Drugged! The top 50 trips in movies

It's soooooo green...

n.b. This list is about scenes in movies where the effects of drug-taking are depicted. Therefore you won’t find the likes of 2001: A Space Oddyssey or Eraserhead here…

50: Bloodsuckers (1970)

Feckless Oxbridge luminary Patrick Mower ends up with a bunch of drug-taking, daylight-loving vampires on a Greek island. Unless you’re a big fan of Imogen Hassall (not unreasonable), the following trip/orgy sequence represents the only entertainment to be extracted from this interminable early 70s Euro-pudding. This sequence was one of many casualties of an almost random pruning of the film in order to obtain a broader certification in Europe, though it remains in many American versions…

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49: The 25th Hour (2002)

Anna Paquin enjoys a loaded glide round a swinging nightclub in Spike Lee’s under-regarded love-letter to redemption and to the twin towers. Though not achieved by the same method, some of these shots seem to be a tribute to the self-filming ‘strap-on camera’ technique developed by Martin Scorsese for Mean Streets


48: From Hell (2001)

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Psychic detective John Abeline uses his opium-induced dreams to find clues to the identity and whereabouts of Jack The Ripper in this atmospheric adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. In the first of the sequences John Merrick (the ‘Elephant Man’) makes his first big-screen appearance since David Lynch’s 1980 biopic.

47: Chopper (2003)

Andrew Dominik’s hugely entertaining – and hugely violent – biopic of Australian hard man ‘Chopper’ Read features an amusing editing technique to explain the hyper-aware state engendered by cocaine-use….

46: Superman 3 (1983)

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It would be a big mistake to look for much subtext in a movie this dumb, but the scene in the junkyard where ‘Evil Superman’ splits off from Clark Kent and fights him has always struck me as a trippy and symbolic representation of Supie’s inner conflict rather than a genuine stand-up fight. The drug that’s reduced our hero to this is Richard Pryor’s tar-laced synthetic Kryptonite…

45: Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Utterly abandoned to corruption, drugs and booze, Harvey Keitel’s super-conflicted anti-hero is prone to visions, and a moment of great sorrow in a church brings Christ himself into the picture…

44: Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

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Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith strike out of the Clerks universe into…the world of Scooby Doo. In all but name anyway; the patently obvious ‘mystery machine’ that rescues our stranded heroes has the whole gang inside, even if they are rather more foul-mouthed and bickering than usual. Mewes spreads the mellowness around with some rather naughty ‘Dooby Snacks’, and pretty soon they’re all getting along famously. Then the dog starts talking…

43: Dune (1984)

David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1978) isn’t in this list because, in spite of its compelling nightmarish imagery, no drugs are actually taken in the film. Nor are they in Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), which nonetheless refines Eraserhead‘s bizarre visuals yet further in a number of dream sequences. In Dune, Lynch builds yet further on the grotesque and stylised dream-imagery which defined his early career; the ‘Spice Melange’ is a potent and rare drug that gives the user psychic insight and strange powers, and the ‘Water Of Life’ its most distilled form – fatal to all men except the prophesied ‘Kwisatz Haderach’. But Paul Atreides (Kyle McLachlan) must try some to find out if he is that long-awaited man…

42: Things Are Tough All Over (1982)

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Arch-tokers Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong have contributed too much drug-fuelled cinematic lunacy to be allowed more than one entry in this list. Here they arrive at a posh restaurant having partaken of certain substances, and find themselves doing as much gender-bending as mind-bending…

41: The Acid House (1998)

Irvine Welsh continues to expound on the secret narcotic life of urban Scotland. The film is vaguely considered to be a descendent of Trainspotting but did not attract the same acclaim, perhaps partly because of the anthological nature of the three stories it tells. In the eponymous segment, Ewen Bremner gets stuck on the magic roundabout and some typical trip-out SFX…

40: Spiderman (2001)

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Some radioactive venom sends Peter Parker on a trip through every beloved but cheap Sam Raimi trick in the book in the first of the hugely successful series….

