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.
Igniting the big screen this week, Brad Pitt conquers the cosmos in Ad Astra, Sylvester Stallone righteously slays a cabal of kidnappers in Rambo: Last Blood, and Nic Cage and Laurence Fishburne team up as outrageous outlaws in Running with the Devil.
Streaming for your viewing and smoking pleasure, American Horror Story: 1984 pits the returning fright series in the midst of a classic slasher flick set-up; Between Two Ferns: The Movie pumps up Zach Galifianakis’s absurdist web series to feature-length form; and Black Jesus rises... again!
Our vintage cult curiosities go from the bloodsucking mayhem of John Carpenter’s Vampires to the too-bizarre-to-not-be-true documentary, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s ‘Island of Dr. Moreau.’
Innovative new music to pair with nugs this week includes DSVII by M83, Fireworks by Charlie Heat, and, believe it or keep hitting the bong (which you should do anyway), Nine by Blink-182.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Ad Astra (2019)
Director: James Gray
Cast: Brad Pitt, Ruth Negga, Tommy Lee Jones
The ganja-inviting tradition of epic 21st century space exploration blockbusters on the eye-popping order of Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014), and Arrival (2016) gets hyper-blasted to new peaks this week with Ad Astra.
Brad Pitt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut who blasts off to the furthest reaches of the universe to find Tommy Lee Jones as his missing father — a scientist whose intergalactic experiment threatens the entirety of existence itself.
Blending intense action, family drama, mind-bending sci-fi, surreal meditations on the very nature of being, and utterly astonishing visual effects, Ad Astra is a launch pad into a cinematic experience you must have— stoned. Light it up in IMAX 3-D.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Director: Ariel Vroman
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta
Sylvester Stallone returns for the fifth and supposedly final (uh, sure) go-round as humanity’s most savagely musclebound mayhem-maker of a savior in Rambo: Last Blood.
After his previous flicks’ blood-soaked visits to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Myanmar, John Rambo (Stallone) returns home to the US, discovers his bud’s daughter has been kidnapped by Mexican drug lords, and storms south of the border to slaughter cartel thugs en masse with bullets, blades, bombs, and, of course, his bow-and-arrow.
Look, you got lit to the first four Rambo movies, so why not fire up a fatty en route to the theater this week, and make it five-for-five?
Running With the Devil (2019)
Director: Jason Cabell
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Leslie Bibb
While Rambo is lethally laying to waste South America’s drug trade everywhere this weekend, the limited-release Running With the Devil is showcasing Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne as cartel henchman — and they’re the good guys!
After a cocaine kingpin simply known as The Boss (Barry Pepper) gets word that one of his major shipments has been compromised, he dispatches chemical expert The Cook (Cage) and international trafficker The Man (Fishburne) to assess his operation’s supply chain from Colombia to the United States. With the DEA, rival gangsters, and two-bit hustlers gumming up the works, all hell inevitably breaks loose.
Consider it highly weed-worthy counterprogramming to Rambo: Last Blood.
American Horror Story: 1984
Cast: Emma Roberts, Gus Kenworthy, Billie Lourd
Watch It: FX
American Horror Story: 1984, which is season nine of FX’s annual nonstop fright-fest, plunges viewers smack into one of the most smoker-friendly of all scare genres: ’80s slasher movies.
To reveal too much about 1984 would be to reduce your reasons to toke, scream, toke some more, and then scream some more. Suffice to say, the terrifying energy of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Meyers and their killer ilk gets a rip-roaring retro-reinvention. Prepare to puff for your very life!
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)
Cast: Zach Galiafinakis, Tiffany Haddish, Keanu Reeves
Watch It: Netflix
Launched in 2008 by stoner comedy overlord Zach Galifianakis, the web series Between Two Ferns has caused countless amounts of spilled bong-water and choked up smoke due to viewers’ uncontrollable laughing fits while lit.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie, debuting this weekend on Netflix, delivers exactly that and more as Zach announces he’s taking the show on the road to restore his “reputation.” A-listers getting grilled by Galifianakis this time include Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, Keanu Reeves, Tiffany Haddish, Jon Hamm, David Letterman, Paul Rudd, Rashida Jones, and Peter Dinklage.
Black Jesus: Season 3
Cast: Gerald “Slink” Johnson, Corey Holcomb, Angela Elayne Gibbs
Watch It: Adult Swim
Praise the lord, and pass the pipe! Following a long hiatus, Black Jesus returns to spread its hilarious gospel of peace, love, and soul through an all-new succession of uproariously funny lessons and sharp-as-hell social commentary.
After chilling for four years in a stone crib, Jesus (Gerald “Slink” Johnson) gathers up his dope disciples and enlightens the citizens of Compton anew. This time, the African-American messiah’s misadventures include a run-in with a self-styled superhero and direct communications from the Pope. Holy smokes!
John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: James Woods, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffin
Get It: Shout Factory
Fright maestro and outspoken marijuana advocate John Carpenter scared the modern slasher film into being with Halloween (1978), ferociously fused satire and action in Escape From New York (1981), concocted scare cinema’s all-time most (literally) mind-blowing freak-out with The Thing (1982), and forecasted our modern world of high-tech media mind-control in They Live (1988).
Less famously, but with an equal level of awesomeness, he also reinvented the realm of cinematic bloodsuckers with John Carpenter’s Vampires. Now, thanks to this deluxe collector’s Blu-ray from Shout Factory, Vampires is on-hand to rise again and claim its rightful place among Carpenter’s other sanguine classics.
James Woods stars as Jack Crow, a merciless slayer of the undead who’s out to finally stake Master Vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffin) back to hell for good. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and a globe-spanning war flares up with the very stakes being vampiric world conquest. You may think you know where Vampires is going, but remember — this is John Carpenter. He wants to keep us all guessing — and smoking.
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s ‘Island of Dr. Moreau’: 3-Disc House of Pain Edition (2014)
Director: David Gregory
Cast: Richard Stanley, Kier-La Janisse, Fairuza Balk
Get It: Severin Films
After stunning horror fans with two instant cult classics — Hardware (1990) and Dust Devil (1992) — visionary filmmaker Richard Stanley got hired by Hollywood to helm his dream project: a major adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells, a classic sci-fi novel about a mad scientist creating animal-human hybrids.
Stanley’s fortunes seemed to skyrocket even further after screen icon Marlon Brando and ’90s superstar Val Kilmer got cast in the lead, but almost immediately, this Dr. Moreau succumbed to natural disasters, celebrity ego run riot, and rumors of actual witchcraft.
In short order, the studio replaced Stanley with another director. Instead of leaving the set though, Stanley stuck around, donned a monster mask, and witnessed the filming of Dr. Moreau first-hand — which resulted in what many critics deemed one of the worst motion pictures ever made.
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s ‘Island of Dr. Moreau’ is an award-winning documentary about the experience, and it’s so insane you’ll think you’re high AF while watching it even if you aren’t — so definitely do get high AF while watching it.
Get It: M83 Official
In 2007, ambient explorers M83 enriched ears the world over with Digital Shades, Vol.1, a deeply chill, sweetly psychedelic, endlessly listenable soundscape of epic proportions for which cannabis still remains the perfect companion.
DSVII arrives today as a sequel to Vol. 1 and it’s (accurately) described on the M83’s official site as being “influenced heavily by early video game soundtracks, ‘80s sci-fi/fantasy films and analog synth pioneers.” Does it get any more weed-worthy than that? Press play, spark up, and find out.
By Charlie Heat
Get It: Apple Music
Over the past eight years, producer, composer, performer, and all around-around sonic sorcerer Charlie Heat has transformed music as we know it and get stoned to it by way of his visionary collaborations with titans that include Kanye West, Travis Scot, Kehlani, Pusha T, and Madonna.
Now, as Fireworks reminds us, Charlie Heat is also his own man, as well. The master’s first solo effort since 2017’s Sunshine arrives shrouded in mystery and loaded with, indeed, heat. Among those joining Charlie here are Ant Beale, DRAM, Denzel Curry, Lil Baby, and Sud. Fireworks is here, homies — set it off.
Get It: Blink-182 Official
Twenty years after Enema of the State — a landmark moment in which a nation of skateboard marauders first experienced the glories of combining the power of pot with amped-up pop-punk — Blink-182 unexpectedly ups their approach yet again, with still more reefer-ready results.
Blink’s ninth LP, naturally titled Nine, juices the SoCal trio’s signature brat-mouthed, three-chord ruckus with hip-hop beats, EDM stylings, and dark-hearted introspective lyrics. Nine doesn’t reinvent the Blink-182 formula, it just adds more for all of us to smoke to while listening.
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