April 16, 2018  (Web Review)

The Sunshine Makers

(2015) 90 min. DVD: $19.95, Blu-ray: $24.95. FilmRise (www.amazon.com).

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Timothy Leary, a name sure to crop up in any chronicle of the history of LSD, only cameos in filmmaker Cosmo Feilding-Mellon’s documentary that sympathetically profiles two other busy exponents of the mind-altering lifestyle, focusing on their clashes with authority in the 1960s and ‘70s. Nick Sand and Tim Scully truly believed lysergic acid was the key to a higher consciousness that would mass-convert a turbulent USA to embrace peace, ecology, and brotherhood, perhaps within five years. Supported by a (rather ill-remembered) wealthy patron, the pair set up LSD labs in California, Colorado, and St. Louis, distributing the drug via a “hippie mafia” called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. But the police were decidedly uncool, and as Woodstock idealism darkened into money conflicts, paranoia, and violence, plea deals tore the team apart. Players who were on both sides speak here; most are remarkably little the worse for wear for all of the “orange sunshine”-enhanced living, and most still cling to their original attitudes for (or against) psychedelics. Simulated and actual vintage home movies and industrial films in all of their grainy glory will certainly cue Nixon-era flashbacks. Sure to appeal to true-crime fans, this is highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (C. Cassady)