39: Batman Begins (2005)

Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow uses a powerful weaponised hallucinogen to drive his victims into paroxyms of fear in Christopher Nolan’s warm-up for The Dark Knight

38: Casino Royale (2006)

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Bond gets slipped a nasty and quick-acting poison in Daniel Craig’s entry to the Bond canon and has to resort to some unreliable hi-tech MI6 jump-starting to keep his heart going. This is exactly the kind of innovation that managed to make Casino Royale such a stunning Bond film while keeping to the spirit of the character, traits largely missing from Quantum Of Solace

37: Barbarella (1968)

Having discovered ‘real’ sex in her recent adventures, space-twit Barbarella is disappointed to find that the promisingly-named Dildano (David Hemmings) wants to unite with her the more traditional – chemical – way of the 41st century. Referred to only as ‘the pill’, the fictional drug that the pair take in order to share a psychosexual experience is a clear parody of the birth control drug that was revolutionising the 1960s, and it certainly looks like a smoking-hot experience…

36: Skidoo (1968)

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Otto Preminger’s by-the-numbers gangster flick has little to make it stand out from the crowd apart from one scene where imprisoned gangster Jackie Gleason drops a little acid in his cell. This is just about as absurd an example of how button-down America envisioned an LSD experience as Hollywood has to offer…

35: Training Day (2001)

Ethan Hawke ends up landed with the new-boss-from-hell as the would-be narcotics cop learning some very bad lessons from ultra-hard, ultra-corrupt veteran Denzel Washington. Goaded to ‘man up’ by sampling the PCP that they are hunting down, Hawke goes green, as does the cinematography in this rather nauseous sequence. To add insult to injury, Washington then confesses that he has never tried anything that lethal himself…

34: The Weird World of LSD (1967)

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A purportedly anti-LSD movie that boasts the same hypocritical remit that let Russ Meyer ‘preach and show’ in the 1960s, Weird World attempts to convey the full depth of a series of LSD experiences entirely in black and white. Since trip-sequences are 75% SFX, this is not a project you would really want to undertake on a budget as restricted as this…

33: Hannibal (2001)

An unrecognisable Gary Oldman plays trust-funded sex offender Mason Verger in Ridley Scott’s sequel to Silence Of The Lambs. In this scene he explains to Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) how Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) used a popper to persuade him to slice his own face off with a mirror so that our ‘hero’ could feed it to Verger’s dogs. “It seemed like a good idea at the time…”

32: Starsky & Hutch (2004)

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Straight-laced Starsky (Ben Stiller) mistakes a bag of ultra-pure cocaine for sugar in this affectionate comic re-tread of the 70s show. Pretty soon his inhibitions are history, and he’s dragging laid-back crooner Hutch (Owen Wilson) to a disco show-down reminiscent of the ‘face-off’ in Zoolander

31: Hanna Barbera anti-drugs spot (1970)

At a time when America’s animators were grooving on the psychedelic vibe (check out Aristocats), there was clearly some disparity between the anti-drugs remit of whoever commissioned this and the enthusiasm of the animators involved, who render the film an irresistible advertisement for LSD. There’s even a tussle with some zombies at the end…

30: Spun (2002)

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Speed-freak Jason Schwartzman hooks up with ‘cook’ Mickey Rourke and king-pin Eric Roberts for this dissolute but energetic tale of tweakers looking to fill up the hours of their empty lives. Some of the techniques used to depict being high are a tribute to the rather basic lens effects of the late 60s and early 70s…

29: Gothic (1986)

Ken Russell was a predictable but apposite choice of director to bring to life the opium-filled night at Lake Geneva that inspired the authoress to write Frankenstein. The most memorable trip-imagery from the film is surely the Dali-esque moment that Myriam Cyr’s nipples turn into eyes…


28: Liquid Sky (1982)

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Thrill-seeking aliens land on top of the apartment of a heroin-addicted New York drug dealer and themselves become murderously hooked on the human pheromones released during orgasm. Probably the weirdest set-up of any genre-exploitation film of the 1980s, and the producers didn’t spare us any ropey SFX on the trip sequences either…

27: Reefer Madness (1936)

This most famous of anti-drug propaganda films portrays the effects of cannabis as including violent psychoses and jumping out of windows. The grand guignol flavour of this and companion piece Sex Madness was famously parodied in the post-credits sequence of John Landis’ Amazon Women On The Moon (1983)…

26: Killing Zoe (1994)

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Some strobing effects and warped camera effects characterise the almost-instant descent into heroin and crime experienced by Eric Stoltz’s newcomer in Paris in Roger Avary’s near-miss…

Click here for the final 25…


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