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 entertainment.
As the lockdown continues, remember the essentials: weed, weed, more weed, dope stuff to watch and listen to, and then, of course, more weed. You know where to get the most crucial element of that supply list, and MERRY JANE is on hand now to help you with the other items.
With movie theaters closed, it’s a stream-a-palooza this week. Adult Swim busts out two major smoking guns with the soon-to-be-cult series Three Busy Debras and the return of Tim and Eric in Beef House. Netflix nugs include season three of Ozark, new stand-up from Tom Segura, and the original motive Uncorked from Insecure’s Prentice Penny. On TruTV, Tacoma FD is back, while SyFy unveils the comic adaptation Vagrant Queen.
We’ve also got a cascade of cannabis-ready vintage cult flicks coming out in collector’s editions, including the ultra-’80s high-school romp Sixteen Candles; the horror-comedy favorite Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; the head-spinning possession screamer Beyond the Door; the Italian gore-bath Cannibal Apocalypse; and the Hammer Films milestone Curse of the Werewolf. In addition, Severin Films is unleashing The Al Adamson Masterpiece Collection, a 14-disc box set featuring 32 films by one of the most beloved shlockmeisters to ever entertain stoned grindhouse and drive-in audiences.
In terms of music to go along with your stoned quarantine, we’ve got new drops from Knxwledge, San Fermin, Comethazine, PartyNextDoor, and Woorms.
So, let's get straight — but not "straight" — to this week's fresh-rolled and smoldering recommendations.
Beef House: Season 1
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Watch It: Adult Swim
Two names: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. One destination: Adult Swim. If you’re not already packing a bowl with your most guffaw-conducive stash based on those facts alone, just consider the premise of their latest project. Beef House is a savagely surreal send-up of network sitcoms that pits Tim and Eric in a single dwelling with three other awkward, unpredictably peculiar men — and Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Eric’s put-upon wife, Megan. Inhale that thought now, and just try not to laugh-choke into insanity.
Ozark: Season 3
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Tom Pelphrey
Watch It: Netflix
After Breaking Bad, Netflix’s Ozark has assumed the mantle of pop culture’s primo paranoia-drenched crime series, and season three is now here, as if we’re not freaked out enough by actual reality. Jason Batemen and Laura Linney return as suburban Chicagoans mixed up in money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel, with every episode sinking them deeper into murder and madness to deliver more cold sweats between your intakes of hot smoke.
Tacoma FD: Season 2
Cast: Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Hassie Harrison
Watch It: TruTV
For round two of Tacoma FD, the Pacific Northwest’s most hilariously brain-fried firefighters make the world’s most dangerous safety videos, get stuck in an elevator en route to the Fireman’s Ball, and battle a blaze at what may be a legitimately haunted haunted house. Created by and starring Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, Tacoma FD is a grandly goofy and admirably uproarious follow-up to their in the legendary weed comedy troupe, Broken Lizard (Super Troopers).
Tom Segura: Ball Hog (2020)
Watch It: Netflix
When it comes to contemporary stand-up comics loved hard and lit up to most often by pot-smoking laugh fans, Tom Segura ranks high on today’s Mount Puffmore. Ball Hog is Segura’s latest Netflix special and, as always, it’s painfully hilarious, enjoyably uncomfortable, and one solid hour of perfect escape into utmost comedic mastery.
Three Busy Debras: Season 1
Cast: Mitra Jouhari, Sandy Honig, and Alyssa Stonoha
Watch It: Adult Swim
The last time Amy Poehler produced a brilliantly dank web series for TV, the result was no less a creative and cultural high point (in every sense) than Broad City. This time, Poehler’s bringing us the outrageously innovative, stoned-to-the-bone Three Busy Debras, an acerbic, absurdist sitcom created by and starring Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari, and Alyssa Stonoha. They play a trio of Connecticut housewives each named Debra who, on the surface, embody every matronly suburban stereotype while also conveying dimensions of weirdness you better be thoroughly blazed to even attempt to contemplate.
On a related note, the amazingly multi-talented Sandy Honig also created the one-of-a-kind SandyStock, a stock photo agency for “really, really high people,” that she published here on MERRY JANE.
Cast: Mamoudou Athie, Niecy Nash, Courtney B. Vance
Watch It: Netflix
In the debut feature from writer-director Prentice Penny (Insecure), Mamoudou Athie plays a young wine expert who aims to become a master sommelier. His dad (Courtney B. Vance), however, wants junior to take over the family’s Memphis barbecue business. During this time, when so many of us are forced to be away from our families, the new Netflix movie Uncorked may supply the perfect cry to act as a healing balm. Make no mistake: Watching it while smoking your most emotion-stoking strain is absolutely recommended, as well.
