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.
In theaters, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald blasts Johnny Depp into the Harry Potter universe while director Steve McQueen and Viola Davis bust out killer action in Widows. On Netflix, Narcos: Mexico drops and the Coen Brothers do their mad brilliance thing with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Over on Showtime, Ben Stiller directs Benicio Del Toro and Patricia Arquette in the fucked-up, fact-based prison break series, Escape at Dannemora.
For stoner cult-flick aficionados, it’s a feast on Blu-ray with collector’s editions of Lucio Fulci’s gut-chomper Zombie, and a double dose of the nutzoid Gremlins knockoffs, Munchies and Munchie (in that order). New hip-hop delivers a heap worth getting high to, as well, with new releases from 24hrs, Method Man, and Anderson .Paak. So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson
Widows is not just another high-octane crime thriller. Oh, yeah, the movie delivers an avalanche of action and suspense surrounding a sick heist, but it’s also the coming together of three world-changing talents — director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), screenwriter Gillian Flynn (Sharp Objects) and star Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder). After a police shooting in Chicago kills four high-stakes thieves, Viola, as a wife of one of the dead robbers, organizes a group of women to finish the job. Double-crosses, plot twists, and heart-pounding surprises make Widows a winner to smoke to.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (2018)
Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Zoe Kravitz, Johnny Depp
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) was the first cinematic extension of the Harry Potter film universe, and now The Crimes of Grindelwald is on hand to push the adventure in even trippier directions. This time, Jude Law plays a rising magic master who goes up against Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald, a sinister wizard hellbent on conquering humanity with a pure-blood race of sorcerers bred for evil. As always, the CGI effects in IMAX 3D are a wonder to let wash over you while stoned, but now the intensity is amplified by Depp getting to play a villain and going all in—way, way, way in.
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (2018)
Directors: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, James Franco, Tom Waits
Watch It: Netflix
From the one-of-a-kind two-man madness machine of Ethan and Joel Coen (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) comes The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a Western anthology film starring Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as the cowboy troubadour of the title who spins the yarns that play out on screen. The stories cover wagon trains, gold mining, traveling showmen, bank robbers, and even ghosts of the prairie, all filtered through the Coen sensibility that conjured up the all-time stoner cinema masterpiece, The Big Lebowski (1998).
“The Bisexual”: Season One
Cast: Desiree Akhavan, Saskia Chana, Cassie Clare
Watch It: Hulu
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Earlier this year, Desiree Akhavan won the Sundance Grand Jury prize with her film The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Now she’s scorching Hulu by writing, directing, and starring in a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama series The Bisexual. Akhavan plays Leila, a woman who ends a long-term lesbian relationship and finds herself dating among different genders. It’s witty, insightful, and provocative — perfect to smoke to along with whoever your partner might be.
“Escape at Dannemora” (2018)
Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Benicio del Toro, Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano
In 2015, a pair of inmates broke out of an upstate New York correctional facility with the assistance of a female prison employee who just happened to be having sex with both of them. That too-wacked-to-not-be-true story gets powerfully dramatized in Escape From Dannemora, a Showtime mini-series directed by Ben Stiller. Benicio del Toro plays convicted killer Richard Matt, Paul Daon is his partner David Sweat, and Patricia Arquette brings her all to the role of Tilly Mitchell, the married shop worker who helped set her lovers on the lam.
“Narcos: Mexico” — Season One
Cast: Diego Luna, Michael Peña, Tenoch Huerta
Watch It: Netflix
In 2015, the Netflix series Narcos alarmed and intoxicated viewers worldwide with its epic saga of Colombian cocaine emperor Pablo Escobar. Now Netflix is dipping deep into the Latin American drug trade again with follow-up series, Narcos: Mexico. This time, the focus is on Diego Luna as Félix Gallardo, the ruthless kingpin of the Guadalajara Cartel, and Michael Peña as Kiki Camarena, the DEA agent determined to make the bust of a lifetime.
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“Munchies” (1987)/ “Munchie” (1992)
Directors: Bettina Hirsch (Munchies); Jim Wynorski (Munchie)
Cast: Harvey Korman, Charlie Stratton, Nadine Van Der Velde (Munchies); Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dom DeLuise, Arte Johnson (Munchie)
Get It: Shout Factory
The 1984 blockbuster Gremlins begat a number of B-movie knockoff franchises, including Critters, Ghoulies, Spookies, and Hobgoblins. For stoners, though, the most potent variation, naturally, is the 1987 bong-party viewing favorite Munchies and its singularly named follow-up, Munchie. Heroically, Shout Factory has just put out both of these insane exercises on a single Blu-ray disc.
Munchies stars veteran funnyman Harvey Korman as an archaeologist who travels to a remote jungle and brings back the Munchies, a pack of foot-high lizard-faced trolls who get addicted to junk food and run rampant looking for their next fat-and-sugar fix.
Munchie is a sequel-in-name-only, even though it’s also about a pizza-and-donut-gobbling goblin, but there’s just one of him here and, frankly, he’s enough. Munchie, played by one of history’s most hilariously cheap-looking puppets, befriends a lonely kid and uses magic powers to help him battle against school bullies, mean teachers, and his evil stepfather.
You won’t need to actually imbibe any pot to feel wasted while watching the Munchie movies, but by all means do — and make sure to have plenty of snacks on hand the whole time!
“Zombie”: 3-Disc Limited Edition (1979)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Al Cliver
Get It: MVD
One of the grossest, greatest, and most extreme horror epics ever unleashed on even the most hardened gore-hounds, Zombie started out as a Dawn of the Dead rip-off by Italian splatter maestro Lucio Fulci, and then took on a life of its own as an iconic undead outrage.
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The plot is as simple as the visual effects are horrifying. On the Caribbean island of Matul, corpses are rising from their dead and devouring the living, in gruesome, shockingly-graphic detail. That’s about all that happens, and that’s what hardens Zombie’s overall impact.
Along the way, the cast succumbs to flesh-eating ghouls in all manner of unspeakably brutal ways. In one of cinema’s all-time most weed-worthy moments, a zombie falls off a boat and battles a live shark underwater. Just try holding your smoke to that one!
At the end (spoiler alert), the zombies sail off to New York City and the final shot depicts an army of brain-famished monsters charging forward across the Brooklyn Bridge. After a nonstop assault of fantastically-disgusting, oftentimes-funny overkill, Fulci’s parting moment is a masterstroke of paranoia — so adjust your strains accordingly throughout Zombie’s runtime.
“Houses on the Hill”
Get It: iTunes
After two years of anticipation, fitfully flecked with killer singles and collaborations, Atlanta-based rapper 24hrs is finally unleashing his debut album, Houses on the Hill — and it absolutely smokes. Boasting production by Hit-Boy (Jay-Z, Kanye, Kendrick, and 24’s longtime homie Ty Dolla $ign), Houses showcases mic drop-ins from Smokepurpp, Dom Kennedy, Roy Wood$, Vic Mensa, Jay 305, and 24’s own brother, Madeintoyou. This Hill is burning!
“Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium”
By Method Man
Get It: iTunes
Recorded on Staten Island by Method Man’s fellow Shaolin mega-player Anthony “Hanz On” Messado, Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium dynamically burst forth with every conceivable strain of the term “dope.”
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Among the superstars joining Method on this joint are Raekwon, Snoop Dogg, Noreaga, Sheek Louch, Streetlife, Mall G, Jessica Lee Lamberti, Deanna Hunt, Kash Varrazano, Freak, Cardi Express, Youngin, Cappadonna, Masta Killah and, as it always should be, Redman. The Lithium even boasts a couple of “commercial breaks” in the form of pranks by Impractical Jokers and an “emergency forecast” from Thotti Gotti. Damn — packed enough for you?
By Anderson .Paak
Get It: iTunes
Ever since Anderson .Paak’s 2016 landmark Malibu, fans have kept their pipes loaded and their ears open for his next long-player. At last, it arrives in the form of Oxnard, a knockout disc named after the rapper’s Cali hometown. Once again, Dr. Dre does the mixing, and Anderson’s backed by his band the Free Nationals who, on the cover, tellingly step forward from dense pillars of smoke. Other collaborators include Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T, Q-Tip, J Cole, and Madlib. So, yes, Oxnard itself is an event, so much so that Paak’s throwing an actual carnival in the city of the title to herald its arrival. Push play, light up, and go along for the ride.
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