For all the righteous griping destined to go down as the 2010s draw to a close, let’s celebrate two triumphs the decade got right — i.e., the twin cultural conquests achieved by marijuana and horror movies.
Prior to this past ten years, getting high and going to see scary flicks were simultaneously looked down upon by the lamestream elites, who sought to stamp them out at any cost to our personal freedom. For too long, cannabis prohibition ruined lives and filled prisons, while art intended to frighten audiences frequently fell prey to the intellectual policing of censorship (or, at the very least, was deemed low-brow and thus ignored by cultural gatekeepers).
No more, though. As lit liberation elevates humanity, the formerly taboo realm of cinematic terror has also come to dominate the box office and positively infiltrate other entertainment forms.
Gallery — 420-Friendly Halloween Costumes:
Of course, the tradition of pairing weed with watching fright films goes back to secret smokers in silent movie theaters. In the ‘70s, marijuana became as common as popcorn at midnight movie events. And throughout the ‘80s VHS boom, bong-passing to slasher movies screened in family basements became its own reefer right of passage. Now, at the end of the second decade of the 21st century, that practice has evolved to incorporate technological leaps in each element.
Pot is increasingly legal, better cultivated, and more effective than ever, while catching a scare flick while high can happen at a theater, at home, or even on your phone. Both are ubiquitous in ways never before imaginable.
In keeping with this boundless bounty, the makers of modern horror cinema have, wittingly or not, absorbed the growing universal acceptance and omnipresence of marijuana into the movies themselves — be it through outright upbeat depictions of sparking up on screen, or, more frequently, the expanded consciousness and creative daring made possible by cannabis consumption.
One direct result has been an astounding array of horror movies that benefit from being watched while you’re high. In celebration of this spooky season, we wanted to spotlight ten of the best horror movies from the 2010s that you should definitely watch while baked. Ghouls and ganja have never paired this nicely.
“Get Out” (2017)
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener
Race, politics, social satire, and deep scares rooted in horrible real-world truths come together and combust in Jordan Peele’s masterwork of revolutionary suspense, Get Out.
Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris, a young, black photographer who goes to visit the wealthy family of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). Once there, Chris learns the chilling secrets behind the family’s loudly professed liberalism, setting off a suspenseful spelunk into mind-control, body-swapping, and perception-bending terror that mirrors our present society.
In terms of which weed strain to pair with Get Out, power up a paranoia-inducing hybrid while watching, then select something ultra-mellow for a post-show comedown and the inevitable discussions destined to follow.
“What We Do in Shadows” (2014)
Directors: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Cast: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jackie van Beek
New Zealand vampires Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) explain the advantages of being immortal blood-drinkers in What We Do in Shadows, a mockumentary that hilariously redefines the concept of “deadpan.”
Shadows’ high humor arises nonstop from the utter ordinariness of these aristocratic ghouls, perfectly conceived and portrayed by Clement, of stoner comedy gods Flight of the Conchords, and Waititi, who later directed the most marijuana-friendly (and funny) Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok (2017). The scent of green is all over their blood-red undertaking here.
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Isabelle Grill
Just one year after his breakthrough family breakdown freak-out Hereditary (2018), writer-director Ari Aster aimed even higher — in every sense — and set the world ablaze with Midsommar.
Chronicling a cabal of American college students who travel to Sweden for a psychedelic-fueled pagan festival that occurs once every 90 years, Midsommar is
a drug-drenched, brain-smasher excursion that taps soul-deep into the pipe-passing tradition of classic folk horror — e.g., The Witchfinder General (1968) and The Wicker Man (1972, and no, not the Nicolas Cage version!).
Everyone on screen in Midsommar is tripping hard (including the bear). Follow their lead for a hallucinogenic horror high like no other.
“The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)
Director: Drew Goddard
Cast: Kristin Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchinson
Written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer mastermind Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods is a postmodern meta-commentary on horror that tickles viewers’ brains while keeping nervous systems on high alert.
The comically complicated plot involves scientific experiments in human fear that also function as occult rituals to appease evil deities that demand the sacrifice of an array of slasher-movie stereotypes.
