Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE’s weekly guide to just-released movies, books, and music — all fresh, dank, and THC-friendly. In specific, we choose our picks based on how they can enhance your combined consumption of cannabis and entertainment.
Theaters are dominated by the new Pixar release, Onward, which does look even more puff-ready than usual for the eye-candy studio.
On smaller screens, streaming is straight-up beaming. Three stoner-appealing series debut under the new FX on Hulu banner: the white rapper comedy Dave, the Nick Offerman thrill-ride Devs, and the true crime docu-series The Most Dangerous Animal of All. Netflix is debuting the original action movie Spenser Confidential, and Amazon Prime is set to launch the eight-part drug-trade drama Zero Zero Zero.
Vintage cult flick picks include the ’80s Nintendo epic The Wizard, the ’70s Euro-shocker Malabimba, and the all-time camp classic double-feature Sex Madness with, of course, Reefer Madness (yes, that Reefer Madness).
New music for marijuana smokers arrives from Jadakiss, Bleach Day, and U.S. Girls.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Dan Scanlon
Voice Cast: Tom Holland, Octavia Spencer, Chris Pratt
Any new Pixar production is a prime opportunity to spike your popcorn with edibles and enjoy cutting-edge animation and wise, witty storytelling in the made-for-marijuana miracle of IMAX 3D.
Onward, Pixar’s latest, ups the stoner milieu ante even further by focusing on a pair of goofball teenage brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who happen to be elves that live in a world of mythical creatures such as centaurs, manticores, fauns, and a cyclops cop.
Amazing Stories: Season One
Watch It: Apple+
In 1985, Hollywood icon Steven Spielberg launched Amazing Stories as a weekly NBC anthology series in which a different filmmaker, each episode, made his own mini-movie set in the realm of fantasy, science fiction, or horror. Among those who participated in the original Amazing run were Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, and Danny DeVito, and the show became must-smoke-TV for a generation.
Decades later and still at the peak of his powers, Spielberg has rebooted Amazing Stories for our current anything-is-possible technological age, but he’s keeping quiet regarding what powerhouse talents may be on board until the show debuts this weekend. So, just pack a bong and anticipate something genuinely amazing.
Dave: Season One
Cast: Lil Dicky, Taylor Misiak, Andrew Santino
Watch It: FXX
As dorktastic white rapper Lil Dicky, funnyman Dave Burd has been slaying stoners and making hip-hop fans howl. Dave, the new FX series co-created by Burd and produced by Kevin Hart, fully explores the origins of Lil Dicky and his clueless ongoing attempts at mic-rocking stardom. Weed figures heavily in Dave and should be consumed in a similar fashion while you’re watching it and cracking up.
Devs: Season One
Cast: Sonoya Mizuno, Zach Grenier, Nick Offerman
Watch It: FX on Hulu
Mysterious, mind-bending, and not to be approached without proper cannabis cushioning, Devs is an eight-part high-tech thriller written and directed by Alex Garland, the dark wizard who gave us the freakouts Ex-Machina (2014) and Annihilation (2018).
The Most Dangerous Animal of All (2020)
Watch It: FX
In the annals of real-life serial murderers, few pack more paranoia-inducing fear than the Zodiac Killer, a masked gunman who preyed on the San Francisco area in the ’70s, tormented the police with cryptographic clues, and who, to date, has never been identified, let alone caught.
That should be enough to get anyone reaching for relief via the sweet leaf; now imagine if you came to believe that the Zodiac Killer was, in fact, your father. That’s exactly what happened to Gary L. Stewart, a writer who’d been adopted as a child and set out to find his biological parents — and what he found is the stuff of all-too-true nightmares.
The Most Dangerous Animal of All, a docu-series based on Stewart’s bestselling true-crime memoir of the same name, recounts this horrific journey to discovery. Watch it with the lights on and a joint ignited.
Spenser Confidential (2020)
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Iliza Scherzinger
Watch It: Netflix
In the past, the popular, Boston-set Spenser crime novels by Robert B. Parker have spawned two hit TV series, Spenser: For Hire with Robert Urich and A Man Called Hawk with Avery Brooks. With their mix of urban grit and breezy humor, the Spenser books continue to win new fans and inspire energetic entertainment, specifically this week in the form of the Netflix movie, Spenser Confidential.
Mark Wahlberg stars as ex-detective Spenser, with Winston Duke taking on the mantle of no-nonsense ass-kicker Hawk. After suspecting a killer-cop conspiracy is afoot, Spenser and Hawk infiltrate the New England underworld and go head-to-head against the most rotten parts of Boston’s upper crust. Director Peter Berg pumps out the sort of action that made his movies Very Bad Things (1998), The Rundown (2003), and Lone Survivor (2013) repeat-watch favorites among reefer-passing viewers.
Zero Zero Zero
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Gabriel Byrne, Dane DeHaan
Watch It: Amazon Prime
The new Amazon Prime miniseries Zero Zero Zero follows a single cocaine shipment making its away around planet Earth, from the moment a European crime outfit in Italy places the order to the final use by individual users. Moving from production by a Mexican cartel to Italian mobsters handling distribution to American business managers overseeing the financial operations, Zero Zero Zero is one hell of a trip.
CULT CLASSIC COLLECTIBLES
Bad Manners (1984)
Director: Robert Houston
Cast: Pamela Adlon, Karen Black, Martin Mull
Get It: Kino Lorber
Bad Manners opens up in the Bleeding Heart Home for Orphans, which is essentially a kid prison run by bizarre nuns and overseen by a sadist with a cattle prod. After a strangely suspect couple played by Martin Mull and Karen Black adopts one of the pint-sized Bleeding Heart residents, young Pamela Adlon leads a multicultural cabal of foundlings on a break-out to rescue their pal. From there, things actually get weirder.
An R-rated new-wave comedy about the surreal slapstick adventures of mistreated orphans, Bad Manners is a curiosity of ’80s WTF culture that may have had to wait to be properly appreciated until cannabis finally started becoming legal. Kudos to Kino Lorber for releasing this restored version with such perfect timing.
The Home of the Bleeding Heart for Orphans is more like a prison. Run by the tyrannical Sister Serena (Anne De Salvo) it doesn’t take the inmates long to hatch an escape plan. The kids make a break for freedom in this off-the-wall comedy from the creator of Shogun Assassin, Robert Houston (Trust Me). Original soundtrack by Sparks.
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Cast: Katell Laennec, Enzo Fisichella, Patrizia Weble
Get It: Vinegar Syndrome
The Italian ultra-shocker Malabimba graphically, and with glorious grossness, chronicles the taboo-shattering, blood-splattering doings of a teenage noblewoman possessed by demons in her family’s gothic castle. It’s part Exorcist rip-off, part nunsploitation, and pure ’70s Euro-sleaze at its most decadently delectable.
Malabimba stupefied even the most drug-drenched grindhouse audiences, and it packs even more of a beyond-bad-taste gut-punch now. Horror fans who get high don’t want to miss this diabolically divine new collector’s edition from Vinegar Syndrome. Fire up a fatty, and see how much of it you can take — or how much more you’ll demand!
Reefer Madness (1938) / Sex Madness (1938)
Directors: Louis Gasnier, Joseph Seiden
Get It: Kino Lorber
Created as a “warning” against the madness, mayhem, and murder directly caused by marijuana (ha!), the 1938 exploitation lunacy Reefer Madness took on a second, even more incendiary life first as a ’70s midnight movie and later as a pass-around home video favorite for high AF, hysterically howling audiences.
Reefer Madness, of course, was far from the only over-the-top, no-budget production cashing in on panic regarding public vices. Another was the anti-syphilis scandal screamer, Sex Madness (1938).
Now, the heroic cult film historians at Something Weird Video have teamed with Kino Lorber to unleash a must-have collector’s package that combines both beautifully restored versions of Reefer Madness and Sex Madness, along with a highly hilarious host of bonus materials that include trailers for the likes of Cocaine Fiends (1935) and Marihuana: Weed With Roots in Hell (1926). No instantaneously deranged drug orgy is complete without this Blu-ray!
The Wizard (1989)
Director: Todd Holland
Cast: Fred Savage, Jenny Lewis, Luke Edwards, Christian Slater
Get It: Shout Factory
Luke Edwards stars in The Wizard as Jimmy Woods, a kid spooked by family tragedy who’s determined to travel cross-country to compete in a global video game championship. Joined by his brother Corey (Wonder Years star Fred Savage) and a teenage girl named Haley (Jenny Lewis, future singer of Rilo Kiley), Jimmy eludes all kinds of authorities and makes his way to the big Nintendo competition, and, well, you can guess what happens from there.
One of the most brazen stunts in the history of product placement, The Wizard is essentially a Nintendo-sponsored, feature-length commercial for the “Super Mario Bros 3” video game. It also happens to be huge, goofy fun that an entire generation of budding gamers can quote no matter how many bong-hits they rip while working their controllers. In fact, the higher you get, the easier it somehow is to remember The Wizard! Now, Shout Factory’s new collector’s edition of this Nintendo-mania nugget makes that a possibility any time.
As If Always
By Bleach Day
Get It: Bandcamp
Burlington, Vermont duo Bleach Day approaches musical genres like strains of weed, forever ever in pursuit of newly intoxicating combinations. As If Always, Bleach Day’s second album, is an instrumental journey that soaks up and spins out ’70s radio pop, sweeping movie soundtracks, crazy beats, and sideways sojourns that all play out, when paired with a passed pipe, like an infinitely pleasurable puzzle.
By U.S. Girls
Get It: 4AD
Under the moniker U.S. Girls, multi-instrumentalist and boundless sonic adventurer Meg Remy has elevated and inspired tuned-in tokers with each of her previous six milestone long-players. Heavy Light is the most personal — and, as such, most potent — U.S. Girls undertaking to date, with Remy exploring her innermost self, backed by a twenty-piece ensemble of virtuoso musicians. Smoke Heavy to this record and bathe in its Light.
Get It: Apple Music
After pushing the release of Ignatius a week out of respect for fallen rapper Pop Smoke, the latest solo LP from Jadakiss arrives at las, and it’s another dynamic jewel in the crown of the Ruff Ryders legend. Named for his producer and longtime friend Ignatius “Ice Pick Jay” Jackson who succumbed to cancer in 2017, Jadakiss takes stock of his place in hip-hop after all these years on Ignatius and — through electrifying rhymes and mammoth sounds — assures us he’s still on top. Spark an old-school blunt, press play, and join him up there.
Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter