Holy Mountain (1973) by Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the most visually mind blowing movies out there. An instant cult film to the "spiritually enlightened", including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Holy Mountain was never given a wide-release. It is hard to imagine a general audience watching a movie with exploding frogs, Jesus smoking a joint with a man missing his appendages, and poop that turns to gold. Nevertheless, everyone should watch it if given a chance.
The trailer is worth watching!
Below are some interesting facts about the movie (could contain some spoilers!).
- Jodorowsky took LSD for "spiritual exploration" during the making of the movie and he gave psilocybin mushrooms to his actors during the filming of certain scenes.
- The film is based on "The Ascent of Mt. Carmel" by St. John of the Cross and "Mt. Analogue" by Rene Daumal.
- Before filming began, director Alejandro Jodorowsky spent a week without sleep under a Zen Master's direction and lived communally with the film's cast for a month.
- At a projected budget of $1,500,000 (in USA dollars), it was to have been the most expensive Mexican film production to date. The film reportedly cost only half that amount.
- The crucified animal carcasses were borrowed from a local restaurant, which were then served to customers upon being returned.
- Jodorowsky recalls that the chameleon and toad circus was difficult to prepare for and film. The toads themselves were hard to dress, as "their urine was like acid," and they'd keep filling up with air and then blowing it out, trying to escape. The chameleons, on the other hand, were incredibly sedate, and the cameraman would have to leave the camera rolling for long periods of time before they'd even flick their tongues or move their eyes.
- The "tumor" that the priests pull out of the back of the Thief's neck was an octopus the filmmakers purchased at a local market.
- Much of the sound in the film was improvised by Mexican sound effects specialist Gonzalo Gavira, yet nonetheless gained the admiration of American director William Friedkin, who in turn hired him to do sound work for The Exorcist (1973).
- During the boating sequence, Jodorowsky had intended to shoot a scene where the group leaps into the ocean to "get in the infinite waters." The cast proceeded to leap in, then promptly began to drown. The crew was so busy trying to rescue them that nothing of the scene ended up being shot.
- During Axon's hallucination, the battling dogs were indeed real fighting dogs.
- The movements from the opening scene ritual are actual movements of a Japanese tea ceremony. Jodorowsky states that the girls themselves were not actual actresses, merely two people who "wanted to have a spiritual experience. They were searching for their own truth, the naked truth."
- George Harrison, himself a big fan of Jodorowksy's work after having seen El topo (1970), was originally up for the role of The Thief, but disagreed with the director over what he considered gratuitous nudity -- particularly, the shot where his anus is bathed. Rather than cast a stand-in, or remove the shot altogether, Jodorowsky stood his ground, prompting Harrison to drop out. Jodorowsky later expressed some regret over this in the Anchor Bay DVD commentary, noting that Harrison's involvement could have exposed the film to an even larger audience.
- The crew didn't obtain any permits for the shot of the helicopter setting down in the street, merely had an actor in a police uniform shop traffic while they filmed, then proceeded to run off after the shot was complete.
- During the decapitation scene, the actor actually struck Jodorowsky for real, cutting his neck and nearly killing him. Jodorowsky reflects that had the sword actually been real, he would indeed have been decapitated.
Sources: here and here