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 big screen swings between bud-puffing extremes this week. Angel Has Fallen is a brazen blockbuster action bash, while Hot Air is a sticky, satirical takedown of out-dated prejudices that commingles laughter with serious (but never sober) ideas.
When it comes to streaming, the third season of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix is a deliriously enjoyable downer. Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida, on the other side of the doob-passing circle, is a killer comic showcase for Kirsten Dunst, while Hulu’s This Way Up provides a similarly uproarious platform for Aisling Bea. Both new comedies are best laughed at while lit.
Our old-school cult flick picks include Hammer Films’ Horror of Frankenstein (1970), in which the monster is played by David Prowse, the guy who was actually inside Darth Vader’s suit; and the “crocsploitation” epic, Killer Crocodile (1989), during which you’ll think you’ve overdosed on mushrooms whether you actually have or not.
Among this week’s new marijuana-ready music are releases by punk provocateurs of the personal, Sheer Mag; acid rock on sugar-high overdrive from the mighty Redd Kross; and the gloriously near-metal new-wave power pomp of CRX.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Angel Has Fallen (2019)
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith
In London Has Fallen, US Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) managed to rescue Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the bangers and mash of everybody over in Old Blighty from an international terrorist onslaught.
Now, in the sequel, Angel Has Fallen, all Banning has to do is protect President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) on a fishing trip.
Naturally, since this is a high-octane, nonstop stunts-and-explosions blockbuster, nothing goes as initially planned — and that’s when all the fun stuff to watch while you’re stoned happens. Case in point: The invasion of a tranquil lake setting by what looks to be thousands of drones is so giddy and realistic, you’ll be covering your popcorn.
Hot Air (2019)
Director: Frank Coraci
Cast: Steve Coogan, Taylor Russell, Neve Campbell
Cult comedy star Steve Coogan is best known for his arrogant, boastful, but still charmingly buffoonish talk-show host character Alan Partridge, who he’s played in the UK for years. Now, in Hot Air, Coogan hops the pond to portray Lionel Macomb, a serious and seriously unlikable radio blowhard who broadcasts pure right-wing fury.
Hot Air chronicles what happens when Macomb’s 16-year-old niece Tess (Taylor Russell) shows up in his life and alerts him to the possibility that perhaps he’s not absolutely correct about everything.
Even though Frank Coraci is best known for Adam Sandler movies, Hot Air is not an over-the-top farce. Instead, it’s a challenging and heartfelt experience that, in times like what we’re living through now, is a relief to smoke up to, ease back, and watch somebody else’s family fight over politics for once.
13 Reasons Why: Season 3
Cast: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Kate Walsh
Watch It: Netflix
As the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why gears up for season three, the students at Liberty High are still keeping secrets, breaking promises, plotting revenge, and basically cranking up standard soap opera tropes with 21st century adolescent angst — and the gimmick of a girl who committed suicide leaving clues by way of mysterious cassette tapes.
While teenage depression and other challenges young people face today are not to be laughed at, of course, 13 Reasons Why always reminds you that it’s just a TV show. That’s to say the impossibly heightened high drama is so hyper-intense that you’ll be forgiven if you spark up a joint and occasionally crack up at all the nonstop, over-the-top tragedies on parade.
On Becoming a God in Central Florida: Season One
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Beth Ditto, Ted Levine
Watch It: Showtime
Kirsten Dunst stars in nasty, gnarly, dark-hearted comedy On Becoming a God in Central Florida as Krystall Gill, a waterpark employee in early ’90s Orlando. That premise alone sounds like an excuse to pack a bong.
Now, consider that Krystall’s family gets ruined by a cultish, multi-level marketing scam called Founders American Merchandise, and she schemes her way all the up the pyramid to take on the head con artists in charge. Overall, On Becoming a God in Central Florida supplies a timely send-up of fraudsters, and it takes place in a neon-drenched nostalgic setting. So, do keep that bong loaded.
This Way Up: Season One
Cast: Aisling Bea, Sharon Horgan, Aasif Mandvi
Watch It: Hulu
The painfully hilarious This Way Up stars standup comic Aisling Bea (who also created the show) as Aine, an English language instructor who’s attempting to reassemble her scattered (but not shattered) life after experiencing what she deems a “teeny, little nervous breakdown.” As Aine navigates relationships new and old, the laughs arise from embarrassment, awkwardness, and deep down recognition that we’re all a bit out-of-sorts and on the verge of losing it. Pass a pipe and bond with buds over each episode.
The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)
Director: Jimmy Sangster
Cast: Ralph Bates, Kate O’Mara, David Prowse
Get It: Shout Factory
After redefining cinematic fear in its own gloriously gothic image, England’s legendary scare studio Hammer Films took a more lurid approach to scare stories come the early ‘70s, and The Horror of Frankenstein provides one plum example that pairs potently well with marijuana.
The plot is standard Frankenstein stuff, as the mad scientist creates a monster out of pilfered body parts and all manner of homicidal madness ensues. Where THC will happily heighten Horror of Frankenstein is in the movie’s garish costumes and set designs, impossibly bright red blood, and the intense performances of renowned British actor Ralph Bates as Dr. Frankenstein and muscleman-turned-movie-actor David Prowse as the monster.
And be ready to repeatedly bug out as you realize Prowse would go on to play Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Killer Crocodile (1989)
Director: Fabrizio De Angelis
Cast: Richard Anthony Crenna, Sherrie Rose, Van Johnson
Get It: Severin Films
Throughout the ‘80s, nobody ripped off Hollywood blockbusters more joyfully and uproariously than Italian exploitation filmmakers. Killer Crocodile is one of the most enjoyable berserk exercises in that form of wild cinematic abandon. Naturally, you should be high AF to tread into the fang-filled waters on display here.
Killer Crocodile is, of course, a Jaws knock-off that seems to have benefited in terms of entertaining insanity by incubating nearly a decade-and-a-half after Spielberg’s shark opus. The story concerns a humongous, toxic-waste-mutated reptile chomping on the residents of a tropical island until a gaggle of environmentalist do-gooders team up with a craggy old croc-hater to bring down the beast. The gore gushes by the geyser.
The extreme Italo-sleaze cinema lineage behind Killer Crocodile is awe-inspiring. Director Fabrizio De Angelis previously made Dr. Butcher, M.D. (1981); visual effects artist Gianetto De Rossi of Zombie (1979) and The Beyond (1981) handles the splatter here; and the music comes by way of Riz Ortalani, who’s revered worldwide for scoring Mondo Cane (1962) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980).
Beyond an absolute bloodbath of awesome bonus features, the heroic grindhouse saviors at Severin Films have also included the sequel Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) in this instant pass-the-pot viewing party package.
A Distant Call
By Sheer Mag
Get It: Bandcamp
With Sheer Mag, fired-up punk fury meets melodic enchantment in the form of three ace players fronted by thunder-throated wonder-vocalist Tina Halliday. On their new album, A Distant Call, the group comes to slay, as evidenced by song titls such as “Steel Sharpens Steel,” “Cold Sword,” “Chopping Block,” and, most bluntly, “The Killer.” Best then to just drag hard on your smokeable at hand and roll with Sheer Mag into triumphant battle.
Beyond the Door
By Redd Kross
Get It: Merge Records
Psychedelic garage-pop legends Redd Kross first crashed the early ’80s LA punk scene, back when lead brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald were ages 14 and 11, respectively, imbuing Hollywood’s burgeoning hardcore soundscape with LSD, bubblegum, and long-haired freak-out abandon.
Decades in, Redd Kross continues to astound with their energy and inventiveness. Plus, on their latest release Beyond the Door, Steven’s side gig as bassist for The Melvins positively erupts through the swirling grooves and hallucinatory power drives.
Get It: Apple Music
It’s stoner rock, it’s new wave, it’s power pop, it’s party metal, it’s all perfect to smoke to, and it blazes up courtesy of the Strokes’ guitarist Nick Valensi. It’s Peek, the latest long-player from CRX, a supergroup that also includes ex-Willowz wizard Richie Follin on guitar and keyboard. Puff your pot properly, and peak this week to Peek.
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