Head

December 31, 2014 at 3:12 am (8 Heads, Head) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Head – 1968 – United States

After the cancellation of The Monkees television series, The Monkees and Jack Nicholson smoked weed, dropped acid, and devised Head. Head is a plotless collection of surreal vignettes. At various points, The Monkees make out with mermaids, star in a Western film, fight in Vietnam, find a Coke machine in a desert and destroy it with a tank, transform into dandruff, and get sucked into a vacuum cleaner. The imagery is funny, weird, and eerie. Scenes of people turning into manikins are uncanny. Also, the famous footage of Nguyễn Văn Lém’s execution is shown to disturbing effect. Musical interludes by The Monkees’ are spread throughout the film.

Head occasionally expresses antiwar sentiments and satirizes The Monkees’ commercial image. However, most of the film is a self-indulgent mess of absurd gags, psychedelic effects, stock footage, and celebrity cameos. Victor Mature, Dennis Hopper, Annette Funicello (R.I.P.), and Frank Zappa make an appearance. Toni Basil choreographed a dance sequence and performs in it. Jack Nicholson wrote and produced Head, and appears briefly.

Head’s best element is its original soundtrack. At different points, The Monkees’ music is groovy, haunting, and beautiful. Neon-colored solarised scenes of people falling and swimming to the film’s theme “Porpoise Song” are hypnotic.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. The television ad for Head is a thirty second close-up of a man’s face, possibly referencing Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Blow Job. Unsurprisingly, Head was a commercial failure.

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