Heady Entertainment: Cannabis and the Occult, Tommy Wiseau, and “White Boy” vs. the War on Drugs
The best pop (and pot) culture nuggets that will feed your head all weekend long.
Published on June 1, 2018

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.

This week, Johnny Knoxville combines Jackass slapstick with insane '80s nostalgia in Action Point; the Bluth family uproariously implodes yet again with a new season of Arrested Development; an acclaimed documentary blazes high truth about outlaw drug legend White Boy Rick; Sweet Sweetback gets "badasssss" a-new on Blu-ray; Ghost and The Golden Dawn Arkestra beam down new stoner sounds; and a couple of books on psychedelic history will feed your head while beachside this weekend. So, without further bogarting, let's get straight — but not "straight" to this week's fresh-rolled recommendations.

"Action Point" (2018)
Director: Tim Kirkby
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Brigette Lundy-Pain, Chris Pontius

Inspired by Action Park, a real-life 1980s New Jersey amusement getaway where extreme rides maimed and even killed multiple thrill-seekers, Action Point perfectly casts Johnny Knoxville as the title locale's reckless proprietor.

The seemingly-impossible rides in the movie are all based on actual attractions, suggesting that, back in the '80s, everybody must have been completely wasted when braving a skin-removing concrete slope called the "Alpine Slide," or the high-pressure tennis-ball-firing "Battle Tanks." Today, we can just get wasted and laugh along as Johnny Knoxville takes all that punishment-in-the-sun for us!

"Best F(r)iends" (2018)
Director: Justin MacGregor
Cast: Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, Kristen Stephenson Pino
Get Tickets: Fathom Events

The pitch-black comedy Best F(r)iends reunites crackpot cult-cinema icon Tommy Wiseau with his co-star from The Room, Greg Sestero. So just knowing you can witness that action on a big screen is cause for inhalable intoxication.

Better (to smoke to) still, Best F(r)iends was scripted by Sestero himself, who immortalized his adventures working on The Room with Tommy in the book The Disaster Artist, which, in turn, became an Academy-Award-nominated hit film last year.

Here, Greg plays a homeless drifter whose luck changes all kinds of ways after he comes across Tommy in the role of — get ready — a freaky mortician who steals gold out of dental fillings from the corpses in his care. From there, the disastrous duo hatches a get-rich-sick plot and Best F(r)iends becomes yet another ideal opportunity to pair a movie with marijuana.


"Arrested Development": Season 5 (2018)
Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, David Cross

Unless you've been too stoned to notice — which happens, trust us — you might know there's been some controversy surrounding Netflix premiering a new season of the brilliant absurdist sitcom, Arrested Development.

Anything regarding that is just beyond the scope of Heady Entertainment, but we will say this group interview with the cast is…. intense. Instead, we can just happily report that the madcap Bluth clan is still as outrageously awkward and explosively off-the-wall as when we first lit up to their antics 15 years ago — and this new reboot is way more enjoyable than Netflix's first revival back in 2013.

One caveat: Portia de Rossi's scenes look whacked because she was green-screened into them — so, sorry, in that one case, you're not tripping!

"White Boy" (2017)
Director: Christopher S. Rech
Writer/Producer: Seth Ferranti
Cast: Richard Wershe Jr., Scott Burnstein, Johnny Curry
Get It: iTunes

In the 1980s, Detroit teenager Richard Wershe, Jr. — aka White Boy Rick — supposedly conquered that city's infamously mean thoroughfares of high crime with a highly-sophisticated but heartlessly-savage cocaine-peddling operation, one that tore up lives and rained down money to degrees that would make even today's cartels jealous.

Busted at 17 and sentenced to life behind bars, a far more sobering truth comes to light in director S. Rech and writer/producer Seth Ferranti's scorching new documentary, White Boy. (Note: Ferranti is a regular contributor to MERRY JANE, and the writer-turned-filmmaker also spent time behind bars for a felony drug conviction).

