Not long before LSD was illegalized in the United States, Roger Corman produced a film that allowed viewers to come to their own conclusions about the drug. The Trip tells the story of Paul, a straight-edged commercial director who decides to try out the drug after his wife leaves him. The beginning of the film allows the audience to get adjusted to the LSD culture as colorful sets and hippie characters are introduced, together presenting a strong sense of the free spirit lifestyle. However, the film quickly takes a psychedelic turn after Paul swallows the LSD. Special camera lenses create kaleidoscopic imagery and vivid colors paint through the film, creating a magical visual experience. In the end, reality is mixed with hallucinations as Paul embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
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The diverse settings and imagery that comprise of Paul’s trip are quite memorable. The first part of Paul’s trip is contained and monitored by his friend John. Much of his hallucinations are set in medieval times and show him running away from hooded Death along the coast. These sequences are intermixed with vibrant hallucinations of intimacy between Paul and his ex-wife, Sally. Special lights flash over their bodies creating the effect on screen that their intertwined bodies are consumed in this free spirit culture. However, Paul eventually escapes from John’s watch and ends up walking along the lit up Strip. However, while it is clear that Paul feels great during his trip, Corman did not believe that he should create a pro-LSD film. As a result, Corman pulled the horror imagery from his Edgar Allan Poe series to represent the come down of LSD. A dark, isolated mansion strikes through Paul’s hallucinations and the terror of this image leaves a strong counter message.
Yet, the original intent of the film was to leave the message regarding LSD open-ended. However the film that was released begins with a long warning about the negative consequences of LSD and ends with a shattered image of Paul. These edits, added on after Corman handed over the film to AIP, suggest that the drug has destroyed Paul’s life. In fact the original ending of the film was supposed to follow Paul as he walks from the bed to the deck and from there show him looking out on to the Santa Monica Bay. This had all been taken in one very intricate shot and was meant to leave the impression that Paul had been reborn. Whether his trip was a positive or negative experience was not answered. Ultimately AIP edited the ending in a conservative manner without Corman’s knowledge…an act most likely due to the widespread controversy surrounding the drug at the time.
However, putting LSD aside, this film is made up of a groovy cast of characters that deserves mention. The screenplay was written by the well-known Corman film school graduate, Jack Nicholson, who first started his career with Corman when he starred in Cry Baby Killer in 1958. Additionally, Peter Fonda was cast to play Paul, the lead of the film. Serving as the guide through Paul’s trip is his best friend John, played by Bruce Dern. The supplier of the LSD, Max, is none other than the late Dennis Hopper. And finally, Susan Strasberg played the heartbreaker, Sally, who divorces Paul, leading him to take this trip. With such a talented cast and production crew working on this film, it is no surprise that this movie is still enjoyed by so many.
Forget Friday the 13th. Just when you think you’re safe…the real fun starts. In the horror spoof, Saturday the 14th, a family moves into a new house filled with secrets. The adventure begins when little Billy comes across The Book of Evil. He soon finds that the monsters pictured in the book have disappeared from the pages and are now freely roaming around the house, spooking the family members, doing the dishes, trashing the kitchen, but most importantly, looking to find the book that brought them to life. Meanwhile, a vampire couple is staking out the house, also desperately attempting to get their hands on the book. However, the stakes rise when the family meets Van Helsing and he reveals that many creatures have been in search of this book for ages because it’s no ordinary book. In fact, whoever controls the book controls the world! Unfortunately, the book is nowhere to be found, and with a big family dinner planned for Saturday the 14th, everyone is in for a few surprises.
Take a look at the trailer to preview some of these surprises:
While today most are familiar with films that parody the horror genre, Saturday the 14th is in a category of its own. This film, produced by Julie Corman in 1981, avoids spoofing familiar storylines and villains from horror films and instead creates its own fantastical world with hilarious characters and creatures. Howard Cohen, the writer and director of the film, first developed his offbeat sense of humor during his time at Second City in Chicago and channeled this creativity into creating this fictional world.
One of the more memorable fictional monsters from the film has his moment of stardom when he surprises Debbie, the daughter of the family, in her bathtub. At first the viewer is tricked into thinking that some sort of shark is swimming in her bathtub since only a tiny fin appears above the water. However, once she is fully submerged in the water, the monster slowly reveals himself as a full grown, green-scaled, bathtub monster (how did he fit under the water??) that chases the young girl through the house.
Yet, the most interesting of the monsters and characters that appear in the film would have to be Waldemar, the vampire who has staked out the house and stops at nothing to find The Book of Evil. Jeffrey Tambor, known best now for his Emmy-nominated role in Arrested Development, made his second film appearance playing Waldemar in Saturday the 14th. His quirky sense of humor is present in this film and his facial expressions are priceless.
Yet Jeffrey Tambor isn’t the only big name in the film. The husband and wife in the film were played by real life married couple Dick Benjamin and Paula Prentiss. Great actors separately and together, they both have a deep understanding for what is necessary in comedy and they both shine in this film. In fact, Paula Prentiss, who turns into a vampire towards the beginning of the film, refused to wear the vampire teeth she was supposed to wear for the part because she knew she could give a strong performance without needing the teeth…and she was correct. Perhaps the funniest moment in the film occurs when she falls out of the bed trying to bite her husband’s neck.
But not every part of production on this film ran so smoothly. With a 3-4 week production schedule, chaos is inevitable. When shooting the last shot of the film, the actor who played Billy was unable to be on set, forcing the crew to find a boy on the spot that could pass off as Billy. Although the boy they found was six inches taller than the real Billy, tricks of the camera were able to make the switch is unnoticeable in the film.
Seven years after the release of Saturday the 14th, the sequel, Saturday the 14th Strikes Back was released (1988). The sequel stays true to the tone of the original, but takes viewers on a brand new adventure.
Check out the trailer here: