Robert Ground’s The Weird World of LSD is not a sober public service announcement about the dangers of lysergic acid diethylamide. It’s really just a license to screw around with film. It’s not an overwrought drama like Reefer Madness (1936) or Gun Crazy (1950). Rather, it’s a collection of goofy skits, cheap attempts at psychedelic effects, and a bunch of heavily edited stripteases. You might wonder why stripteases would be featured in a movie about LSD, but according to the film, women find the drug quite arousing. You learn something new every day.
Some of these “drugsploitation" films aspire to be a kind of noir invitation to dip your toes into the naughty world of rugged bad boys and buxom vixens, but The Weird World of LSD isn’t trying to make a statement or create a coherent narrative. It hardly has any structure at all.
There is no dialogue, but there is a whole lot of awful organ jazz and sporadic voiceover narration. The opening speech is a gem…
“We do not profess to know all the legal or moral aspects of the subject. We are here to present you a motion picture that we hope will give you a better insight into the strange and terrifying world of LSD. In viewing this motion picture, remember this important point: Under LSD, sights and sounds are many times unreal, movements often uncontrollable. Things that one thinks he does while under the influence of LSD are not necessarily the same things that are actually being performed by that person. His sense of reasoning is altered, yet to one under LSD, he feels his timing, judgment, and reasoning are extraordinary and far above mere mortals.”
After the intro, it cuts to a young man dropping a tab and trying to chill out on the couch. Unfortunately for him, he suddenly falls prey to a menacing cartoon chicken. He screams in horror and collapses dead on the floor, with blood dribbling out of his nose and mouth. That never happened to me or any of my friends when we took acid, but maybe we were taking it wrong.
The narrator doesn’t exactly damn the drug. At times, he makes it seem kind of enticing, but what he says is hardly relevant. In fact, several times during the film, his narration is unceremoniously cut off mid-sentence to make way for the next skit.
There’s also quite a lot of stock footage. At one point, the voiceover starts talking about how sexually repressed societies confuse sex and violence. The narrator is right in the middle of explaining how this confusion leads to car racing when he is suddenly interrupted by stock footage of a racetrack. What sex, violence, and cars have to do with LSD, I’m not sure, but before you can sort through anything, the movie switches to stock footage of a jungle-themed striptease.
The film is a piece of crap, but it is a freewheeling piece of crap. I think Robert Ground just raided a dumpster behind an editing facility and figured he could use whatever footage he found to make a buck.
The film was made in 1967, one year before LSD was made illegal in America. Of course, that didn’t stop the CIA from buying every single drop of the world’s supply to use in their secret MK-Ultra project. Their insane ideas about mind control led them to do some pretty wacky shit.
One part of the project involved the CIA setting up a brothel in L.A., where they could dose the unwitting Johns who came to patronize the place. Once dosed, the Johns were surveilled by agents behind two-way mirrors. I’m not sure why the CIA, like Robert Ground, conflated sex and LSD, but again, maybe my friends and I weren’t doing it right. I just remember watching the snow fall from the sky and pass right through my body. It was awesome, but I guess I should have been trying to hump my female dealer, instead of just staring at her, and wondering if the snow was passing through her, too.
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