Psychedelic films use narration, cinematography, music, and sound design to distort your understanding of reality.
Whether depicting drug-induced psychosis or existential confusion, the following top-rated movies will uproot your view of normality by experimenting with your sensory perceptions.
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This 2009 experimental drama art film revolves around a dead American drug dealer whose soul is seeking resurrection.Check Price on Amazon
“Enter the Void” is told from the point of view of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a candy man and junkie living in Tokyo. He was killed in a drug deal after his best friend betrayed him.
Oscar’s story does not end there. After getting shot by the police, he floats out of his body. His spirit keeps on moving from place to place.
Visiting family and friends, the young dealer observes the repercussions of his death.
Oscar wants to get revenge from the people who wronged him, and the only way to do that is to live again.
“Enter the Void” is written and directed by Argentine filmmaker Gaspar Noé. Aside from Brown, it stars Paz de la Huerta and Cyril Roy. Most of the shots are taken in neon-lit Tokyo nightclubs.
Noé describes the film as a “psychedelic melodrama.” The out-of-body experience and first-person narrative of film-making lend the film its mind-bending quality.
A three-hour visual exploration of bizarreness, “Enter the Void” is one of the best you will see in this lifetime.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction masterpiece centers on mankind’s mission to uncover the origins of a mysterious object buried in the moon’s surface.Check Price on Amazon
“2001: A Space Odyssey” traces the evolution of man from the early Stone age to the space age.
During the present time, you will see a spacecraft en route to the moon to investigate a giant black monolith found on one of the craters.
The story cuts to the mission of Discovery One, a spaceship bound for Jupiter holding Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and his team. They are all in a state of cryogenic slumber.
Directing the secret mission is the ship’s supercomputer HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain).
Bowman struggles for control as the computer’s intelligence supersedes that of the astronauts and attempts to dominate the entire mission.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” beautifully captures mankind’s existential journey into unexplored territory.
Incredibly futuristic, the technology portrayed in the film was far ahead of what NASA had during the 1960s.
With its stunning visual effects and colored lights set in haunting avant-garde music, the famed Stargate scene will leave you spellbound.
If you are looking for an intense psychedelic experience, “2001: A Space Odyssey” will definitely deliver.
Released in 2001, “Waking Life” is an adult animated film exploring a wide range of philosophical issues, including existentialism and consciousness.Check Price on Amazon
The movie revolves around a young man who shuffles through a series of dream-like realities. There, he meets various people who exchange insightful discussions about the meaning of life and the purposes of the universe.
Written and directed by Richard Linklater, the movie suggests how substances lead you to spiritual and existential dilemmas.
You will find heavy dialogues on the nature of reality, dreams, and free will.
While the protagonist sorts through his delusions to find the answers to life’s greatest mysteries, the ending does not provide a clear solution.
Linklater’s aim is for you to expand your own mind and figure out the answers on your own.
Adding to the trippy feel of “Waking Life” is the rotoscoping technique used involving layering of actual footage and animation.
Profoundly memorable, this movie should be on anyone’s list of best psychedelic films.
This 2011 non-verbal documentary of international imagery chronicles the life, death, and rebirth cycles that take place on our planet, big and small.Check Price on Amazon
Directed by Ron Fricke, “Samsara” will take you on a journey worldwide, from sacred grounds and natural wonders to industrial complexes and disaster zones.
It was filmed over five years, spanning twenty-five countries on five continents.
Using time-lapse photography and slow-motion film portraits of different subjects, Fricke presents a unique cinematic experience unlike no other.
There are footages of African tribesmen, Tibetan monks, and Chinese factory workers. You will also see images of the destruction that Hurricane Katrina left in New Orleans and surrounding areas.
“Samsara” is a Tibetan word for “the ever-turning wheel of life.” Predictably, this is a running thematic throughline in the movie.
After watching, you will have a better understanding of the human condition and a newfound reverence for the splendor of the natural world.
“Samsara” is the continuation of the meditative imagery utilized in “Barake,” another docu-film by Fricke released in 1992.
Truly enthralling, it tells the story of the world and more.
René Laloux’s animated film, released in 1973, explores the life of tiny humans subsisting on a strange planet dominated by giant blue humanoid aliens.Check Price on Amazon
In “Fantastic Planet,” the Oms are oppressed by the Draags, who are the rulers of the planet of Ygam. They are treated like animals all their life, until something shifts in the balance of things.
A young female Draag befriends an Om boy, teaching him the ways of the world. This leads to a rebellion.
When the Draags’ control over the Oms begins to weaken, the tiny beings have two choices: peacefully coexist or destroy their oppressors.
“Fantastic Planet” is based on the novel “Oms en série” by French writer Stefan Wul, released in 1957.
It contains mature themes, including racial and cultural intolerance. You will see frequent disturbing images where aliens eat each other, groups of people are killed en masse, and crude killing of animals.
Characters in the movie appear in various degrees of nudity. There are strange sexual scenes presented in an unearthly manner.
With surreal creatures, odd landscapes, and a bizarre soundtrack, “Fantastic Planet” definitely belongs to the top psychedelic movies to watch.
“The Holy Mountain” is a 1973 surreal-fantasy film set in a greed-fueled world, where an alchemist leads a Christ-figure and his disciples to a mountain of immortality.Check Price on Amazon
The movie was written, produced, and starred by Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. He plays The Alchemist, a mysterious being who claims to know the secret of achieving eternal life and turning metal into gold.
The Alchemist meets The Thief (Horacio Salinas), a messianic character who wanders the world, vulnerable and open. The Thief is fascinated with all the horrible things happening, ignorant of the societal rules.
Together with seven others, The Thief embarks on a bizarre pilgrimage up the fabled holy mountain with The Alchemist as his guide.
“The Holy Mountain” contains countless images of varying levels of weirdness.
You will see a disturbing conversation between an old guy and a child prostitute, where the former takes out his glass eye and offers it to her.
Another bizarre scene is when a woman makes her climb more perilous after following a piece of strange advice that she rubs her clitoris against the mountain.
Weird and wonderful, “The Holy Mountain” deserves to be on the list of the trippiest films of all time.
The Beatles stars in this 1968 animated film about the music-loving inhabitants of Pepperland who seek the group’s help to defeat the enemy.Check Price on Amazon
“Yellow Submarine” revolves around a fictional place called Pepperland. The Blue Meanies are terrorizing the citizens, that is until The Beatles arrives to save the day.
The Blue Meanies hate everything about Pepperland. While they do not like the cheerful residents and the jolly town decorations, it is music that they especially hate.
Using blue bombs, the Meanies bleached out all the colors and left the town in a perpetual state of blue and gray.
The Lord Mayor of Pepperland (Dick Emery) then dispatches Old Fred (Lance Percival) to Liverpool, England, to look for help. The sailor recruits John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
“Yellow Submarine” features eleven songs by The Beatles, including “Eleanor Rigby” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
It is full of odd but charming characters, while the animations used are highly imaginative, tinged with psychedelia.
There are also heaps of references to using substances throughout the story.
A playful film, it will satisfy your craving for the whimsical.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is a 1998 psychedelic satirical road film that stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.Check Price on Amazon
The movie focuses on Raoul Duke (Depp), an oddball journalist who travels to Las Vegas with his lawyer Dr. Gonzo (del Toro), for a string of psychedelic adventures.
Stoned out of his mind, Duke attempts to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race but ends up firing his photographer and busting the whole thing.
When he returns to his hotel room, he finds Gonzo high on LSD. The two trash the room, then Gonzo leaves for Los Angeles for a convention on narcotics.
The two reunite again, and mayhem takes place. Duke attempts to remember what happened, including his bid to buy an orangutan and lying to the police using his tape recorder.
He sends Gonzo off at the airport and returns to the hotel one last time, wanting to finish his article.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson.
This 1982 environmental masterpiece by Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass contains expertly filmed footage of the relationship between nature and humanity.Check Price on Amazon
“Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance” is an experimental film without characters, plot, or narration. Its message is delivered solely through imagery and music.
The film starts with aerial shots of the natural world, landscapes, and elemental forces, giving way to scenes of modern civilization.
It showcases the moment mankind began to embrace technology.
You will see images of power lines, mines, factories, and atomic bomb explosions, then rundown houses and urban traffic scenes sped up or slowed down for dramatic effect.
The climax is an archive shot of the explosion during the takeoff of a NASA test in 1962.
The message of “Koyaanisgatsi” is clear. It highlights the mess mankind has made in our glorious nature.
Combining the movies’ remarkable cinematography with the intense swells of the original score, it creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that is definitely psychedelic.
You have to experience it and see for yourself exactly how.
Alan Parker’s “Pink Floyd: The Wall” depicts the life of a troubled rock star whose descend to madness is brought about by physical and social isolation.Check Price on Amazon
In the movie, Boomtown Rats vocalist Bob Geldof plays Pink, a rock’n’roll superstar driven to insanity by the death of a father he never knew.
Pink is at the height of his career when he constructs a physical and emotional wall to hide from everyone.
Using animation, the movie traces Pink’s sad past, starting when his father died in a war when the rock star was a baby. He was raised by an overprotective mother who failed to see how young Pink was, spiraling down the rabbit hole.
Pink’s wife is also revealed to be cheating on him.
Locked up in a hotel room, Pink begins to lose his mind. He shaves all his body hair while watching an epic war film. When his manager discovers him, Pink is drugged and out cold.
Aside from drug use, there are sexual situations, violence, and other disturbing scenes.
Highly metaphorical and filled with symbolic imagery, “Pink Floyd: The Wall” is music-driven and features little dialogue from characters.
A revolutionary experimental film starring Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová, “Daisies” follows the antics of two teenage girls rebelling against a materialistic society.Check Price on Amazon
In the movie, Marie and Marie decide that the world is spoiled, so they should be too. They embark on a series of vicious pranks, ripping off older men and feasting in lavish meals.
The opening credits show menacing shots of bombs exploding before veering to the two females wearing bathing suits and planning their exploits.
Marie and Marie create mayhem in nightclubs and fancy banquets, all for the hell of it.
The film ends with a shot of a chandelier falling on the girls after they declare themselves happy, panning to images of the apocalypse.
“Daisies” has no actual plot. Its total disregard for conventional characterization and narrative echoes the director’s contempt for old-fashioned social norms.
It will stir you up with its clever use of psychedelic imagery and editing.
Scenes can switch from black and white to colors without reason. The shot where the heads and limbs of the two Maries float around their apartment are chaotic and surreal.
You will not regret watching this Czechoslovakian masterpiece.