Monday, February 18, 2013

Reefer Madness: It's Ok To Inhale

                                                              Film: Reefer Madness
                                                                      Year: 1936
                                                             Director: Louis Gasnier
                                                          Review by: Vincent Daemon

Reefer Madness is the notorious classic 1936 anti-pot propaganda film that plays out more like a comedy than anything else. This film is an absolute must see, at least once, for the true Weird Cinema (and marijuana) devotee.

The "facts" of this hyper-melodramatic tour de farce are so far off the meter of hilarity it's almost jaw-dropping at points. And, oddly enough, the film starts off talking about heroin and morphine. Go figure.

Enter a couple of degenerate weed dealers, male and female (and living together out of wedlock, a big no-no in 1936, even though they still apparently sleep in seperate beds). They make their living by spending their days and nights partying down all the kids in the neighborhood. By kids I mean high schoolers played by a cast of cardboard goons no younger than their early 30's, at best. He is all for it (selling to the youth), she is wholly against it but, hey, this is 1936 and what he says goes, dammit! Anyway, almost overnight they manage to turn a whole crew of people into raging, fiending, violent and sex crazed potheads. The tale ends in murder, a court room window jumping suicide, and a lifelong institutionalization. Funny stuff, truly.

Also, myself personally being an advocate for the reformation of marijuana laws, and a user both medicinally and recreationally, find most of what is portrayed here the classic stuff of misinformed legend. There was no fact involved, not in the vignettes, not in the unscience presented here. And, realistically, this was made as a propaganda scare film, by some christian church of some kind, and originally titled Tell Your Children. It eventually fell into the hands of early exploitation auteur Dwain Esper, who added some short, racier bits and released officially it as Reefer Madness.

The film is loaded with some of the most mind-bending dialogue I've ever heard. My favorite bit comes within the first few minutes, as the female lead is complaining that she doesn't want to sell to the kids. The male's response is, quite simply: "Why don't you button your lip? You're always squawking about something. You got more static than a radio." For whatever reason, I found this riotously funny, and figure I might as well add this to my dealing with the opposite sex repetoire. Hell, it could only help. I kid, of course. Kinda. But I digress. After he says that, the female's reaction is merely to hike up her skirt and very, very slowly pull up her thigh highs, and attach them to her garter belt (my favorite frame of the film, by the way). And there are several references to olive oil. Not Popeye's hideously bulemic waif, but actual olive oil. That one I couldn't quite wrap my head around.

So, if you haven't seen this, get on the ball, light one up, and do so. It's a good way to kill 67 minutes.

Thanks for reading.

Stay Sick,

Vincent Daemon

---- Vincent Daemon's short fiction has appeared in 25 publications, and he just put his first short story collection together, Bury Me In A Nameless Grave. He is also editor of the annual Grave Demand magazine, as well as a freelance editor for hire in his down time, and occasionally performs with various punk/deathrock bands. Vincent can be found on facebook, and at his blog The Writings Of A Depraved Mind , and contacted at ----

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