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.
The first weekend of 2019 packs a plethora of viewing and listening pleasures to help ease off the hangover of the high holidays and properly ignite the 12 months ahead. In addition to the pulse-pounding big-screen paranoia of Escape Room, the instant stoner cinema classic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is still lighting up theaters, as is the potent period piece, The Favourite.
Small screen hitters include Comedians of the World on Netflix, as well as new strains of Star Trek at CBS All Access and the animated Young Justice: Outsiders at DC Universe online. Vintage freak-out flicks on Blu-ray include the timely Bloody New Year (1986) and the beloved videogame adaptation Double Dragon (1994). Among this week’s new music is All Power to the People, a searing sound documentary from hip-hop visionary Marc Mac, and stoner rock stomping from Mark Deutron, and ambient chills (in every sense) from Gandalf’s Owl.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
“Escape Room” (2019)
Director: Adam Robitel
Cast: Debroah Ann Woll, Logan Miller, Taylor Russell
By now, countless stoners have explored real-world “Escape Room” attractions while alternately laughing uncontrollably and wigging out in fear as they try to navigate the various challenges while properly lit. Escape Room, the movie, plunges all the way into the latter prospect, tracking six advanced gamers who take on the ultimate get-out-first set-up for a $1 million prize, only to discover that the place they’re trapped in is way more like the blood-and-guts Saw movies than a fun-and-friendly Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Pick a properly paranoia-inducing strain and brace yourself for the journey.
“The Favourite” (2018)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman
The Favourite may seem an odd choice for Heady Entertainment, as it’s powdered-wig period piece about political skullduggery and personal jealousy in the court of England’s Queen Anne during the early 1700s. The cast is killer, led by Olivia Colman as the Queen, Rachel Weisz as her chief advisor and secret lover, and Emma Stone as an ambitious new arrival who upends everything. Still, how does any of this make The Favourite worth getting blazed to?
Well, consider that it’s directed by arthouse provocateur Yorgos Lanthimos, who previously stunned all comers with the brain-bending cult favorites The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), The Lobster (2015), and Dogtooth (2009).
Rest assured, Lanthimos inflates the opulence and decadence of The Favourite’s regal setting with his signature surreal visuals and feverish storytelling, mystically conjuring a world of duck races, intimate obsessions, gluttonous feasts, rabbits-as-child-substitutes, and more weirdness amid impossibly ostentatious costumes and settings.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018)
Directors: Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., Rodney Rothman
Voice Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson
Boasting an eye-bugging animation style somewhere between classic hand-drawn cartoons, Pixar-style CGI, stop-motion, and blockbuster motion-capture, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse would be a must-smoke-to movie even if the rest of it sucked.
Fortunately, this cutting-edge, anything-is-possible take on Marvel’s original superstar is a funny, intense, vividly-inspiring leap forward for both animated flicks and superhero sagas, making it all the more worthy of multiple marijuana-enhanced viewings.
The infinitely multi-leveled plot regards teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) buying a Spider-Man costume from Marvel Comics honcho Stan Lee (#RIP) and then tripping into a series of dimensions where he encounters two different Peter Parkers (Jake Johnson and Chris Pine), Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), and even Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Just swing along for the ride.
“Comedians of the World”: Season One
Watch It: Netflix
Comedians of the World is Netflix’s bold attempt to unite humanity through hilarity. The massively ambitious undertaking drops 47 (!) half-hour stand-up specials from 13 different regions of the planet, in eight different languages. Representing the USA are funny stoner faves Neal Brennan, Chris D’Elia, Nicole Byer, and Nick Swardson.
So how will humor from places as varied as India, France, Brazil, the Middle East, and South Africa translate? Toke along and find out!
“Star Trek: Short Treks—The Escape Artist” (2019)
Cast: Rainn Wilson, Mary Wiseman, Doug Jones
Watch It: CBS All Access
As part of the online-only CBS All Access platform, Star Trek: Short Treks beams up mini-movies that deliver maximum impact. The newest installment, “The Escape Artist,” offers the eternal stoner combo of comedy and sci-fi, with the always funny Rainn Wilson reprising his role from Star Trek: Discovery as one of classic-era Trek’s best-loved fan favorites: cosmic conman and interplanetary pimp-lord, Harry Mudd.
“Young Justice: Outsiders”: Season One
Voice Cast: Jesse McCartney, Stephanie Lemelin, Nolan North
Watch It: DC Universe
Young Justice: Outsiders is a brasher, bolder extension of the Cartoon Network series Young Justice that takes full advantage of the freedoms allowed by graduating to the online DC Universe network.
