Movie of the Day – Reefer Madness
September 5, 2012 4 Comments
I got to say, watching this trailer, the people’s action in the propaganda film leads me to believe that they are just smoking the wrong kind of bud. Possibly some terrible ditch weed if anything if it’s causing people to leap to their deaths and laugh like a super villain who is tying someone to the train tracks. I love nothing more than seeing how far America has come along with these sort of scare tactic propaganda movies. Reefer Madness, much like Atomic Cafe, is probably best viewed with a satirical eye and a lot of weed cause the things they think reefer does to people in the 1930′s is fucking high-larious.
This unabashed propaganda film (also known by the title Tell Your Children, a dead giveaway) has become a cult classic of comically bad cinema due to its dated, alarmist views on the dangers of “marijuana addiction” and the exaggerated symptoms thereof. After the onscreen prologue that declares “Something must be done to wipe out this ghastly menace,” Reefer Madness launches into a case study of clean-cut WASP couple Bill (Kenneth Craig) and Mary (Dorothy Short), high schoolers who play tennis and drink tea on the back porch. Their friend Jimmy (Warren McCollum) introduces them to a pot dealer named Jack (Carleton Young), who invites Bill up to his den of inequity, where stoned ne’er-do-wells laugh fiendishly, dance, and play the piano. After one joint, Bill is hooked, and his life begins to plummet down the tubes — he starts flunking school and becomes a promiscuous regular in Jack’s apartment. When a worried Mary tracks Bill down, she too is given a joint and begins giggling uncontrollably while being aggressively fondled by the bizarre addict Ralph (Dave “Tex” O’Brien). When Bill bursts out of the bedroom to tangle with Ralph, hallucinating and blacking out, Mary is accidentally shot. This prompts a string of guilt and calamitous occurrences, including several more deaths and courtroom sentences to mental institutions, all because of the devil weed. The film ends with the ominous warning, “The dread marijuana may be reaching forth next for your son or daughter…or yours…or YOURS!” ~ Derek Armstrong, Rovi
Good Lord, if I lived in the 1930′s I would have shit my pants at the thought of smoking pot. I mean murder, death, hit and run accidents, suicide, dancing, laughing uncontrollably and accidental shootings would be enough for me to not do this. Then again, I think all those things are more of a by product of the war on drugs than harmless pot smokers thinking about space and life. It sure was a simpler time in the 30′s.
I got to admit, the events that unfold because of the weed smoking by the teens is nothing short of a Rube Goldberg contraption. There are a lot of things that just devolve into pure madness once you take an innocent toke of a joint, but then you have to really sell the point about how smoking destroys lives. When you look at this movie now, weed seems kind of awesome. Aside from the death and suicide that is pervasive in the film, people seem to be having a good time. But the over the top nature of the film, even viewing it now, makes it really hard to believe that people in the 30′s were even taking it seriously themselves. It’s so ridiculous and outside the norm that there should have been massive spikes in deaths and crime if smoking reefer was serious enough to warrant this exploitation film.
Films like this are a slice of Americana, something that chronicles the paranoia and growth of fear in the simplest of times. You just have to sit back and laugh at how little people knew about the act of smoking weed and to what lengths they would go to scare the youth into not smoking. But sometimes sensationalism is really the only thing people respond to and you have to admire the tact and bravado that they had to showcase such ridiculousness. If you have never seen this, get high, grab some food and enjoy the comedic show.