Acid Western is a subgenre of the Western film that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s that combines the metaphorical ambitions of critically acclaimed Westerns, such as Shane and The Searchers , with the excesses of the Spaghetti Westerns and the outlook of the counterculture of the 1960s, as well as the increase in illicit drug taking of, for example, cannabis and LSD. Acid Westerns subvert many of the conventions of earlier Westerns to "conjure up a crazed version of autodestructive white America at its most solipsistic, hankering after its own lost origins". 
Film critic Pauline Kael coined the term "acid Western" in a review of Alejandro Jodorowsky's film El Topo , published in the November 1971 issue of The New Yorker .  Jonathan Rosenbaum expanded upon the idea in his June 1996 review of Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man , a subsequent interview with Jarmusch for Cineaste,  and later in the book Dead Man, from BFI Modern Classics.
In the book, Rosenbaum illuminates several aspects of this re-revisionist Western: from Neil Young's haunting score, to the role of tobacco, to Johnny Depp's performance, to the film's place in the acid-Western genre. In the chapter "On the Acid Western", Rosenbaum addresses not only the hallucinogenic quality of the film's pace and its representation of reality, but also argues that the film inherits an artistic and political sensibility derived from the 1960s counterculture which has sought to critique and replace capitalism with alternative models of exchange. 
In the traditional Western, the journey west is seen as a road to liberation and improvement, but in the acid Western, it is the reverse, a journey towards death.
Rosenbaum used the term "acid Western" to describe a "cherished counterculture dream" from the 1960s and 1970s "associated with people like Monte Hellman, Dennis Hopper, Jim McBride, and Rudy Wurlitzer, as well as movies like Greaser's Palace . Alex Cox tapped into something similar in the 1980s with Walker ." 
Monte Hellman's cult film The Shooting (1966) could be considered the first acid Western.  The film stars Will Hutchins, Warren Oates, and Jack Nicholson and was anonymously financed by Roger Corman. The Shooting subverts the usual priorities of the Western to capture a sense of dread and uncertainty that characterized the counterculture of the late 1960s.
Hellman followed up with Ride in the Whirlwind (1966). Screenwriter Rudolph Wurlitzer is considered "the individual most responsible for exploring this genre, having practically invented it himself in the late '60s and then helped to nurture it in the scripts of others", such as McBride's Glen and Randa , Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop , Cox's Walker, and Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid .  Wurlitzer worked on the script of Gone Beaver, which Rosenbaum describes as "a visionary script" for Jim McBride. It was an ambitious big-budget Western about early American trappers and Indians, for which a virtually invented language of "trapper talk" was devised. The film was aborted one day before production.  Wurlitzer's unproduced 1970s screenplay Zebulon inspired Jarmusch's Dead Man. Wurlitzer later transformed his script into the novel The Drop Edge of Yonder.
Rosenbaum calls Dead Man a "much-delayed fulfillment" of the acid Western, "formulating a chilling, savage frontier poetry to justify its hallucinated agenda."  More recently, Jan Kounen's Blueberry from 2004 was cited as an example of the genre. 
James Robert Jarmusch is an American film director and screenwriter. He has been a major proponent of independent cinema since the 1980s, directing films including Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Dead Man (1995), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Paterson (2016), and The Dead Don't Die (2019). Stranger Than Paradise was added to the National Film Registry in December 2002. As a musician Jarmusch has composed music for his films and released three albums with Jozef van Wissem.
David Holzman's Diary is a 1967 American mockumentary, or work of metacinema, directed by James McBride and starring L. M. Kit Carson. A feature-length film made on a tiny budget over several days, it is a work of experimental fiction presented as an autobiographical documentary. "A self-portrait by a fictional character in a real place—New York's Upper West Side," the film comments on the title character's personality and life as well as on documentary filmmaking and the medium of cinema more generally. In 1991, David Holzman's Diary was included in the annual selection of 25 motion pictures added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and recommended for preservation.
Dead Man is a 1995 American acid western film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop, Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Michael Wincott, Lance Henriksen, Gabriel Byrne, Mili Avital, and Robert Mitchum. The movie, set in the late 1800s, follows William Blake, a meek accountant on the run after murdering a man. He has a chance encounter with enigmatic Native American spirit-guide "Nobody", who believes Blake is the reincarnation of the visionary English poet William Blake.
Stranger Than Paradise is a 1984 American black-and-white absurdist deadpan comedy film, co-written, directed and co-edited by Jim Jarmusch, and starring jazz musician John Lurie, former Sonic Youth drummer-turned-actor Richard Edson, and Hungarian-born actress and violinist Eszter Balint. It features a minimalist plot in which the main character, Willie, is visited by Eva, his cousin from Hungary. Eva stays with him for ten days before going to Cleveland. Willie and his friend Eddie go to Cleveland to visit her, and the three then take a trip to Florida. The film is shot entirely in single long takes with no standard coverage.
Branded to Kill is a 1967 Japanese yakuza film directed by Seijun Suzuki and starring Joe Shishido, Koji Nanbara, Annu Mari and Mariko Ogawa. The story follows contract killer Goro Hanada as he is recruited by a mysterious woman named Misako for a seemingly impossible mission. When the mission fails, he is hunted by the phantom Number One Killer, whose methods threaten his life and sanity.
An exploitation film is a film that tries to succeed financially by exploiting current trends, niche genres, or lurid content. Exploitation films are generally low-quality "B movies", though some set trends, attract critical attention, become historically important, and even gain a cult following.
Rudolph "Rudy" Wurlitzer is an American novelist and screenwriter.
Warren Mercer Oates was an American actor best known for his performances in several films directed by Sam Peckinpah, including The Wild Bunch (1969) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). Another of his most acclaimed performances was as officer Sam Wood in In the Heat of the Night (1967). Oates starred in numerous films during the early 1970s that have since achieved cult status, such as The Hired Hand (1971), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), and Race with the Devil (1975). Oates also portrayed John Dillinger in the biopic Dillinger (1973) and as the supporting character U.S. Army Sergeant Hulka in the military comedy Stripes (1981). Another notable appearance was in the classic New Zealand film Sleeping Dogs (1977), in which he played the commander of the American forces in the country.
The revisionist Western is a sub-genre of the Western film. Designated a post-classical variation of the traditional Western, the revisionist subverts the myth and romance of the traditional by means of character development and realism to present a less simplistic view of life in the "Old West". While the traditional Western always embodies a clear boundary between good and evil, the revisionist Western does not.
Jonathan Rosenbaum is an American film critic and author. Rosenbaum was the head film critic for The Chicago Reader from 1987 to 2008, when he retired. He has published and edited numerous books about cinema and has contributed to such notable film publications as Cahiers du cinéma and Film Comment.
Two-Lane Blacktop is a 1971 American road movie directed by Monte Hellman, written by Rudy Wurlitzer and starring songwriter James Taylor, the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, and Laurie Bird.
The Shooting is a 1966 American Western film directed by Monte Hellman, with a screenplay by Carole Eastman. It stars Warren Oates, Millie Perkins, Will Hutchins, and Jack Nicholson, and was produced by Nicholson and Hellman. The story is about two men who are hired by a mysterious woman to accompany her to a town located many miles across the desert. During their journey, they are closely tracked by a black-clad gunslinger, who seems intent on killing all of them.
Death Hunt is a 1981 Western action film directed by Peter Hunt. The film stars Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Carl Weathers, Maury Chaykin, Ed Lauter and Andrew Stevens. Death Hunt was a fictionalized account of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) pursuit of a man named Albert Johnson. Earlier films exploring the same topic were The Mad Trapper (1972), a British made-for-television production and Challenge to Be Free (1975).
Mystery Train is a 1989 comedy-drama anthology film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and set in Memphis, Tennessee. The film is a triptych of stories involving foreign protagonists, unfolding over the course of the same night. "Far from Yokohama" features a Japanese couple on a cultural pilgrimage, "A Ghost" focuses on an Italian widow stranded in the city overnight, and "Lost in Space" follows the misadventures of a newly single and unemployed Englishman and his reluctant companions. The narratives are linked by a run-down flophouse overseen by a night clerk and his disheveled bellboy, the use of Elvis Presley's song "Blue Moon", and a gunshot.
Monte Hellman was an American film director, producer, writer, and editor. Hellman began his career as an editor's apprentice at ABC TV, and made his directorial debut with the horror film Beast from Haunted Cave (1959), produced by Gene Corman, Roger Corman's brother.
The Mountain Men is a 1980 American Adventure Western film directed by Richard Lang and starring Charlton Heston and Brian Keith. Heston's son, Fraser Clarke Heston authored the screenplay.
Greaser's Palace is a 1972 American Western film written and directed by Robert Downey Sr. It stars Allan Arbus as Jesse, a man with amnesia who heals the sick, resurrects the dead and tap dances on water on the American frontier. A parable based on the life of Jesus in the New Testament, the film has been described as an acid Western.
Only Lovers Left Alive is a 2013 fantasy comedy-drama film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi and John Hurt. An international co-production of the United Kingdom and Germany, the film focuses on the romance between two vampires, and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Psychedelic film is a film genre characterized by the influence of psychedelia and the experiences of psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic films typically contain visual distortion and experimental narratives, often emphasizing psychedelic imagery. They might reference drugs directly, or merely present a distorted reality resembling the effects of psychedelic drugs. Their experimental narratives often purposefully try to distort the viewers' understanding of reality or normality.