The show continues the existential crime-fighting crusades of Nightwing (Jesse McCarthy), Batgirl (Alyson Stoner), Superboy (Nolan North), Tigress (Stephanie Lemelin), Kaldur’ahm (Khary Payton), Kid Flash (Jason Marsden), and other cohorts from the comic pages. This season, the Outsiders focus on explosively shutting down metahuman traffickers who kidnap budding superheroes to exploit their powers. Pass the bong and cheer them on.
“Bloody New Year” (1987)
Director: Norman J. Warren
Cast: Suzy Aitchison, Nikki Brooks, Daniel James
Get It: Vinegar Syndrome
Despite its title, the British scare-fest Bloody New Year actually takes place in the middle of summer, as a group of hyper-1980s teenage revelers hop a boat to a remote island where, as you’d expect, they meet an array of gory demises.
The holiday aspect arises from the film’s uniquely weird gimmick — everything on the island is decorated for Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, and nothing has been touched since 1959.
Bloody New Year ups the weed factor by combining hosts, zombies, and even a killer house with standard slasher shrieks and consistently gets stranger as it plays out en route to an out-of-nowhere shock ending. You will drop whatever you’re inhaling when the final wallop hits, so be prepared and keep your glass and stash safe!
“Double Dragon” (1994)
Director: James Yukich
Cast: Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, Robert Patrick
Get It: MVD
“Double Dragon,” the arcade game, is a towering cultural touchstone of 1990s nostalgia, and so too is Double Dragon, the 1994 movie adaptation that turned the game into one of the great cheeseball multiplex adventures of a fantastically cheeseball decade.
Set in the year 2007 (what?!), Double Dragon takes place in semi-post-apocalyptic “New Angeles,” where fiendish crime lord Koga Shuka (Robert Patrick) expends his vast power in pursuit of a missing half of a two-pieced talisman called — oh, yes — the Double Dragon.
Shuka believes the Double Dragon will imbue him with limitless mystical powers. He just has to wrest it away from martial-arts-trained teen brothers Billy (Scott Wolf) Jimmy (Mark Dacascos) and their protector Marian Delario (Alyssa Milano), leader of the anti-evil band of warriors, the Power Corps.
Potheads of a certain age have endless fond memories of sneaking early joints while diving deep into Double Dragon in both game and movie form. This new collectible Blu-ray enables such longtime fans to relive the reefer discoveries of their youth, as well as for an entire new generation to indulge and enjoy.
“Saturday the 14th” (1981)
Director: Howard R. Cohen
Cast: Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Jeffrey Tambor
Get It: Shout Factory
Amidst the early-’80s horror craze typified by the Friday the 13th franchise, Saturday the 14th arrived to poke fun at the era’s onslaught of scare fare with silly, so-dumb-it’s-hilarious humor that’s more rooted in classic monsters than modern slashers.
Kids loved Saturday the 14th and so did their older siblings who’d toke between scenes and then howl at the goofiness of this haunted house spoof — set, naturally, in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Now, thanks to this deluxe Saturday the 14th reissue from Shout Factory, you too can gulp smoke and try not to guffaw at stupid-funny sights such as Jeffrey Tambor as a balding suburban vampire, real monsters under a kid’s bed that nobody believes are there, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon rising from a bathtub.
“All Power to the People”
By Marc Mac
Get It: Bandcamp
Long-running London-based composer, studio wizard, and soul-funk-rap visionary Marc Mac conjures a mind-blowing documentary soundscape on All Power to the People. The album blends samples of interviews, news clips, and sonic history amidst Mac’s powerful music constructions to conjure a dynamic history of the Black Panther Party and its revolutionary political brilliance.
“The Blue Bird”
By Mark Deutron
Get It: Season of Mist
Make way for narcotic heaviosity, courtesy of Texas stoner rock psychonaut Mark Deutron (former Melvins bassist and eternal bringer of the dope doom). The Blue Bird is a singular piece of skull-scorching wonder, as Deutron sings lead and plays nearly every instrument on the album’s relentless downpour of dark delights.
“Who’s the Dreamer?”
By Gandalf’s Owl
Get It: iTunes
Ambient, atmospheric electronic music from Gandolf’s Owl, the exploratory new project from Gandalfo Ferro, lead singer of Italian metal titans Heimdall. Flecked with prog-rock and anthemic surges, Who’s the Dreamer? is sometimes spooky (and even scary), sometimes highly danceable, and always an overwhelming onslaught of drug-flooded glory.
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