In fact, Wershe was played by The Man in the deepest sense — first, by his father, who recruited him at 14 to act as a snitch for Detroit's anti-drug task force, and then by law enforcement agents who abandoned White Boy Rick and eventually locked him away forever.

White Boy is eye-opening, infuriating, and heartbreaking all once. A Hollywood adaptation of the story is slated to come out later this year. Don't wait for that one. Start with the real deal, and take inspiration here to fight and end the madness of the drug war before it claims another victim like White Boy Rick — or anyone!

Cult-Classic Reissues

"The Bloodthirsty Trilogy" (1970, 1971, 1974)
Director: Michio Yamamoto
Get It: MVD

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy showcases a trippy trio of vintage Japanese fright films directed by master stylist Michio Yamamoto — The Vampire Doll (1970), Lake of Dracula (1971), and Evil of Dracula (1974).

Sumptuous and chilling, each film is a plunge in Hammer-style horror swirled with early-'70s psychedelia and intoxicating onslaughts of originality that could only come from Japan.

"Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" (1971)
Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Cast: Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Nina Ruschel
Get It: Vinegar Syndrome

A brilliant outburst of righteous fury and cutting-edge art, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song revolutionized cinema worldwide. Writer-director Melvin Van Peebles stars in the title role as a black orphan groomed to perform in sex shows, who grows up and gets framed for a murder he didn't commit.

Sweetback's run for freedom results in a firestorm of frontline ghetto documentary-style honesty, blended with lyrical and terrifying surrealism. The human drama, urban action, and high-minded political content never flinches — which is what ultimately resulted in the movie's famous tagline, "Rated X — by an all-white jury!"

All told, Sweetback is a landmark achievement that freed up the possibilities of movies and moviegoers alike. Vinegar Syndrome has restored this classic with the top-tier, special edition Blu-ray treatment it deserves. Pack a bong, put on Sweetback, and consider every draw you pull in and let loose to be an accompanying act of righteous rebellion!


"How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression"
By Michael Pollan
Publisher: Penguin
Get It: Quimby's Bookstore

How to Change Your Mind is more than just some "great ways to get high" instruction manual — although that might make for a fine read in itself while rolling up your next lungful.

Instead, New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan here guides the reader on an active exploration into new understandings of what dosing does to elevate the mind, body, and spirit, as well as how ingesting the proper outside agents can powerfully escalate both the excitement and overall possibilities of existence. You can take Pollan's words to the brain bank, too — while writing How to Change Your Mind, the author engaged in some first-hand research!

"Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal Herbs and The Occult"
By Chris Bennett
Publisher: Trine Day
Get It: Quimby's Bookstore

Behold (and be high!). Liber 420 chronicles a head-spinning history of weed and other psychoactive plants in the annals of occult arts and rituals, dating back to ancient alchemists, on through the Knights Templar, and into the cosmic chemistry explorations of Aleister Crowley (who initially sparked the modern era of tripped-out magick).

It all adds up to one crucial (and chronic) eternal question: Could the Holy Grail actually have been marijuana?


"Children of the Sun"
By Golden Dawn Arkestra
Get It: Bandcamp

Led by multi-instrumentalist Zapot Mgwana, who grew up in Nigeria believing Sun Ra was his true father, the Golden Dawn Arkestra is presently beaming forth its avant-garde creations from Saturn, Texas. Children of the Sun is the Ark's latest interdimensional dispatch, defying genres and blasting open minds with 11 fresh tracks of heavy-psych afro-pop space jams.

By Ghost
Get It: iTunes

Ghost, Sweden's presently-ruling unholy masters of melodic stoner rock, up the heaviosity on Prequelle, both in terms of sonic dimensions and dire subject matter. Deeming the album a meditation on contemporary humanity's "troubled times," the face-painted ghouls of Ghost aim the groove downward and add layers of social commentary to ponder between puffing up. With 10 new rounds of spectral metal, you'll have a lot to wax philosophical about this weekend — just don't let Ghost or the ganja lead you too far into the abyss!

Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter

Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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