“Head” is an extension of the ridiculous nonsense served up on the Screen Gems vidseries which manufactured The Monkees and lasted two full seasons, followin the same format and, ostensibly, appealing to the same kind of audience. It’s a mind-blowing collage of intercuts and mixed media that moves along at a rapid pace with little sense of direction, a plotless script and a free-for-all freakout of rock music and psychedelic splash of color. It’s the Monkees’ first feature and aim is the young film fan that would rather experience a film than be entertained by it. Play-off prospects are bright for general release but holding power at B.O. is doubtful if aimed for top-billing too long. Quick reduction to No. 2 slot in major market two-billers should be expected.
Writers Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson were wise not attempt a film storyline as The Monkees (Peter Tork, David Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith) have established themselves in the art of non-sequitered dialog and outrageous action. Giving them material they can handle well is good thinking; asking the to achieve something more might have been a disaster.
Like jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and performing a water ballet in San Francisco Bay to special color effects over a rock ballad is right up their alley as are the unrelated episodes of humor which make up the rest of the pic. Using the anything goes approach to satirize TV blurbs, the late show, fantasy of filmmaking, and the avant garde itself is an interesting gimmick and is handled quite well. Therefore, intercuts of the Vietnam carnage, Bela Lugosi, Rona Barrett, Charle Laughton, Ronald Reagan, Ralph Williams, Ann Miller, Rita Hayworth and Chick Lambert flash across the screen and intermix with fantasmagoria mindbending realities. But the clean-cut kids and the created kinetics work up a “so-what” reaction too soon in the 85-minute stretch seques from war to westerns to desert chases to mad scientist brushes in the Columbia lot.
Spots in which Timothy Carey caricatures a movie monster, Logan Ramsey executes a fey stripper’s stint, Abraham Soefer mouths the profound superficialities of a guru, T.C. Jones portrays a crass soup kitchen waitress a la Bette Davis. Sonny Liston fakes a bout with Jones and Victor Mature plays himself are welcome reliefs the dissociated segments. Annette Funicello, Carol Duda, June Fairchild and I.J. Jefferson provide lovely window dressing to the film, but their assignments seemed to end there.
Ken Thorne’s incidental music fit the proceedings well enough but is undistinguished otherwise. Sydney Z. Litwack’s art direction is psychedelic old-hat and Ned Parsons’ sets were properly fake. Gene Ashman’s costumes required little imagination, therefore he didn’t use much. Chuck Gasper’s special effects were standard, Toni Basil’s choreography unnoticeable. Michael Hugo’s photography is topnotch and mike Pozen’s editing remarkable percise. It is Burton Gershfield and Bruce Lane’s special color effects that rate film’s most kudos.