Vagrant Queen: Season 1
Cast: Adriyan Rae, Tim Rozon, Alex McGregor
Watch It: SyFy
Adapted from the Vault comic book series written by Magdalene Visaggio and illustrated by Jason Smith, the new SyFy series Vagrant Queen rocks and reels with vibrant energy and lit imagination. Adriyan Rae stars as Elida, a former child of royatly turned hustling outlaw who scavenges on the fringe of the galaxy. After her “frenemy” Isaac (Tim Rozon) informs Elida that her missing mother may still be alive, the duo teams up with can-do mechanic Amae (Alex McGregor) to return to her planet of origin to settle old scores. Vagrant Queen is a blast, so do watch it blasted.
Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection
Director: Al Adamson
Get It: Severin Films
In the annals of grindhouse greatness and drive-in dementia, Al Adamson stands high among the most prolific purveyors of admirably inventive, entertainingly off-the-wall schlock in virtually every genre that ever filled cheap theaters with whacked customers who passed joints, yelled at the screen, and occasionally collapsed face-first into their popcorn.
Among the Adamson oeuvre is the biker blowout Satan’s Sadists (1969), the scare-king throw-down Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), the blaxploitation bruiser Mean Mother (1974), the high-flying sexploiter The Naughty Stewardesses (1974), and the ape-shit insane talking-monkey kids’ movie Carnival Magic (1981).
There are many, many more Al Adamson movies where that came from, and 32 of them are gathered, along with mind-blowingly extensive bonus features, on Severin Films’ history-making new box set, The Al Adamson Masterpiece Collection.
In addition to Al’s own work, the box includes the 2019 documentary Blood and Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson. It’s an extremely insightful exploration of the man and his work, including his own heinous demise — a homicide straight out of a horror movie that proved to be all too terribly true.
Quarantine or no quarantine, The Al Adamson Masterpiece Collection comes loaded with enough infinite skull-smashing amazement to keep any cult film aficionado fixated for years going forward. Just add cannabis, and get gloriously lost in there forever!
Beyond the Door (1974)
Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Cast: Juliet Mills, Richard Johnson, Gabriele Lavia
Get It: MVD
In the wake of The Exorcist, exploitation filmmakers worldwide went bonkers pumping out cheap rip-offs focused on demonic possession and taboo-busting shock sequences in an attempt to “out-Satan” one another. It makes a lot of sense, then, that no nation rose more raucously to the occasion than Italy, home of the Pope and HQ of the Catholic Church. Italian Exorcist knock-offs are a hallucinatory horror genre unto themselves, and none are more acid-blasted insane than Beyond the Door.
Previously genteel British actress Juliet Mills stars as a pregnant mom who suddenly takes to projectile vomiting, spinning her head in 360-degree rotation, and floating around the room while spouting all manner of ungodly obscenities. Is she in the clutches of hell-spawned spirits? Is her womb cursed to carry the Antichrist to term? Can you believe how awesome it is to get blitzed and watch this outrageous devil schlock that seems crazier than ever now?
Well, to answer that last question, you have to pick up Arrow Video’s new Beyond the Door collector’s edition, drop the brain-bomb of your choice, and let the Dark Lord do his delightful dirty work from there. So do it!
Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Cast: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Tony King
Get It: Kino Lorber
In between the frequently praised and always puked-to splatter bashes Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly (1982), Italy’s extreme horror movement also pumped out Cannibal Apocalypse. It’s a unique spin on explicit flesh-munching that also mixes in a zombie plague and combat shock.
John Saxon (the dad in the original Nightmare on Elm Street) stars as Norman Hooper, a Vietnam War vet whose life gets upended by the return of his PTSD-ravaged Army pal Charlie Bukowski (John Morghen — and, yes, his character is really named Charlie Bukowski). It turns out Charlie got a taste for human meat in ’Nam, and he’s brought his taste back to the States; he also carries a brain-erasing illness that he passes on to every victim he bites.
You can imagine the mayhem that erupts from there—or, better yet, pick up Kino Lorber’s astounding deluxe edition of Cannibal Holocaust, which lovingly restores every gross-out moment of this heavily censored gore parade. Then just get stoned, and let this thing have its way with you.
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Director: Terrence Fisher
Cast: Oliver Reed, Catherine Feller, Yvonne Romain
Get It: Shout Factory
Working with England’s Hammer Films, director Terrence Fisher reinvented the big-screen scream scene with his monstrous reimaginings, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Horror of Dracula (1958), and The Mummy (1981). Naturally, The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) came next and, by pairing Fisher with madman actor Oliver Reed in the lead role, Hammer concocted one of cinema’s all-time most thrilling and chilling hairy howlers to get high to!
Curse tells a fairly straightforward lycanthropy saga, with Reed as the man doomed to sprout fur and fangs and go kill-crazy every time there’s a full moon. The movie’s brilliance arises from Fisher’s masterful visuals and Reed’s powder-keg performance — he reveals here the crazed ’70s cult superstar who’d explode all over the screen in Ken Russell’s psychedelic masterworks The Devils (1971) and Tommy (1975). Shout Factory’s special edition gets a full paws up!
