Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE's weekly guide to just-released movies, books, TV shows, 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.
This week: blast off with Natalie Portman for the mind-frying sci-fi of Annihilation; duck as Nicolas Cage redefines "run amuck" in Mom and Dad; bug out with another onslaught of The Tick; and smoke thoughtfully along with the latest release from Black Milk.
So let's go straight — but not "straight" — to this week's fresh-rolled and smoldering recommendations.
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez
Director Alex Garland follows up his 2015 sci-fi sex-robot stoner cinema breakthrough Ex-Machina with the big-budget FX-fest Annihilation, an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's book trilogy.
Natalie Portman stars in the space-set fright fest as an interstellar soldier forced to explore the forbidden zone of remote planet where anything is possible — much of it flip-out-inducing, but ultimately all of it serving to uplift and expand the viewer's consciousness.
Garland builds otherworldly paranoia, and then fires off the hair-raising jolts by way of next-level visuals and off-the-chain sensory overwhelm. Load up on edibles en route to the multiplex, strap in for the ride in IMAX 3D, and just get annihilated by Annihilation.
"The Frankenstein Chronicles"
Creators: Benjamin Ross, Barry Langford
Cast: Sean Bean, Anna Maxwell Martin, Richie Campbell
Watch It: Netflix
After a body stitched together from the parts of eight missing kids turns up in 1827 London, Inspector John Marlott (Sean Bean) teams with Frankenstein author Mary Shelley (Anna Maxwell Martin) to track a psycho killer hellbent on building his own monster. Vintage steampunk, brain-bending mystery, and serial killer horror all adds up here to one freaky trip.
"Mom and Dad" (2018)
Director: Brian Taylor
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters
Watch It: Amazon
Clear your head and prepare your most potent weed for Mom and Dad. The unhinged horror-comedy about a 24-hour period in which parents everywhere are suddenly driven to hunt and kill their kids showcases Nicolas Cage delivering — no shit — his single most nonstop, over-the-top, beyond-insane performance. You read that right.
It's as though humanity's most volcanically histrionic actor watched the famous YouTube comp of his own frothing-faced Wicker Man freak-out scenes and thought, "You pikers ain't seen — or deafeningly heard — nuthin' yet!"
Cage and Selma Blair co-star as the title characters in Mom and Dad as they psychotically look to off their offspring. It's fun and shocking throughout. Really, though, just roll up and get ready for Cage going mano-a-mano against a pool table as he tears apart his basement man-cave in a fever seizure. Even if you know exactly what you're smoking — you'll still wonder what you've been smoking.
"The Tick": Season 1B
Creator: Ben Edlund
Cast: Peter Serafinaocwicz, Valorie Curry, Griffin Newman
Watch It: Amazon Prime
Amazon's twisted superhero send-up The Tick returns with six new episodes, but, in proper oddball fashion, it's not a new season — the show's creators are calling it "Season 1B." Whatever. If it means more adventures of the titular hero in a blue bug suit (Peter Serafinaocwicz) going up against The Terror (Jackie Earl Hailey) in the show's crackpot comic book universe — and it is — count on us to tune back in with pipes properly packed.
"Ali Siddiq: It's Bigger Than These Bars" (2018)
Watch It: Comedy Central
Two decades after doing six years for drug trafficking, standup comic Ali Siddiq performs a one-hour special for the inmates at Bell County Jail in Texas. If you're not familiar with Siddiq's comedy, check out his clips online. He's hilarious — but real heft backs each punchline.
It's Bigger Than These Bars is Siddiq's most pointed and poignant effort to date, as he inspires the dudes trapped where he was and liberates both them and us alike with the highest forms of laughter.
"Ash vs. Evil Dead": Season 3
Creators: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Tom Spezialy
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago
Watch It: Starz
Bruce Campbell returns for a third TV go-round in Ash Vs. Evil Dead. Once again, as square-jawed, chainsaw/shotgun-armed hero Ash, Campbell swaggeringly battles shape-shifting, splatter-happy "Deadites" everywhere.
The loopy action and lunatic gore of both the Evil Dead movies and the first two editions of this TV spin-off have catalyzed countless exhales of bong smoke — usually amidst a fit of screams or laughter. Time your drags wisely!
"Eye See You: The Art of Oliver Hibert"
By Angelo Madrigale and Oliver Hibert
Buy It: Quimby's Books
Eye See You is the first monograph to collect the brain-blasting works of neo-psychedelic visual artist Oliver Hibert.
Known for his triptastic album covers and concert posters for drug-pumped music giants on the orbital order of Flaming Lips (whose Wayne Coyne penned the book's foreword), Hibert has been won fans the world over with gallery shows of his incandescent images.
Now with Eye See You, admirers can drop their hallucinogen of choice at home and repeatedly dive deep into Hibert's paintings, sculpture, drawings, tarot decks, and other re-imaginings of acid art for the blasted masses.
"Basket Case" (1982)
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Cast: Kevin Van Hentryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner
Buy It: MVD
Basket Case reigns as one of no-holds-barred horror's most extreme monster mashes, a sick-joke exploitation flick that became a midnight movie perennial with bloodbaths galore and a rabid, face-eating, vengeance-bent puppet hero/villain so wicked-cool, you'd consider taking the risk of getting lit with him.
Duane (Kevin Van Hentryck) looks like a normal dude. His twin Belial — who is a fanged, clawed, carnivorous lump-thing that lives in a wicker basket — does not. After checking into a Times Square flophouse straight out of HBO's The Deuce (only this is the real deal, shot on the actual streets packs with pimps, pros, pushers, and other players), the brothers team up to exact revenge on the medical team that tore them apart.
"The Soldier" (1982)
Director: James Glickenhaus
Cast: Ken Wahl, Alberta Watson, Jeremiah Sullivan
Buy It: Kino Lorber
On the surface, The Soldier may look like just another early-'80s action flick, but this high-impact Cold War spy blowout came by its cult following for a number of weed-worthy reasons.
First, the stunts are insanely dangerous, and the makers notoriously put performers in crazy mortal risk to pull them off. You won't believe nobody got killed, and you may well wonder how wasted the team must have been to blaze into such danger.
Second, the ice-cool score by synth-masters Tangerine Dream intoxicatingly contrasts with the wild violence on screen. Prog-savvy smokers have long grooved to The Soldier electronic soundtrack, along with the Dream's similarly heavy-but-smooth scores for Risky Business (1983), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Legend (1986), and the 2013 video game fave, Grand Theft Auto V.
Third, it's a crazy USA-vs-Soviet-Union nuke thriller directed by James Glickenhaus, the grindhouse great who previously delivered The Exterminator (1981). Spark up and enjoy!
"Fever" by Black Milk
Get It: Bandcamp
Politically-charged Detroit rapper/producer Black Milk aims deep and fires up with enraged passions on Fever, his sixth solo album. It's a heavy and rewarding trip, so pick the right strain to puff while pondering Milk's thought-provoking takes about society's present crisis state and the quest to build meaning out of the madness. Chill vocals by guests Dwele, Aaron "Ab" Abernathy, and Sudie provide a powerful juxtaposition to Black Milk's dark, sanguine lyrics.
Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter