M PSYCHED ON PSYCH-OUT!
definitedoll14 October 2003
I purchased this movie recently as one of those "MIDNITE MOVIES", that MGM has put out as a double feature on DVD. I absolutely love this movie. If you want to know what 1968 looked like, really looked like in the hippie world at that time, this movie is for you!

Some people might think it's a bad movie, or corny. Well, it's 1968, when people acted more like philosophers than the arrogant, ignorant "HEY YO" types of today. I would much rather have the former than the latter.

In my opinion, 1968 was the Best of times, and the Worst of times. We had Vietnam, the end of the Johnson era, and the beginning of the Nixon-Agnew regime. (and those were the good old days!) There was the young people's movement on College Campuses, War Protestation, Untimely demises of leaders such as Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. What was once a small exclusive lifestyle in San Francisco California blossomed into a lifestyle for this country and the entire world ultimately. It was the movements of the mid-late 1960's that still fuel us today!!!

Jack Nicholson classes up any movie, and he does so here! I love Susan Strasberg, and there are many other great young actors. Bruce Dern, Dean Stockwell, Adam Rourke, to name a few. The music is mostly by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and there is a scene called "The Beads of Innocence" that you shouldn't miss!!! The Colors, the Sounds, the Lights! It's all good!

So if you are in a mellow mood to tune in and trip out, then Psych Out is your movie! I give it a full five stars! Loved it!
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7/10
Welcome to the world of peace and love, produced by Dick Clark!
MisterWhiplash29 December 2002
Psych-Out is as much a skewed look at the world of hippies as much as it is a praise-full one- Clark knew that he couldn't show hippies as they really were, despite that he could get filming rights in Haight-Ashbury and other sections of San Francisco, but hey if you're not going for realism, go for ciche! And what ciche it is: Strausberg is a deaf runaway looking in San Fran for her brother, played by Bruce Dern (a near Jesus look-a-like), named the Seeker, and yet instead falls in with a psychadelic rock group called Mumblin Jim, headed by Stoney, Jack Nicholson in a pre-Easy Rider look. The plot is used as a thread to showcase various cliched scenes; the pad filled with hippie-people, the acid-freak out, the scuffle with the fuzz (one of which a young Garry Marhsall), the scuffle with the regular folk, and the music scenes, one of which is a abhorrition on Hendrix's Purple Haze (it's the opening chords played backwards!). Yet, I can reccomend this movie to nostagia-fanatics, ex-hippie film buffs, and for those who'd like to see Nicholson before he started making money in Hollywood, and this is not saying he's bad in this, he's quite good considering the tripe of a screenplay. Another small plus is Kovacs on photography.

And hey, don't forget the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the seeds! B
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Pleasures on Haight St. with Nicholson as Stoney
shepardjessica2 July 2004
This cool, little movie (directed by Richard Rush of Stunt Man fame) stars Susan Strasberg (good actress; daughter of Lee); she hung out with all these cool nobodies (then) as a deaf chick on Haight_Ashbury streets looking for her older brother (Bruce Dern as the Seeker). This is a YEAR befor Easy Rider (a great movie) and the plot just rolls in a exploitive-psychelic Roger Corman way that's totally the perfect drive-in movie that is not a realistic hippie, 60's, whatever statement) for 1968. Dean Stockwell plays the cool, cynical head-band dude, Nicholson is Stoney, the level-headed pot-head guitar player, Max Julien as mr. intense, Henry Jaglom as the "artist" and The Strawberry Alarm Clock" first hit single (with a real plot) on location, and then Bruce Dern later in the film, while Strasberg carries the story (deaf); It's totally cool. I assume everybody hip as scene this Universal film by now, no matter what you're into.

Check this flick (It blows away The Wild Angels and other cool exploitation films by the youth movement, even then);along with Hell's Angels on Wheels (Jack Nicholson and Sabrina Scharf - from Easy Rider) as one of the few films made on the Haight - realism would come later; like a year later because of Hopper, Fonda and, well ...you know.
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6/10
Bad Trip Dude.
sol121818 August 2005
(Minor Spoilers) Trveling to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco to find her hippie brother Steve, Bruce Dern, pretty but hard of hearing Jenny Davis, Susan Strasberg, get's hooked up with a number of local hippie musicians and an high hippie Guru. The Hippies soon get her addicted to their free love and drug lifestyle that in the end almost cost Jenny her life.

Not that hip with what's happening Jenny falls for smooth talking Stoney (Jack Nicholson) ,by reading his lips, and ends up being bedded down by him at his pad together with a number of his other girlfriends.

Turned on to dangerous hallucinogenic drugs not only by Stoney but hippie Guru Dave(Dean Stockwell) who thinks he's the real deal, when it come to the free-love hippie lifestyle, that his fellow hippie Stoney's isn't. Jenny's brother Steve it turns out is on the run from a gang of thugs who dislike his free-love philosophy. When Jenny and her hippie friends Ben & Elwood, Adam Roarke & Max Julien, together with Stoney go to the junkyard, where Steve had made his home away from home,their attacked by these goons who try to rape Jenny. In the end they gets their butts kicked in by the suddenly non-peaceful but hard hitting hippies.

The fact that Steve, and artist, has his masterpiece on display at the Warren Gellery ,where Stony & Co. are staying at, has him sneaks in at night in order to retrieve it. Confronted by Stoney Steve is told that his sister Jenny's looking for him.

Complety blowing his cover Steve's trapped in a burning building by the thugs who've been looking for him and ends up possibly killed. Were never really shown what happened to Steve much less told just why these thugs were so hateful to him. Since he was just one of thousands of hippies in the city who shared the same ideas that he did; so why did they single him out for special treatment? Jenny is later turned on by Dave, who should have know better, on acid that blows her mind and causes Jenny to drift out on the dangerous Golden Gate Bridge.

With Jenny staggering onto the bridge's roadway and about to be run down and killed by the oncoming traffic Dave, in a moment of redemption for what he did to her, heroically saved Jenny's life but at the cost of his own.

Pretty good film about the 1960's counter culture with guest appearances by the popular late 1960's musical groups "The Seeds" & "The Strawberry Alarm clock". With Jack Nicholson looking more like an extra from the Mel Gibson American Revolutionery epic "The Patriot" then a 1960's type hippie.
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9/10
A lot of blissed-out fun
Scott_Mercer20 June 2003
As I was about two years old when this movie was shot, I missed the whole psychedelic/hippie/Sixties era/attitude/thing, except maybe the very tail end of it. So I was always curious about it. While I realize this is just a movie, even a distorted glimpse of that truly odd and wonderful time and place in America makes watching this more than worthwhile. Nicholson is great as usual. Susan Strasberg is fascinating to watch. Dean Stockwell in a toga and head band is a riot with the line of the film: "It's all one big plastic hassle."

The music is awesome, BUT! I must make a note that this is not genuine San Francisco hippie music. The two groups that are heard and seen in the film, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Seeds, were both L.A. groups! While both had a distinct sound of their own, neither of them sounded exactly like the classic San Francisco groups such as Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape or The Charlatans. (Many L.A. bands would play in San Francisco, and still do, but groups like the SAC would probably be derided by Bay area hippies as too-slick, plastic L.A. bubblegum) A C.D. reissue of the soundtrack would be quite welcome though...

Although obviously there was some on-location shooting in San Francisco, many of the scenes were lensed in L.A., including the interiors at Jack's house (shot in a Victorian house in L.A.) and the coffee house/art gallery scenes (shot on a soundstage). Also look out for writer/producer/director Gary Marshall in the coffee house scene at the start of the film, as "The Man"! A lovable time capsule of an era that couldn't last and had to slip away too quickly.
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3/10
Bad trip in San Francisco
bkoganbing1 September 2012
Two of the quirkiest actors of the last half century, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern have roles in Psych-Out about a young deaf mute girl who goes to San Francisco searching for her brother and falls in with some hippies. Nicholson being one of the hippies and Dern being her brother.

This film was produced by Dick Clark who was always known as the world's oldest teenager and Clark back in those days tried to stay as close to the youth scene as possible. Psych-Out was his attempt to break from the rock and roll scene that typified the Kennedy administration and get down with the hippie era. He was even behind the times here because in 1968 it was getting a lot edgier and the music reflected it. Imagine not a single reference to the war in Vietnam in this film.

It was also supposed to be a message against the use of LSD by the young. I don't think Dick got the message through though. The testament of a lot of drugged out people ten years later was better received.

Susan Strasberg is the deaf mute girl who is looking for her brother who has now become some kind of crazed religious zealot. Nicholson is part of a group that plays rock which also consists of Dean Stockwell. He and Stockwell both get ideas about Strasberg.

In the meantime poor Dern has gotten the ire of some rednecks and why they have it in for him as opposed to others of the thousands of hippies moved into the Haight-Asbury district back then is never really made clear.

