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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Trip (Blu-ray)
The Trip (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // Unrated // March 22, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted March 16, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Directed by Roger Corman and written by none other than Jack Nicholson, The Trip, made in 1967, is very definitely a product of its time that takes on the emerging drug culture of the late sixties in some decidedly bizarre ways.

The movie follows a man named Paul Groves (Peter Fonda) who makes quite a good living for himself as a prolific director of television commercials. Life is not all hunky-dory for Paul, however, as he's going through a bit of a rough patch since his foxy bride Sally (Susan Strasberg) split for greener pastures. He's having some trouble coping with the pressure he finds himself under and for help he reaches out to his pal, John (Bruce Dern), a man who moves in fairly different circles than Paul does. John is a bit more into the current culture and all that it entails than Paul is and he talks poor Paul into trying out some LSD.

Paul is a little curious but so too is he more than a little nervous. He talks John into serving as his guide on this ‘trip' he's being encouraged to take and from there, they head of to see John's friend Max (Dennis Hopper), a man who is no stranger to acid. They check out the party at Max's place and after that, get the drugs that they came for and split back to John's place. It's there that things start to kick in and as they do, we witness first hand Paul's hallucinogenic experiences as he's pulled into a world of psychedelic imagery and a collision of strange sights and characters against a backdrop of swirling color… but not all of it is positive or even enjoyable, in fact some of it is downright horrifying.

More of an ‘experience' than a traditional narrative, this one does a pretty great job of showing off both the positive and negative effects of taking LSD. Corman keeps the pace tight, giving us just enough build up to get to know Paul before he takes his dose and goes on his wild ride. Once he does, all bets are off as the viewer accompanies him on a surreal trip through what we can assume is at least partially his fractured subconscious. As such, we get a fait bit of sexual imagery, some pretty girls all done up in body paint with crazy light effects plastered all over them… sexy, trippy stuff like that. But so too do we get odd nightmarish visuals like Paul running through a cave that becomes increasingly filled up with thick, billowing white smoke, an encounter with a dwarf and some creepy imagery that could have come straight out of a horror movie.

While the trippy visuals are definitely the film's strongest point, the performances here are pretty good. Susan Strasnberg, as Paul's estranged wife and in many ways the impetus for all that he experiences in the film, is quite good and how can you not love Dennis Hopper playing the sort of crazed, hippie-ish drug guru he was born to play? It's not a huge role for Hopper but you won't soon forget him in it. More substantial is Bruce Dern's part in the picture as the guy who turns Paul onto LSD and who in turn helps him through the experience but for the most part, this is Fonda's show. He's very good in the lead, quite convincing in his turn as Paul and during some of the more intense scenes in which his character hallucinates, very believable as well. And hey, look out for none other than that guy Dick Miller as a bartender named Cash!

Nicholson's script hints are more details as to why Paul gets where he gets than it actually flat out provides, but that's not a problem, it just means you can use your imagination a bit to fill in the blanks. The use of music in the film is pretty great, lots of late sixties fuzzed out sounds going on here, and while the dated lingo of the era is easy to laugh at almost fifty years after the fact it is definitely in keeping with the period in which the film was made. When the dust settles, this one offers up enough sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll to satisfy and is definitely worth a watch for anyone with an interest in quirky cult films, the drug culture of the late sixties, or any of the film's impressive cast members.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The film arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it looks, in a word, excellent. Colors really pop here and the movie's visuals really go for a psychedelic style and this is nicely brought out in the transfer. Detail is very strong throughout the film and although things do exhibit a natural amount of film grain, there aren't any major issues with heavy print damage. Skin tones look nice and accurate, color reproduction is fantastic and the black levels are nice and strong. There is no evidence of any noise reduction and no problems with any compression artifacts or crush.

Sound:

The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track but it sounds quite good. Levels are nicely balanced and the music that is used throughout the movie is appropriately punchy sounding. There's good depth to the track and no problems with any hiss or distortion to note.

Extras:

No extras aside from a trailer, static menus and chapter selection. This was previously paired with Psych-Out on DVD where it was released as part of MGM's Midnite Movies line. That disc had some interesting extras in addition to the trailer but none of those have been ported over to this release, unfortunately.

Final Thoughts:

It's a shame that the interesting supplements from the DVD release of The Trip weren't carried over for this Blu-ray release, as Olive have given the film quite a nice high definition upgrade in both the audio and video departments. Regardless, the movie itself holds up, it's a wild ride indeed, and based on the strength of the film and the presentation (if not the supplements, sadly), this one comes recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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