This is your film on drugs

Pub date August 18, 2009
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review


Movies and drugs were made for each other — depiction-wise that is, beyond experience-enhancing audience and creativity-enhancing (or canceling) maker usage. Too bad legality and morality so frequently messed with that perfect union. Herewith a highly selective, hardly definitive list of the medium’s

resulting greatest freakouts. It excludes the following: really obvious stuff, like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Reefer Madness (1936); most horrific withdrawal sequences (that’s another article); and scenes in which performers really do appear very high (inevitably, Dennis Hopper).

Case Study: LSD (1969) Your friends at Lockheed Aircraft Corp. crafted this cautionary educational short in which our heroine, already "pretty jacked up on marijuana," drops you-know-what. She then goes downtown for a hot dog. But when she’s about to consume that tasty snack it turns into a troll doll on a bun, begging for mercy because "He had a wife and seven kids at home to support." Then the screaming starts.

The Big Cube (1969) A spoiled stepdaughter and predator playboy attempt to drive wealthy widow Lana Turner insane by serially dosing her. What’s perhaps most amazing about this awesomely awful potboiler is that Turner’s acting is even worse when her character is straight.

The Trial of Billy Jack (1974) Before he’s ready to shelve pacifism once again to kick fascist butt, Tom Laughlin’s counterculture vigilante must go deep into his New Age White Dude’s identification with Native American spirituality by doing peyote in the desert. This attempt to separate ego from self is in fact the most egomaniacal drug trip in the history of cinema, equating Tom/BJ with the soaring national bird and Jesus Christ.

Go Ask Alice (1975) There may be no wrong-trip scene freakier than this TV movie’s one in which our teen runaway protagonist and a temporary traveling companion are made to bark like dogs for an older couple — the "winner" getting a new boost, the loser getting "punishment" horribly left to our imaginations.

Blue Sunshine (1976) Never grab the wig off a secret U.S. government LSD experiment veteran whose secret baldness "covers" homicidal psychosis. And if you do, this cult horror classic teaches, stay the hell away from the fireplace.

Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (1984) This DIY punk parody’s all-female band members avenge themselves on their greedy manager by mega-dosing him, resulting in horrific hallucinations of Taco Bell ads and Barbra Streisand Yentl (1983) posters inspire unfortunate delusions of flight.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) On everything, Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro’s Duke and Dr. Gonzo visit Circus Circus — an environment that could induce anxiety attacks in the soberest tourist.

Cookers (2001) This vastly underrated quasi-horror is a one long paranoid wigout. Its three characters are meth cookers holed up in an abandoned rural house until their batch is done. Unfortunately, madness, sexual competitiveness, and the questionably supernatural intervene. The other great meth horror movie so far is Pop Skull (2007), which doesn’t even specify the substance being abused.

Knocked Up (2007) Paul Rudd. Shrooms. Five different types of hotel chairs. Plus "Love, the most beautiful shiny warm thing in the world!"