Head (1968)

head movie poster monkees 1968
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, trippy visuals

The good aspects of the story are buried in attempts to make it so counter-culture

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Head

Studio:  Rayberth Productions

Genre(s):  Comedy/Musical/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  November 6, 1968

MPAA Rating:  G

head monkees ending

The Monkees are trapped by their reputation

The Monkees (Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter, Tork, and Michael Nesmith) are a manufactured band.  They sing manufactured music for an audience that was picked by studios.  They are a moneymakers.  What if the Monkees were trying to escape this image?  What if they were just being used as well?  The Monkees find they are trapped and trying to escape…but they might not be let go!

Directed by Bob Rafelson, Head is a psychedelic comedy music movie.  The film was produced and co-written by Jack Nicholson (who does cameo in the film briefly).  The film was ravaged by critics at the time of its release but has gained a cult following over the years.  Head was released by Criterion as part of their box set America Lost and Found:  The BBS Story (Criterion #544).

Head is one of those really bizarre movies that you have to wonder how it got made just on concept.  The Monkees were popular and had an image as something for the teens.  Those who went into Head expecting The Monkees would have been sadly disappointed.  Head is a bizarre trip that does have interesting aspects though it isn’t developed enough.

head davy jones monkees

Davy Jones is a swinging dude!

Head plays with the idea of the establishment but intentionally makes it plotless.  The Monkees are a great sign of the entertainment establishment.  They were mocked and joked about by music fans who felt that they weren’t a real band but loved by those who the studios targeted.  Here, the Monkees turn this idea on the side and accept this…but reveal they are trapped by it.

This runs into the problem for the movie in that it probably wasn’t taken seriously since many saw it as a Monkees’ movie and fans were off-put by the fact it wasn’t a real musical movie.  The movie also doesn’t push it far enough in regards to the concept of the characters being trapped by making it so trippy and non-linear that it comes off as completely art-film.

The cast is vast in addition to the Monkees.  The film features cameos and small roles by Annette Funicello, Teri Garr, Frank Zappa, Toni Basil, Dennis Hopper, Ray Nitschke, Sonny Liston, Percy Helton, Carol Doda, Timothy Carey, T.C. Jones, Abraham Sofaer, and Victor Mature.  It is a strange combination of character actors, sports stars, and celebrities…which fits in with the strange construct of the movie.

head victor mature monkees

The menace…of Victor Mature!?!?!

The movie is shot rather stylishly.  I like that it blends aspects of The Monkees TV series with ’60s psychedelics.  The movie just keeps changing formats and styles…and also turns the idea of a music movie on its side by not having that much music in it.  It is a Head-trip.

Head is definitely not for everyone and will be hated by a lot who do see it.  It isn’t very long (under one and a half hours), but that does mean that it is an easy movie to watch.  I wish it was a bit more streamlined and focused on its ideas, but filmmakers decided to make it a bit more trippy and oblique than it needed to be…but it is an original.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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