Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reefer Madness (1936)

Filmed as Tell Your Children by a church coalition as an educational treatise on the dangers of drug use and intended to be shown to groups of parents, then hastily re-edited by savvy investors for the burgeoning exploitation/grindhouse theater market, the newly-dubbed Reefer Madness became an underground classic on college campuses and the midnight movie circuit during the 1970s. A bizarre pastiche of blatant misinformation, clunky scripting, and campy overacting; no plot, just thinly connected vignettes detailing the criminal hi-jinks "marihuana" inspires among fiendish "hop-heads," including but not limited to: unmarried cohabitation, misadventure by automobile, rape, suicide, murder, and (shudder) jitterbugging. Scandal! At least the drug dealers, in their snappy suits and fedoras, look respectable. Why, you'd never know the evil at your doorstep, all dressed up fancy like that, just like the Devil himself is apt to be.... The 'Rifftrax' edition from Legend Films includes commentary from Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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