Both Nicholson and Dern spend a lot of time working on the distinct mannerisms and speech patter that made them most imitatible in the future. Nicholson wrote the script, but all this film proved is that Jack may have found out he should stay in front of the camera.

Psyched-Out is a glimpse of the Sixties as seen through the eyes of the Fifties.
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10/10
Accidental Discovery
Msaunders5210 April 2004
I stumbled on this film purely by chance at an all- nighter in London some time in the early seventies.It was wedged between half a dozen or so cheapo -flicks on what was ostensibly billed as a Horror session,the remainder of which I am unable to recall, as from the very onset of the opening credits all that preceded was forgotten.My initial response to the film was pitched somewhere between amusement at what I believed to be absurd inaccuracies in the presentation of the subject matter,and a curious sense of admiration for the film,s broadly sympathetic attitude to the Hippie movement.The well drawn characterisation of the film,s main protagonists elevates Psych-Out way above the majority of Exploitation movies,and even the brutal editing of the version released on DVD cannot detract from the cinematographic excellence of Lazlo Kovacs. The passage of time has enabled me to view the film more objectively,and to re-evaluate what I once held to be its most obvious flaws.Firstly,to make a genuinely accurate Picture about Hippies would have been nigh on impossible for most commercial film makers at the time,as the majority of Heads(we never called ourselves Hippies)would have refused to be drawn into such a production.It is no small thing that none of premier league SF groups of the day(The Grateful Dead,Jefferson Airplane,Country Joe and the Fish etc)appear in Psych-Out,and that the audience at the Mumblin' Jim gigs seem for the most part to consist of office workers on a lunch-time break,hurriedly attired for the event in day-glo tunics,with just the odd genuine longhair thrown in.The thirty-something actors,resplendent in their dubious hairpieces, seem uncomfortable as aspiring Rock musicians(with hindsight it is probable that their preferences lay more with modern jazz)this notwithstanding,the film did somehow manage to convey more than a germ of truth about the times.In the characters of Dave and Stoney we encounter the conflict between the psychedelic visionary and the more pragmatic dilettante(shades of Syd Barrett v Roger waters),and in Steve(The Seeker)a prototype Charles Manson,albeit a more benevolent one.Dean Stockwell for me steals the film,an even more complex character than Steve,he is blessed with all the best lines and even manages to bow out with an heroic death as the film arrives at it's 'mindblowing'conclusion.I think Psych-Out is a little gem of a film,and while it contains much that will amuse,there is also much to admire.
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1/10
Psychotic Out
info-169519 May 2010
This movie might seem appealing to someone who didn't live through the era. Having lived through it in California, I can assure you that little was appealing about screaming students being wheeled away on ambulance gurneys and helpless, drugged girls wandering naked around my university campus after having been raped by various guys. This cynical movie is typical of Hollywood's exploitation of the self-destructive behavior of children and young adults. There was nothing beautiful about the period, and this movie revulses and dispirits. (More lines added to meet 10-line requirement: There was nothing beautiful about the period, and this movie revulses and dispirits. There was nothing beautiful about the period, and this movie revulses and dispirits. There was nothing beautiful about the period, and this movie revulses and dispirits. There was nothing beautiful about the period, and this movie revulses and dispirits.)
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7/10
Far more watchable than I would have suspected
MartinHafer18 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film that I had absolutely no interest in seeing. However, a friend offered me the DVD and said I would like it--even if I already had seen and hated THE TRIP (which was also on the same disc). Well, I must say that I was very surprised as I did actually enjoyed it--probably because viewers can see what they want in this odd film. For those who look back longingly to the 60s and its drug culture, the film is like a glorious flashback. And, conversely, for those who felt the late 60s went way overboard and glamorized drug use, then they will probably see the film as a having a good anti-drug message! Imagine, two opposite camps enjoying the same film for entirely different reasons! Oddly, this "hip" film was produced by Dick Clark--a man who described himself in the documentary included with this film ("Love & Haight") as a "total square". Also, it was very unusual to note that all the lead actors were in their 30s--quite a bit older than the actual hippies of the day.

The film begins with Susan Strasberg arriving in San Francisco to find her brother. However, it seems as if he's just disappeared and so she ends up shacking up in a wreck of a home with Jack Nicholson and his friends--many of which are in Jack's band. Here, there is lots of free love and drugs as they all dig being in a happening city. While Susan does look for her brother, it's all rather episodic--with lots of exceptional music (by the Strawberry Alarm Clock) presented in a way almost like a series of music videos. Eventually, she does find her brother (played in a bit part by Bruce Dern) but tragedy strikes thanks to LSD and other mind-altering drugs.

