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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Psych-Out [Blu-ray]


(Richard Rush, 1968)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Dick Clark Productions

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:42:54.168

Disc Size: 23,600,071,745 bytes

Feature Size: 23,500,640,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 17th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1871 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1871 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






• None





Description: Jennie (Susan Strasberg) travels to San Francisco to locate her hippie brother Steve (Bruce Dern). She meets Stoney (Jack Nicholson) in a coffeehouse and he helps her look for Steve, who Stoney has seen in his various attempts to start a rock & roll band. Stoney and his pals transform the square girl into a swinging hippie chick, complete with a mod miniskirt. Along with their buddy Dave (Dean Stockwell), they search for Steve amidst the psychedelic splendor of the Haight-Ashbury hippie haunts. Dave is killed by a car when he wanders around in an STP-induced stupor. LSD, marijuana, and the good and the bad sides of hippie life are illustrated with non-judgmental accuracy. The soundtrack of the movie is a musical gem, complete with the international smash "Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. (The group reached the top of the charts with the song in October 1967.) Also on hand are the Seeds, although they don't get to perform their best-known song, "Pushin' to Hard." (Seeds lead singer Sky Saxon would gain as much notoriety as an acid casualty as he would from his musical ability.) Also adding music are the Storybook and Cryque Boenzee. The latter group contained Rusty Young and George Grantham, who would join with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina from the legendary, long-lived country-rock band Poco. This time-capsulized gem was produced by Dick Clark, the world's oldest teenager.



The Film:

A typical AIP quickie put together in an instant bid to cash in on the 'Summer of Love', its action eventually amounting to a slam-bang compendium of every hippy cliché from the bad trip to the redneck rumble. The plot, which has a deaf girl (Strasberg) scouring San Francisco's Haight Ashbury for her missing brother (a crazed Dern), is hard to take. But if you can accept the clichés and archaisms, as well as some third-rate acid rock from The Seeds and Strawberry Alarm Clock, there are compensations: some beautifully baroque performances (Dern and Stockwell in particular), Laszlo Kovacs' effective visualisation of Strasberg's bad STP trip, the spectacle (as irresistible as it is preposterous) of Jack Nicholson sporting lead guitar at the Filmore.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Jennie Davis, a 17-year-old deaf runaway, arrives in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district to search for her missing brother Steve, an artist. Wandering into a hippie coffee shop, she meets Stoney, Ben, and Elwood--three members of an unsuccessful rock group. They help her elude two policemen who are looking for her and persuade her to exchange her "square" clothing for something more suitable. With the help of Stoney's friend Dave, they continue to search for Steve but find no trace of him. After learning that some young thugs are also looking for Steve, Stoney runs into Steve and talks him into visiting Jennie at the hangout where Stoney's combo is performing. Though Steve appears there the next day, he is forced to flee when he is spotted by the thugs. Dave takes the near-hysterical Jennie to Stoney's apartment, where he attempts to quiet her down and then seduce her by giving her a psychedelic drug. Unaware of what she has swallowed, Jennie runs out in the night to continue her search for her brother, who, unable to escape from his pursuers, has barricaded himself in his house and set fire to it. Jennie arrives in the area and wanders into the traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. Stoney and Dave come to her rescue; but Dave, also in a daze, is killed by a car while carrying Jennie to safety. United by their mutual contempt for the outside world, Jennie and Stoney leave together.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Psych-Out gets a, standard, modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but it looks quite impressive with some vibrant colors - and a touch of teal-leaning. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively - it looks like a great source - however, there are plenty of frame-specific marks, but they aren't distracting in-motion. The black levels are strong and detail is very pleasing through most of the film. The outdoor sequences, naturally, looked the best. There are even examples of visible depth. The Blu-ray image shows some minor inconsistency, but overall I would say is quite a pleasant surprise.
















Audio :

Olive use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel mono at 1871 kbps. It sounds pretty good. Ronald Stein (Dementia 13, The Terror, The Little Shop of Horrors, Not of This Earth) adds a few pieces to the score (Psych-Out Sanctorum, Beads Of Innocence, Psych-Out theme) but better remembered would be The Strawberry Alarm Clock's Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow, Incense and Peppermints etc. Everything is elevated via the lossless.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with many of their releases.



I don't really gravitate to this genre of counter-culture flics, but I enjoyed the performances here. 'Dated' might be an understatement for Psych-Out but, perhaps, its greatest appeal would be nostalgia. It's a surprisingly vibrant image on the Blu-ray. I don't think it's a great film, but one that might be worth revisitations - depending on your mood. It certainly transports you back to the late 60s. 

Gary Tooze

February 8th, 2015

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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