Cleansing the lens of cinematic perception... until the screen is a white glaring rectangle

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer of my Netflix Streaming I: A Psychedelic Odyssey

It's the time of year when people come to me and say "Dude, how can you just sit there watching movies when it's so nice out??" Splayed upon the couch, I retort "duuuude, I'm going to get up any minute." They wait, but I do not stir. "OK, guess I'll go home," they finally say, "but I need some good Netflix recommendations. What should I watch tonight?" To this, I lurch forward in a great beverage-toppling spasm. "Welcome, then," I say, "to part three of a one part series: Summer of my Netflix Streaming, a psychedelic odyssey. Take with grapefruit juice and call me if things get too weird."

First Up:  Do you believe in death after life? Well, I have.

Buddha on the head of a pin dancing with Jerry Berry. Whatever, man. Roll the clip, Scarab.

To remove your anxiety about what to watch in what order and when, I suggest all six of these, in the order listed... all at once. Empty your cue.... empty.... your....cue. By dawn things will make sinse (hic).

(2012) Hosted by Joe Rogan

Go Rick Strassman go-ooo--ohm! In case you were born in some inane, counterintuitive dimension where all they chemical shortcuts to spiritual enlightenment have been made into felonies, you should know Dr. Rick Strassman actually got official clearance by the government to do DMT studies in clinical trials. The results? Mind-blowing of course, but inconclusive, equally of course. See this and answer the question: is there a difference between hallucination and reality? If what you experience in the DMT-verse feels a hundred times more real than our waking, consensual reality, then doesn't that mean--as quantum physics and bioverse theorists contend--it's realer?

The only answer is.

Even so, enough bad trips happened under Strassman's watchful eye that he now feels a little guilty for messing in all those minds. So is he a Pandora's box cutter, a modern messiah, or an apex predator Albert Hoffman?  Only the machine elves know for sure, and they only tell the silver spiders that spin together crystal cities out of our universal thought matrix. Heads talking include my boy Daniel Pinchbeck and the 'other'-other McKenna. There's lots of groovy Alex Grey art and deep hallucinogen-ready kaleidoscopes. Joe Rogan narrates while standing in front of a blackboard, for extra validity. (more from Tripumentaries)

See also: Ayuhuasca Vine of the Soul

(2009) Dir. Gasper Noe

Drifting around Tokyo's pinku parlors, orbiting the copulations and floating into light bulbs like Hitchcock's camera might have if it didn't find its way out of the black tunnel connecting the drain with Janet Leigh's pupil in PSYCHO, we never know what the late Oscar's free-floating POV is thinking. We just see what his disembodied third eye/soul orb sees as its drawn to the gravity of the flaming sexual heat of the sidpa bardo. Drifting towards any old giant sun egg in which to be reborn, looking for the white light to absorb him, and finding only the respite of 60 watt bulb lamps, black light art exhibits, frenzied narc-bashing, sex, sex, sex; winding up floating off to the ceiling again, ever on the move, falling via the abortionist's knife, and bumbling onto passenger planes, he ambles the way we used to walk around outside the Dead shows when we didn't have that miracle ticket, looking for that unlocked fence, that lax security guard... that one ripped condom, the missed pill. Doses... doses. (from: Die Like an Eagle) 

(1940) Start at the 7:32 mark (and avoid the 2000 version)

(From Acid Sound Symphony:) Walt Disney was determined to not just blow minds and thrill art lovers with his 1940 epic animated classical music film FANTASIA, but to bring what critic James Agee referred to as "middlebrow highbrow" culture to an America on the edge of war. It didn't work, but when re-released in 1969, it caught on with a new kind of American at the edge of war, the dosed hippie. 

AWikipedia notes:
Fantasia did not make a profit until its 1969 re-release. By then, Fantasia had become immensely popular among teenagers and college students, some of whom would reportedly take drugs such as marijuana and LSD to "better experience" the film. Disney promoted the film using a psychedelic-styled poster. The re-release was a major success, especially with the psychedelic young adult crowd, many of whom would come lie down in the front row of the theater and experience the film from there.  

(1927) Dir. Fritz Lang (Giorgio Moroder version - 1984)

With wild color tinting, sci-fi sound effects, and Giorgio Moroder's 'great' 80s rock soundtrack (w/ Pat Benatar and Queen among others), this FANTASIA style protean music video narrative is way more fun and engagingly goofy than the digitally restored super-long original cut (also on Streaming) that got a theatrical rerelease back in '05. I know it's cineaste heresy but I think Lang would have roared in indignation-cloaked delight to see his 1927 sci-fi parable turned into a stoner rock musical instead of slathered in orchestral pomp. If he could see the genius in Jess Franco's SUCCUBUS, he could surely see Moroder's grandiloquent disco cocaine-shiver synth 80s synth grandeur is the perfect fit for his cast's Weimar era's rabid frothing-at-the-mouth acting style and the sped-up herky-jerk of Karl Freund's silent 'crank' camera.

Great moments of rock synergy include the factory workers' FLASHDANCE-style pop anthem, and the upper class brothel debut of the robot Maria, which is given growling rock authority via Bonnie Tyler's "Sweet Jane"-chorded "Here She Comes." If only all silent sci-fi films were given such loving attention from synthesizer-twiddling Italian disco composers! You'll be wondering where lurketh thy holy copy of 1980's FLASH GORDON after this, for the two would be a great double bill. Some detractors say the story's harder to follow this way (it's condensed to a brisk 90 minutes), I say those people are just not high enough, and neither is their stereo. 

(1970) based on the book by Erich von Däniken 

The History Channel has been laden now for years with ancient alien-related programming and Erich von Däniken is there, but so is repetitive narration and whiplash editing and catheter commercials to give you mad panic attacks. But this is the original, the groundbreaker. True or not is irrelevant - one merely looks at the facts and wild locations, long since traveled-over by ancient alien truth seekers; here in 1970 they're still overgrown, half-forgotten, under-explored, still surrounded by indigenous tribespeople. Von Daniken is the first white man they see, since the last 'god' came down. Shot on 16mm film with that earthy vibe of the day, the few talking heads are translated / dubbed (from German and Russian) giving a nice weird alienation affect. An illuminating highlight: some valuable footage of cargo cults in the Pacific help us understand the root of all of our religious thought. These natives keep watching the skies, praying for the return of the white brothers in their big silver birds and their cans of delicious peaches. Is Christianity really so different?

(2012) Starring: YaHoWa & The Source Family

At one point does a divinely inspired lysergic-macrobiotic sage remember that way down deep he's just a lusty huckster?  Yaweh-O, or whatever Papa Bear's name is this incarnation, was a Gilgamesh-esque mountain man messiah and ex-bank robber who, like the greatest of modern gurus, was able to waken people's kundalini with just a touch or a glance, but he was deluding even himself if he thought he could hang glide (he crashed and died). That's why my own spirituality will always stop short of wearing long flowing robes and divesting my worldly possessions, but that's just me. It's a curse as well as a blessing to be so wary and spiritual at the same time - it's only the twin signs like Pisces can do it, and we have no choice. Wether your kundalini sleeps or crawls, watching this crazy documentary and hearing these crazy beautiful starry-eyed people proves to be a solid trip that can charm it into crawling up your spine, sparking off your third eye like an Olympic torch struck by a cobra bite strength tester hammer gong. (see also CinemArchetype Senex: The Sage)

And now... two episodes of STAR TREK 
"This Side of Paradise" (season 1, ep. 25) finds Kirk the only member of the crew not bewitched by space poppies. Everyone who beams down on this certain Edenic planet becomes too happy and content to do anything but loll around in the sun and love one another. Kirk tries to convince them they need goals and challenges to evolve as people, but they're too busy mooning over the flowers; it's not until he stirs their more violent emotions that they snap out of it. Turns out humans need to be miserable and angry to evolve, to move forward, rather than lillies-of-the-field-considering it all day.

And though you can argue both sides, which is to the script's credit, it's one of the earliest examples of Kirk seeming a killjoy, especially when Spock gets the closing line: "For the first time in my life, I was happy."

"The Way to Eden" (season 3, ep. 20) finds a group of itinerant space hippies try various scams to convince the Enterprise crew to take them through the forbidden zone to an allegedly pristine planet named Eden. The hippies include Charles Napier on space guitar inviting Spock to sit in and jam with the flower people! ("He is not Herbert! We reach!") Vulcans consider the way these groovy brothers and sisters live to be the highest form of sanity. We reach! But just as the Source Family found disaster following Father Yod to Hawaii in the last film, so this Eden planet carries its own tricky backhand bitch slap reward for their bucolic naiveté. (Sex, Drugs and Quantum Existentialism: The Acidemic STAR TREK Short Guide)

(1996) - Starring: insects (les bugs)

With all the machine elf aliens dancing and the dangerous space microbes and cosmic mind-altering spores of the last films still percolating in your toasted brain, let's, as Steve Martin says, get small. Without any music or narration, this day-on-the-leaf insect documentary provides the kind of 'close reading' nature's been waiting for all this time, the chance to really show just how truly fucking bizarre insect interactions are. Ants milking droplets of water, stolen from clingy flea-style bugs, kicking ladybugs off their precious droplets, gently... etc. This weird 'right under our noses, literally' insight is what head trips are, the utterly strange fractal aliveness of our world--what our mind usually screens out unless it recognizes a threat or a desire--made suddenly front and center. Only as small kids were we attuned to the crazy scariness and odd joys of the insect community. Back when turning over a garden rock was like opening the door to a gross weird world (before DDT wiped it all away, or did we just get too tall to see?)

Well, when you tune into the 'other' realms you get all that kid's eye view back, so let the bug show begin.

On the other hand if this gets too boring or gives you a minor dose of delirium tremens, skip ahead!

(2012) Dir. Don Coscarelli

What if those weird bugs from Microcosmos were also hallucinogens that let their user see through time and space and transmute dimensions? And other bugs were constantly taking over human hosts and killing them while preparing for a sixth-dimensional Lovecraftian tentacle crossover? What? Slow down, man. Think about what you're saying... Then plunge into the coolness. Unlike Gilliam's Loathing, this is truly a film where the weird turn pro.

(2013) Dir Bob Smeaton

There's one thing that never gets old when you're super tripped-out, and that's the crunchy delicious sexually far out sounds of Hendrix's guitar. On good psychedelics, his blazing electric sound is warm, trippy current that zaps your saliva glands like patchouli lemons and makes all other music seem pointless (aside from Ravi Shankar's and Otis Redding's). Let it take your mind wild places, and wonder what new sounds might have come forth from his giant hands, if not for the always bad idea of mixing excessive Valium and alcohol.

In fact, I actually tried to go back in time to prevent Hendrix's death, as a kind of Reverse Terminator, but instead I just aged into oblivion. (see: Hippy in a Hell Basket - left)


From here of course you can greet the dawn's early light with The Other One, the Bob Weir Story (but I never liked Bobby, no offense - let Phil sing!); or the occasionally not pretentious Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or you could go to bed. I mean, the sun's coming up, dude. People are getting up for work! You don't want to have to face them.

Too bad W.C. Fields isn't on Netflix because what you really need now is Never Give a Sucker an Even Break or International House, Mississippi or The Fatal Glass of Beer



If the walls start closing in, switch to this televisual equivalent of a Wavy Gravy chill-out tent immediately. This is way better than Bruce Dern handing you thorazine or Jack Nicholson and Adam Roarke melting into zombie monsters while trying to stop you from cutting off your own hand with a circular saw at 'the gallery'. Not that you ever would, because you're not a lightweight. Or are you?

Coming up Next in the Summer Series: "Post-Giallo Dream Logic"

1 comment:

  1. I've actually seen three of these, which has to be a record for me reading your stuff. I watched the DMT one last year, watched "John Dies at the End," and I own the DVD for "Enter the Void."

    Now I have to go back and catch the rest of these.


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