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Heady Entertainment: U-God’s Wu-Tang Memoir, "Donnie Darko" Deluxe, and MURS on a "Strange Journey"

Welcome back to our ganja-friendly culture guide. Big-screen movies are a bust this week, but there are plenty of other fresh gems that will delight you and your stash for many seshes to come.

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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 pop culture.

Big-screen movies are a bust this week in terms of bud-friendly new releases, but there's plenty of other options to exhale along with, including the recollections of a Wu-Tang legend, a deluxe Donnie Darko reissue, a new LP from MURS, and Curren$y re-igniting his Burnie's series. So let's go straight — but not "straight" — to this week's fresh-rolled recommendations.

Streaming

"The Shape of Water" (2017)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon
Watch It: Amazon, iTunes, On Demand

The recent Academy Award Best Picture winner may well be a lyrical fairy tale for adults and/or an impeccably-crafted parable about "otherness" and/or a mesmerizing synthesis of art, emotion, classic Hollywood, flawless retro design, and forward-thinking ideas. It could be all that and more.

What's for sure is that now, when The Shape of Water is available to stream, we all have a chance to light up at home and smoke hard to the sight of The Creature From the Black Lagoon getting laid!

"Tabula Rasa": Season 1 (2017)
Creators: Veerle Baetans, Malin-Sarah Gozin
Cast: Veerle Baetans, Stijn Van Opstal, Jeroen Perceval

The Netherlands' head-spinning take on American Horror Story chronicles a woman with a wiped-out memory whose attempt to put her brain back together forces her into a haunted insane asylum. Tabula Rasa abounds with diabolical children, red-robed demons, and interdimensional freak-outs. Puff with paranoia in mind.

"Take Your Pills" (2018)
Director: Alison Klayman
Watch It: Netflix

A new doc about the madness — and even some positive aspects — of the proliferation of government-approved prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin in a country where marijuana still remains federally illegal. Take Your Pills is some sobering stuff — so have your stash on hand, for sure!

Cult-Classic Reissues

"Donnie Darko" (2001)
Director: Richard Kelly
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore
Get It: MVD

Donnie Darko, writer-director Richard Kelly's classic sci-fi midnight movie mind-fuck — you know, the one with Jake Gyllenhaal about suburban time travel, the end of the world, and a six-foot-tall rabbit named Frank? — gets the deluxe Special Edition Blu-ray treatment from Arrow Films.

Gyllenhaal stars as the title teen who trips out regularly on visions of the apocalypse embodied as the aforementioned bad-news bunny. Amidst authority figures attempting to dent Donnie's brain via drugs, rules, and book censorship, director Kelly riffs on all manner of best-with-cannabis cosmic themes en route to doomsday.

"Rockula" (1990)
Director: Luca Bercovici
Cast: Dean Cameron, Tawny Fere, Toni Basil
Get It: Shout Factory

Stoner fave Dean Cameron (Chainsaw in Summer School; Spicoli in the short-lived spin-off sitcom Fast Times) stars in Rockula as Ralph, a 400-year-old vampire who still lives at home with his vampire mom.

Over and over again, a weird pirate curse keeps killing Mona — Ralph's endlessly reincarnating girlfriend Mona (Tawny Fere) — just before they're about to lose their virginity. Rockula, then, is about Ralph and Mona's zany attempts to break the curse so they finally can pop their cherries and live into eternity.

It's a hyper-80s camp-fest, exploding with gloriously cheesy, begging-to-be-bong-enhanced neon visuals, cornball synth-pop, and off-the-wall MTV guest stars. Toni Basil (of "Hey, Mickey") co-stars Ralph's mom. Thomas Dolby (of "She Blinded Me With Science") plays a funeral home owner. And it's all directed by Luca Bercovici, the madman who also made the must-be-baked-to-be-believed Gremlins rip-off, Ghoulies.

Books

"My Most Wanted Marijuana Mom: Growing Up in a Smuggling Family"
By David Michael McNelis
Buy It: McFarland Books

The true story of Judy "Haas" McNelis, head of a $267-million-per-year weed smuggling empire in the 1980s, as told by her son, David. It's a wild childhood where dealers, smugglers, daredevil pilots, federal agents, hitmen, and a possible Soviet spy all become part of "normal" life.

Throughout all the highs, lows, real highs, tragedy, and even terror — at one point Judy becomes the only woman on the U.S. Federal Marshall's Most Wanted List — McNelis' tale is intoxicatingly compelling.

And, once again, My Most Wanted Marijuana Mom highlights the hypocrisy of our government making clandestine millionaires out of people who provide the public with the weed they want — and then hunts them down and throws them in cages.

"Raw: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang"
By Lamont Hawkins
Buy It: Quimby's Bookstore

As the hip-hop icon U-God, Brooklyn native Lamont Hawkins forever changed re-rapped history as a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Considering that, Hawkins' just-dropped memoir Raw: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang would be a required consumption.

The fact, however, that U-God blazes every page with little known facts, deep backstories, and vital, vibrant language (of course) elevates Raw to the status of the autobiography to beat this year.

So whether you're a 36th-chamber Wu-Tang scholar, a novice in your studies, or just interested in a saga that spans from the Brownsville projects to the absolute top of pop culture and beyond, U-God has crafted your book. Light up, read, and learn.

Music

“A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable” 
By MURS
Get It: iTunes

There’s nothing strange about the new MURS album being great, and the fact that the L.A.-based rapper and songwriter — who recently appeared on our talk show About That Time (shout-out to the critter clique!) — expands on his previous efforts and extends his talents to electrifying new heights is hardly unimaginable.

Still, MURS called these 14 tracks produced by Michael “Seven” Summers A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable and, just like the cannabis courier you should call prior to pressing play, he delivers.

Profound lyrics bound from the personal to the political to the cosmic — and back — often in the space of a single verse. He’s funny too: MURS’ sly wit shines throughout this Strange Journey (don’t forget he once fronted a band called the White Mandingos). 

At the same time, insanely inventive instrumentation and ear-popping production conjure an all-encompassing musical realm in which there’s just MURS, you, and whatever you’re smoking. Go there now. Take this Strange Journey, and then just let it take you.

"Back at Burnie's"
By Curren$y
Get It: Warner Music

Yes, it's a sequel to Curren$y's weed-wacked 2011 favorite Weekend at Burnie's. Doper still, Back at Burnie's extends the original's "psychedelic vacation" theme even further into the smoke-o-sphere. As Spitta himself tweeted in anticipation of the new long-player: "Going back to Bernie's to lay down some dope rhymes and smoke hella jays!"

"Black Heaven"
By Earthless
Get It: Nuclear Blast Records

San Diego acid-psych apostles Earthless blast off to fresh highs on Black Heaven, fueled by third-eye-prying consumables and virtuoso musicianship. While the stoner lords' previous releases focused on multi-joint-requiring, side-length (or close) instrumental jams, Black Heaven boasts six individual tracks (a record!) that mostly feature vocals. You never know where the ongoing Earthless trip is destined. Just blaze up and blast off with them.

"Consumers Park"
By Chuck Strangers
Get It: Soundcloud

Erupting forth from the Pro Era hip-hop collective — where he mostly helmed production duties — Chuck Strangers unmistakably declares himself a rapper of high righteousness on his solo debut, Consumers Park. The album's 14 tracks each rip in their own way, while together they add up to a perfectly-packed bowl of hot sonic impact. Chuck himself produced, along with Alchemist, Animoss, and Shepard Sounds. Guests include Issa Gold, Kirk Knight and, of course, Chuck's forever homie, Joey Bada$$.

Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter