If you’ve seen an episode of the Monkees’ TV show, you’ll know they’re no stranger to oddness. Every episode was splattered with random bits here and there, giving the show a vaguely surreal feel. Even through the weirdness, though, they remained perfectly accessible. This was not what the band members wanted, though. They wanted to do something a little edgier, to be a part of the psychedelica of the time. When their TV show was cancelled, that was their (and show creator Bob Rafelson’s) chance to try something unusual.
Enter Jack Nicholson and large amounts of LSD.
Picture if you will: Nicholson, Rafelson, and the Monkees sitting around, heavily intoxicated on hallucinogens, coming up with strange sketches. Once the drugs wore off they were tenuously stuck together in what would eventually become HEAD (1968), written by Nicholson and directed by Rafelson.
What’s it about? Not much specifically. The Monkees both satirizing and celebrating their television career. The are two or three minute sketches of various band members in war zones, small town diners, western pastures…basically if it’s a television trope, it’s included. When the band members are together it’s usually for a sequence where they end up trapped inside something like a box (no symbolism there, right?).
Does it matter that there isn’t much of a storyline? Depends. If you like The Monkees, this movie is them turned up a few notches. If you like psychedelica, you’ll have fun. If you like silly popcorn movies, you’ll have a blast. If you need cohesion in your movie watching…you may want to look elsewhere.
Fans of HEAD and the Monkees might also enjoy a Michael Nesmith side project, ELEPHANT PARTS (1981). It’s a similar combination of comedy skits with a little music and a lot of silliness. That movie has been broken up into individual sketches and uploaded to Nesmith’s YouTube channel, Michael Nesmith’s Videoranch.
Question of the night: what’s your favorite 60s musical act?