For an American-International drug film, the production had amazingly good production values. And, if you don't particularly like the plot, you can look at the whole thing as a small time capsule of the era. This would make an excellent double-feature with ALICE'S RESTAURANT. Worth seeing, that's for sure.

Finally, as Ms. Strasberg played a lady who had hysterical deafness, there was one odd note. When the bands were playing she said that she didn't dance because she was deaf. Perhaps hysterically deaf people don't, but deaf people in general love to dance--particularly if there's a strong bass--which this rock music had in spades!
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6/10
Fun look back
rosscinema8 January 2003
Dick Clark produced this film and I think the problem is it's not edgy enough as far as the drug taking and being hippies. Jack Nicholson seems to just act like a hippie while he really just wants to get laid and play in his band. The real locations of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco are terrific as you really get to see what that part of the city looked like. In some scenes the onlookers across the street are looking at the camera and waving. Dean Stockwell lives in a box on a roof and spouts all sort of hippie lingo and tries to get laid. Henry Jaglom and Garry Marshall show up in small roles. Bruce Dern as The Seeker is rather confusing. I guess he's just a drug addict and the end of the film has me thinking that Dick Clark wanted to make an anti-drug film after all. Susan Strasberg was always excellent and even in a silly film like this she stands out. Nicholson's hands don't move when he's playing the guitar! Groovy!
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9/10
Not just far out nostalgia but also has deeper meanings
TheBlueHairedLawyer1 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Psych-Out is certainly appealing if you like those nostalgic movies about the hippie subculture and that catchy Incense and Peppermints song. But it's much more than that, in fact it's almost scary, some of the scenes. Unlike the loads of movies that glamorize the hippie lifestyle, Psych-Out shows the drug abuse, the casual sex, and the broken homes that some of these hippies were coming from to get away.

If there's one thing I can say about Psych-Out, it's made me realize that times were actually better back then. Sure, there was drugs and sex and madness abound, but through it all, the characters still cared for each other in the end. In today's world, people are so immersed in their damned cell phones, texting and taking pictures of themselves like narcissists and sharing every detail of their dumb lives as if the world revolves around them, that they no longer care much about those around them. Sad how we've come so far and yet we're so badly far gone. I'm glad I don't own a cell phone.

It's certainly a trippy movie, well-filmed with some excellent scenes. The acting was great and I loved the soundtrack. I can only hope that this film continues to be as powerful as it was for me, for future generations to come.
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10/10
it's all just a big plastic hassle
debrouillez4019 February 2010
Hilarious exploitation film! As someone who's been a hippie and around hippies all his life, I can tell you that this movie is more dead on than many would like to admit. Anyone who says otherwise really hasn't been around hardcore hippies, or just isn't being honest with themselves! LOL This movie gets a star just for the great line that I used as my title.

I love how members of Mumblin' Jim stop playing, but the music track keeps going. I love how Jack Nickleson's creepy performance may not seem so peace and love, but is representative of a lot of the hustlers who have always populated the hippie scene. I love the beginning of the film where people form a parade following some chick carrying a flag representing a chair. I love the funeral scene with the Seeds, the cheesy hipster slang, and the ridiculous "in the scene/out of the scene" game. Of course this movie is a typical AIP mash up, but who cares? Kick back, gobble whatever sugarcubes you have, and have fun.
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10/10
Energetic, riveting look at the swinging 60s.
sonya9002825 August 2009
Susan Strasberg plays Jenny Davis, a young woman who runs away from home, and lands in San Francisco. Jenny's looking for her brother, an eccentric artist with a host of problems. Jenny is deaf, and has to struggle to communicate with those around her. She meets a hippie named Stoney, who is the leader of a psychedelic rock band. Stoney is touched by the waifish Jenny's situation, and offers her a place to stay. He also wants to help Jenny locate her brother. But that's easier said than done, especially since violent thugs are after Jenny's brother.

The stellar cast of this movie, makes it the classic that it is. Jack Nicholson as Stoney, is in rare form. Even back when this movie was made, Nicholson's unique brand of screen charisma, was already evident. It's no wonder that he went on to become an acting legend. Bruce Dern also gives a notable performance, as Jenny's brother, Dave. Bruce deftly conveys the manic, electric energy, that radiates from Dave. Susan Strasberg did a good job of portraying the frightened, yet determined urchin, Jenny. But she doesn't shine as brightly as her co-stars do.

The plot of this film is beside the point. It's really a celebration of the 60s counterculture, and the wild lifestyles of it's participants in Haight Ashbury. The stoned hippies, love-ins, psychedelic art and music, etc., were all the main focus of this movie. I was a youngster back in late 60s. So I knew how it was then, and this movie gives an accurate account of that time-period. That era was wild and thrilling, to say the least. I recommend this film, to those that want to see how off-beat the 60s really were. Especially if you're a Jack Nicholson fan.
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Roots Psychedelia comedy/drama fun tripped-out flik
fun_guy2031 July 2002
This movie rocks for 2 reasons: The Seeds and Strawberry Alarm Clock This is pretty much the only time we ever get to see these two 60's bands in action. The plot is good too although the end is pretty far out. I definitly recommend this to anyone who likes to stimulate their mind and watch a good movie. Jack Nicolson is even in it, I mean how cool is that? And this takes place in Haight Ashbury back in the day! Most privately owned video stores still rent this. I have gotten really inspired by this movie because I'm in a psychedelic band.
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An unusual flick
zog-328 January 2000
This movie was filmed on location in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco during one scene actual local hippies became impromptu "extras". A very unusual film though not for everyone all the scenes were filmed outdoors in San Francisco in the Haight Ashbury and Fillmore districts.
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8/10
A view of the not-so-distant past...almost like another Woodstock!
poj-man24 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I stumbled upon this film on MGM HD. I turned to the channel and here was some flick with a young Jack Nicholson and Dean Stockwell with some young lady with a postcard that reads "Jess Saes: God is in a sugar cube"...or something like that.

I figured it was a Roger Corman schlock job I had never heard of. Instead it turns out to be Dick Clark!

The film is a hoot when seen through 2017 eyes of someone who grew up in Michigan during the 60's and 70's. I may not have been in San Fran but I certainly knew some of the characters in the movie. Most of them wanted to spend their lives tripping and going to Grateful Dead shows. As may be expected they are also the people who now have a need for serious dental work later in life...but can't afford to pay for it.

The dialog is so accurate it is amazing. There is also decades later irony in such statements as Jack Nicholson uttering about San Fran something like "You don't need any bread around here...almost everything is free." My Goodness...Can you imagine what would happen if you transported such a hippie to modern San Fran where it costs a fortune just pay the monthly rent???? This movie documents that San Francisco has now become everything that the hippies in 1969 abhorred!!

The house they live in is like straight out of Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat. "We all lived together and balled together and everyone got the crabs." Well...they don't get the crabs in Psych Out...but they should have! :)

Then...later in the film...Bruce Dern appears as The Seeker! OMG...he is magnificent as the character! Another psycho played wonderfully by Mr. Dern!

Lastly...look up the movie poster art. The art is incredible period piece material. The art is truly Movie Poster material when movie posters were "7-UP Uncola Hippie R Rated Style" productions.

Psych Out is a hoot. I am stunned...as a movie buff...that I had never heard of it. It isn't earth shattering material. While hokey in many parts it still presents a pretty accurate view of what acid heads really were like.
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9/10
Turn on, tune in, drop dead...
Fuad_Ramses_IV14 September 2012
When I want to think about definitive hippie movies, Psych-Out is the first that comes to mind. It's a totally 60s flavored film that explores the psychedelic angle of the 60s history, fusing a complex narrative with trippy visuals and an impressive technical effort. And it even has The Strawberry Alarm Clock.

The cast does a great job, but the obvious alluring standout is Jack Nicholson, in the days of his youth. He was involved in what I consider an unofficial drug/counterculture trilogy in 1967's "The Trip" (as writer), this film, and 1969's "Easy Rider", though he has a prominent starring role in this film, playing Stoney, a easy-going hippie in San Fransisco being soured by the illusion of fame and fortune, though this is only one aspect of an interwoven series of colliding events.

Coming into this with a childlike innocence is Susan Strasberg's Jenny, a deaf runaway, who gives a solid performance, and with an interesting twist to narrative complexities as it mixes asides in and out of the casual dialogues, causing you to re-analyze how some of the dialogue is being interpreted. But that's just one little facet in a film that has a lot going on in it.

Obviously, it was a time of change, and you can't have a film condoning drugs, but you don't want to be too conservative if your audience is in that culture. Psych-Out blends the balance perfectly. It has a lot of ideology for a high and hungry mind, but enough of a compelling story to go along with for sober realistic minds too. It seems so definitive because it really does have everything in it. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. Primarily it's a drama of a distressed romance, but there's also scenes of suspense, further influenced by funny, creepy, and tense drug tripping that all, in one form or another, delves into the psychology of the era, and what really matters. Like any good movie, it's a clash of perspectives, looking to find the right balance, and this movie finds it.
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1/10
Bad camp
moonspinner5514 April 2002
I doubt San Francisco ever looked like this, even in 1968! Here, a deaf girl searches the city for her brother but becomes involved with a hippie rock band. Dick Clark-produced relic has jaw-dropping, pot-soaked set-pieces and clichéd characters galore ("Pleasure Lovers", according to the ads). Susan Strasberg and Jack Nicholson, playing a fellow named Stoney (!), head up quite an interesting cast; Jack is charismatic, as usual, and Adam Roarke proves yet again he had real star power. Unfortunately, the script by E. Hunter Willett and Betty Ulius, from Willett's original story, is a stinker. Richard Rush directed, in scattershot fashion. * from ****
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9/10
G-d is Alive & Well & Living In A Sugar Cube!
ShadeGrenade9 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was not sure whether I would like this. I was possibly expecting another 'Zabriskie Point' - loud, long, pretentious - but instead came away pleasantly surprised.

It was one of several '60's films to depict ordinary people losing faith with the materialistic world and joining the counter-culture, others include Peter Sellers in 'I Love You Alice B.Toklas', Bob Hope in 'How To Commit Marriage', and a fair portion of 'The President's Analyst' with James Coburn. But those were comedies, whereas 'Psych-Out' is ( depending on your point of view, anyway ) not.

The late Susan Strasberg plays 'Jenny Davis', a repressed young deaf woman who runs away from home to join up with her brother Steve ( Bruce Dern ), who lives somewhere in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, calls himself 'The Seeker' and annoys locals by making anti-Vietnam war speeches. Jenny throws in her lot with a struggling rock band, led by the aptly-named 'Stoney' ( Jack Nicholson ). They indoctrinate her into their way of life. "Money?", says Stoney, "You don't need too much of it around here!". Jenny is soon wearing colourful clothes and sharing Stoney's bed. Their relationship is platonic at first, but she eventually gives in.

In an amusing scene in a scrapyard, Jenny finds her brother's car, but then she and the others are ambushed by local men, who try to rape her. One of the hippies has taken L.S.D. and seeing the thugs as medieval dragons, beats the life out of them.

I do not know how accurate a portrayal of 1968 this was. The only hippies I encountered that year were those student teachers from the local tech who came to school once a month to teach art. My friends and I liked them because they looked nice, were more cheerful than the regular teachers, and if our work was not up to standard, did not yell at us.

'Psych-Out''s hippies are altogether in a different league, of course. But I liked the fact that they were not patronised. Indeed the non-hippies are the 'villains'. Drugs are on show, with at least two major characters experiencing bad trips; a man in an art gallery sees his friends as hideous monsters, and almost cuts off one of his hands with a power saw. The other is Jenny, given drugs without her knowledge by Dave ( Dean Stockwell ). Alone in the street at night when the hallucinations start, she sees the whole world erupting into flame.

The film is well made, with good performances, particularly by Nicholson. Even here you could tell he was a star waiting to happen. Bruce Dern's 'Steve' is really creepy, his bad home life has driven him to drugs. You expect him to do something insane and sure enough, he does, committing suicide in front of his sister.

The main flaw is the climax. Just how did Jenny get into the centre of a busy freeway whilst high on drugs? The film ends so quickly you wonder if the final scene was lost.

Music by 'The Seeds' and 'The Strawberry Alarm Clock'. The latter's 'Incense & Peppermints' was re-used in the first 'Austin Powers' movie.

An interesting film, overall. Certainly not a commercial for recreational drugs use, the opposite in fact!
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7/10
sober? goodbye!
oskil23 April 2007
Psych-Out, yeah, that's a pretty accurate title for an art movie of this kind.

I saw this movie with a couple of friends, and we all had a ball. If I would see this movie again, it would be under the influence of something a bit more "psych", although some scenes in the movie could freak you out..

If you like new "stoner movies" like Half Baked and such, I recommend you to watch this movie.

Because I feel that this movie has probably been an inspiration to those movies. What I'm talking about is the dialog.

The camera-job on the other hand, is a work of art i've never seen before. They have managed to make it look like a documentary, which was good for me that's born in the 80s and never got to experience the crazy 60s in San Fransisco.

But for heavenly waters, Do Not Watch This Movie like it have a good storyline, No!! Just watch it completely wasted and enjoy the ride!
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