Head (1968)

Head (1968)

“Everybody’s where they wanna be.”

The Monkees (Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones) take a head trip through reality and beyond — including to Victor Mature’s hair.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Bob Rafelson Films
  • Musicians
  • Surrealism
  • Victor Mature Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary points out that the “one film” of The Monkees — “a Beatles-influenced singing group [that] was formed to star in a television series and make records” — was “aimed not at the groups’ loyal teenybopper fans, but at a more sophisticated audience”. Directed by Bob Rafelson and co-scripted by Rafelson and Jack Nicholson (as well as The Monkees themselves, uncredited), the film “contains political references (including documentary footage of the Vietnam war); satirizes the world of movies, television, and commercials; and spoofs the group’s wholesome image.” Peary notes that “each Monkee becomes a mere pawn being jerked from one incoherent sequence to the next, and is subordinate to the gimmicky (psychedelic) visuals and special effects” — but “there are funny moments,” including the Monkees becoming “dandruff on Victor Mature’s greasy hair” (!).

However, he argues that “the film is a mess (by design — that’s the shame) and tedious,” and thus only “recommended for Monkees fans who comprise [the] film’s cult today”; “others will be disappointed.

I’m in agreement with Peary’s review, which accurately captures both the chaos and the frustration of this intentionally “cult-like”, self-referential satire. Rafelson himself has admitted that the entire screenplay was written while tripping on acid — and there’s deliberately very little coherence across scenes. At one point, we’re told that what we’re seeing from then on is a policeman’s dream, but since the dream portion never “ends”, we’re left wondering whether this was simply one more “joke” meant to trip us up (literally). With that said, film fanatics may have fun trying to recognize the various classic movie clips scattered throughout — which include The Black Cat (1934), Golden Boy (1939), City for Conquest (1940), and Gilda (1946).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Plenty of creatively surreal imagery

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its cult status.


3 thoughts on “Head (1968)

  1. Not must-see.

    It’s not a complete, creative misfire; it does have its own unique ‘intelligence’. In a way, it’s an adult version of the family-friendly concept of the Monkees’ tv show. But, yes, it’s also ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ on acid – with an awareness of the world which stands out in contrast to the insular nature of the Beatles flick. There are some witty moments in the earlier half but eventually this particular expression of anarchy runs out of steam and becomes tiresome. (It may have been an influence on ‘Myra Breckinridge’.)

    Overall, the film score is (alas) not memorable – but my fave sequence: Jones’ performance of Nilsson’s ‘Daddy’s Song’; a lovely song and very creatively filmed.

    Fun cameos: Teri Garr, Annette Funicello, Frank Zappa.

  2. I much prefer it to A Hard Day’s Night, despite rating it about the same, which just never gelled for me. However, AHDN is must see as a much more historically significant film.

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