The crackpots in charge force their unwitting subjects to take drugs that heighten their libidos just before they’re attacked by a series of monsters that includes zombies, werewolves, and some concoctions that you’ve just got to be high to even see. The whole thing is a riot, right up to an out-of-nowhere final moment that makes perfect sense once you ponder it with the aid of marijuana.
“The Babadook” (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent made one of the most auspicious horror debuts of all time with The Babadook, a hair-raising meditation on the terrors of growing into adulthood when there are very real monsters lurking under every bed and in every closet.
The titular monstrosity is a pale-faced humanoid thing with talon-like finger-claws and a classically spooky top hat. The Babadook invades the already challenging life of single mom Amelia (Essie Davis) and her six-year-old son Sam (Noah Wiseman).
Bit by bit, night after night, The Babadook further unnerves Amelia and drives Sam to commit antisocial acts, while creeping us out with his every fleeting, seething, horrible appearance. Puff and pass between Babadook attacks and, we promise, you’ll make it out OK.
“The Witch” (2015)
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anna Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Subtle, shocking, and infernally thrilling all at once, writer-director Robert Eggers’ The Witch takes place in 17th century New England, where a Puritan family leaves their settlement for a woodland area dominated by the wicked being of the title. Luck, at that point, does not remain in their favor.
The Witch is a grand exercise in slow-burn storytelling peppered with heart-stopping twists of doomed fate. It also introduced an instant icon to the realm of stoner metal: the evil goat Black Philip, who tempts the movie’s heroine by promising sensual pleasures beyond her imagination. Black Philip is like pot that way. Except remember — you can always trust marijuana.
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Ana Lily Amirpour
As a self-described “Iranian vampire-Western,” writer-director Ana Lily Amripour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night cuts deep, scares hard, and sheds light on people and stories that have gone unrepresented for too long.
The plot intertwines the struggles of young Arash (Arash Marandi) as he cares for his heroin-addicted father, and a bloodsucking angel/demon known as The Girl (Sheila Vand), who unleashes vengeance on men who abuse women.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night works as a both a top-flight fright film and an unflinching look at urban existence in Iran, where dope deals, broken hearts, and the yearning for human connection is instantly recognizable, even with the specter of religious fundamentalism looming in every shadow. Roll a joint and enjoy it while watching as an act of revolution.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Cast: Milo Cawthorne, Kimberley Crossman, Stephen Ure
The funniest, bloodiest, most frighteningly-goofy splatter farce since the gory glory days of Re-Animator (1985), Evil Dead II (1987) and Dead/Alive (1992), the New Zealand horror-comedy Deathgasm scores extra pothead points by also taking place in the weed-pumped world of extreme heavy metal.
Milo Hawthorne stars in the Deathgasm as Brodie, a high school headbanger who forms the death metal band of the title. Brodie also happens upon a piece of music that, once it’s cranked out of stacked amps at lightning speed, has the power to summon demons, explode heads, and create all manner of hyperkinetic chaos. You can only imagine what Deathgasm does from there — or better yet, smoke up and watch in wonder as it happens on screen.
“It Follows” (2015)
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary
The premise of a relentless slayer laying waste to teenagers who dare to have sex is an age-old horror trope, most associated with ’80s slasher fare. It Follows upends that formula by not giving the anti-copulation killer any kind of human form, but instead making it a malevolent entity that can be perceived only by the last teen who got laid — and who can then only escape it by having sex with somebody else and passing the pursuing destroyer on to their partner. It Follows is an STD allegory that’s best accompanied by THC.
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Nick Castle
As the co-creators of HBO’s Eastbound and Down, The Righteous Gemstones, and other stoner comedy institutions, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green might be the last duo you’d pick to reboot the OG slasher franchise Halloween to its strictly terrifying roots. But in 2018, that’s exactly what they did. Never underestimate the versatility of chronic-fueled creative teams!
This Halloween picks up where John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece left off, with seemingly indestructible slayer Michael Myers returning to Haddonfield, Illinois to finish killing now-grown Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
As with the complex characters and comical set-ups of McBride and Green’s comedy work, the scares in their Halloween make you believe you know what’s coming next, only to bowl you over with unexpected impact. It’s a trick that delivers endless treats.
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