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.
The broad appeal of marijuana as a movie-going additive is evidenced by Alpha, Mile 22, and Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich — three completely different new big-screen releases best watched on weed (but, then again, so is everything). On the new Netflix animated series Disenchanted, Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening sends up epic fantasy in cahoots with stoner comedy ballers Abbi Jacobson and Eric Andre.
Sound-wise, it’s a trip this week with mind-expanding new records from the heavy-psych likes of Animal Collective and Oh Sees. So let’s get straight — but not “straight” to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Albert Hughes
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Leonor Varela, Natassia Malthe
As one half of the mighty Hughes Brothers, director Albert Hughes has taken us back in time from 1990s South Central L.A. (Menace II Society) to 1970s New York City (Dead Presidents) to 19th century London (From Hell). Now, with Alpha, Hughes dives all the way back to the Ice Age for an epic adventure about a how a young cave-dude (Kodi Smith-McPhee) bonding with a wolf sparked the evolution of the profound friendship between humanity and canines. Get high and see Alpha for the stunning prehistoric visuals. Then, if you tear up a little (and be prepared to do just that), blame your strain making you emotional.
“Mile 22” (2018)
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich
Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg have teamed on three fact-based, heavy-duty projects in the past: Lone Survivor (2013), about a Navy SEAL operation turned tragic; Deepwater Horizon (2016), about a deadly oil spill; and Patriots Day (2016), about the hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber. For Mile 22, then, the actor and filmmaker just decided to kick out the jams and deliver a fun, ferocious, nonstop action orgy. Wahlberg plays a CIA operative who has to deliver a vital human asset through 22 miles of hostile obstacles. It’s a pure visual rush, so pair well with your favorite sensory-amplifying intoxicant.
“Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” (2018)
Directors: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Cast: Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Udo Kier
With Puppet Master (1989), B-movie kingpin Charles Band created one of the most formidable — and most frequently smoked-to — horror franchises in the realm of direct-to-video freak-out flicks. Since then, Puppet Master’s tripped-out maniacal marionettes come to life have starred in 12 official sequels, a cross-over with the franchise Demonic Toys, and a series of comic books.
Now Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is rebooting the stoner fright fav on the big screen, courtesy of cult screenwriter S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cellblock 99). Thomas Lennon stars as Edgar, a horror memorabilia peddler who unleashes hell at a fan convention when his evil puppets leap to life and slaughter everyone in sight. It’s all purposefully over-the-top with insane gore and edgy humor, without veering into buzz-killing parody.
Are you over 18?
Will Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich be the next midnight movie sensation to watch while stoned? Well, get stoned and find out!
“Disenchantment”: Season 1
Creator: Matt Groening
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Nat Faxon, Eric Andre
Watch It: Netflix
Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s first new animated series since the stoner sci-fi comedy milestone Futurama taps another marijuana-rich realm for laughs: medieval fantasy. Disenchantment depicts the misadventure of booze-belting Princess Bean (Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson), her antic elf Elfo (the always funny Nat Faxon), and her suavely evil personal demon Luci (the illustrious Eric Andre) amidst dungeons, dragons, and general dankness.
“King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen” (2018)
Director: Steve Mitchell
Cast: Larry Cohen, J.J. Abrams, Joe Dante
Watch It: Amazon, iTunes, On Demand
The acclaimed documentary King Cohen chronicles the life of cult filmmaker Larry Cohen, the madman behind a multitude of movies that lit audiences have loved for decades. Among Cohen’s cannabis classics: the vintage blaxploitation blowout Black Caesar (1973); the killer baby romp It’s Alive (1976); the flying-monster-eats-New-York adventure Q: The Winged Serpent (1982); and the oozy sci-fi send-up of consumerism, The Stuff (1985).
King Cohen entertainingly profiles Larry as a one-of-a-kind talent and packs in amazing clips from his career, along with testimonials from those who have loved working with him. Pack a pipe, take a hit, and hail King Cohen!
“Minding the Gap” (2018)
Director: Bing Liu
Watch It: Hulu
First-time filmmaker Bing Liu’s documentary Minding the Gap incorporates 12 years of homemade video footage into a heartfelt saga about three skateboarding homies on the verge of adulthood in Rockford, Illinois. As you recognize aspects of your own in the movie’s subjects, you may be so moved that you’ll attempt to pass a J through the screen to share with them.
Are you over 18?
“The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time” (2018)
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Cast: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Judah Friedlander
Watch It: SyFy
The title may be a dubious claim, but The Last Sharknado does amusingly attempt to outdo the previous five odes to ridiculousness in SyFy’s signature stoner-friendly franchise. Fin (Ian Ziering) travels back through time to attempt to prevent the first sharknado and, in doing so, sets off a whirlwind of entirely new so-stupid-they’re-dope shenanigans.
“The Gore Gore Girls” (1971)
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Cast: Frank Cress, Amy Farrell, Hedda Lubin
Get It: MVD
The Gore Gore Girls is an especially outrageous exercise in extremes, courtesy of horror’s “Wizard of Gore” himself, splatter-maven Herschell Gordon Lewis. Incorporating a bit of self-conscious comedy, GGG centers on a slasher run riot at a topless dance club. It’s bonkers, it’s blood-soaked, it’s bursting with “gags” in every sense of the term, and it’s the hilarious, hair-raising centerpiece of your next bong-passing trash-flick party that’s just waiting to happen.
“Wild at Heart” (1990)
Director: David Lynch
Cast: Laura Dern, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe
Get It: Shout Factory
Wild at Heart is wild, indeed, as star-crossed lovers Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) hit the open highway where they fall prey to delirious ecstasy and diabolical downturns alike. Visionary weirdo David Lynch’s deep, violent, Wizard of Oz-inflected masterwork is a romance on the road to hell and (maybe) redemption. Now that Wild at Heart has been upgraded to Blu-ray, you can spark up and notice even more wonders it contains in the miracle of truly high-definition.
Are you over 18?
“The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities”
by Wayne Kramer
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Get It: Quimby’s Bookstore
With the opening notes of their 1968 anti-establishment anthem “Kick Out the Jams” legendary Detroit rockers the MC5 sparked the fuse that later exploded into heavy metal and punk rock. Much of that fire came directly from MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, and the heat proved so incendiary that the FBI targeted him as a political insurgent. That, coupled with Kramer’s own addiction issues, derailed both the band and the man, but he lived to tell his saga of survival and triumph in The Hard Stuff. Kramer’s new memoir is a drug-drenched adventure like no other — 320 pages of raw revolution and intoxicating inspiration.
By Oh Sees
Get It: Castle Face Records
With Smote Reverser, garage-psych groove-pilots Oh Sees launch their 21st full-length album in 21 years — and this new joint is a barbarous onslaught that matches the package’s sci-fi/pulp-metal cover art. From the record’s first notes, Oh Sees overseer John Dwyer obliterates expectations immediately. And then from there, the album just keeps rocketing off in impossible-to-anticipate directions. Hallucinogenic accompaniment among listeners is eagerly encouraged.
By Animal Collective
Get It: Bandcamp
To celebrate The International Year of the Reef, boundless sonic explorers Animal Collective plunge deep with Tangerine Reef, a fittingly all-submersive “audio-visual album” inspired by (and showcasing) the majesty of the sea’s most mysterious life forms — which, likely not coincidentally, also happen to be some of the most naturally-psychedelic beings in the universe.
Are you over 18?
By Black Tusk
Get It: Season of Mist
The sludge-core stoner fury of Black Tusk on T.C.B.T. will coat your cerebellum like Quaalude syrup, then slink down your spine and overtake your nervous system, burying your being under mega-tonnage of narco-metal bliss. Power up T.C.B.T., get lit, then let Black Tusk just slow-burn you down.
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