BrandonHabes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Words are about to completely fail me. It's impossible to explain this film if you haven't seen it.
But here goes…
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is like taking a syringe full of The Magical Mystery Tour and pumping it directly into your skull. You're gonna trip for days with kaleidoscope eyes, maybe even weeks afterwards, and feel like you got clockwork orange'd in the most euphoric of ways. The sheer density and majesty of the imagery is enough to make you vomit rainbows for weeks. No joke, this film lives and dies on its awesome visuals.
It takes you on a dazzling, maddening odyssey of pseudo-biblical proportions filled with signs and tokens that crush you at every turn. Visually, this film is a perfect amalgamation of color and sound, spirit and body, daydream and nightmare. It's a phantasmagorical decent into hell, a revelatory spring into heaven, and it comes equipped with a fully realized psychedelic aesthetic that will blow your fucking mind in half.
Already this sounds like fodder for hippies and new-age trippers. It would be a shame though to chalk this film up as nothing more than a drug adventure, because if Jodorowsky were simply in the "let's get high and make something completely incomprehensible" business, he could have made a much simpler, less ambitious movie that has all the hallucinations of THE HOLY MOUNTAIN but none of its pseudo-spiritual resonance. Part of what makes this film a complete joy to watch is trying to decode the layers and layers of sophisticated imagery, tease back their thematic elements, which multiple viewings can award.
There's a fire-hydrant's worth of symbols to absorb and process, so don't feel bad if you don't get everything the first or hundredth time around.
The intense charm of this film is never having any clue where it's going. You're always shivering in wonder what will happen next. And my goodness, you can't decipher if what you're watching is the stroke of genius or the work of a vainglorious madman. It's probably a whole lot of both. There's also this wonderful sense of paradox at the film's core that pulls you simultaneously between beauty and disgust, fascination and shallowness. Whenever you're at a loss of what Jodorowsky is trying to do, just bask in the colors and grotesque set pieces and let them wash over you in confusion.
This film wants you to howl at its absurdity, become a werewolf, feel utterly moonstruck.
I hate using the word pretentious, because the people who use it are often lazy and smug themselves, but calling THE HOLY MOUNTAIN pretentious is actually a huge compliment. It aspires to something it never achieves, aims for the stars but collides instead with Andromeda. It's a colossal-sized film that's too big for its own reach, and by the time you reach the end, having searched for enlightenment all along the way, Jodorowsky pulls a rabbit out of his hat and leaves you wallowing in yet another chimera: there are no immortal gods, no Holy Mountain, no secret wishing well or cure for desire. All that's left is another matrix, another structure, another facade that diverts your attention away from the true liberation of the soul.
Far out, right?