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)
Director: James Signorelli
Cast: Cassandra Peterson, Phil Rubenstein, Edie McClurg
Get It: MVD
From the '80s onward, superhumanly endowed-up-top horror hostess Elvira, a creation of actress-comedian Cassandra Peterson, has ruled Halloween as the unofficial bawdy, badass, wise-cracking Goth Queen of Pumpkin Season.
Her reign resulted in large part from Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988), a sassy, brassy, charmingly cheeky horror comedy that pits our bodacious ghoul goddess against self-righteous squares and born-again witch-burners in the (thankfully) fictional town of Falwell, Massachusetts — as well as a wicked family warlock she only learns about upon arrival.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is no tricks, all treats. Arrow Video’s collector’s edition of this hair-raising hoot is an absolute must. Smoke a bong-load for every boob joke our heroine makes, and you’ll be stoned until next October — at least!
The Secret Ceremony (1968)
Director: Joseph Losey
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, Robert Mitchum
Get It: Kino Lorber
The Secret Ceremony is a blazingly bizarre, cannabis-invitingly camp-tastic, near-horror psychodrama starring Elizabeth Taylor as an aging sex worker. Mia Farrow co-stars as a flower child who reminds Liz of her long-deceased daughter. Obsession follows. Then, Robert Mitchum shows up as Farrow’s lecherous stepfather, and the pot gets stirred with all manner of deranged desire and salacious possibilities. It’s nuts!
After years of garnering quite a following, Quentin Tarantino screened Secret Ceremony at his New Beverly theater last year, and it became an instant cult sensation among freak-flick fanatics. The heroes at Kino Lorber have now restored and reissued this fascinating curiosity for at-home viewing with proper inebriants.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Gedde Watanabe
Get It: MVD
With Sixteen Candles, former National Lampoon editor John Hughes established himself as filmdom’s premiere force in capturing ’80s adolescence by crafting funny, heartfelt, coming-of-age sagas that bonded an entire generation together over bong-circle basement VCR parties.
Sixteen Candles is also Hughes at his most cartoonishly comedic and, therefore, cannabis-friendly. Molly Ringwald became an instant superstar as Samantha Baker, a suburban princess who awakes to find her entire family has forgotten that it’s her sixteenth birthday. From there, Samantha contends with a house full of invading relatives in town for her older sister’s wedding; having a crush on Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), the hunkiest dude in school; and being constantly pestered by Anthony Michael Hall, one of the most hilariously annoying dorks to ever nerd-up popular culture.
Arrow Video’s new deluxe release of Sixteen Candles treats the movie like the legit Hollywood classic it is — and even bravely addresses some of the movie's “politically incorrect” elements that have aged awkwardly. Light up, laugh hard, and then give an intellectual thought or two the very nature of humor itself — or you can just light up and laugh hard. That’s cool, too.
Get It: Bandcamp
After stunning ears all over the planet with his 2015 debut Hud Dreems, Knxwledge worked with Kendrick Lamar's on the Pulitzer-Prize-winning To Pimp a Butterfly and teamed with Anderson .Paak to form the duo NxWorries. Now, Knxwledge is back with his second proper long-player, 1988. It’s a time-tripping concept album that takes us back to Knx’s infancy, and then on through the cosmos, creating along the way one sterling, startling sonic accompaniment to mind-elevating intoxication.
The Cormorant I & II
By San Fermin
Get It: San Fermin Official
Brooklyn art-pop adventurers San Fermin bent brains and lit up ears last October with their psychedelic-tinged opus The Cormorant I. As promised, even with the world gone wild around us, The Cormorant II is here on schedule, completing the lush, genre-spanning, consciousness-expanding song cycle and establishing a new go-to musical epic for pot-smoking listeners to enjoy from here on into the infinite.
Get It: Apple Music
Well, the title couldn’t be more timely. On top of that, though, Comethazine’s Pandemic is also a musical scorcher. Boasting rhymes, beats, and top-notch production, Comethazine’s green inferno of sound harkens back to when we were all puffing and passing in relative peace while also prompting us to look forward to the post-Pandemic age — when that’s precisely what we can get back to.
Get It: Spotify
For his first LP since 2016, Canadian multi-talent PartyNextDoor turns the whole word into his own Partymobile — and all you need to ride is the proper reefer, a pair of speakers, and the ability to press play. The album’s 15 tracks include drop-ins from Bad Bunny and, on two songs, Drake.
Twitching as Prey
Get It: Sludgelord Records Bandcamp
Oozing up from the earth, appropriately, on Sludgelord Records, the supreme stoner metal mollusks of Woorms burrow into bong-ripped brains with slow-burn power chords, thunderous basslines, and drum-blasts potent enough to scare off the endtimes. We need to smoke to this now more than ever.
Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter