Trippy movie recommendations
February 20, 2005 1:41 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite 'trippy' movies?

Please, no science fiction or horror, since these genres are trippy by definition and because I'm not really a fan of either.

What makes for a 'trippy' movie? Weird enough to induce a 'trip' or trance-like state, ie, something other than straight forward story telling.

Examples of what I'm looking for: McCabe and Mrs Miller, Apocolyse Now (especially Redux version), Big Lebowski, Night of the Hunter, Moulin Rouge, Baghdad Cafe, Harold and Maude.
posted by marsha56 to Media & Arts (77 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't really understand this question. Can you rephrase? I've seen bits of Moulin Rouge and I saw Harold and Maude a long time ago and I can't see that they have anything in common that could be defined as "trippy."

Is the trance-like state induced in the viewer? Are you asking for movies that are not filmed in a traditional manner? Uh, something like Welcome to the Dollhouse?
posted by Jim Jones at 2:08 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: David Lynch's Eraserhead is going to come up here sooner or later. Good luck finding it.

Oh Stanely Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" I feel as if I've been talking this a lot lately. It has this weird narcotic feel to it, with the lighting overwhelms and the dialog slows it down. It has a weird, warm feel to it.

Apocolypse Now is probably the epitome of trippy movie for me. The whole thing takes on a weird mysterious feeling as they travel up the river, really peaking when they reach the bridge that gets blown up every night and rebuilt every day.
posted by geoff. at 2:28 AM on February 20, 2005

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
I'm may be in a minority of one, but I really liked How I Won the War as well.
posted by qwerty155 at 3:04 AM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: Jim Jones, yeah, I guess you're right. The movies I listed are movies that induced a trance-like state in me.

I delibarately choose movies as examples that are very different. Actually, I suppose Harold and Maude is a fairly straight forwardly told story, but the subject matter is so strange (suicide and a sweetly told love story between an 80-year old woman and a 17 year old young man) and because I'm of an age that I can't help loving the Cat Stevens soundtrack, that this movie always puts me in a beautiful place.

I'm not however talking about films that I really love and that are well done but are 'normal' enough that they send me 'round the bend. I love everything Kate Hepburn ever did, but her movies don't have the effect that I'm describing here.

Hope I answered your question.
posted by marsha56 at 3:17 AM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks geoff. Our shared reaction to ApocNow tells me that I've got to check out Eraser and Eyes.
posted by marsha56 at 3:26 AM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks qwerty155. I've never heard of How I Won the War, but it sounds interesting. Heard of Fear and Loathing, just haven't got around to it and now will. Just love anything that Johnny Depp does.
posted by marsha56 at 3:31 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: a few I can think of off the top of my head that meet your criteria:

Pi not actually one of my personal favorites, but I know a lot of people who liked it
Requiem for a Dream same director as Pi, has some of the same cast. a very different film, though. some might call the last twenty minutes of it a horror movie.
Waking Life never got to see the whole thing, not sure how good it is. but it seemed very trippy, from what I saw
Jin-Roh japanese animation, one of my all-time favorite movies
posted by tumult at 3:49 AM on February 20, 2005

Any film by Alexander Jodorowsky. Maybe start with El Topo or Santa Sangre.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 4:16 AM on February 20, 2005

Natural Born Killers.
posted by CKZ at 4:29 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: Any Paul Thomas Anderson flicks, like Punch Drunk Love, or Boogie Nights.

I just saw I Heart Hucabees, and in a similar style, you could check out Lost in Translation, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Rushmore, or The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson makes some great movies).
posted by purephase at 4:30 AM on February 20, 2005

The first time I saw Yellow Submarine I did ask myself if I'd just had a spliff without remembering doing so....
posted by kitschbitch at 4:44 AM on February 20, 2005

Tarkovsky's Solyaris. (Nominally sci-fi, but not in any traditional sense.)

Triplets of Belleville

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
posted by Wolfdog at 4:54 AM on February 20, 2005

Phantom of the Paradise, for one, and Fellini Sayricon, for another. Especially the latter.
posted by goofyfoot at 4:57 AM on February 20, 2005

sorry: Satyricon.
posted by goofyfoot at 4:59 AM on February 20, 2005

Withnail and I
posted by Frasermoo at 5:07 AM on February 20, 2005

Delicatessen and City of Lost Children probably fit the bill pretty nicely...
posted by ph00dz at 5:08 AM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

Werner Herzog's Aguirre, The Wrath of God definitely induces a trance-like state. Very highly recommended, if you've not seen it.
posted by Espoo2 at 5:08 AM on February 20, 2005

Zabriskie Point?
posted by Turtle at 5:21 AM on February 20, 2005

posted by hardcode at 5:36 AM on February 20, 2005

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 5:45 AM on February 20, 2005

Utena : The Movie.
Okay, okay, so it's anime. But it has a girl turning into a car, Escher-esque architecture shots, shadow puppet narrators.... If that's not trippy I don't know what is.
posted by Jeanne at 5:48 AM on February 20, 2005

Winter Kills

Dark Wind, OK, this has bad reviews but has a great pulse. It's like watching fish in a tank.
posted by gsb at 6:29 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: David Lynch's Eraserhead is going to come up here sooner or later. Good luck finding it.

Eraserhead (region 1, available only from Lynch's website, but readily available)

Eraserhead (region 2)

"Region 0" bootlegs are easily found on eBay too, though with legitimate releases available there's no reason other than price to go for those.

The rental service carries the US release, though you'd probably have to wait 18 months or more for your turn to see it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:36 AM on February 20, 2005

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:42 AM on February 20, 2005

Hmmm. Your definition of "trippy" seems basically to mean "non-linear narrative," which could be applied to hundreds and hundreds of movies. But if you want some seriously fucked-up, non-linear movies that make you scratch your head, try:

Track 29

A truly weird Scandinavian film called Songs from the Second Floor.

Another Scandinavian movie (actually a miniseries): The Kingdom, which, IIRC, was billed in the US as "like ER on acid."

Anything by Jan Svankmajer, especially Alice .

Anything by Peter Greenaway, especially Belly of an Architect, A Zed & Two Noughts, and The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover.

I suppose I should warn you that, at the risk of sounding pretentious, if you thought Harold and Maude was "trippy" then these might not be your cup of tea.
posted by googly at 6:52 AM on February 20, 2005

Donnie Darko. Maybe also Memento or The Machinist?

Definitely all have that weirdness one might think of as trippy.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:56 AM on February 20, 2005

This is only really valid if you don't mind leaving actual storytelling completely behind and going over to a music-video-like experience.

The Gate to the Mind's Eye and (at least) its sister movie Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye. Those two I've seen, the rest of the series may or may not work.

[Warning: Old-school computer animation, reminiscent of a 3D design school term project]
posted by ChrisR at 7:00 AM on February 20, 2005

Waking Life is definitely a good suggestion. The visuals are amazing, especially if youre doing what i think you might be. Definitely Fear and Loathing (just saw again for 6th time yesterday), The Wall, Being John Malkovich might just mess with you right in an altered state.

Great Suggestions so far.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 7:25 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: I second Eraserhead and Pi. but my first choice would be Von Stroheim's Greed, tho
posted by matteo at 7:28 AM on February 20, 2005

posted by leapingsheep at 7:28 AM on February 20, 2005

Jacob's Ladder
Mulholland Dr
posted by SPrintF at 7:51 AM on February 20, 2005

Fantasia. Although it's not so much a good trippy movie as it's a good movie to see while tripping.
posted by TimeFactor at 8:04 AM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: I suppose I should warn you that, at the risk of sounding pretentious, if you thought Harold and Maude was "trippy" then these might not be your cup of tea.

Not pretentious googly, just young. I'm a lot older than most MeFi members. I'm 48 soon to be 49.

Harold and Maude was released in 1971. I remember seeing it shortly afterwards. It was considered a cult classic at the time. It ran at a local theatre here in Minneapolis for years and years, along with a Bergman parody, De Duva.

posted by marsha56 at 8:22 AM on February 20, 2005

What The Bleep Do We Know? is definitely trippy.

Alain Resnais' Last Year in Marienbad is also a bit of a different film experience.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:58 AM on February 20, 2005

I'll nominate Head, the first Pokemon movie, and the Star Wars Christmas Special. Oh, and The Big Lebowski. There's also those Koyanasquaatsi (or however you spell it) movies. Good trippy stuff all around.
posted by spilon at 9:02 AM on February 20, 2005

Ooh, some good suggestions here!

I'll suggest the original Norwegian Insomnia, it's available in a really nice Criterion edition on DVD and it's pretty trippy movie (if I'm interpreting the way you mean "trippy" correctly). The Hollywood remake was nowhere near as bad as I'd worried it would be (the orginal is one of my desert island movies), but the orginal is just genius (deep and subtle and surreal).
posted by biscotti at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2005

I definitely second the three Qatsi movies. Also:
Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal
Wave Twisters
posted by box at 9:08 AM on February 20, 2005

Blue Velvet has some extremely trippy moments.
posted by marcschil at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2005

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me too.
posted by loquax at 9:34 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: Here's one for "trippy," I guess:

Hitler: Ein Film aus Deutschland, also known as Hitler, A Film from Germany, 1978, dir. by Hans-Juergen Syberberg. Intelligent film essay about Hitler's impact on the modern project of democracy. Also, eight hours long, no characters (except, well, Hitler), no sets, no plot. Shot entirely in a studio, with minimal props. Includes: Hitler as Charlie Chaplin, Hitler as Frankenstein, Hitler as hand-puppet, two hours from Hitler's chauffer, and other things. Brilliant, just brilliant, with the kind of speeches that you struggle to remember; the experience of failing to remember things like that for eight hours, coupled with the need, after about three hours in, to pry your eyes open just to keep watching, is wholly worth it. Not recommended for drug-accompanied viewing, as the film is very like a drug itself.

After watching that movie, I can genuinely say that movies were very different experiences for me. That is: I learned to be patient, and started to wish that all movies were three hours long; you can get so much more done in that time.

(But I wonder if this is what you're after.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 AM on February 20, 2005

Russian Ark
posted by Gortuk at 10:02 AM on February 20, 2005

Lipstick On Your Collar written by Dennis Potter. The Tempest directed by Paul Mazursky. Hope and Glory by John Boorman. Sullivan's Travels by Preston Sturges.
posted by vronsky at 10:06 AM on February 20, 2005

I hope it doesn't fall into the impermissible sci-fi category; does anyone remember Liquid Sky?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:16 AM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: Another trippy candidate: My Dinner With Andre, though the trip is not in the eyes, but in the head. What intriguing images are painted by Andre Gregory.
posted by seawallrunner at 10:18 AM on February 20, 2005

Bringing Out the Dead, Goodfellas, Casino. The last 30 minutes of Magnolia are pretty fucking trippy.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:25 AM on February 20, 2005


Granted, those two are nominally horror films, but only nominally.

George Washington
Morvern Callar

I would also recommend almost anything by Nicolas Roeg or Dennis Potter, so the recommendation of Track 29 earlier up makes perfect sense.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:35 AM on February 20, 2005

A cracking pair:


Excellent sunday afternoon visuals.
posted by gaby at 10:45 AM on February 20, 2005

I second all the Wes Anderson movies, but I'm surprised no one's mentioned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:47 AM on February 20, 2005

A reminder that the Mulholland Drive Support Group is available for the terminally confounded.
posted by gimonca at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2005

Dracula: Pages from the Virgin's Diary

I second the Svankmajer recommendation, though the only thing of his I've seen is Little Otik.

I think Decasia would have been much better had it been about half as long.
posted by kenko at 11:52 AM on February 20, 2005

I second Head. Also,
Myra Breckenridge
The Saddest Music In The World
Repo Man
posted by obloquy at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2005

Abre Los Ojos/Vanilla Sky, though the latter is in more of a "Dude, did I just totally blow your mind or what?" mode.
posted by abcde at 12:02 PM on February 20, 2005

Adaptation fits right into that mold.
posted by Arch Stanton at 12:18 PM on February 20, 2005

For my synapses, animation is where it's at: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, anything by Miyazaki, especially Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Yellow Submarine, Waking Life.

