More bent yet is the scene in which Nicholson and Julien sit in a van, their nutty bloodshot eyes suggesting major real-world fry-dom.
Psych-Out was largely filmed in the Haight-Ashbury of fall 1967, lending some aspects an authenticity that concurrent Hollywood hippiesploitation flicks lacked. Yet locals reportedly greeted the crew with such hostility that they had to hire Hells Angels as guards. The end-product melodramatic hash must have induced much derisive stoner laughter among subsequent longhaired viewers.
Director Richard Rush had an odd, thwarted career that peaked with one genuinely admired film (1980's The Stunt Man), then after a long layoff crashed fatally against the 1994 erotic thriller absurdity Color of Night (Bruce Willis as a psychiatrist stalked by a transsexual patient). On the other hand, the richly colorful Psych-Out's Hungarian émigré cinematographer, Laszlo Kovacs, went on to shoot all of Peter Bogdanovich's, Bob Rafelson's, and Dennis Hopper's major films plus Shampoo, Ghostbusters, and less prestigious but popular recent vehicles for Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts.
Psych-Out is a camp classic that nonetheless makes you desperately wish you were there then. It's a "bad" movie, yet wonderful in ways that aren't silly or dated at all. Its freak flag is on.
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