Our curated collection of psychedelic films. Missing anything? Let us know!
We’re used to seeing unspeakable things in horror and sci-fi films. Whether it’s unstoppable and reincarnated serial killers, otherworldly entities or extraterrestrial and or Lovecraftian terrors, genre and exploitation cinema has no shortage of dread and terror.
Running from a known predator or having to break a ghostly curse is one thing, but what about having to fight against an unknown and unexplained enemy?
Psychedelic tinged genre films are rooted more in the abstract, which help distort the viewers perception of reality. This usually results in a mind-bending and sometimes transcendental cinematic experience.
Stacked full of warped realities, neon-drenched color palettes and synth heavy scores, psychedelic films are just as weird as you’d expect. Which may be why although this subgenre is quite small due to many constraints in modern filmmaking the ones that do make it past the cutting room floor are super effective and find a special place in the hearts of many cult film fans.
Our list might not be for everyone, these mind melting delights are perfect for cinephiles looking for something truly different and bizarre.
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Whenever most people think of J-horror, they usually think of Ringu, Ju-On and Dark Water. Dead girls with long hair have essentially become a mascot for the genre. One Japanese Horror film that hopefully hasn’t gone under your radar is House (Hausu).
This absolutely surreal film follows a high school student visiting her aunt’s house with a group of friends. Unfortunately, for the group of gorgeous school girls there’s an evil presence in the house that eats them one by one in increasingly strange ways that range from death by piano to being entombed by a grandfather clock.
House was originally designed to be Obayashi’s answer to Jaws, and was given the chance to develop the script. Basing it on the childhood fears of his young daughter. It would take two years before Obayashi was allowed to direct, creating an under-seen cult masterpiece.
Color out of Space
Director: Richard Stanley
Richard Stanley’s directorial comeback brings this strange tale from H.P Lovecraft to life. Centring around the Gardner family who move to a farmhouse outside of the fictional town of Arkham. After a meteor crashes on their farm the families lives are thrown into a cosmic nightmare, bringing with it an otherworldly color.
Full of stunning hoes of pink and purple, there’s no denying how gorgeous this movie is to look at. Alongside the stunning cinematography and VFX, this cosmic color comes with some truly grotesque body horror moments as well, as it amalgamates with all biological material it touches.
Richard Stanley’s adaptation is one of the strongest Lovecraftian visions yet: Deranged, tantalizing and just bat-shit spooky. Although not for everyone, this is a modern take on a classic short cosmic horror story guaranteed to trip you the fuck out. (Read our full review!)
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Red and Mandy lead a peaceful existence in ‘The Shadow Mountains’ of the Pacific Northwest in 1983.
That is until a cosmic cult catapults them into a phantasmagoric journey filled with vengeance, LSD laboratories and otherworldly visuals and music that will make you bored of pretty much any movie you watch after you finish this new cult classic.
The experience of seeing this film is more important than the movie itself, and for that reason I consider MANDY one of my favorite films of all time. If you aren’t into ultra-violence, 80’s revenge or Nic Cage, then I’m confused as to why you are reading this list in the first place.
Don’t miss out on this future classic
A Field in England
Director: Ben Wheatley
Set during the Civil War in 17th-Century England, a small group of deserters flee from a battle through an overgrown field.
After being captured by an alchemist a shroom fueled search for treasure begins. The group quickly descends into arguments, fighting and paranoia, and it becomes clear that the original search might have been a trap…or something even worse.
A Field in England is Wheatley’s most experimental film yet, which makes it unique in the sense that it doesn’t make things easy for the audience. This is true art house in every sense of the word – Full of intense, surreal visuals and metaphysical twists and turns throughout.
Don’t let us spoil too much, and I’d probably advise to not eat psilocybin along with this bad trip.
Director: Ken Russel
What could possibly go wrong when experimenting with Indigenous hallucinogens and sensory deprivation in a research lab?