2001 is the essential trippy movie, also the first two qatsi movies. Sun Ra's Space is the Place. Last Walz. The Grateful Dead Movie. It. Un Chien Andalou. Anything by David Lynch. Anything by Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for the wallpaper.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the question, though. I don't see how you can rule out all Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and include Harold and Maude and Night of the Hunter.
posted by muckster at 12:35 PM on February 20, 2005

Oh. I think I get it. You want movies that induce a dream-like state? Try: Ozu, Wong Kar-Wai, Abbas Kiarostami, Tsai Ming-Liang, Leos Carax, Fellini, Sokurov, Hou Hsiao-hsien. "Something other than straight forward story telling" includes A LOT of movies. Have fun exploring.
posted by muckster at 12:45 PM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: Performance. It's kind of like the Rocky Horror Picture Show if it weren't a rock opera and if it was a British gangster laying low with Mick Jagger and lots of drugs. It's really awesome.
posted by SoftRain at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2005

Come to think of it, I'd argue that every movie induces are dreamlike state--it's what movies do, they're shared dreams. Some are just better than others, more beautiful, strange, unpredictable. So essentially, you're asking for recommendations for "good movies?" I'd agree with googly that "Harold & Maude" is not very trippy. A cult classic, yes. Trippy, no.

One more suggestion, to make up for the argument: Godard. If you're familiar with all his old stuff, see his latest, "Notre Musique." Odd and powerful.
posted by muckster at 1:02 PM on February 20, 2005

I cannot believe this thread has gone this far without Beyond The Valley The Dolls. It just doesn't really get any trippier, IMHO.
posted by wolftrouble at 1:42 PM on February 20, 2005

The original Manchurian Candidate

The Parallax View

The Lathe of Heaven

Can't believe nobody's mentioned Brazil, or Fight Club.

Fritz the Cat.

posted by damn yankee at 1:57 PM on February 20, 2005

ninja bachelor party (a bill hicks production)
posted by mdpc98 at 2:01 PM on February 20, 2005

Anything with elaborate animation (Ghost in the Shell, Fantasia, the new version of Metropolis) is made about ten times trippier with the sound off and some good trance music on instead. And I don't even usually like trance music much. This technique also makes the films better in general, and is great for visually appealing animations with bad plots.
posted by mai at 2:05 PM on February 20, 2005

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

And Aria
posted by vers at 3:16 PM on February 20, 2005

Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Lots of Ingmar Bergman pictures, notably Cries and Whipsers (a.k.a. Viskningar och rop).
posted by Asparagirl at 3:57 PM on February 20, 2005

Er, that's Whispers, heh.

And I second Metropolis.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: Movies that have entranced me that aren't already mentioned (or maybe I just missed them):

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (The Director's Cut)
The Coen Brothers' Barton Fink and Fargo
Win Wenders's Wings of Desire
Ryutaro Nakamura's Serial Experiments Lain
Tony Scott's Man On Fire
Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie
Luc Besson's Léon/The Professional
David Lynch's Mulholland Dr.
Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo

Serial Experiments Lain is actually a series, not a film. Its whole is about five and a half hours long, if I remember correctly, but it is absolutely entrancing, both watching all episodes at once or watching them individually with time between.
Mulholland Drive I liked less after I was informed what exactly was going on after watching it. I still think the film is well-made but, in case it makes any difference to you, I want to mention that the explanation felt like a cop-out to putting more meaning behind it. Then again, I do still like the film.
Also, 21 Grams felt like it was dragging somewhat, but I was still mostly into it. It just felt long.

There's a Martin Scorsese film called After Hours I saw part of late at night once and it seemed like the weirdest, random thing at the time. I haven't had the opportunity to watch it in its entirety since then but it was rather captivating and strange when I saw what I did of it.

Plus I'll second:

Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (the original cut—not redux)
Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead
Christopher Nolan's Memento
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
Hiroyuki Okiura's Jin-Rô
Mamoru Oshî's Ghost In The Shell
Darren Aronofsky's Pi
David Fincher's Fight Club

The first time I saw Fight Club it was less captivating than it has become for me. I was actually getting a little tired of all the violence and vandelism shortly before the scene where the twist is revealed, at which point I was totally completely back into it.
posted by DyRE at 4:12 PM on February 20, 2005

Prospero's Books
posted by warhol at 4:52 PM on February 20, 2005

Not just Koyaanisqatsi, but Powaqqatsi too! Also.. Man With a Movie Camera. It was made in 1929, but it has modern soundtrack versions.. with The Cinematic Orchestra's being the best. My father has watched it four times in the last two weeks alone..
posted by wackybrit at 4:52 PM on February 20, 2005

Errr, I meant Naqoyqatsi, rather.. as Powaq was already mentioned :-) Naqoy is probably the most trippy visually, though Koy has the trippiest music.
posted by wackybrit at 4:52 PM on February 20, 2005

Funny, wackybrit, I thought the music was better in Naqoyqatsi (Yo-Yo Ma!), and the visuals were comparatively pedestrian. Reggio did much better with Fricke, his cinematographer on the first two films (who also made Baraka, mentioned earlier.)
posted by muckster at 5:08 PM on February 20, 2005


And loud! seconds for Baraka, Brazil and Eraserhead (in order of increasing darkness).
posted by flabdablet at 5:11 PM on February 20, 2005

the maxx. it's a cartoon and vaguely fantasy horror, but awesome.

for trance inducing (which to me is somewhat different from trippy), one might have a look at peter greenaway's the falls. Not for the faint of heart though. I believe that there's even an interview with Greenaway where he explicitly recommends that viewers not watch the whole thing in one sitting.
posted by juv3nal at 7:19 PM on February 20, 2005

Best answer: If you're patient, try Terrence Malick's Thin Red Line. It's long and slow, but that's not the only reason it will put you in a trance. Also, while Herzog's been brought up a few times here, I've seen no mention of Fassbinder. Try "The American Soldier" for a start. It starts slow, but the last 10 minutes or so are beyond trippy. On a personal level, Apocalypse Now will always be high on my list, if only because I was insanely stoned the first time I saw it, and about 5 seconds before Sheen asks Lawrence Fishburne's character how old he is, I wondered (out loud, to my stoned friends), "Shit... How old was he in this?" Good times!
posted by idontlikewords at 9:47 PM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Many, many, many great suggestions. I can tell I'm going to have to completely redo my NetFlix queue. And I'm ready to concede that H & M may be a movie I love but may not be truly 'trippy' and may not belong on my list of examples. Forgive me, it is a movie that has been on my mind a lot lately due to a tiny little unrequited crush that I let myself have on a sweet young man less than half my age (but over 21).
posted by marsha56 at 1:38 AM on February 21, 2005

My wife turned me on to Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis last year, and was very impressed with the trip factor.
posted by terrapin at 4:59 AM on February 21, 2005

(marsha56, I'm glad you got good suggestions, but I don't think this is the kind of question where you want to mark "Best Answers." Presumably, you haven't seen the movies in question, and "Harold & Maude" shows how subjective the entire thing is anyway.)
posted by muckster at 8:06 AM on February 21, 2005

Funny, wackybrit, I thought the music was better in Naqoyqatsi (Yo-Yo Ma!), and the visuals were comparatively pedestrian. Reggio did much better with Fricke, his cinematographer on the first two films (who also made Baraka, mentioned earlier.)

I'm not saying the music in Naqoy isn't better (because, in conventional terms, it is), but it's not as 'trippy' (depending on your definition) as the total insanity of the electronic Koyaanisqatsi track. Yeah, the visuals were a little pedestrian, but I'd say they were trippier due to the content. The visuals in the first two films were of reality, just speeded up, etc.. whereas Naqoyqatsi features a bunch of stuff that you can't even work out. I am not equating 'trippy' with 'good', of course :-)
posted by wackybrit at 6:27 AM on February 23, 2005

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