Psych-Out (1968)

“God is alive and well and living in a sugar cube.”

Synopsis:
A deaf-mute runaway (Susan Strasberg), hoping to find her missing brother (Bruce Dern) in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, becomes immersed in a crazy scene of drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
The “Flower Power” era of 1960s Haight-Ashbury — complete with acid rock, bad trips, tie-dye clothing, hip lingo, and “free love” — comes roaring to colorful life in this “energetic” exploitation film, which Peary refers to as “the best of all the biker and drug films that AIP produced during the era”. Its success is largely due to a sensitive performance by Strasberg, who “was never so appealing”; meanwhile, Bruce Dern as Strasberg’s “raving lunatic” brother, and Dean Stockwell as an acid freak, are both memorable in supporting roles.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Susan Strasberg as Jenny
  • Exciting on-location footage in 1960s San Francisco (shot by DP Laszlo Kovacs)

Must See?
Yes, for Strasberg’s performance, and as an all-around “good show”.

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One Response to “Psych-Out (1968)”

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    Somewhat formless – and confusing in its structure and overall point, ‘Psych-Out’ appears to be more of a time capsule of what it was like in San Francisco when people were hanging out and tripping out. To give that a narrative to hitch to, the film is ostensibly about a runaway searching for her brother (though they never really do reunite).

    Strasberg is certainly attractive but she isn’t given that much to do; the fact that her character is deaf serves little purpose in the story but at least it gives the role a touch more so that Strasberg is not just ‘the girl’.

    DP Kovacs finally gets to really shine in the last 5 minutes, as the film’s title is finally exploited – and we see that the clear intent of producer Dick Clark (of ‘American Bandstand’ fame) is ‘Just say no to drugs’.

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