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.
Smoking up multiplex screens, Hell Fest delivers high funhouse horror while Night School pits Kevin Hart versus Tiffany Haddish in a battle to crack your stoned ass up. For those loaded and streaming at home, the documentary Boom for Real chronicles the early years of mind-bombing NYC painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the director of Green Room offers his latest hair-raising thriller with Hold the Dark.
In music, it’s an all-star array of weed heroes, with All Them Witches whipping up stoner rock, Cypress Hill tripping (maybe) harder than ever, and — after six years of stop-and-start madness — Lil Wayne finally gifting Tha Carter V to the marijuana masses. So let’s get straight — but not “straight” to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
“Hell Fest” (2018)
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Cast: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus
Hell Fest takes a standard horror flick premise — trapped teens hunted by a masked murderer in a spooky amusement park — and elevates it with virtuoso visuals from director Gregory Plotkin that ignite the screen with all the colors of Halloween candy and a mad rush of ’80s slasher insanity. So load up a Trick-or-Treat bag with scary-strong edibles and munch yourself maniacal watching Hell Fest.
“Night School” (2018)
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Taran Killam
Night School reunites Girls Trip director Malcolm D. Lee with that smash’s breakout superstar, Tiffany Haddish, and then adds comedic powder keg Kevin Hart to the mix. Hart plays Teddy Walker, a successful gas grill salesman who accidentally blows up his own store and gets ordered to obtain his GED. Once in the titular night school, Teddy takes his place in a class full of mirthful misfits and runs afoul of Tiffany as no-nonsense instructor Carrie. Oh, yes: you will laugh. And if you imbibe properly on the way to see Night School, you may never stop laughing. We’re willing to stay after class for detention if that means more of Haddish.
“Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat” (2018)
Director: Sara Driver
Watch It: Hulu
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat is a documentary chronicling just what its title promises: the era in which one of modern art’s most iconic powerhouses came of age in a scary, scummy, endlessly-inspiring New York City that simply no longer exists.
Director Sara Driver treats us to an astounding array of never-before-seen Basquiat works, including paintings, photographs, and writings. Just seeing them will get you high; actually being high first, then, is even better. The movie also profiles and interviews a who’s who among the most creative minds of ’80s Manhattan, including Jim Jarmusch, Fab Five Freddy, Kenny Scharf, Lee Quinones, and Patricia Field.
“Hold the Dark” (2018)
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Riley Keough, Alexander Skarsgård
Watch It: Netflix
Are you over 18?
Director Jeremy Saulnier has already offered us gnarly knockouts with the revenge thriller Blue Ruin (2014) and the punk-rock horror epic Green Room (2015). Now, with Hold the Dark, Saulnier focuses his nerve-shredding suspense skills on northern Alaska, where a wolf attack on a young boy leads to a dire chain of doom amidst the terrifying tundra. Hold the Dark is, indeed, dark… and cold, too. Blaze yourself warm and let it work you over.
“Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town” (2018)
Director: Christian Papierniak
Cast: Mackenzie Davis, Alia Shawkat, Annie Potts
Watch It: iTunes, Amazon, On Demand
After a tripped-out opening in which Izzy (Mackenzie Davis) interacts with three versions of herself in some kind of pink Heaven, our hungover, hot mess of a heroine wakes up naked next to a dude, discovers her ex is getting married on the other side of Los Angeles, and then scrambles to bust up the wedding — all while piecing together what (and who) she may have done the night before.
Izzy Gets the F*ck Across town vibrates with punk energy and Broad-City-style weed wit. It’s also got a killer soundtrack. Watch, inhale, and try not to cough too hard when you’re laughing.
“Saturday Night Live”: Season 44
Host: Adam Driver
Musical Guest: Kanye West
Network broadcasting’s original excuse to pass a joint around in front of a TV on a weekend night returns to do what it does (and for stay-at-home smokers to do what they do). Ever-reliable Adam Driver hosts and the ever-unpredictable Kanye West is slated to bust out new tracks from Yandhi, his rumored new album that’s supposed to drop hours before somebody announces, “Live, from New York! It’s Saturday Night!”
Are you over 18?
Also of note: New SNL cast member Ego Nwodim hails from LA’s UCB players, where she wrote and starred in the one-woman show, Great Black Women … And Then There’s Me. Lorne Michaels also added Bowen Yang to the writer’s room, who’s a staple in Brooklyn’s booming comedy scene. Give them a welcome toke once the show starts.
“Horrors of Malformed Men” (1969)
Director: Teruo Ishii
Cast: Teruo Yoshida, Yukie Kagawa, Teruko Yumi
Get It: MVD
Aside from boasting maybe the dopest Japanese fright film title of all time, Horrors of Malformed Men is the brilliantly nightmarish result of cult director Teruo Ishii (Shogun's Joy of Torture) adapting a story by Edogawa Rampo, who is hailed by fans of extreme literature for largely inventing the genre known as ero-guro ("erotic grotesque").
Horrors is a deep delve into the deranged mind of an escaped mental patient who assumes the identity of a nobleman and ends on an island occupied by a mad scientist and his broken human experiments — i.e., the “malformed men.” The whole brain-boiling excursion is a garish, surreal whirlwind of hallucinatory abominations that will boost whatever drug you’re on while watching it to beautifully-terrifying new highs.
“The [REC] Collection”
Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Get It: Shout Factory
Beginning in 2007 with [REC], Spanish filmmakers Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza reinvented both zombie apocalypse movies and the found-footage horror genre with unprecedented immediacy, intensity, and — most freak-out-inducing of all — credibility.
The first [REC] tracked a local TV news crew as it falls prey to a city suddenly full of flesh-eating plague victims. The frights continued from there across three sequels, each of uniquely terrifying power (the first movie was also remade by Hollywood in 2008 as Quarantine). So plan on packing a bong with your favorite paranoia-sparking strain, firing it up, and then just press [REC].
Are you over 18?
“Beyond Heaven: Chicago House Party Flyers”
by Brandon Johnson
Get It: Quimby’s Bookstore
Straight out of the smoke-fogged Windy City between 1983 and ’89, house music was the sound of life, love, lust, and getting lit. DJ Mario “Liv It Up” Luna was there — bringing the noise and grabbing hold to pieces of the booming-beat-set dream. Beyond Heaven: Chicago House Party Flyers is a collection of promotional paste-ups (aka “pluggers), photos, ads, memories, and other collectibles from the front line of the rollicking revolution. Created by the brilliant Brandon Johnson — who also published the must-have Thee Almighty and the Insane — Beyond Heaven is sure to be a must-have among printed matter obsessives. Get your copy before it inevitably sells out!
By All Them Witches
Get It: All Them Witches – Official Site
Nashville stoner metal royalty set their “way-high” machine back to the ’70s for the their latest long-player. It’s title ATW, which, in terms of the record’s sonic experience, falls somewhere between LSD and THC. Volcanic riffs, swirling grooves, and wicked psychedelic explorations turn ATW into a head-banging brew you should fire into your brain now, ears-first.
“Elephants on Acid”
By Cypress Hill
Get It: iTunes
Cypress Hill, of course, rule forever as pioneering kingpins in the realm where herb meets hip-hop. Now, nearly 30 years later, they’re hitting as hard as ever, this time most specifically invoking and celebrating hallucinogens.
Elephants on Acid is an album that sounds like its title — 21 tracks of heavy, heavy trips that sometimes stomp, sometimes charge, sometimes trumpet in head-spinning victory, and sometimes do all of the above at once. B-Real and DJ Muggs have conjured a vast, lush, psychedelic forest here. Feed your head, wrap it around a vine, and swing in deep.
Are you over 18?
“Tha Carter V”
By Lil Wayne
Get It: iTunes
Such a mad buzz has swarmed up around The Carter V’s perilously postponed delivery that even Kanye West said he expects Lil Wayne’s latest to best his rumored new album on the charts. Either way, we’ve arrived at one sick weekend to be a pothead into hip-hop!
With guests that include Drake, Nivea, and the just-added Post Malone, Weezy has unleashed seven years’ worth of backed-up genius into V’s 75-minute runtime, and launches himself light years beyond anyone’s most dope expectations. Breathe deep: this high is epic.
Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter