360 Essentials: Top 10 Psychedelic Films
360 Essentials: Top 10 Psychedelic Films
Published On: 18/09/2010

While films released in Cairo rarely fall into this category, there’s something about a quality psychedelic film that has the ability to leave you spellbound for hours, or even days for that matter.

To set the record straight, a psychedelic experience does not necessarily involve the use of mind-altering substances, but it’s deeply rooted in freeing the mind of ordinary clutter and experiencing a flow of creativity, sensory stimulation, and an all around higher state of spirituality and awareness.  

With that in mind, Cairo 360 has compiled some of our favourite psychedelic, obscure and trippy films.  

Viva la Muerte (1971): Directed by Fernando Arrabal and set during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, this film not only curses the boundaries of fascism, but is told through the eyes and mind of 10-year-old Fando. The film imaginatively explores the child’s natural curiosity for truth and fate. From Oedipal fantasies to Fando’s search for answers through visions and the subconscious, this film is anything but ordinary; be prepared to be left feeling bewildered at the end of almost every scene.

A Scanner Darkly (2006): A riveting cast brings to life the incredible novel by Philip K. Dick through an animated lens in this compelling cult classic. Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) sets out on an undercover mission to crack down on America’s war on drugs. However, before he knows it, he is caught in the middle of the so-called Substance D. With a scramble suit and a number of bizarre hallucinations; there’s no doubt that you’ll be intrigued.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): This is quite possibly the best Johnny Depp film made to date. Depp and Benicio Del Toro set out on a three-day journey to Vegas that truly and hilariously defines the absolute epitome of that deeply desired American Dream. From the incredible soundtrack to the Vegas landscape of utter stimulation and complete weirdness, you might be compelled to head out on a wild trip of your own.

Alice in Wonderland (1951): Just like the trailer says; there are wonderful tunes for your heart and wonderful thrills for your eyes. Alice in Wonderland is an all-time novelty for the psyche of the child as well as the elder with a childlike heart. Between the vicious queen of hearts and the hatter, tweedle dum and tweedle dee; the constant play and imaginary tools create a compelling world filled with beautiful colours, dreams and Lewis Carroll’s playful poetry.

A Clockwork Orange (1971): Another cult classic, Stanley Rubrick adapted this ultra-violent and often disturbing film from Anthony Burgess’ 1962 dystopian novel. Step into Alex’s life, where the battle between good and evil doesn’t play out well. Experimental language and administered medicines lend a hand to the ongoing emotional ramble that he finds himself in. The film’s metaphoric tendencies aid in viewers’ bewilderment.

Yellow Submarine (1968): George Danning brings to life iconic Beatles hits through this animated film; a novelty to many worldwide. While the Beatles have provided a significant amount of entertainment for the psychedelic vista, this film not only depicts their music in a lovely and peculiar way; but it’s also appropriate and crazy fun for all ages with a stomping glove and other unusual creatures in tow.

Waking Life (2001): Playing the main character, Ethan Hawke moves his way through this odd animation focused on the play world between dreams and consciousness. While he steps out on a mission to discover the idiosyncrasies within, the animation technique used in this film creates a dream-like world within the consciousness of anyone watching.  

The Fountain (2006): In a stunning film whose tale spans over one thousand years, director Darren Aronofsky takes us on a gripping journey of love, death, spirituality, as well as the matter of simple existence; all of which is woven into three parallel stories. Picturesque landscape and exquisite architecture back the acting of Rachel Weiss and Hugh Jackman as they trek through time facing life-changing moments; this film will have you moved.

Eraserhead (1976): Written and directed by David Lynch, this late 70s surrealist film has left audiences baffled for decades with its various interpretations and unfamiliar surprises. The visual and sound experiences drawn from its non-linear and at times horrific sequences are strangely confusing. The formula creates a rather trippy experience starring main character Henry Spencer.

Dumbo (1941): Another Walt Disney hit that spans across generations, this sweet story of friendship between the enormous-eared Dumbo and the wee little mouse is one that will never get old. From a train that talks to the dancing pink elephants, Ben Sharpsteen creates a stimulating visual encounter for viewers on the other side of the screen. Don’t underestimate the psyche of Disney!

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  • 360 Essentials: Top 10 Psychedelic Films
  • 360 Essentials: Top 10 Psychedelic Films
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About Writer
Hannah Cooper
Written by:
Hannah Cooper
Publish Date:
18/09/2010
Writer – Works at a yoga studio and writes for creative practice. Among what she fancies is a good banjo beat, sprawling trees and bananas.