10 Best Psychedelic Movies

Friday, July 22 by Stephen Lloyd

The 10 best psychedelic movies successfully showcase the uninhibited colors, images and out on the box thinking of the unfettered mind warp that is a psychedelic experience. Movies of the mind become movies on the screen.

  1. "Yellow Submarine" The Beatles' 1968 animated movie explodes with swirling colors and bizarre creatures. The band journeys to help save Pepperland, an amorphous place influenced by imagination, from the evil Blue Meanies. Alternately dark and fun-loving, this movie exhibits the anything does nature of psychedelic movies perfectly.
  2. "Brazil" This psychedelic movie combines madcap humor with dystopian retro-futuristic, where every object is exaggerated in size and shape for effect, social commentary. Mid-level bureaucrat Tom Lowry tries to correct a records error that resulted in a wrongful execution, he finds himself against the system and his life and mind begin to unravel. His reoccurring dream where he's a warrior angel begins to play out in reality. 
  3. "Mirrormask" This is an "Alice In Wonderland" type of story where its not clear if the fantasy world is a dream or not. Helena has to stop a war between two opposing kingdoms, one of inky darkness and one of shimmering light. She encounters a vast array of people and creatures, many made from a hodgepodge of found objects.
  4. "The Fantastic Planet" This 1973 French animated film shows a rebellion by humans against large, blue alien slave masters. This is not an action movie though and is full of quiet contemplation. The aliens spend their time building their mental capacity through psychedelic meditation. The major theme, exhibited by many strange creatures, is of the hunter versus the hunted.
  5. "Paprika" In this anime movie, a group, including therapists and police, must go after terrorists who have stolen a device that allows someone to enter another's dreams. The terrorists use the device to assault people with their own waking dreams as well as those of others. The movie's images, full of creepy toys and grotesque body manipulation, bend reality towards increasingly psychedelic and imaginative ends.
  6. "Alice In Wonderland" Louis Carroll's tale is imaginatively animated by Disney, full of expressive colors, amplifying both the darker and lighter moments of the 1951 film. One impossible thing after another happens to Alice in Wonderland, a place that may just be in her head to combat boredom. The talking inanimate objects showcase this psychedelic movie as a founder of the style. 
  7. "Rhinoceros Eyes" Chep is an employee at a prop-house and finds a returning customer in Fran, a detail-obsessed movie production designer. When the shop doesn't have what she's looking for he goes to illegal lengths to get what she wants as he's falling in love with her. The cluttered prop-house is arranged like a miniature city in a way and Chep starts seeing it come alive and grow more psychedelic.
  8. "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" This German Expressionist film from 1920 could be called proto psychedelic. A man is relating his tale of being tormented mentally and physically by a mad scientist with a somnambulist. The parts concerning his recollections showcase sets with jagged angles, alternately over-large and claustrophobic. The truth of this reality is ambiguous.  
  9. "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" While the film takes place in quasi-normal reality, that it concerns making dreams real qualifies it as a psychedelic movie. The eccentric Willy Wonka built his chocolate factory as a larger-than-life depiction of his colorful dreamscape. The riverboat ride with swirling, shifting colors and disconcerting images is purely psychedelic. 
  10. "Eraserhead" This psychedelic movie occupies the space between nightmare and post-apocalyptic reality. The lines between the two blur and a general feeling of dread permeates this movie. The stark black and white gives a film noir bleakness to the disturbing images of mutant babies and moving, bleeding cooked chickens. 
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